What is a smart washing machine and do I need one?

Smart washing machines are very much a buzzword among white goods manufacturers right now, but what are they and do you really need the features they offer? Read on to find out

best smart washing machine: SAMSUNG QuickDrive + AddWash WW90M645OPX
(Image credit: Currys PC World)

Washing machines have got to be one of the most feature-packed appliances in the kitchen. From pre-washes and anti-crease to extra rinse and start delays, there’s a whole lot to get your head around when you put on a wash – and that’s before you get onto the plethora of washing programmes, temperature settings and spin speeds.

And yet, when faced with so much choice, how many of us simply click around to the same setting we always use and overlook the rest? What extra features can a smart washing machine offer that won’t fall foul of the same?

In this feature we’ll take a look at some of the main reasons to buy a smart washing machine, cutting through the marketing talk to see how useful they really are are, along with some of the best smart washers you can buy now.

See more of the best washing machines in our guide, and check out our other washing machine guides, below. Find more of the best smart home for your kitchen in our guide. If you're looking for more advice, information and opinions when it comes to all things smart home, take a look at The Hub, our home technology page.

What is a smart washing machine?

While non-smart washing machines are loaded with plenty of clever features, the smart washing machines we’re talking about here are the ones that can specifically connect to your home's Wi-Fi in order to enjoy certain features. These can:

Control washing remotely

Using your smart washing machine’s companion app, you’ll be able to start or pause a wash from your smartphone – whether you’re upstairs and can’t be bothered to come down, or on your way to work. 

Monitor washing progress

Check in on how your wash is doing via the app and be informed when the wash has finished. 

Smart home compatibility

Some smart washing machines work with smart assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant so you can start washing programmes using your voice, plus you can factor a wash load into a smart home sequence or routine. Find out more about the best smart assistants in our buyer's guide.

Maintenance information

If something goes wrong with the washing machine, a connected smartphone can receive details of any faults to the companion app to alert you at the earliest opportunity. Some will even help you to work through the problem yourself, saving the need to call a plumber.

What smart washing machine features do you need?

Are smart washing machines a real bonus for the extra cost or can you do without their smart features? Read on to find out.

1. Remote control

If you’ve ever put a load into the washing machine but not wanted to set it going there and then, a smart washing machine has you covered. 

Perhaps you’re going out, want the washing done for when you return but don’t want a load of wet washing hanging around inside the drum for too long – you can check in with your washer via the companion app and set it going at a time that suits you best, as well as select the mode and any special features.

You can also pause a current wash, if you’ve got delayed somewhere and want to put it on hold.

Do I need it?

There are a handful of times when the ability to start or pause a cycle from afar would be useful, but most of the time you’re going to load your washing and set the washing machine going straight away – even if you’re going out, a few hours sitting in a well-maintained drum won’t be a huge problem. 

Now, if we can get a washing machine that autonomously sorts a load, loads it and then sets a cycle going, that’s something we can get on board with…

Needability: 2/10

2. Monitor your washing

Ever wondered if your partner put the washing on like they promised? With a smart washing machine you can find out by checking in on your wash, via your smartphone, to see how long is left and an estimated finish time. You can also receive a notification when the wash load has finished, or when your auto-dose detergent is running low.

Aside from catching a lazy family member out, this could also be handy for knowing when you need to be home to get a wash load out, or for planning your day after a wash load has finished.

Do I need it?

You know that saying about watching paint dry…? Watching a washing cycle isn’t much better. And there’s really very little use for it, when you really think about it. 

If you’re a busy household with lots of wash loads going on, it can be handy to know how long one has got left before you can put another one on, but popping downstairs to have a look at the display will give you that information. 

We can’t see a whole lot of use for checking it from outside of the house though, unless you plan your days by wash loads, which let’s be honest, very few of us do.

