What Washer Should We Buy?

The following information will help guide you through the process of choosing a washer that’s best for your family.  But we would be happy to help analyze the condition of your current machine as sometimes we can quickly repair these units.  Give us a call @ 847-636-0771

Wash Machine Comparisons

Front loader or top loader?

When you’re buying a new washing machine, the first decision you need to make is whether to buy a top loader or a front loader. Top loaders are easier to load and unload than front-loading machines (since you don’t have to stoop over to open them), and they cost an average of $300 less than top loaders. Traditional top-loading washers, which use an internal agitator that spins on a vertical axis to churn the water and clean the laundry, are the least expensive type. However, they cost more to run because they use more water and electricity than high-efficiency models. They also hold less laundry, make more noise and get lower scores (often vastly lower) in professional tests.

If you prefer a top-loading washing machine, sources indicate that an energy-efficient top loader is a sound choice. These washers use less water and energy than conventional top loaders, but they get higher marks for washing performance in independent tests. While some of these washers still use a traditional agitator design, most use different cleaning mechanisms. One common alternative to an agitator is an impeller — a fan-shaped ridge at the bottom of the washer drum that spins to create turbulence and somersault laundry through the water. However, these mechanisms can also tangle clothes more easily than a traditional agitator. Energy-efficient top loaders are also more expensive than conventional washers, with prices that rival those of front loaders.

Front-loading washing machines earn numerous recommendations because they have the best washing performance overall while using the least water and energy. Their horizontal tubs tumble clothes into and out of the water, making it possible to wash a full load without filling the tub completely. On average, front loaders tend to be gentler on clothes than top-loading machines, as well as more efficient. Front-loading washers can be stacked with a matching dryer to save space, and their higher spin speeds wring out more water, so laundry requires less time in the dryer.

However, front loaders have their own set of downsides. The most common complaint: Rubber seals on the doors of these machines can trap water, dirt and detergent, creating an ideal environment for mold growth. However, many owners say that they have successfully avoided mold and mildew problems by following the advice of experts to wipe down the rubber seal after each wash and leave the washer door open when not in use. Another common problem is lengthy wash times — anywhere from 50 to 100 minutes for a standard wash cycle, compared to 35 to 60 minutes in a top loader. The high spin speeds of front-loading machines may cause excessive vibration, especially on wooden floors. Also, because front loaders use less water, they require high-efficiency (HE) detergent, which produces fewer suds. Washing with regular detergent may cause a residue build-up inside the washer and on the rubber seal that exacerbates or encourages mold and mildew growth.

Understanding Energy Star ratings

Another factor to consider when choosing a washer is its operating costs — mainly electricity and water use. One well-known form of certification for energy-efficient consumer products is a government program called Energy Star. According to EnergyStar.gov, Energy Star-compliant washers are 37 percent more efficient than standard washers. Energy Star ratings are based on two statistics:

Modified Energy Factor (MEF): a measure of how efficiently a washer uses energy. MEF is calculated by dividing the washer’s capacity by the total amount of energy needed to run the machine, heat the water and extract the remaining water from the laundry in the dryer. The higher the MEF, the more efficient the machine. A washer must have an MEF of 2.0 or higher to receive an Energy Star-rating.

Water Factor: the total amount of water used in each load divided by the washer’s capacity. According to the editors of National Geographic, this formula is a better way to compare washing machines than total water used per load, since it takes into account the washer’s capacity. Energy-Star-rated washers must have a Water Factor of 6.0 or lower.

Both the MEF and the Water Factor of a washing machine are listed on the yellow EnergyGuide label in the store. You can also check a product’s rating at EnergyStar.gov. We have listed the MEF and Water Factor for each of our Best Reviewed washing machines in the comparison chart.

How to choose a washing machine

Consider capacity. Washers with a large capacity can do more laundry in a single load, saving time, energy and water. However, this doesn’t mean you should always buy the largest machine you can afford. Martha Psiroukis of Choice magazine notes that many users don’t fill their machines to capacity, so all that extra space just adds up to wasted water and energy. For most users, a typical load is only 7 to 9 pounds of laundry.

Seek out high spin speeds. Washing machines with high spin speeds extract more water from your laundry, which cuts down on drying time. A typical washer spins clothes at around 650 rpm, while some advanced models can reach speeds up to 1,200 rpm.

