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Why this machine
When last year my old Zanussi washing machine gave up the ghost I was keen to replace it with another Zanussi as we had 14 years of use out of my old one and the only thing that had gone on our old machine was the concrete slab at the bottom of the machine had cracked which meant it was very noise and the drum was starting to fall down. After various Internet searches we decided upon the ZWF16381W model I am fairly sure the W stands for White so hence in this review is in the ZWF16381 section. After a bit of searching for the best price we settled on Marks and Spencer appliances, the reason being at the time they were the cheapest and were throwing in for us free installation and taking the old one away so it seemed a good deal.
On the day on the machine arrived the engineer/ delivery driver fitted the machine for us. This involved all the unpacking and attaching of the cold water feed hose and the draining hose. Unfortunately our cold water pipe feed was corroding and he advised us that we needed to get a new bit fitted to the pipe before using the washing machine, as the machine needed a certain amount of water and pressure to work correctly. We did try to do the first wash with out rectifying this problem and about 10 minutes into the empty drum cycle a warning code appeared telling us that there wasn't enough water getting to the drum. A trip to the DIY shop later and my father in law had fixed the problem with our pipes and the machine was up and running. We did as recommended an empty machine wash first. I am not really sure why this advised but the machine did this cycle without any problems. If you don't get the installation included in the price the manual does give very clear instructions on how to do this and I am fairly confident if we moved house we could re install this with out any problems and probably complete this in around 30 minutes. The whole user manual is very simple to read and gives you plenty of information in a good clear manner with a section for trouble shooting problems I think it definitely one of the better manuals for household appliances that I have read in a while.
Using the machine
The machine is very easy to set with a turn dial on the front to select your programme. Depending on your programme you can then choose to a spin speed. The majority of the time we use the fasted speed 1600, if this is too fast for your programme choice the machine automatically takes it down to the next level, unfortunately it doesn't then take it back up to the highest spin level for the next wash and you have to do this manually. The draw for putting your washing powder or tablets in is very spacious and though we always use loose powder I am sure there is plenty of space if you prefer tablets. There is two powder section the first being used for pre-washes and the main section. There is a separate area for fabric softener with a gauge for the maximum fill level. The drawer can be removed easily for cleaning purposes by depressing a section of the draw. I find that doing this every couple of weeks stops any build of up soap slime. Once you have selected your programme and spin speed and any special features such as pre washes you then press the blue button for on, various small lights then go on as the machine gets going and signals that the door is locked. It also tells you very clearly on the LCD display how long till will take for the programme to wash your items. I personally find this feature in valuable now as rather than guessing will the load have finished before I need to go out I know can work it out easily. To save energy once it has completed its wash the LCD display reduces in brightness and there is no display showing when the dial is turned to off
Now in the Jillycat household there is normally a step done before turning the machine on and this is too un-set and set the child lock. What you do is depress two buttons simultaneously and this locks and unlocks the programme selection choices on the washing machine. This handy option means that if my son turns the machine dial he can't turn the machine on or change the programme selected. This is one of the best features of the machine I find with a 3 year old boy in the house as he often tries to play with the machine and this stops the machine breaking or the washing getting shrunk as he changes it to a 90 degree wash. The only change that isn't overridden by the child lock is turning it to off and occasionally I have come back to find he has turned the dial to off, all I need to do to get it going again is turn it from off and the cycle picks up at the stopped point. You can also ensure the door of the machine can't be locked with someone or a pet inside by turning a button in the door with the aid of a coin. I have to admit this is something we have never done at the risk of jinxing it the reason being is my son has never tried to climb into a washing machine so it seems like this something that we don't need to do.
There are 21 programmes on this machine and in the 8 months that we have had this machine I have to say that we haven't used them all at all. The most frequently used in our house is the 40-degree wash. This seems to cover the majority of our needs as a household with a messy toddler in it. I tend to prefer to not use the eco 40 wash with his clothes in winter as I find that the longer cycle and less water means that the mud on his clothes doesn't come out as well. The choice of programmes is quite good I find and it seems to cater to all our needs. I can use a hotter wash for towels which I find useful or do a sports wash for my husband's stinky gym kit the extra pre wash bit of this programme seems to help get the sweat out better I find. At the moment in the winter we are also often using the woollen programme for all our winter woollies and they haven't suffered from bobbling or shrinking in anyway from going into the machine. The programme that we have never had on a machine before was the sports shoe one and I have found this has helped not only to breath new life and get of cheesy feet smells out from trainers but it has been useful for getting rid of mud in the summer from my sons Doodles.