The auto-dose and wash finish reminders might be helpful for the forgetful among us, but you’ll usually get a notification from the washing machine itself when in the house – either a beep or a light. And if you’re not in the house, you’ll probably forget by the time you get home anyway…

Needability: 1/10

3. Adding it to your smart home

Several washing machine manufacturers now offer Alexa and/or Google Assistant compatibility, which will allow you to use a compatible device (like an Amazon Echo or Google Home Mini) to control your washing machine using your voice (rather than having a smart assistant built into the machine itself, currently). This includes washers from Samsung, LG, Bosch, Hoover and Whirlpool, among others.

Having smart home connectivity also means you can factor it into a smart home 'routine', which allows you trigger a whole host of actions with one verbal command. For example, giving your smart assistant the command 'good night' could lock the doors, turn off the lights, lower the thermostat and switch a wash load on. Futuristic or what?

Do I need it?

While it’s fun to control appliances with your voice, the fact remains that you still need to load the washer yourself and add the detergent – so it seems sensible, and indeed more likely, that you would just set it going there and then. 

The same goes for factoring it into any smart home routine. Unless you particularly want a wash load to run as part of a string of events as you’re going to bed or waking up (not forgetting it still needs to be filled and ready to go), it may not end up being particularly practical – as futuristic as it might seem the first couple of times you do it.

Needability: 3/10

4. Fixing your washing machine

If you’ve ever called a plumber out at an extortionate fee to discover it was something you really could’ve done yourself, a smart washing machine could save you time and cash.

When something goes wrong, the companion app for your washer may be able to help you to self-diagnose the issue (or equally, let you know when to leave it to the professionals). Most have troubleshooting tips built into the app, and some can even walk you through a fix step by step. 

Do I need it? 

Being notified of an issue, such as a blocked filter, before it gets any worse is a pretty handy feature, as are the troubleshooting tips to help you rectify the issue yourself.

That said, most washing machines come with a physical or digital manual, which will likely offer similar guidance, and a quick Google of any error codes will usually point you in the right direction of a fix.

Remembering to keep up with the regular cleaning of filters, the drum and detergent drawer will also go a long way to helping keep your washing machine running at its best. On that note, find out how to clean a washing machine with our guide.

Needability: 4/10

Should I buy a smart washing machine?

While you’ll notice that the extra features a smart washing machine offers aren’t likely to offer much in the way of real benefits to your life, smart features are being introduced lower and lower down in ranges now, and come in at very little extra cost. So even if you’re looking at an entry level washer, you might not be able to avoid it.

For example, Samsung includes some smart functionality in their washing machines from the Samsung ecobubble WW70J5555FX at £379, all the way up to their £1,219 Samsung QuickDrive + AddWash WW10M86DQOO, which comes with every smart bell and whistle going. Other manufacturers are doing the same, so it’s worth checking what smart functionality is included if it is important to you.

If you don’t have to pay a premium to get the extra features, you might find them useful every once in a while, but at this stage, we wouldn’t recommend going looking for them as a must-have on your shopping list. Instead, we’d recommend looking at more traditional features first, which you might find more useful – quick cycles and programmes for specific fabric types, not to mention the size of the drum and spin speeds. Read our guide to the best washing machines for more on the features to look out for and some of our top picks.

What are the best smart washing machines?

Interested in buying a smart washing machine, or interested to know what’s out there? Here’s our pick of some of the best. 

1. LG Steam FH4G1BCS2

what is a smart washing machine: LG Steam FH4G1BCS2

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Capacity & efficiency

A massive 12kg washing machine, this LG Steam FH4G1BCS2 should do the job for the largest of families and of course comes with the most efficient A+++ energy rating for peace of mind.

Speed & noise level

This machine will spin your clothes at 1400 rpm, with a noise level of 71dB on a spin and 52dB during a wash – a pretty average noise level, all things considered.

Features

This washer features LG’s Turbowash, which sprays jets of water onto your clothes for easier rinsing and faster wash times of as little as 49 minutes, and LG’s TrueSteam technology, which is great for allergy sufferers and those with sensitive skin. There’s also a function called 'Pause & Add Items', which will release the door within three seconds, so you can add to the wash through the main door. Odd sock on the floor, sorted.

