Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Choosing a washing machine

Washing machineTypes of washing machine

Basic washing machines wash and spin dry your clothes, while washer-driers dry them as well.

Checklist

Opening and closing the door

If it opens with a push button:

  • Do you have to bend down far to reach it?
  • Is it comfortable to push?
  • Is the door easy to grip and swing open?

If it opens by pulling a handle:

  • Do you find it easier to use a handle that you squeeze to release, or one that you just pull? Try both out to see which is easier.
  • Do you have to bend down far to reach it?
  • Is the handle easy to grip?

Loading and unloading

  • Does the door open wide to give you enough room? Some open 180 degrees.
  • Does the door swing shut by itself? This can get in the way.
  • How big is the drum? A larger one can do more washing in one go, and is easier to load and unload.
  • Can you close the door with a light touch after loading?

Using the dispenser

  • Does it open smoothly without you forcing it?
  • Is the handle easy to grip?
  • Can you open it easily with the hand you prefer to use?
  • Does it have large compartments? This can reduce spills.
  • Can you easily remove or replace it for cleaning?
  • If you find a dispenser too fiddly, try using a detergent that goes in the drum with the washing (e.g. liquitabs).

Using the controls

  • Many machines have a lot of different programmes which can make the controls difficult to understand. A simpler machine may have everything you need.
  • Are labels and markings large and do they contrast well with their background?
  • Are buttons easy to press? Large buttons that stick out are better.
  • Are dials large and easy to grip and turn?
  • Are positions on the dial well-spaced? Cramped settings need more precise control.
  • Are the controls well-spaced, so that you don’t press the wrong one accidentally?