Friday, 12 August 2011


I suspect nearly every live-aboard narrow boater has a washing machine.  It seems an essential item for all but the hardy.  The issue I have mulled over is what functions will we require in the chosen machine.  There isn’t much room on the boat so size is important.  However the smaller the size the less the washing capacity.  Moreover I’m not all that keen on living with wet laundry hanging around my ears.  I suspect it would be hard to dry in winter and significantly increase the condensation within the boat.

So a washer/drier seems to be our preferred option.  Drying is going to increase both water and electrical consumption.  Therefore the more water that can be extracted in the spin cycle the less energy will be used in the drying cycle.  We need to look for a machine with high rpm on the spin cycle.

Then there is the cost.

Most of these machines appear to only have a cold inlet and the water is then heated in the machine.  This too will place demands on our ability to produce electricity.  One option is to consider somehow plumbing the washer/drier so it can take surplus hot water from the calorifier.  For many years in Australia Jan has done cold washing.  We may be able to continue with this practice.

So the essential criteria for the machine is:

  • Washer/Drier
  • Size
  • Price
  • Spin speed
  • Ability to accept hot water
  • Energy rating
  • Water usage

Simple really……

After a considerable amount of trolling using Google and reading various reviews I created a small matrix of potential appliances and then colour coded the strengths and weaknesses of each machine.  In the end I selected a Candy GO4W464 Washer Dryer as our preferred machine.  It never rated any particular strengths but then neither did it rate any weaknesses.  It was “middle of the road”!

Now all I have to do is find a supplier at the right price!Smile


Peter and Margaret said...

Hi Tom, I do believe there is no such thing as a dual fill washer available in the UK any more, they are all cold fill I think - until somebody corrects me! I believe it is again due to some EU regulation regarding efficiency, a mixture of not using all the domestic hot water and then having to re-heat it, combined with lower washing temperature programmes designed into the machines. Low temperature detergents were developed to cope at the same time. When you buy new white goods now in the UK they are all energy rated, and have to meet certain basic criteria. This applies to fridges, freezers, dryers and washing machines. Good old EU.

Tom and Jan said...

Jan has indicated she is happy to cold wash as this is something she had done for years. However I believe it is important to do the occassional hot wash to assist in the dissolving of the build-up of soap powder and other minerals, etc.
I can't see the logic of not having a hot inlet as an energy saving measure. Domestic hot water is probably heated using gas whereas the w/m uses electricity. The latter is probably more inefficient to generate and increases greenhouse gases. I suspect it's actually easier to plumb in a single cold connection rather than both hot and cold. But then I could (and am often) wrong!

Elly and Mick said...

Tom, we have a front loader and when we had it serviced the repairman recommended doing a hot wash every couple of weeks or so. We've always washed in cold water but it's not the best on the machine.

Tom and Jan said...

Yes, our Samsung we had in Adelaide was the same. But at least it had both a hot and cold inlet connection.

Carol said...

Your choice looks to be a good one - I've been using a similar Candy washer/dryer on Rock n Roll for over 3 years now and I've no complains. In the summer (and for most of the winter for that matter) the washing is dried outside (whirlygig on the back deck or under the pram hood), only using the dryer when all else fails.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Carol,
Well that sounds positive. Is it possible to do a cold wash with the Candy?

Carol said...

no I'm afraid not - 30 degrees is the lowest it will go - to be honest I've never thought of washing clothes in cold water - I can't see how the washing powder can dissolve??

Tom and Jan said...

Almost all modern washing powders can be used for cold washing and they will dissolve in cold water. Power is actually more hygenic than liquid because of the additional bleaches and minerals (liquid might be better for colours). Moreover the enzymes in the washing powder work better in cold water as they are actually destroyed by hot water.

Most washing machine manufacturers recommend one very hot wash a month to assist in the removal of scale.

Sue said...

I have a cold fill Candy washing machine, but have connected it up differently.

It stemmed back from earlier days back in 2005 when I only had a small inverter meaning that I couldn't use the heater on it.. Post is here when I talked about it..

I have connected the cold to a 'T' junction which has a hot and cold fill going to it with a tap.

I then use the 'tap' symbol on the machine itself so it only cold fills, but the trick is to let some hot into it as well through the 'T' junction if you see what I mean.

OK it is guess work, and to be quite honest nowadays I just run the hot water through to the galley then switch on.. it has never ruined any clothes, and nothing has ever run. Close are really clean.

So it can work. I don't know that you need a dryer as well. It is going to take an awful lot of power from your systems and you may have to run the engine while you do it.

Like Carol said, we all seem to be able to dry clothes quite easily both summer and winter.

Sue said...

Just a quicky to Carol..

Do you not have a 'tap' symbol on that Candy.. That is the cold fill..

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Sue,

Now you have me thinking. Washing machine only... no dryer!

How do you dry lanudry when living in the boat in the middle of winter?

Elly and Mick said...

Tom, we haven't had a clothes dryer for about 12 or 13 years. I think with the radiators on the boat you could probably hang clothes hangers from a curtain rail or doorway or use one of those little hangers that are made to clip over the top of a radiator. You did say you don't like living with washing all around the place but I think it would be one or the other - a dryer or the washing all around.

Sue said...

I should have said that I choose the heating control to the tap symbol so it 'thinks' it is doing just a cold wash and doesn't use the heater, but with my dual taps on the 'T' Junction I can let some hot water in through if you see what I mean!

Our woodburner dries clothes very well in the winter, we have a bar across the boat close to the ceiling, you know one of those you use in a wardrobe?

Hanging the clothes on there on hangers dries them quickly, and the smalls are put onto a sort of mini wirley gig thingy with pegs on, that hangs on there too.

If you have a back canopy or even cratch cover, they can be hung out there to dry if the sun is shining!

During the summer we use a washing line along the side of NP which works really well if you are moored remote, the boat pole holding it away from the edge, not something to do in the middle of town!

Tom and Jan said...

There will not be any radiators; only finrads at floor level. We had a dryer in Adelaide and never used it in 16 years. But then that was Australia.

Interesting ideas. If we can get by with just a washing machine then not only will it be cheaper but we can select one of the newer slimline models.

Derek and Dot said...

Hi Tom and Jan
We had a normal sized Candy Washer/Dryer with great success. Cold water fill with a T junction to use the hot water in the calofier like Sue on No problem to save heating the water. Initially used only the washer and dryer was kept for emergencies. Big mistake a wash and a dry while cruising and it was all done. No wet washing hanging around. Didn't use much water either whereas manual when translated from Chinese made a mistake and we only used a litre of cold water at the most in the drying cycle. Well worth it and believe it is still going strong.

Shalbourne Gliding said...

Most live-aboards in the UK do not have a washing machine. As you have determined, drying is the problem.

Launderettes still exist and are the best solution in winter. Better still, a 'service wash' is excellent value; drop off your laundry in the morning and pick it up clean, dry and folded in the evening. Often they do ironing too.