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I'm not going to pretend to be someone who regularly uses the washing machine. I've got roughly 50 different shirts and t-shirts, and at least a dozen pairs of trousers so it's not often that I need to use the washing machine. I do try to do a load of washing every time the sun shines though, which isn't particularly often in Scotland but I've always got clean clothes. This washing machine has done me well over the last 11 months I've had it - there have been a few minor problems but overall I've been pleased with it. I got it from Argos (I believe Proaction is actually an Argos brand). It was actually a present from my mum - I moved into my new flat a week after my birthday.
Over the past few weeks, the machine has been a little sluggish but I may have overloaded it a little trying to take advantage of the recent sunshine. In general, the machine does perform rather well. There has been a bit of noise coming from the machine that I can only describe as a screech over the past few weeks, which again is probably from being overloaded. I can generally get about three days worth of clothes in the machine (i.e. 3 pairs of trousers, three shirts or t-shirts and three sets of underwear) with no bother but if I've let the dirty laundry build up then I'll just shove everything in as it comes to me, which is how I manage to overload it as often.There are a number of different setting, most of which I don't know the meaning of. The three I mainly use are:
Cotton, 40 Degrees
Cotton, 40 Degrees Eco
Cotton Cold Wash
I have only one item of clothing made of polyester, and nothing made out of wool so I don't really need to use any of the other options. The cold wash just uses water straight from the tap, which would be about 5 degrees. The difference between the normal and eco 40 degree washes is the amount of time it takes. I prefer using the eco wash setting but if I've been out running and got mud all over my trousers I'll put it on the normal wash. Both seem to work just as well for me. I've found that the soap doesn't generally dissolve properly on a cold wash, so I only use that setting for things like cloths and dish towels. I do try to save as much energy as I can so if I can use the cold or eco wash settings then I will.
Ease of use
Unlike most young boys, I did the washing quite often for my mum. Usually, it was when I'd done something I shouldn't have and wanted to distract her but sometimes I did do laundry just to be helpful. So I wasn't completely clueless when it came to operating this new washing machine, but I wasn't exactly an expert either. I still don't know what some of the symbols mean, but I can make an educated guess since I know what functions the machine is supposed to have from reading the instructions. For example, the one that looks like water being spun is almost certainly the symbol for the spin cycle. Similarly, the frost symbol is probably for the cold wash.
I did have some trouble with the machine to begin with. There's a dial you turn to pick the setting, as with most washing machines, then press the start button. When the cycle was finished though and I'd put in another load, I couldn't work out why it wouldn't start. It turns out you have to switch the dial round to the off position then turn it back round to the setting you want. It seems like a roundabout way of doing things. Overall, I think the machine is pretty easy to use.
The machine is almost a year old now and it's doing fine. I have had a couple of problems with it. Firstly, the section for putting fabric softener in has gotten clogged a few times. The only thing I've ever put in is fabric softener so I'm not sure how it's managed to clog up. It's easy enough to fix but is annoying. The only other thing I've had a problem with is the recent sluggishness I mentioned earlier. It sometimes sounds as if the machine is having difficulty spinning the load around.
The users manual is quite comprehensive - it covers all of the features and tells you how to maintain it. I've lost the manual now, but I did use it (after a few weeks of being a typical man and trying to figure it out by myself) and found it useful. It lists every setting and exactly what the symbols on the dial stand for. It also includes tips on how to keep the machine maintained. There is also a child lock on the machine which I don't need, living on my own, but have used it just because I like playing with the settings.
It's really easy to maintain the machine. Cleaning the section for soap and fabric softener can be a pain because it is a little difficult to get to some areas. There's really nothing else I've had to do to maintain the machine.
The noise can be deafening at times. If I'm in the kitchen and the washing machine is on, I can't hear the TV in the next room and it's not the first time I've missed the post man because I couldn't hear him knocking on the door. The machine does move around a little but it's really the spin cycle that's making all the noise. It's fine if I'm in another room with the kitchen door closed - I can barely here it in that case.
I've had no safety issues with the machine. There have been no floods and no breakdowns. Absolutely nothing has gone wrong, which I assume means the machine is, at the very least, reasonably safe.
Value for money
The machine cost £160 and was the cheapest in Argos at the time (I'm not sure if it still is) and I think it's a reasonable price. The machine is reasonably energy efficient and has worked well over the last 11 months so I think a more expensive machine would have just been a waste of money. Of course, my mum bought it for me so I can't really complain about the price myself. Mum also bought the extended warranty from Argos for me, which was £85 and I think was well worth it as Domestic and General (the insurers Argos use) will repair or replace the machine if it breaks down or if I accidentally break it myself in those three years. Overall, £245 in total is what was spent and I think it is a reasonable amount, especially given the machine is protected for three years.
This is a reliable, easy to use machine that's available at a relatively low cost. I'd definitely recommend it, although if you have a little more to spend I'd suggest a more energy efficient model than this.