Weigh the value of a steam cycle. Independent tests show that steam cycles, included on some high-end front loaders, can remove tough stains better than water washing alone. However, they also add between $300 and $800 to a washer’s price. This cost may be worth it if you frequently wash very soiled items, but the top-rated front loaders without steam also have very good washing performance.

Stick with basic white if you want to save money. Many modern washing machines come in a base model with a white exterior, as well as additional trendy colors. However, these designer colors cost more — typically about $100 more for a machine that’s otherwise identical to the basic white model.

Evaluate features. Experts praise the value of an automatic temperature control feature, which selects the right water temperature for each cycle. Automatic dispensers for bleach, detergent and fabric softener are also handy. By contrast, the many customized programs available on most machines aren’t particularly useful. For most people, the basic cycles and three standard water levels will work fine.

Skip the extended warranty. Most experts say extended warranties usually aren’t a good deal.

Look into rebates. The federal government does not offer tax credits for energy-efficient washers at this time. However, rebates may be available from the manufacturer or from your utility company.

Check product recall information before buying. The last major recall of washing machines occurred in June 2010, when certain front-loading washing machines manufactured by General Electric were recalled due to an electrical fault that created a fire and shock hazard. Consult the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website (CPSC.gov) before making a purchase.

Top-Load Washers with Automatic Balancing

Many washing machines boast a high 1400 revolutions per minute (rpm), 1600rpm or even 1800rpm spin speed rather than the more common 1200rpm, which helps save time on the line or energy use in the tumble dryer by removing more water.

However you’ll usually pay extra for this feature, and 1200rpm is generally adequate for most loads.

Automatic Dispensers

Features that allow laundry products to enter the machine at the proper time. These include dispensers for bleach, fabric softener, and detergent. Each of these products can be added manually, but dispensers are a nice convenience.

Automatic Temperature Control

Mixes the hot and cold water as it enters the washer, ensuring that the proper temperature of water enters the tub.

Capacity

This refers to the size of the washer’s tub. For best cleaning results, it is important that the amount of laundry placed in the tub has sufficient room to move about. A large machine is rated at roughly 2 to 2-1/2 cubic feet, an extra-large machine at 2-1/2 to 3 cubic feet, and a super-large at approximately 3 to 3-1/2 cubic feet. Unless you are washing bulky items like comforter and ski parkas, figure on a 10-12 pound maximum load for large-capacity machines and 14 pounds or so for extra-large and super-large ones. Front loaders usually handle somewhat less.

Controls

Choose from rotary controls, touch pads, and the newer touch screens. Rotary controls are the least expensive and have a long history of good performance. Other styles will add to the price of the machine, but can be useful once you understand their operation.

Cool Down

An intermittent tumbling cycle that will tumble dry clothes with or without heat in order to prevent wrinkling if clothes are not immediately removed at the end of a cycle.

Damp Dry

A feature that shuts off the dryer before the clothes are completely dry–useful for those who prefer to hang damp items, to limit shrinkage and wrinkling.

Drying Rack

A rack that attaches within the drum–great for drying sneakers and minimizing the noise of heavy items tumbling in the machine.

Express Dry

A feature designed to dry small loads quickly, using high heat.

Extra Rinse/Warm Rinse

Allows the operator to change the standard rinse selection. An additional rinse can be helpful for those with detergent sensitivities. A warm rinse will leave clothes warm, speeding the drying process.

Speed Combinations

Machines can offer a variety of wash and spin combinations. Wash speed, such as normal or gentle, are then paired with similar spin speeds. Three combinations are generally sufficient to serve the various needs of a typical family, although many washers offer more.

Stack-ability

Some front loaders offer this feature, allowing the user to place a dryer on top–a great option for a small space.

Time Delay

A feature allowing you to load the machine and have it start later. This is useful to take advantage of lower utility rates or to avoid the unwanted noise of the machine at certain times in the day.

Tub material

Typically tubs are constructed of plastic, porcelain-enamel, or stainless steel. Plastic is durable and the least expensive; porcelain-enamel is very common, but may chip and rust; while stainless steel is very durable, but pricey.

Water Level Control

Front loaders match the water level to the load size automatically and are most efficient in water usage. Top-loaders typically require that you guess the proper water level. To control water usage on a top-loader, you’ll want the option of four or five water levels. Some low-priced models have only one water level. It is wise to avoid these units. They will cost you lots of money in water usage.