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Washing Machine Buying Guide

A comprehensive washing machine guide that will give you all the information you need to know when shopping for a new washing machine


Getting Started

A washing machine is one of the most used appliances in a home. It can also make the biggest difference in energy bills in a home. Before purchasing a washer it's important that you consider the many new and energy-efficient features washers have to offer. Also, consider which type and size washer best meets your needs.


Front Load Washer:

  • Because of its faster spin speeds, it will extract more water from the clothes allowing them to go into the dryer with less water. You will dry clothes faster while using less energy
  • The clothes tumble much like in a dryer, and because of this, the washing machine does not use as much water. You will use up to 40% less water than a comparable top load machine. Over time this will offset the initial difference in price between front load and top load machines
  • Better Cleaning. Because of the tumble action, water will pass through the clothes considerably more often than top load machines. Clothes will come out cleaner, and will last longer as there is less wear and tear on them
  • Can be stacked with a dryer on top to conserve space

Top Load Washer:

  • There are a wider variety of models and colors
  • Cost less initially, but are less energy efficient
  • Easy to access the washtub
  • Use regular detergent

Things to Keep in Mind...

Energy Efficiency

If you have a big family, you know that you will be washing clothes often. You will want a machine that is not only big enough to do the job, but one that is advanced anough to wash your clothes while staying energy efficient. You will want to look into a washing machine that offers a variety of energy efficient features, Features like, automatic temperature control, or water levels will sense how many articles of clothing are in the washer and will use the resources needed. This will eliminate lenghty washing cycles, or using more water than required. These units may cost a little more at first, but they will save you money in the long run on your energy bills.



Most manufacturers will define the size of the washtub differently. Common terms are "extra large" or "super capacity." When comparing capacity it is best to use the cubic foot measurement to determine the actual size.

Tub Material

The three most commonly used tub materials are porcelain-coated, plastic, and stainless steel. Porcelain can deteriorate if it chips. Many of the higher-end models will use a plastic tub, which generally lasts the life of the machine. The very best models will use a stainless steel tub.

Water Levels

Washing machines have water level settings. Many of the higher end models will offer many more levels to control the amount of water in a machine. A washer using the ideal level of water will be more efficient. Manufacturers recommend using only enough water to cover the clothes.


There are many cycles available on a washing machine. Choose a machine that will offer all the cycles you will need. Choose from cycles such as permanent press, sanitize, delicate, and extra rinses. Make sure to get a unit with all the cycles your clothes will need. Different wash/spin speed combinations allow you to wash more types of clothing in ways that are safest for the fabric.

Steam Cycle

Some newer washers now offer a cycle that can remove wrinkles and odors from clothing without the use of detergent. It is similar to what a Dry Cleaner would do. This cycle can also be used for quick de-wrinkling.

Water temperature

Your garments will look better and last longer if you use the proper water temperature. Detergents, bleaches, and fabric softeners require specific water temperatures to work their best. Many washers will include several wash and rinse temperature options.

A washing machine with automatic temperature regulators will make sure that the water entering the machine will be the proper temperature. For example, on a frigid day in Chicago, the water entering a standard washer set to "warm" may not reach the temperature desired. Temperature regulators will add more hot water as needed to make sure the desired temperature is met.

To kill even the toughest germs, a machine will be required to run at an even higher temperature. Look for a washer that offers a temperature boost or sanitize cycle.

Noise level

 Is your washer going to be in your basement or in the garage? If so, you may not be concerned with noise level. If your washer is near a living area you may want a unit that has more insulation and reinforced frames to reduce operation noise.


While it's possible to stop a front-loading machine and add that missing sock, it does have an automatic lock feature on the unit that will prevent the door from opening while the drum is spinning.


Digital controls and displays will allow you to program different cycle settings. Just program your favorite settings and access them with the push of one button. For an easier wash process, choose a machine with a dial or push buttons.

Bleach and fabric softener dispensers

The chemicals (detergent, bleach, fabric softener) you use are a key part of garment care. Dispensers will automatically disperse them at the correct time.

Energy Star rating

The Energy Star label - conferred by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency - indicates that a washing machine uses 35 percent to 50 percent less water and 50 percent less energy than a non-labeled machine. That makes the machine better for the environment and saves you money.



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