I can’t believe I have only now gotten around to writing this review of my Miele W3038 washing machine.
Just to give you some background, laundry has always been my favorite chore, but when I moved in with my now husband our condo did not have a washer. It didn’t even have space for a washer, since the hookups were in a tiny closet in the bathroom where we kept all our household stuff! So we spent several years using a wash and fold service (you can read more about that here) till I finally got my Miele W3038 washer and T8023C dryer as a wedding gift.
That was a year and a half ago, and in that time I’ve really gotten a chance to test out the Miele W3038. I run on average 7-10 loads of laundry a week, and at this point have tested out every single setting the washer offers. I’ve also determined its strengths and weaknesses and have figured out the optimal settings for my daily needs. Read the rest of my Miele washing machine review to get the full details.
Table of Contents:
- THE BASICS: FRONT LOADERS VS TOP LOADERS
- A WORD ABOUT MOLD
- MIELE W3038 WASHER STRENGTHS
- MIELE W3038 WASHER WEAKNESSES
- PREFERRED SETTINGS
- RECOMMENDED DETERGENTS
The Basics: Front Loaders vs Top Loaders
First of all let’s get our basics out of the way: Miele makes Euro compact size front loading HE washing machines. This is the type of washer that is standard in Europe, but not quite as popular in the US, where till recently top loading washers were the norm.
I put together a quick comparison of the two types of washing machines in the table below. I personally have used front loaders my whole life and find the technology superior, but nothing is perfect – while more efficient (front loaders can use as much as 5 times less water per cycle compared to top loaders!), better at cleaning and gentler on fabrics, front loaders take much longer to wash a load, cost more upfront and can have mold/smell issues. A lot of people are happy with their top loaders and wouldn’t want to make the switch. It really all comes down to personal preference.
|Front Loader||Top Loader (not HE)|
|Washing method||Tumbling action (gentler on clothes and better cleaning)||Agitator "beats" clothes|
|Heater||Built-in on some models, allows for high wash temperatures||None; water temperature will never be higher than tap hot|
|Cost||On average more expensive||On average less expensive|
|Efficiency||High: little water and energy used||Low: lots of water used|
|Stacking dryer||Yes, good for tight spaces and apartments||No|
|Spin speed||Very high; extracts lots of water and decreases drying time||Average|
|Prone to mold||Highly if not maintained properly||Less prone|
A Word About Mold
Mold is unfortunately a real issue and part of the reason that HE front loaders are not as popular in the US as they are in Europe. People who are used to basically “no maintenance” top loaders don’t always find it easy to adjust to the care a front loader needs. On top of that, several manufacturers in the US had production issues that have led to class action lawsuits.
However, if you have a machine that is properly designed, mold can be prevented in just three easy steps:
- Always keep the washer door open (preferably wide open, but even slightly ajar is better than closed) and at the end of the day remove the detergent tray as well, allowing for as much air circulation as possible. Keeping the door closed is the #1 cause of mold, since it turns the washer into a perfect warm and damp environment with detergent and fabric softener residue to feed the mold spores.
- At least once a week run a hot/Sanitize wash with powder detergent and once a month run a Clean Machine cycle.
- At the end of the day wipe off the rubber boot/gasket.
For me this is all part of normal routine – I do those things without even thinking, and a year and a half after buying my washer I have zero signs of mold. The rubber gasket on the Miele W3038 is also made of sturdy rubber and designed in such a way that there are no difficult to reach folds, minimizing the chances of anything growing there. It’s a much better design than I’ve seen on other machines.
Also, keep in mind proper detergent and fabric softener dosage – you want to make sure that you’re using just enough to get the clothes clean and soft, which is often much less than the manufacturers recommend. Leftover detergent and especially fabric softener residue is not good for any washer, but is especially harmful for front loaders.
Miele W3038 Washer Overview
Miele offers only two residential washing machine options in the United States: the Miele W3038 and the Miele PW6065 Little Giant. The Little Giant requires a 220V connection and is able to heat water all the way up to 203F/95C, allowing for a true boil wash. The drum size is a little bigger – 6.5kg vs 5.5kg. It also gives a lot more flexibility with the programs, but that comes at a price – the Little Giant washer starts at $3745, while the Miele W3038 is $1999.
The Miele W3038 plugs into a standard 110V plug, and has a built in water heater that can heat the water up to 160F/70C. It comes with 18 programmed wash settings (including Custom, which lets you select water temperature and spin speed). Like the Little Giant, it has Miele’s famous Honeycomb Drum which is very gentle on fabrics.
You can read more about Miele Laundry here and check out the full specs of the W3038 here. I don’t want to spend too much time on tech specs, since those are pretty easy to find via a google search. Instead, I’d like to focus on my actual experiences with the machine.
One more comment: Program Mode is not available on the W3038. On earlier models there was an option to get into the settings menu and adjust things like rinse water levels, but now that is no longer possible. A bit of a rant here is that Miele don’t seem to trust their US customers as much as their European ones – that’s most likely due to the nature of the US market and the “customer is always right” approach to customer service. European machines offer a lot more flexibility when it comes to settings, while in the US Miele limits those quite a bit, probably in an attempt to avoid any potential lawsuits.
