5 steps to choosing the best appliance

How to research your next major purchase to make sure it isn’t one you’ll later regret.

Man look at a washing machine in an appliance store.

Under level 4 Covid-19 restrictions, you won’t be buying many appliances. However, even if your current whiteware is humming along, now’s a good time to do the legwork for when you need a new washing machine, fridge, oven or dishwasher.

These appliances should last over a decade, so a bad choice will hang around and haunt you. While you have time to spare, and no pressure to make a quick purchase, you can make sure you’re ready for the day you need to buy. Settle in with your favourite web browser and work through our five steps to choosing the best appliance:

1. Set yourself a budget

Decide how much you can afford to spend up-front to buy the appliance. If you’re using a loan or credit card, factor in the extra interest cost. If you’re tempted by an interest-free scheme, include any setup charges and annual fees.

Also consider how much the appliance costs to run. Look for a model with more stars on its energy rating label. It can pay to spend a little more for an energy-efficient model as you’ll likely save money in the long run.

Compare prices and running costs

We survey the market when we test and report the average price of each model, so you can easily find options within your budget. We also measure how much energy each appliance uses in our test, so you can compare annual running costs.

2. Find a model that performs well

A washing machine needs to wash your clothes thoroughly, be gentle on fabrics and efficiently remove water. A fridge should maintain an even, food-safe temperature in summer and winter. No appliance should be awkward or frustrating to use.

However, our testing regularly finds appliances that struggle to do the basics. While you might not need the very best performer, you definitely want to avoid a dud.

Use our test results

Our independent tests assess appliance performance and ease of use. Use our recommended models as a starting point for making your shortlist.

Washing machine test results
Clothes dryer test results
Washer-dryer test results
Fridge test results
Freezer test results
Dishwasher test results
Oven and cooktop test results

3. Decide which features are important

Think about how you use your current appliance and what you like about it. Which features are essential? For example, do you need a washer with a wool cycle, or is an oven with a pizza bake setting a must?

Then consider what you don’t like, and how a new appliance could make life easier. For example, do you need a bigger freezer compartment, as yours is always jammed full?

Finally, weigh up whether a new feature is valuable, or just something that makes the latest model seem better. How much do you really need a “smart” washing machine that pings your phone when its wash cycle is finished?

Read our buying guides

Our buying guides explain what features to look for, and help you decide which bells and whistles are worth forking out for and which you can probably do without.

Washing machine buying guide
Clothes dryer buying guide
Washer-dryer buying guide
Fridge buying guide
Freezer buying guide
Dishwasher buying guide
Oven and cooktop buying guide

4. Choose a durable brand

There’s no convenient time for an appliance to break down. You’re going to live with this appliance for many years, so pick one that lasts.

We survey our members to find out which brands go the distance. The most reliable ones often cost a bit more – because they use better quality parts. If your budget can stretch, it’s always worth paying a little extra for a more durable appliance. Not only will it work out cheaper and more convenient in the long run, but you’ll stop precious resources becoming landfill.

We reveal the best brands

Top Brand.

Check out our reliability and satisfaction survey results, and look for our Top Brand award – given to brands with consistently strong product performance, durability and owner satisfaction.

Appliance reliability
Top Brands 2019

5. Buy from a good retailer

The retailer you choose is important. As well as selling the product to you, it most likely delivers your new appliance, and might install it and take your old one away, too.

It’s also where you go if something goes wrong with your appliance. For a retailer, Consumer Guarantees Act legislation makes fixing things its most important role. However, while some are happy to put things right for you, others drag their heels.

See our retailer satisfaction survey

Our members tell us about their experiences in our annual survey, which lets us sort the good eggs from those to avoid – and highlights retailers who care about you well after you’ve parted with your cash.

Retailer satisfaction survey

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Member comments

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Brian W.
11 Apr 2020
Another consideration - will it fit?

Another thing that may influence your decision is whether the appliance will fit in the space where your current appliance is. We have a fridge and freezer that fit into alcoves in our cupboards and pantry; newer fridges are generally taller and simply won't fit without remodelling our kitchen.