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What kind of Washing Machine should I buy?

Updated on July 2, 2011

Start with survey of your use.

In order to pick the best brand and type or washing machine, you need to take a variety of things into consideration.

  1. How often do you use the washer?
  2. Do you open the washer often during the cycle?
  3. Are you particular about your wash, or do you just cram enough in to make a load and then run it?
  4. Do you live in a place that needs to conserve water due to high cost low availability or disposal costs?
  5. Do you use the cycles on your machine to match the wash load requirements?
  6. Is your main concern conservation, life of the machine, condition of clothes, or water conditions?
  7. Please follow safety cautions when working on a  washing machine.

Trademark for Frigidaire.
Trademark for Frigidaire.
Top Loading washer.
Top Loading washer.

General Considerations

When thinking about buying a new washer, it is a good idea to think about the following:

  1. Electronics: If a machine is controlled with or by electronics, the repair rate is higher than mechanical machines and the costs are much higher.
  2. Personally, I try to avoid machines with more to go wrong with them. If you are buying a washer, electronics should not be the only consideration, however, two machines with the same options side by side, the electronic machine is less reliable and harder and more expensive to repair. I have read the repair manuals on several different electronic and non-electronic machines. Although this does not make me an expert, it is apparent that the electronic machines are more difficult to test, more difficult to diagnose, and more difficult to repair, and will cost far more for the service. Replacing a controller may also call for the replacement of a wiring harness. This adds up.
  3. Conservation. If you need to conserve energy and water, then the machine that uses the least amount of water and does it more efficiently would be the best choice. The best machine for this scenario is a front loader.
  4. The major complaint of all front loading machines is smell. Most of the front loaders have a musty mildew smell that can permeate the wash. This comes from water sitting in the folds of the rubber boot that seals the door. Carefully drying the boot and running bleach in the washer once a month or so can alleviate the problem. Others recommend using vinegar to help reduce the odors. Some repair scenarios call for leaving the door open.
  5. Detergent: if you want to save on detergent, a front loading machine typically calls for 1/2 or less the amount of detergent used in a top loading machine.
  6. Door Lock: most top loading machines have a lid switch and the lid can be opened anytime during the cycle. Front Loading machines have a door lock that sometimes will not unlock and allow the door to be opened even when the washer is turned off.
  7. Operating costs: did you know that front loading machines use 1/2 to 1/4 energy needed for a top loader? It is true. Some of this is hype though since both machines are inexpensive to operate. A top loading machine based on 8 loads a week, costs about $41 a year to operate while the front loader costs about $15 a year to operate.
  8. Economics: Most front loader washers cost more. As a matter of fact they run in the $600 to $1200+ dollars. Top of the line top loading washers run about $600+. Say two washer with similar features, a top loader for $700 and a front loader for $1000 were purchased and run exactly the same, it would take approximately 10 years to reclaim the added initial costs in enegy savings. I suspect the front loading machine will cost more to maintain during that period.
  9. Expected life of a washer: Front Load = 11 years, Top Load = 14 years.
  10. Conservation: If you want to conserve energy and water, then a front loading machine might be the best choice. However, there are a few top loading machines that meet low energy standards. You must research these machines.
  11. Costs: The lower end front loading machines are pretty amazing. Frigidaire® has a front load machine for about $600 which has great engineering, dependability, low operating costs, conserves energy, and has a mechanical timer (a big plus to me) and most importantly is just as good or better than most of the machines on the top end.
  12. Personal preference: don't be fooled with fancy displays, lcds, and leds. These look great and have a place in bragging circles, other than that, they offer options that sometimes do not work and usually will not be used by the consumer. Most people want basic service out of the washing machine, and they want it to be reliable. Fancy displays and buttons do not compute to be reliable service.

Select a machine for Features

Most people want a machine that can do the following:

  1. Heavy Duty cycle for heavily soiled laundry.
  2. Regular cycle for most regular wash.
  3. Permanent Press cycle for wrinkle free wash.
  4. Gentle Cycle for delicates.
  5. A second rinse setting.
  6. And less often a Soak cycle for hand washables.
  7. Water level selector for different sized loads.
  8. Temperature selector for combinations of hot/cold/warm settings.

Select a machine for economy

If money is no object, just buy the most expensive complicated washer you can find. It will look beautiful in your laundry room, and will impress your maid, housekeeper, and friends you bring through your laundry room.

However, if you are on a budget, you should purchase your next machine on the basis of your personal preferences: features, economy, service record, conservation.

Remember that sometimes you do not get what you pay expensive washing machine is not necessarily better.

My favorite brand: Whirlpool® for top loading, Frigidaire® for front loading. Avoid the electronics. You will get good service with these.

Front Loading Maytag

Excellent reviews for

Maytag Performance Series : MHWE300VW 27in Front-Load Washer 4 cu. ft. - White

This front loading washer has great reviews and is stylish.  I would recommend a look at this machine as it has high recommendations and appears to be a fine machine.


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    • profile image

      nancy 5 years ago

      approximately how much does a timer for a heavy duty Whirlpool washer cost??

    • profile image

      Shannon 7 years ago

      Great Article! I was wondering if you could suggest a washing machine that allows you to select the water level (no water sensors). It has been very difficult to find this feature. Thanks so much for any advice.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Thanks Kate, I appreciate your comment and hope this helps.

    • profile image

      Kate Myors 7 years ago

      Thanks for the succinct information. I found it very useful. I particularly like the 'advice' about buying a fancy machine to impress people! lol

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @billrobinson Thankyou, glad you found it helpful. That was my goal and I'm glad a few people find it useful.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      I can't agree more! The simpler, more efficient the featurs, the better. I prefer appliances that do the job and require little or no service calls. It's a bit like the kind of woman I am. hehe. Not that I'm 'low maintenance" in all departments, but certainly only those most enjoyed! :-)

      Actually, my mother & dad taught me wisdom about choosing appliances. I'd like to replace my washer and dryer - but not because they no longer work fine. But they're quite old, but still serviceable. When I decide to replace them, I will certainly apply the advice, Steve!

      By the way - one of my pet peeves is any musty odor. I leave my top-loading washer lid open while drying my last load of wash and even when I do close it, prop it slightly open with a couple of dry sponges. I even dry wet used paper towels before discarding them in the trash can! If they're only slightly soiled (often were only used to soak up spilled water) - I keep a box of them to clean up spills on the floor! Saves both in $ and in trees (if they still really use paper!)

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      You are a wise woman! If you want another machine to last 25 years, choose one that has all the feature you want but not the bells and whistles you will never user. I would be willing to help you with your machine if it ever acts up. Thanks for the comment, I love em.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

      Yes, this is very useful. My old washer is about 25 years old but still going strong. I know the day will come when I need a replacement.

      My mom always gave similar advice about appliances. She wisely noted that the more 'special' features they have-- the more things can go wrong with them. The fancy new ones look really great, but I'd rather go with something simple and reliable.

    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      Another useful hub, thanks.