The number one reason why I love the machine so much is just how well it washes. I have a huge collection of detergents and I can honestly say that pretty much no matter what I use I get good to great results without any pretreating. I sort my laundry, throw the clothes in the washer, decide which detergent I’ll be using (not always easy) and clothes come out clean and fresh. Some of the milder detergents like Perwoll Black don’t always get the bottoms of colored socks clean (I wrote about that here), but if I really wanted to use that detergent for everyday loads I could easily adjust the length of the cycle and increase the temperature to get adequate results.
The water levels are very low (on most programs the water levels won’t reach the glass door – this can be quite shocking to those who are used to top loaders), but at the same time everything rinses out beautifully. It really is very gentle on fabrics – I have no issues with trusting my most delicate cashmere sweaters to the W3038 and I no longer hand wash anything. I even washed my wedding dress in it! The made in Germany build quality is fantastic – every little detail is polished to perfection, and it is incredibly quiet when running.
Another cool thing that not all front loaders allow is the opportunity to open the door mid-cycle and add clothes. However it won’t let you do this if water levels or temperature is too high, so you don’t flood the room or burn yourself.
- Washing: this really is a fantastic washer that performs better than any other machine I’ve ever used. Also, while it does not have a separate soaking cycle, you can just turn the machine off mid-wash and it will not drain. The cycle will resume once you turn it back on again.
- Built in heater: the W3038 offers the following temperature settings: No Heat (tap cold), Cold (86F/30C), Warm (104F/40C), Very Warm (122F/50C), Hot (140F/60C) and Sanitize (158F/70C). Believe it or not, but in a lot of US washers Warm is only around 80F/27C! I’m a firm believer that clean clothes require controlled heat, and the Miele definitely delivers that.
- Cold fill, slowly heated prewash: also known as a “profile wash”. Most cycles have the option of adding “Heavy Soil”, which is a 30 minute prewash. For this prewash the machine fills with cold water and then the built-in heater slowly warms it up, making sure that no protein stains are set with hot water.
You also have the option of starting a Custom or Wrinkle Free cycle on No Heat or Cold (no prewash) and after 5 minutes changing the temperature to Warm, Very Warm or Hot. That way the built-in heater will kick in and start heating the cold water to your desired temp, turning your main wash into a profile wash.
- Custom cycle: my most used setting that lets you select the temperature and spin speed independently, as well as add any of the options: Heavy Soil (prewash), Sensitive (extra rinse), Extended (adds 10-30 minutes to most cycles).
- Size: as a Euro compact machine with a 2 cu.ft. drum this washer can fit just about anywhere. We were able to rearrange things in our bathroom closet to fit the W3038 along with the matching T8023C dryer. The machines can be stacked with the purchase of a stacking kit, which is the setup that we have.
- Efficiency: we pay a lot for electricity, and I was somewhat concerned that the washer and dryer would make our bills go sky high. But in spite of the fact that I rarely wash anything on No Heat or Cold, our bills have remained about the same. The washer uses on average less than 10 gallons of water per load (compare to top loaders that use 30-45+ gallons per cycle!).
- Drum light: okay, this might be a silly one, but I LOVE the drum light. It’s a bright LED light that lights up when you open the door, meaning you’ll never lose a black sock in there. I even wish there was a light button to turn the light on during the cycle!
- German quality: as I’ve mentioned earlier, the build quality is fantastic.
First of all I’d like to point out that I think the Miele W3038 is one of the best washers available in the US today. I really think that as long as you are comfortable with a front loader you will most likely love the machine as much as I do. But at the same time nothing is perfect, and when making purchasing decisions I actually always read the negative reviews first to be prepared. So here are the things that in my opinion Miele did not get right with the W3038:
- Manual: let me just say it, the Miele W3038 manual is frustrating. My main issue with it is that it does not give a good enough overview of the cycles. It doesn’t tell you vital things like what the agitation type and water levels are, it doesn’t show you the actual spin speeds, and it even doesn’t give you the temperatures in Fahrenheit! Also it doesn’t mention very important things like that the built-in heater does not engage on certain cycles (Normal, Delicates, Silk).
- Preset programs: There are a lot of good preprogrammed cycles on the W3038, and a Custom cycle if you want to have more control than the preset settings offer. However, I don’t understand why some options are disabled for certain settings. For example Express is a quick 30 minute wash that would be perfect for cleaning microfiber cloths and mop attachments if only I could either extend it by 15 minutes or add a 15 minute prewash. But both of those options are disabled for Express, as is Sensitive (extra rinse). In a perfect world I’d have the presets plus a way to set time, temperature and spin speed independently – hey, some days you just really need that 30 minute Hot wash with a prewash and extra rinse!
- No option to adjust settings after first 5 minutes of the cycle: this is something I would have loved to have as well. Right now you can change your mind on water temperature or Extended/Sensitive/Heavy Soil only in the first 5-6 minutes of the cycle. After that the machine locks up. But sometimes halfway through the wash you realize that you should add a bit more time or an extra rinse. It would really be great to have that flexibility.
