The best washing machines do more than clean your clothes. Any machine worth buying can also make sure your delicates aren't ruined, will thoroughly rinse your towels, and generally make your laundry duties much easier.
Those washing machines can also help keep germs out of your clothes. Viruses like COVID-19 usually spread through the air, but the CDC still recommends washing clothes at the warmest setting to be safe, And don't shake clothes in the air when they're done. What you buy should still depend on what washing machine you need. Big or small, cheap or expensive, smart or not. These are our top picks for the best washing machines you can buy right now.
- These are the best clothes dryers you can buy in 2021
- Keep your dishes shiny and clean with the best dishwashers
What are the best washing machines?
Based on our extensive research of all the top-selling models, we think the Electrolux EFLS627UTT is the best washing machine for most people. This front-loading washer is power-efficient, has a sizable 4.4-cubic-foot drum, and nine customizable wash cycles, including a 15-minute "fast wash." The Electrolux also has a compartment where you can insert a cleaning pod, and the washer will mix it with water and dispense it evenly over your laundry. It also comes with a 10-year motor warranty, and a lifetime warranty for the tub itself. The Electrolux is available in a white or titanium finish, and is compatible with an optional pedestal.
The best washing machine for those who prefer a top-loading washer is the GE GTW685BSLWS, which cleans well and can be connected to an app, so you can monitor and control it from your smartphone.
While front-loading washers are generally more efficient than top-loaders, many customers are hesitant to purchase them. That's because front-loaders have a tendency to retain moisture in their doors' gaskets, a fertile ground for odor-causing bacteria. GE's new UltraFresh Front Load washer (starting at $899) looks to eliminate those smells with a wider gasket with an antimicrobial coating and a venting system in the door.
The best washing machines you can buy today
The best washing machine overall, the Electrolux EFLS627UTT is all about the wash. Priced at just under $1,000, this front-load washer aced the tests of multiple reviewers, earning top cleaning points at from several publications. It has a 4.4-cubic-foot drum that can hold a large wash, and it features nine wash cycles, including a 15-minute fast wash. That's fewer than some washers, but each cycle can be tweaked for temperature and soil level, so you can easily customize the wash.
The EFL627UTT also has a dedicated pod detergent dispenser. Some washers struggle with prepacked pod detergents as they can sometimes clog or not release the detergent properly, but the Adaptive Dispenser of this washer pre-mixes the detergent with water in the dispenser, then releases it to make sure it is dispensed properly.
One thing it doesn't have is an app. While many washing machines are embracing the smart home by adding apps for remote monitoring and control, the EFSL627UTT has no accompanying app. That doesn't make it a dumb appliance, though: this Electrolux has sophisticated, easy-to-use controls that can be easily customized.
Front-loading washing machines are generally the most efficient, but some people prefer the old-school top-loader type. They are easier to load and can be more reliable, so if you prefer this type, the GE GTW685BSLWS is the best washing machine for you.
It can hold a huge number of clothes in its 4.5-cubic-foot drum, and the central agitator ensures that all of the clothes in large loads get moved around. It's also somewhat noisy, which may not be an issue if it is located in a basement or laundry room, but could be a problem in smaller homes.
The GTW685BLSWS also uses a fair amount of electricity: nearly 50 per cent more than our front-loader top picks. Although it is cheaper, this could make it more expensive over time. It also lacks a water heater, meaning that the sanitize cycle will be only as hot as the hot water supply of your house. If your hot- water heater isn't that good, that cycle may not be effective.
The GTW685BSLWS doesn't come with smart-home features, but these can be added for just $49 with the GE ConnectPlus WiFi Module, which fits inside the machine. This adds Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT support, so you can find out how long the cycle has to run with Amazon or Google voice commands.
If you live somewhere where utilities aren't too expensive, the Maytag MVWX655DW is the best washing machine for those who want a top-loader for less than $800.
The Maytag MVWX655DW has a 4.3-cubic-foot capacity, a decent selection of wash cycles, and offers good cleaning performance, according to reviewers. It takes a while, though: The PowerWash cycle was the most effective at cleaning, but can take more than an hour to finish.
The downside is that, like most top-loaders, it is an energy and water hog. The PowerWash cycle took a hefty 20 gallons of water, and requires a lot of power to run. It is also a very basic machine in other ways, with no smart-home features, no time delay and no other fancy features. But the Maytag MVWX655DW has it where it counts: It washes clothes well.
