I have been using this washing machine for almost 3 years now, and can honestly say it's a great machine, and I've (touch wood) never had any problems or needed it serviced in any way. For a childless couple living alone (apart from a horde of animals), we generate a surprising amount of washing, so this does get farily put through its paces. I blame his filthy work and our hairy slobbery dog (and perhaps my cleanliness compulsions too)!
--The machine itself--
The Hotpoint Aquarius WF541 is very easy to use; the dials and buttons are clearly labeled so there's no confusion over what they do, and selecting the option you need is simple. It has 12 different cycles; a prewash, a 95 degree (for white cottons), three 60 degree (a 'Super wash', colourfast cottons, and a fast wash), three 40 degree (non colourfast cottons, wools, and acrylics), three 30 degree (cool, silks and a fast wash) and a hand wash. There are extra options by way of push buttons, which are interchangeable with most of the cycles. These are wash enhance, reduced creases, rinse hold, mini load, extra rinse. You also get a row of indicator lights, so you always know how far along in the cycle the machine is. These are door lock, prewash, wash, rinse and spin, final spin. The door lock light flashes on when you close the door to let you know you've closed it correctly, then flashes off again until the cycle starts. It stays illuminated until the end of the cycle, then clicks off a few minutes after the cycle ends.
There is a key clearly telling you which number you select (using the dial) for the cycle you want; the dial also allows you to utilise the rinse and spin functions separately, letting you choose either a slow spin, fast spin, or rinse and spin. This is handy if you have handwashed something in the sink and need to spin it before hanging up to dry. Although the machine does have a handwash cycle, but you may not wish to use this in some cases.
There are a further 2 dials, one with a selection of temperatures (no heat, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 95), the other with a selection of spin speeds (no spin, 500, 800, 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300 or 1400). I always change the temperature depending on which cycle I use, as you can operate the temperature independently of the cycle chosen, as indicated by the provision of temperature settings not used in any of the preset cycles.
This machine can safely take up to 6Kg of washing, and the door is quite wide. It also opens fully, lying flat against the side of the machine so loading it is super easy. The drum is fairly spacious too, allowing you to get everything in without cramming. The door is equipped with an easy to use handle which is neither too loose (meaning you don't need to slam it to lock) or too tight (meaning you don't have to hang off it to get it open!). The detergent/powder drawer has the standard sections, but also a handy section with a blue plastic mesh. This has stepped sections marked with volume, which allows for easy pouring of the correct volume of fabric conditioner should you use it.
I have even managed to fit a king size duvet in this, and though it was a tight fit it was washed properly. I was pleasantly surprised to find no 'ignored' dry patches when I took it out!
--How I use it & what I think--
The preset cycles I use the most are 40 degree non colourfast (for a normal wash), 60 degree superwash (for towels, some bedding and really dirty stuff) and fast wash (as before but a smaller load) and 30 degree fast wash (for small loads of barely soiled stuff). The only cycles I have never used are the wool, silks and acrylics, as if I have anything remotely delicate or am in doubt, I err on the side of caution and handwash. So I am afraid I can't tell you how good and safe these cycles are. However, the handwash cycle is very good. It often needs an extra spin though. I still stick to washing in the sink if I have anything very delicate that I'm precious about (like something with embellishments for example) as I find it hard to trust that my item won't be effected. However this is a personal thing, as there are some things I would be gutted to ruin. I have never had to wash anything more than once, and never had any residue left. This tells me the rinse is thorough.
The interchangeable options I find really useful, as you can do certain cycles but at a different temperature, you can use mini load if you want a specific cycle but don't have a full load (cutting on some time and energy). The reduced creases function I have tried, but since I generally get my washing out straight after it finishes, I am unsure how much this works. I have never used rinse hold, as I've never had any need to. The fast wash cycles sometimes need an extra spin, but they wash just as well as the full cycle. There are a lot of options you can choose between and it does take a little getting used to, to figure out how best to use them. But I firmly believe more choice is better than none! And when you do get used to it, it lets you tailor the machine to suit your needs better.
I use the spin at a speed of 800, at all times. This spins well enough that for line drying indoors items are mostly always dry the next morning (sometimes jeans need a little longer to be fully dry at the crotch and waistband). I choose to use this speed, as my washer and dryer are underneath a section of worktop that has a turtle tank on top and I don't want any more vibration than this speed gives, and of course it conserves some energy as well. Having said that, the machine doesn't jump all over the place like an excited child on Christmas morning and I never have to push it back into place. Although you get the expected vibration it does not move. It is not overly loud either, I can be on the phone in the same room while it is running, and it doesn't interfere with my constant radio listening, though sometimes I do need to leave the room on the phone while it is spinning.
The other handy thing about this machine, is that dog hair and general fluff gather in the rubber door seal, and on the bottom of the door, making it easy to remove. The detergent/powder drawer is also really easy to clean, with no useless ridges that you can't get a cloth into! Although I use a wash ball directly in the drum, and never use the drawer so this doesn't concern me.
My only slight, teeny weeny gripe is that, compared to other family members' machines, the cycle lengths seem to be a tad long. For example, my mum's machine does a fast wash in approximately 20 minutes, this machine is around 45 minutes for a fast wash, and around an hour for a mini load. But overall, this machine really is excellent, it does the job it is supposed to, and it does it well. It has an energy rating of AAB, so is quite efficient, which somewhat balances out the longer cycles. Ideally though you'd like a machine with fast cycles AND a good energy rating! The other thing that annoys me irrationally is waiting for the door to unlock! It seems to take ages after the cycle has ended (in reality it is around 5 minutes), but I fully admit I am an impatient person, and am usually standing there waiting to get it hung out!
I have had this washing machine for about 2 years now, but it has probably seen as much use as some machines see in about 5 years - why you ask is it because I small children who constantly need clothes washing???
Oh no its because I have two teenage children who both play football and a husband who manages a football team so at this time of year my washing machine is either washing muddy football strips or muddy training clothes - added to that they both play Hockey so I have PE kits to wash so may machine is on at least once and sometimes twice a day.
I have found that it is very effective at washing these really muddy items especially as it has extra rinse buttons and an extra dirty wash setting - which seems to cope with most things - I very rarely have to wash things twice.
It is a quiet machine with just hum of the pumps and its is even fairly quiet on the spin cycle. The door opening is really large and if folds right back on itself so stuffing all those clothes in is really easy. It will take up to 6Kg of clothes so you can get a reasonable amount of washing done each time. There is also an option to amend the spin speeds from it standards standard 1400 but I have never used it
This is the third Hotpoint machine I have had in about 22 years - so considering the use I get out of them (especially in the last 15 years) they have been reliable - each time I have had very little go wrong with them until they just wore out and I replaced them. I would definitely buy another Hotpoint when this one gives up as I think they are good value for money (we only paid about £200-£250 I think)- OK they may not have hundreds of programmes but how often do you really use many more than - hot wash, cool wash, and half load, and they seem to maintain good repair - they don't go rusty or anything like that - and my machine isn't kept in the kitchen but in conservatory so does have extremes of temperature to deal with. There is also very little day to day maintenence - I might clean the tray out at the back once a year for any missed earing etc but as I generally go through the pockets on my washing quite vigourously I don't really have much to clear out.
One of the programmes I do find good on this machine is fast wash as It will wash in 40mins and as long as the clothes aren't too dirty they will be perfectly clean.
Front Load Drum Washer / Efficiency: AAB / 13.23 lb / load / Features: Dial Controls / Colors: White / Gray / Short name: Hotpoint WF541