Smart functionality is covered by LG’s Smart ThinQ branding, which includes the ability to control your washing from your phone, download 20 additional wash programmes and troubleshoot minor issues with the Smart Diagnosis feature.

2. Bosch Serie 8 WAW285H0GB

what is a smart washing machine: Bosch Serie 8 WAW285H0GB

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Capacity & efficiency

With a 9kg drum, the Serie 8 WAW285H0GB from Bosch should do the job for most medium-sized households, and its A+++ energy rating means it should do its bit to keeping the household bills down too.

Speed & noise level

It offers a 1400 rpm spin, and a noise level of 71dB when at its loudest. That’s relatively quiet at this price. 

Features

There are 11 washing programmes to choose from and features that include an Auto Stain remover, which targets 16 of the most stubborn household stains, adjusting the temperature and drum movement for the best results. 

From a smart perspective, the Serie 8 washer uses the Bosch Home Connect app, allowing you to control and monitor your washing machine from your smartphone, as well as get push notifications on its progress.

3. Samsung QuickDrive WW90M645OPO

what is a smart washing machine: Samsung QuickDrive WW90M645OPO

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Capacity & efficiency

Samsung does some pretty huge drums for the largest families, but 9kg is likely to be enough for most, and this Samsung QuickDrive WW90M645OPO comes with an A+++ rating for keeping energy costs as low as possible. 

Speed & noise level

It spins at 1400 rpm, with a maximum noise level of 73dB. That is about the same level as a vacuum cleaner on max power, but it runs much quieter (49dB) while washing. 

Features

This washing machine features Samsung’s QuickDrive technology, which claims to reduce washing time by up to 50 per cent, plus it comes with its AddWash feature, allowing you to add items to the wash through a small door in the drum once the wash has started. Handy.

Smart controls here allow you to control your wash from your smartphone, as well as identify any issues and troubleshoot them from your phone.

4. Hoover AXI AWMPD610LH8R

what is a smart washing machine: Hoover AXI AWMPD610LH8R

(Image credit: the best smart washing machine: what is a smart washing machine: Hoover AXI AWMPD610LH8R)

Capacity & efficiency

This mid-range Hoover AXI AWMPD610LH8R is a great choice for larger families on a budget, with a 10kg drum and that all important A+++ energy rating.

Speed & noise level

It’ll also get to a maximum spin speed of 1600 rpm so your washing shouldn’t take too long to dry once you’ve unloaded it. It means the noise level is a bit higher at its loudest, at 80dB, but its wash level is average at 51dB.

Features

There are a couple of clever features in this reasonably priced washing machine, including an auto-dose system, which will automatically dispense the right amount of detergent for your wash, and Hoover’s Total Care programme, which allows you to mix different fabrics and colours and whites in one wash. 

As an AXI machine, it’s one of Hoover’s smartest washing machines, and includes features that let you to monitor the wash from your phone and will even suggest a good time to start a wash based on the weather. You can also use the Hoover Talks app to control your washing machine by voice or ask for advice on the best programme to use for your load, plus it is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

5. Whirlpool SupremeCare FSCR12441

do I need a smart washing machine: Whirlpool SupremeCare FSCR12441

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Capacity & efficiency

Is a 10kg drum not big enough for your washing-mad household? Try Whirlpool’s SupremeCare FSCR12441's generous 12kg drum for size, complete with an A+++ efficiency rating.

Speed & noise level

The maximum spin speed on this washing machine is 1400rpm, with a maximum noise level of just 70dB at its loudest, and 48dB during the washing cycle. That’s thanks to Whirlpool’s Zen motor, which promises less vibration to be among the quietest on the market.

Features

As Whirlpool’s flagship washing machine, this smart washing machine is stacked out with its best technology, including a feature called 6th Sense that weighs every load to adjust your wash settings automatically, and FreshCare, which keeps the drum moving for up to six hours to keep clothes fresh until they’re unloaded.

Its smart functionality comes via the 6th Sense Live app, which will let you control your washing machine from your smartphone, as well as give you a rough estimate on cost per wash, to help you keep an eye on your spending.

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