If you take the LG WM3770HWA and strip out some of the fancy features, you get the LG WM3500CW. And you save yourself about $200, which makes it our best washing machine front-loader pick for budget buyers. You get the same top-of-the-line reliability, fast wash cycle and overall excellent performance as the more expensive model.
What you won’t get, though, is the hot water heater. So if your hot water isn't very hot (or isn't reliable) and you want to sterilize clothes, go for the more expensive model. You also lose a few of the fancy cycles, such as the delayed start and a cycle that removes allergens. You do still get the Wi-Fi smart- home features, though, so you can monitor this washer from your couch and comfortably enjoy the feeling of saving money.
Some users have complained that some wash cycles take more than an hour to complete, and that the control panel is hard to read.
Got a big family to wash uniforms for? Need to regularly wash bedding? The LG WM9000HVA has you covered. This front-loader has a huge 5.2-cubic-foot drum that can hold a comforter or a big load of laundry, and cycles for everything from a quick wash to a deep allergen-removing wash.
A water heater makes sure that the sterilize wash cycle reaches the high temperature it needs, while the TurboWash feature sprays water into the wash for even detergent dispersal.
If you need even more space, or want to wash delicates separately, the WM9000HVA is also compatible with the $570 LG WD100CV Sidekick, a small separate washer that fits below the main unit. This can run independently of the main washer, so you can wash a delicate load at the same time you are washing a comforter.
The LG Turbowash WM3900HWA is one of the best washing machines because this thing has it all, starting with a 4.5-cubic-foot large-capacity front-loader drum that can hold a lot of clothes. It has an outstanding selection of wash programs, ranging from a quick Turbowash for lightly soiled items to the high-temperature Allergiene cycle. This cycle is approved by the Asthma and Allergy foundation, and LG claims it removes more than 95 percent of allergens. There is also a steam cycle that sprays the clothes with steam for more efficient washing.
The LG WM3900HWA is the successor to the WM3770HWA, which reviewers praised, especially the large drum and the clear, easy-to-use control layout. They also found that the washing performance was excellent, with top performance on a range of stains without damaging clothes.
Large families may be better off looking at the more expensive LG WM9000HVA, which has an even bigger drum, but If you have a lot of items that need a separate gentle wash, the optional LG WD100CW Sidekick pedestal ($570) could work for you. This adds a second washing drum that can be used independently of the main one. Although at just 1 cu.ft. it’s not very large, it is big enough to do a small hand- wash load, and at it's cheaper and much tidier than buying a second washing machine.
The Kenmore 41262 is a basic, but well-performing, front-load washer. That means that it does an excellent job of washing your clothes, but without fancy features. And, its efficiency for both water and electricity is excellent.
What you don't get with the 41262 are the high-end features that make other washers easier to use and more flexible. You don't get any remote monitoring or smart-home features, so you can't monitor the progress of the wash from your cellphone or through Alexa. Nor do you get some of the less commonly used wash cycles such as Sterilize, as there is no built-in water heater.
You do get a Stay-Fresh feature, though, which will tumble and ventilate your wash for up to 19 hours after washing is finished — that’s very useful if you often forget to move the clothes to the dryer when they are done. Speaking of funky smells: the Kenmore 41262 also has a magnetic stopper that holds the door very slightly ajar when the washer is not in use, which helps to dry out the drum to keep it from getting musty and smelly.
The Samsung WF45R6300AW is an anything but basic front-load washer that’s well priced. In addition to doing an excellent job of washing your clothes, it offers quite a few fancy features. And its EnergyStar rated which means it won’t be tough on your electric bill.
Using steam wash, it does a great job of removing stains and reviewers have found that it’s easy on your clothes so they’ll last longer before becoming threadbare. It has a sanitize cycle which can kill almost all germs to give you peace of mind in a difficult time. The Samsung can be connected to your smartphone so when a load is ready to be moved to the dryer you can get a beep while you’re in the yard gardening. If you have a small laundry room, you can stack a dryer on top of this washer.
Although it’s not fancy, the brand new Maytag MVW6200KW has lots of features to help you get great cleaning results and comes at an affordable price. It has a capacity that Maytag claims is large enough to wash 19 towels at one time. You have the option of varying the amount of water in the tub so you can get extra water with a lot of agitation when you have a ton of messy clothes with items like soccer uniforms and gardening pants in the load.