- Capacity: this is not an issue for me personally, but it might be for some. The washer is small, and while some people have reported successfully washing Queen duvets in there I personally would not risk anything over a Twin. If you frequently need to wash large, bulky items this is not the washer for you.
- Price: there’s no doubt that this is a very expensive appliance. On top of that, Miele USA’s customer service isn’t exactly stellar and the washer comes with only a 1 year warranty. For the price you’d expect better terms. I personally have purchased the extended 5 year warranty for both washer and dryer just to be on the safe side.
So this is a fun one. With so many settings that aren’t always intuitive (Beach Towels cycle, anyone?) it took me a while to experiment with all of the settings and figure out which to use for daily loads. There’s even a Miele Cheat Sheet out there that can guide you! But here are my top 5 types of loads and the settings I use for them:
- Whites (mostly cotton and cotton blend): Extra White or Wrinkle Free (WF has higher water levels and is a little shorter, so I use that for less dirty loads) – Hot – Heavy Soil – Sensitive – High Spin
- Colors: Custom or Wrinkle Free – Very Warm – Heavy Soil – Sensitive – High Spin
- Blacks: Custom or Wrinkle Free – Warm – Heavy Soil – Sensitive – High Spin
- Bed sheets: Wrinkle Free – Very Warm – Heavy Soil – Sensitive – High Spin
- Towels: Normal or Custom – Very Warm – Sensitive – Max Spin
With an HE front loader you should only use low foaming HE-compatible detergents, since you want as few suds as possible in your machine and all the other benefits of the specialized formula. We have medium hard water, and I’ve found that I can usually use about 1/2-2/3 of the recommended dose of detergent and only about 1/4 of the lowest recommended dosage of fabric softener. Detergent and fabric softener residue can over time harm the machine, so you really want to play around with just how little you need. As a bonus, you’ll save some money since you’ll be buying much less laundry supplies! (Unless you’re like me and have a bit of a problem.)
Here are my detergent favorites:
- For whites: Persil Megaperls Universal is the staple that I keep coming back to. Leaves clothes a little stiff, but does an amazing job of keeping whites white. I also really like Persil Megaperls Sensitive for when I don’t want to deal with the stiffness.
- For colors and darks: Ariel Actilift Color powder – I bought this while vacationing in Europe and have no idea what I’ll do when it runs out. This detergent for colors leaves clothes much softer than any of the others I’ve tried. Surprisingly enough I did not like the Ariel for whites at all!
- For towels and bedding: Ariel Actilift Sensitive liquid – unlike the Persil Sensitive liquid and powder the Ariel does not contain OBAs and has a very light pleasant scent. I prefer liquids for my sheets and towels to keep them nice and soft.
- For delicates: Vaska liquid detergent (have to be careful since it can suds like crazy unless you’re using the Woolens cycle with minimal agitation) and Ecover Zero liquid.
- “Green” detergent: Ecover Zero powder – great cleaning and scent free (not for darks).
- Fabric softener: for a while I was purchasing Vernel and Miele softeners, but recently switched to plain old Downy Free & Gentle and have been quite happy with it.
- Note about pods: Miele washers are engineered in such a way that anything foreign in the drum gets “spit out” into the rubber gasket – so if you left something in the pockets and it came out during the wash it won’t clog or damage the machine. If you prefer to use pods you have to make sure to either put them deep into a pocket, tuck in a sock or lingerie bag, otherwise you risk finding a semi-dissolved pod on your gasket and have to rewash the load.
Miele Washing Machine Review Summary
My husband always jokes that Miele should just hire me already. I am so passionate about my washer that I always want to share that with people, and any guests that come over get the mandatory tour of my “laundry closet”. So the very short summary of the above Miele washing machine review is that I would absolutely recommend the Miele W3038 washer to anyone who is considering a compact front loader. It’s a fantastic machine that you will love, and that will last you a really long time.
The slightly longer version is this: if you are looking for a new washer, the first thing to do is decide whether you are comfortable with a front loader or top loader. There are pros and cons to both, you just have to decide what works best for you. If you’ve decided to go with a front loading machine, consider how often you need to wash very bulky items like King and Queen duvets and mattress pads or large area rugs. If you don’t mind taking those to the laundromat when they need to be laundered, and the Euro compact size works for you, the Miele W3038 is really a fantastic option. While pricey, it is very efficient and incredibly gentle on clothes, and Miele is a trusted brand with a long history of making some of the best washers in the world.
What prompted me to write this review was the number of people that had reached out to me via the Contact form to ask about my experience with the washer. The most popular questions are what can fit in the machine, how happy I am with the results and whether I miss having a true boil wash (no I don’t – I actually very rarely use the Sanitize temperature and doubt I’d do more than a handful of loads per year at 203F/95C). I tried to answer all of these questions in the review, but if there’s anything you’d still like to know please feel free to reach out to me via the comments or Contact form.
Stay tuned for a review of the corresponding Miele dryer, the T8023C!