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The story of this washing machine starts with a bit of drama. One evening back in March this year, I put on a load of laundry. When I opened the machine an hour later when it was done, we were alarmed to see and smell smoke coming out of the drum. After a bit of debate and a fruitless search for a non-emergency fire service number, we decided we should probably do something about it, although we couldn't see any sign of fire - smoke coming from an electrical appliance is never good news. The very nice London Fire Brigade promptly despatched a fire engine to us. Our small flat was soon full of large fully kitted out firemen and women, and using their little electrical heat scanning gadget they said there was no fire but we needed to get the washing machine looked at.
The plumber who was sent said there was no problem. After this was repeated two more times (minus the fire brigade), our managing agent finally sent someone who knew what they were doing - he announced the machine was repairable but we'd be better with a new one. And that's how we ended up with the Hotpoint BHWM129/1.
Living in a rented flat, we had no choice in the washing machine. However when it was delivered I was quite frankly so pleased to have a washing machine that was unlikely to start smoking that I didn't care. Once I considered it properly, I was pleased to have a Hotpoint as it's a brand I know to be good.
To look at, it's a washing machine. It's not a particularly snazzy looking one, but it's not ugly either. Ours is integrated and hidden behind a cupboard door, but you wouldn't mind if it was on display. The control panel has three dials and a couple of buttons, and quite a few lights to indicate what stage of the cycle it is on. The dials each control type of cycle, temperature and whether you have any drying in the cycle. You can combine these settings to tailor make your wash cycle. Generally I just use the one hour quick wash, at 30 or 40C, and with no drying, but there are also the usual settings for cottons, wool etc, as well as ones designed for baby clothes and other slightly different settings. It has a 6.5kg capacity which is perfectly adequate for laundry for two.
Typically for us, we fired straight in without looking at the instruction manual. The first load I did took two and a half hours, which is just far too long. It was after this that I consulted the manual and found the symbol for the one hour wash. I would recommend checking the manual to understand the wash cycles available - I found the symbols and numbers on the machine were not very obvious.
In operation, the washing machine is noisy, as most are, but to me it seems really quite quiet. I actually think that is because our old machine was very noisy and rattly, possibly due to the off-centre drum which turned out to be the problem, and also because the cupboard door which covered it didn't close properly and banged about a bit. As well as the Hotpoint machine being less rattly, the door is also closing properly now. Because of this contrast between the old machine and the new, it's hard for me to gauge what the noise level of the Hotpoint is really like, but I think it is probably about average. Our kitchen and living room are open plan, and I don't find the washing machine to be particularly intrusive when it is on.
I use detergent (powder or gel) in every wash, and fabric conditioner in most washes. I have found that if I don't use fabric conditioner in the Hotpoint, the laundry doesn't come out fragranced as there is nothing to fragrance it, but on the other hand it doesn't come out smelling bad. When I use fabric conditioner it comes out smelling lovely of course. All the laundry that I've done has come out nice and clean, fully rinsed and well drained. I once had a washing machine which occasionally managed to tear holes in clothes (socks and woolly jumpers mainly) but that's not something which has happened with the Hotpoint.
I find the washing machine very easy to use. I load it, the door closes easily and you can tell it is secure, then add the detergent and fabric conditioner to the drawer - which has stayed pristine clean in around 5-6 months of use, no nasty gungy build up. The dials on the front stay set to my default cycle and I only have to change it when I want a different temperature or longer cycle.
I should point out that the washing machine does have a drying function which I've never used. I've had machines with drying functions in the past, including the smoking machine, and they never tend to be very effective - all they seem to do is use a lot of electricity, take absolutely ages, and leave your clothes hot and wet. So I don't feel inclined to bother trying the drying function on the Hotpoint.
I have two issues with this Hotpoint washing machine, and on the whole they are fairly minor. To be honest, I'm so happy to have a non-smoking quieter machine that I think it's brilliant. However, it would be nice if it had a countdown timer on the front, which my old machine had - this is a matter of convenience rather than necessity, but it's nice to be able to look at the front and see if you've got time to have a cup of tea or whatever before you need to take the laundry out. The other issue is similar - my old machine beeped when it was finished a cycle, but the Hotpoint doesn't. It does click loudly as it switches off, which is noticeable if you're paying attention and in the same room, but a beep would be handy. However, neither issue is major, and neither feature is essential.
Overall, I'm very pleased with this Hotpoint washing machine. I didn't get to choose it, but it's a good all-round washing machine - no bells or whistles, but it washes my laundry efficiently and quietly, and does a good job of it. I expect ours was bought through some trade provider or wherever companies buy appliances for their properties, but I've just checked Currys and they have it for £417. This seems to be pretty reasonable for what they're calling an integrated washer-dryer. Maybe I should try that drying function after all...
Washing machine features: Designed to be built-in / Cold water fill / Variable spin speed / Programmes: 16 programmes / 30 minute / 30 minute quick wash / Woollens cycle / Eco wash cycle / Baby cycle / Delicates and silk cycle / Hand wash cycle / Shirts cycle / Consumption and efficiency: Energy efficiency class A+ / Estimated annual energy consumption: 246kW/year / Estimated annual water consumption: 12800litres/year / Performance: Spinning performance rating B / Washing performance rating A / Noise level for washing standard 60° cotton programme: 54dB / Noise level for spinning standard 60° cotton programme: 80dB / General features: Size H90, W60, D57cm / Manufacturer's 5 year parts and 1 year labour guarantee / EAN/MPN/UPC/ISBN: 5016108715048 / By Hotpoint / Short name: Hotpoint BHWM129/1