Water is mixed with the detergent in the dispenser drawer to make sure whether you’re using a liquid or a powder it gets well dispersed for effective cleaning. When you need your favorite blouse washed for a night out, you can run a quick 30 minute cycle. What you don’t get at this price is the ability to check on and control your wash from your phone.
How to choose the best washing machine for you
Before you can pick out the best washing machine for your needs, you'll need to consider these criteria. Do you want a front-loading design, or a top-loader? Will it work with your existing power and water connections? And finally, will it fit in the space you have?
Top- or front-loader?
Top-loader: As the name suggests, the clothes are loaded through a door on the top of the washer into a large, round drum. Some use a central pillar called the agitator to move the water and clothes, while others use a rotating plate at the bottom. The bottom plate is preferable, as it involves less wear and tear on the clothes.
Front-loader: Clothes are loaded through a door in the front, into a round drum that rotates to agitate the clothes. This type generally uses less water and electricity than top-loaders, as the drum does not need to completely fill to wash the clothes. However, the drum has to be locked during the wash cycle, though, so you can't add that lone sock that you found in the bottom of the hamper halfway through. This also means that if the seal around the door fails, they can dump water all over your floor. Modern front loaders are pretty reliable, though.
Combination: For those who have tight spaces, a combination washer/dryer — which washes the clothes and then dries them in the same drum — might seem to make sense, but in general, they’re not worth the trouble. They take much longer to dry clothes than a stand-alone machine, and they are more complex, making them prone to breaking more frequently than stand-alone washers and dryers.
Power and water connections
All washing machines will require three things: power, water and a drain. For power, you will need a 110V socket on its own circuit. For water, all will require a cold-water connection, and most will also need a hot- water connection. The exception are those that have their own built-in water heater, but these will also use your hot water if you need it. Lastly, you will need a drain for the washer to dump wastewater into. Don't succumb to the temptation to put the drain line into a sink: this will inevitably fall out and dump water all over the room.
Will it fit?
If you are putting the washer into a small space or under a counter, make sure that you measure the space to make sure it will fit. Most front-loaders are designed to fit under a standard worktop, but don’t assume — measure before you buy. Most front-loaders are also built so that you can stack the accompanying dryer on top of the unit, which saves space, but don't assume that. Check the specs to see if the units are listed as stackable.
When to replace a washing machine
Most brands offer a one-year warranty on washers, but according to the National Association of Home Builders, a washing machine has a lifespan of about 10 years. We recommend skipping an extended warranty as on average, repairs within the lifetime of the appliance won’t be greater than the cost of the warranty itself.
When the cost of a repair is fifty percent or more than the price of a new washer, it’s time to consider replacing rather than repairing. If your machine needs a new part like a belt, pulley, or seal, it can be replaced fairly inexpensively. However, breakdowns that could indicate a washing machine isn’t worth fixing include failure to spin, leaks, grinding or squealing noises, and a cracked tub.
There are definite advantages to investing in one of the newest models. Any machine that is Energy Star certified uses 25% less energy and 33% less water than ones that aren’t. In addition to being less expensive to operate, your new washer will be better for the environment.
New washing machines also have plenty of useful new features. On the latest models, there are more cycles tailored to specific fabrics. You’ll find settings that can get out tough stains like grass and grease, sanitize towels and bedding after someone’s been sick, and be gentle on delicates, eliminating the need to hand wash items like lingerie, silk blouses, and cashmere sweaters. Machines are available with larger capacities and some are equipped with dispensers that automatically release liquid or pod detergents into the wash.
More and more washers are equipped with WiFi, allowing you to see the progress of your wash on your mobile device and control the cycle from your phone or Alexa or Google Assistant. Increasingly, connected appliances can diagnose problems and in some cases, even alert the manufacturer's service center.
Washing machine safety tips
If you have a front-loading washing machine or dryer, Consumer Reports has a list of safety tips for families with young children and pets.
- Lock the door to your laundry room
- Keep the washing machine's door shut
- Engage the washing machine's child-lock feature
- Turn off water to the washing machine when not in use
Following these simple tips can go a long way toward maintaining your peace of mind.
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