Shopping for the right kind of washing machine can be tedious and confusing especially if you do not have prior experience using one. Several Supermarkets now stock many different brands and just like our phones, companies like Samsung, LG, Bosch, Von and many other brands continue pushing the boundaries in efforts to offer convenience.
Washing machines are now so intelligent that for most people, all you have to do is put in your load and go out for the day. You can come back home to find your laundry washed, dried and pressed just ready to be stored.
It is important to choose the right kind of washing machine for your home. Three things to consider are your pocket, the amount of laundry to be done daily/weekly or as often as you do your laundry, and being that water availability is an issue in Nairobi, it is actually a determinant.
If you shop around in the market, you will come across three common types of washing machines; The manual, semi-automatic and automatic. All three behave and operate differently but for the most important part is that your laundry gets done. So lets break it down.
Manual Twin Tub Washing Machines
These are quite easy to use and unlike the rest, require some manual input to function. The washing machine comes with a few functions mainly wash/rinse and spin; start and drain.
Once you have connected it to a water source, you will be required to open the water supply to let the water in up to the required amount. Load your clothes and add the detergent into the dispenser. Alternatively, you can put it on the clothes directly.
This machine does not offer options for washing cycles according to fabric. So once you load your laundry, set on wash and run the timer (which is normally 15 minutes). When the cycle ends, you can check to determine if your clothes are clean enough and proceed to rinse or run another wash cycle.
Once you are satisfied that your clothes are clean, drain the water and then fill it up again to rinse. You can drain and rinse for as many times as you wish. Once you are satisfied that your clothes are clean, you will be required to transfer them to the spin tub. Run the spin cycle and then put your clothes out to dry.
The advantage with a twin tub is that in the absence of constant running water, you can manually pour water into the machine.
The twin tub ranges between Sh15,000 to Sh25,000 depending on the load.
Semi Automatic Top Load Washing Machine
The top loading washing machines are said to require less maintenance compared to front loaders (automatic). They are the mid-level between the manual and automatic washing machines.
This machine requires a water connection and power to operate. Unlike the manual washing machine, top loaders typically come with a number of different wash cycles for different fabrics. It is also more convenient to use as you do not have to bend over so far to put in your load. For older people or those that need assistance, this is the ideal choice.
When using top loaders, you can also add more clothes mid-cycle or right after starting the cycle. They also tend to spread out lint and fabric softener more evenly than the front-loaders.
Compared to the automatic front-load washing machines, top loaders are easier to use, clean much faster and require less maintenance. They are also more affordable and do not collect mold easily.
Top loads come at mid-range prices. Depending on the load, you can get them from about Sh35,000 to Sh60,000.
Automatic Front Load Washing Machines
The automatic front load washing machines come packed with a variety of wash cycles and functions. Some of the latest models already have Artificial Intelligence which allows you to operate them remotely from your phone.
For front loaders, you will need a constant running water connection. Although it uses less water, there must be a steady supply of water as it fills in the water automatically.
Simply put in your clothes, shut the tub door and select the wash cycle e.g. cotton for 2 hours, light wash for 40 minutes, jeans(denim) etc.Each cycle has a different set time. The washing machine will draw in the required amount of water, wash, drain, rinse, drain and spin. When it stops, your clothes will be ready to dry. If you have a washer-dryer, you can run the dry cycle.
This machine uses less water but requires utmost precision during installation and when using it. It’s convenience is unmatched, but you also need to dig a little deeper as they are more expensive compared to the rest.
You cannot stop or interrupt a wash cycle once it has started. Also, power surges are known to cause the tub doors to jam. Some brands come with a manual to take you through getting the door opened. In some cases, you may need to get a technician.
Front Load washine machines vary in size depending on the load and can be bought from around Sh40,000 onwards to even more than Sh200,000 depending on the functions and intelligence.
All the washing machines have a specific amount of load it can wash at a time. Most brands have machines starting from 6kg onwards to bigger commercial washing machines that can wash about 18Kgs.