There are 1600,900 and 700 rpm. Some of the programmes have a maximum spin cycle for example wool washes can only go up too 900rpm. I can tell quite significantly the difference in how much water is left in the clothes from being spun at different speeds. I have tried putting a few items in with woollen jumpers to save washing cycles but it always leaves them a lot wetter and then it takes them a lot longer to dry, this tends to be most noticeable if I have put a pair of my 3 year olds jeans in the wash. It tends to mean rather than then drying on the airier in a day they take about a day and half which means the house looks like widow Twanky's a lot longer.
We previously had 5Kg drum washing machine and the increase to a 7kg is amazing I have found rather than washing everyday with our son I can now do the same amount of washing but every other day. In our previous machine I could only wash one set of bedding at a time, with this machine I have room for our double duvet sheets etc and my son's single sheets pillow cases. Perhaps the most noticeable increase for us though is that we now have sufficient room to wash all the towels at once by this I mean 3 bath sheets 3 hand towels and two child towels in one go. With the 1600 spin cycle they come out quite dry and don't take long to be totally dried on either the line or in the tumble drier. Overall I am very pleased with the drum size and would recommend this size to small families.
We personally find this machine to be fairly quite the only real noise is the spin cycle. To give you in idea of the impact this noise has I can say honestly that when we are sat in the next room watching TV when the machine is going full pelt in the spin cycle that we can still hear the TV and each other without any problem. I have actually used this machine on a night at a 1600 spin speed when my 3 year old has been up stairs asleep and the noise hasn't woken either him or my husband when he has had a lie in on a morning when I have being doing the washing then. If you are stood next to the machine as it washes and fills you are aware at times of water going into the machine but never enough to interfere with conversation. However if you are stood right next to the machine on full spin a telephone conversation is tricky.
Jet stream and Inverter motor
This doesn't mean your machine is likely to take off and fly you to a holiday destination but that the water jets into the washing machine. This is meant to reduce the amount of water needed and the machine will reduce the amount of water depending on the load size of your washing. I can always see the water going into the machine if I am stood by it. I have to admit compared to our old washing machine it does use substantially less water and I guess this is why its rated A for energy efficiency. As we are not on a water meter I haven't noticed a change to our water bills but if you are this would be a good feature I think. Now the inverter motor is supposed to be more powerful in its cleaning and make the machine quieter. I do think the main parts of the washing cycles are quieter than my previous washing machine that didn't have this. The bit that this inverter motor does that I notice most often however is that the motor will reverse the way the drum spins round, going anti-clockwise for a few turns. This is to redistribute the laundry in very light loads for example two jumpers in a woollen wash and it does this to ensure an even spin. I personally like this feature as it means all the clothes seem to have the same amount of dampness which makes drier them easier.
Now I have to admit I hadn't used this facility till I started writing this review. It isn't actually something that I think is important for me but in the interests of thoroughness for this review I thought I would try it. I actually found this quite hard to set you have to press the delay start button then press the on button to select the countdown time. I have found that if you don't do this quickly it can result in the machine thinking you have changed your mind and it took me 4 separate attempts to get this right. I think if I was using this regularly I would get the hang of it but if you are only doing this occasionally then I think it maybe just a bit to fiddly to of much use to you.
This is another element we don't really use you can press the options button to select this and what will happen is the machine will not empty the water before the last spin till you select it to do so at the end of a programme. This is meant to reduce the creases in your clothes. However as the majority of the time I am doing the washing I am at home they come straight out of the machine to dry we don't really need it, but this may be a useful feature if you are concerned about creases and want to reduce your ironing.
I have been very pleased with this washing machine it has certainly lived up to all our hopes of being a reliable energy efficient machine. The cold fill only means our hot water is now just used for baths etc in the house so there is no need to time when we do washing against baths on an evening. There is a good choice of programmes for any family household in my opinion. Though the spin cycle can be loud it doesn't stop my son from sleeping on a night or me from watching TV in the next room so I can certainly live with it. The child lock facility of the machine has been a god send with a toddler as it stops the programmes being altered and protects the machine from being turned on by accident. I would wholeheartedly recommend this washing machine to other families the 7KG drum gives you plenty of space for lots of washing. The only problem that I have found with it has been setting the delayed start but as we don't really use this option I am not going to deduct a Dooyoo star for that it is a 5 star machine for me. We paid £369 from Marks and Spencer's in July 2010 and I do think it is worth the price.
Short name: Zanussi ZWF16381W