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15-20% of water used in the home is in the laundry

In addition to water, washing machines also use large amounts of energy and detergents. If you are in the market for a new washing machine choose a water efficient model. Otherwise consider the following tips to help you save water.

Washing machine tips

  • To save water and energy, always run your washing machine on a full load.
  • Washing in cold water saves energy and may not compromise the quality of the wash.
  • Look for washing machines that have a four or more star rating (WELS label).
  • Choose a water efficient front loading washing machine.
  • Check the water efficiency performance of any product before buying.
  • Adjust the water level to suit the size of the wash load - some new water efficient models will do this automatically.
  • Wash with a full load and you will save 10 litres of water each wash.
  • Use the sud-saver option - if your machine has one - when you have several loads to wash.
  • Pre-treat stains before loading into your machine.

Choosing a washing machine

The question of choosing a washing machine can be a confusing one and most of us do not think of it until our machine breaks down. If you're in the market for a new machine check out these tips below to help you make the right choice.

Front loader or top loader?

Before buying a new washing machine, consider whether you prefer a front or top loader. Front loading washing machines have an opening on the front of the machine, where clothes can be loaded and unloaded. All dials and buttons are typically located on the front.
Top loading washing machines open from the top of the machine, where clothes can be loaded and unloaded. The dials and buttons are typically found on top, along the back edge of the machine.
 Deciding which is best is a matter of personal choice, although there are a number of pro's and con's that should be considered.

By law, all washing machines must carry a label which gives a star rating for the machine's water efficiency. The more stars, the less water the machine uses per wash. The label also provides water consumption in litres for each cold and warm wash. The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme has a rinse performance test built into the rating, so you know your clothes will come out clean. If you want to buy a top loader in preference to a front loader and want to save water, look for a model with at least 4 water efficiency stars and an adjustable water level. This will enable you to reduce the water used with smaller loads.

The Pro's and Con's

How's it going to perform?

Front loaders typically rank better than top loaders in terms of performance.

How's it going to wash?

Front loaders are gentler on the clothes than top loaders. They have higher spin speeds resulting in less moisture in the clothes on completion. This shortens drying time and minimises use of a tumble dryer. In terms of dirt removal or rinse performance, neither type has an advantage, but front loaders offer more temperature and wash options.

I want to save water and energy

One of the biggest advantages of front loaders is that they use less water than top loaders, up to 70% less in some cases or 36,000 litres per year for a typical household. They also use less detergents and less energy if you wash with warm or hot water. This reduces greenhouse gases making front loaders more environmentally friendly than top loaders.

How easy is it to load washing?

Front loaders on the floor require bending to load and unload, unlike top loaders which could cause problems for those with back problems. However, these problems are reduced if front loaders are placed on pedestals or a purpose built cabinet.

Saving space

Front loaders are very effective space savers. A dryer can easily be mounted on top of the machine without interfering with its operation.

Can I add clothes after turning the machine on?

Most front loaders cannot be opened once the cycle starts. However, some newer models are able to overcome this problem. Washing can be added to top loaders at any point of the cycle.

How long does it take to wash?

Front loaders generally take longer to complete a cycle than top loaders, sometimes up to 40 minutes more.

Other ways to save in the laundry

Of course, saving water in the laundry can also be achieved by installing water efficient tapware and fixing any leaks. Check out our Taps and Leaks sections for advice.

Saving water in the Kitchen

Factsheet - Laundry (pdf 496.3 KB)