How Much Space Does A Washing Machine Need Around The Sides?

When considering where to put a washing machine many of us in the UK only have the space in the kitchen. Most fitted kitchens include a space for a freestanding washing machine. 

It is recommended that there is a space left between the washer and the cupboards around it to allow airflow. But have you ever wondered exactly how much space a washing machine needs?

If you have, keep reading, because in this article I take a close look at the amount of space needed to allow the washer to work properly.

How Much Space Does A Washing Machine Need?

Washing machines come in two designs, freestanding or integrated. These will obviously have different space requirements because integrated washers are designed to fit inside a cupboard and freestanding washers stand on their own. They both need a gap all round to allow air to flow freely and prevent the appliance from overheating.

So let’s start by looking at how much space each type of appliance needs.

How Much Space Does A Freestanding Washer Need?

person looking at washing machine

All washing machine manufacturers agree that freestanding washing machines need a certain amount of gap between the appliance and the cupboards or worktop around them. This is to allow a sufficient airflow to prevent overheating and to also allow ease of access for maintenance purposes.

Although the dimensions of washing machines might vary, the amount of space required is pretty standard. A freestanding washing machine needs the following;

Side Clearance (freestanding washer)

All freestanding washing machines need enough clearance at the sides to allow proper ventilation as well as access for maintenance. 

The recommended amount of space is 2.5 cm (1 inch) clearance on either side of the washer.

Back Clearance (freestanding washer)

At the back of the machine you need to allow sufficient space to accommodate the hoses, electrical power cord and any other necessary attachments.

The recommended amount of required space at the back of the washer is 15 cm (6 inches). Remember to allow enough space for the plug.

Top Clearance (freestanding washer)

You should allow sufficient space above the washer to allow ventilation and access for maintenance. 

It is recommended that a gap of at least 43.5 cm (17 inches) be left between the top of the appliance and the underside of the worktop.

How Much Space Does An Integrated Washer Need?

Integrated Washing Machine

Integrated washing machines are designed to be fitted inside a cupboard space. As such they tend to not be as deep as a freestanding washer. However, they still require sufficient space around them for ventilation purposes.

Once again, the dimensions of integrated washers might vary but the gap required around each model seems to be quite standard.

Side Clearance (integrated washer)

Even though an integrated washer is designed to be enclosed by a cupboard, it will still need a certain amount of gap between it and the sides of the cupboard to allow adequate ventilation.

It is recommended that you leave a gap of around 2.5 cm (1 inch) between the side of the washer and the cupboard.

Back Clearance (integrated washer)

As with freestanding washers, an integrated washer needs adequate space at the back to allow for the pipes and electrical connections.

It is recommended that you leave a gap of at least 7 cm ( 2.75 inches) between the back of your washer and the wall to accommodate the pipework etc.

Top Clearance (integrated washer)

Even though the appliance is integrated into a cupboard space, it will still need a gap at the top to allow adequate ventilation. 

There should be at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) gap between the top of the appliance and the top of the cupboard.

What About The Bottom?

It’s also important to allow adequate air flow around the bottom of the appliance, this is true whether it’s freestanding or integrated. Washing machines are always fitted with feet which lift them off the floor and allow airflow.

You need to ensure that the airflow isn’t blocked by carpets or rugs etc. In some cases the lino can also get caught up and prevent adequate airflow.

Is The Side Gap Important When Fitting A Washing Machine?

laundry room with pile of clothes

Whilst it is important to allow adequate airflow to ventilate your washer, a tight fit on the sides can be acceptable. As long as there is an adequate gap at the top, bottom and back of the appliance.

Obviously the side gap needs to be sufficient to allow the washer to be moved for maintenance and repairs. But from a ventilation perspective, as long as there has been provision made at the top, bottom and back of the appliance it should be fine.

SEE ALSO: Can You Put A Washing Machine In A Cupboard?

Frequently Asked Questions

What size gap do I need for a freestanding washing machine?

The size gap that you will need for a freestanding washing machine is at least 2.5 cm at each side, 15 cm at the back and 43.5 cm at the top.

Should there be a gap either side of a washing machine?

Yes, there should be a gap of at least 2.5 cm on each side of a washing machine. This allows ventilation as well as some room to move the appliance for routine maintenance.

How much clearance do you need from a wall to a washing machine?

You need a clearance of at least 15 cm from a wall to the back of the washing machine. This gives enough space to accommodate all of the hoses and cables etc.

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