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Best washing machines in 2020

Best washing machines

The best washing machines can help take the friction out of one of the most mundane chores, and make it a little less tedious. But a good washing machine is more than just that; it can intelligently clean your clothes, making sure that your delicates aren't ruined and your towels are thoroughly rinsed. More importantly, a washing machine can help ensure that your clothes are free of germs and bacteria.

While viruses such as Covid-19 are more likely to spread via the air, the CDC recommends washing clothes at the warmest possible setting, and not to shake clothes in the air. 

The best washing machines can also help save you money on your utility bills, using only as much power and water as needed. Some can even smartly dispense just the right amount of detergent, so you don't have to stock up as much on supplies.

Some newer washing machines can also be controlled by a smartphone app, so you can program them to turn on when you leave the house, or when utility costs are lower. Some are even smart enough to let you know when they're running low on detergent, or need care. 

And, because needs vary from one household to the other, there are a wide variety of washing machines: Front-loaders, side-loaders, ones with huge capacities, and others that are small and stackable. Other features of newer washing machines include a delayed start — so you can have it run after you've left the house — to ones that can be controlled from your smartphone or with a voice assistant, and let you know when the laundry is ready to be thrown in the dryer.

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.

LG announced a new washing machine that uses sensors and artificial intelligence to detect the type of clothes in the machine, and tailor the washing cycle accordingly to conserve energy and help your clothes last longer. The LG ThinQ washing machine will be available in the first half of this year; pricing has not been announced.

The best washing machines you can buy today

Best washing machines: Electrolux EFLS627UTT

(Image credit: Electrolux)

1. Electrolux EFLS627UTT

Best washing machine

Type: Front Loader | Size: 27 x 38 x 31.5 | Capacity: 4.4 cu. ft. | No. of Cycles: 9 | Wash Features: Sanitize and Steam, Extended Refresh, StainSoak, 15-Minute Fast Wash | App Control: No | Energy Consumption: 85 kWh/year

Excellent washing performance
Pod detergent support
Front-loading
No app for smartphone monitoring

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.

Best washing machines: GE GTW685BSLWS

(Image credit: GE)

2. GE GTW685BSLWS

Best top-loading washing machine

Type: Top Loader | Size: 27 x 46 x 27 | Capacity: 4.5 cu. ft. | No. of Cycles: 14 | Wash Features: Sanitize, Deep Fill | App Control: Yes (optional, $49) | Energy Consumption: 150 kWh/year

Excellent cleaning performance
Top-loading
Tough on clothes
Uses more electricity than front loaders

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.

Best washing machines: Maytag MVWX655DW

(Image credit: Maytag)

3. Maytag MVWX655DW

Best top-load budget washing machine

Type: Top Loader | Size: 28 x 43 x 27.5 | Capacity: 4.3 cu. ft. | No. of Cycles: 11 | Wash Features: Sanitize with Oxi, Rapid Wash | App Control: No | Energy Consumption: 300 kWh/year

Low cost
Decent performance
High energy and water use
Doesn't work well with powder detergents

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.

Best washing machines: LG WM3500CW

(Image credit: LG)

4. LG WM3500CW

Best budget front-loading washing machine

Type: Front Loader | Size: 38.7 x 27 x 31.5 | Capacity: 4.5 cu ft. | No. of Cycles: 10 | Wash Features: Speed Wash | App Control: Yes | Energy Consumption: 105 kWh/year

Reliable
Low cost
Longer cycle times
Hard-to-read control panel

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.

Best washing machines: LG WM9000HVA

(Image credit: LG)

5. LG WM9000HVA

Best washing machine for large families

Type: Top Loader | Size: 29 x 41.3 x 33.8 | Capacity: 5.2 cu ft. | No. of Cycles: 14 | Wash Features: Sanitize, Deep Fill | App Control: Yes | Energy Consumption: 120 kWh/year

Can wash comforters and large loads
Fast washer
Expensive
Uses lots of water and electricity

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.

Best washing machine: LG WM3900HWA

(Image credit: LG)

6. LG WM3900HWA

Fast and quiet washing machine

Type: Front Loader | Size: 39 x 30.2 x 27 inches | Capacity: 4.5 cu ft. | No of Cycles: 12 | Wash Features: Allergene, Turbo Wash 360 | App Control: Yes | Energy Consumption: 105 kWh/year

Fast cycles make for quick, reliable and quiet washing
Plays a delightful tune when washing is done
May not be big enough for large families

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.

Best washing machine: Maytag MVWB865GW

(Image credit: Maytag)

7. Maytag MVWB865GW

A great top-loading washing machine for the money

Type: Top Loader | Size: 27 x 43 x 28 | Capacity: 5.2 cu ft. | No. of Cycles: 10 | Wash Features: Sanitize with Oxi, Rapid Wash | App Control: Yes | Energy Consumption: 120 kWh/year

Strong washing performance
Efficient for top-loader
Agitator models like this can damage clothes over time

Among the best washing machines, this top-loader is a good value. The Maytag MVWB865GW uses an agitator, a central pillar in the wash drum that swirls your clothes around. The drum is 5.2 cubic feet, which is big enough to hold a large wash without clothes getting tangled. 

Washers like this are usually energy hogs, but the MVWB865GW isn't like your grandmother's washer in this regard. This Maytag is also surprisingly quiet for this type of washer. Reviewers praised the low noise in both the washing and spin cycles.

The controls are straightforward; there’s a single control dial on the front to set the wash cycle, and two buttons to power the unit on and stop and start the cycle. And that’s it: no Wi-Fi, no smart-home controls, no Super Mega Wash Cycles and no water heater to raise the temperature of the water coming into it. While some of the models from LG and others play little tunes to let you know that the wash is done, the MVWB865GW settles for a simple beep.

Best washing machine: Kenmore Elite 31633

(Image credit: Kenmore)

8. Kenmore Elite 31633

The best washing machine for large loads

Type: Top Loader | Size: 30.0 x 43.5 x 29 | Capacity: 6.2 cu. ft. | No. of Cycles: 10 | Wash Features: Express, Sanitize | App Control: No | Energy Consumption: 290 kWh/year

Huge drum can hold a huge amount of laundry
Larger than most washers
Large loads use a lot of water

Is your laundry pile more like a mountain than a molehill? The Kenmore Elite 316133 is the best washing machine for households with lots of kids, and lots of clothes. This  monstrous top- load washer has a huge 6.2-cubic-foot drum, and can handle up to about 16 pounds of laundry at once, or a couple of days worth of clothes for the average teenager. 

The Elite 316133 is a big washer when it comes to your water and electricity bills, though, using an estimated 290 kWh per year. That's more than double the amount of smaller, more efficient washers, so that might be a problem if your electricity is expensive. It didn't use a huge amount of water, though: CNET measured it as using 15.3 gallons for a typical load.

A Sterilize cycle is also on offer, helped out by the ability to spray steam onto clothes inside the drum. That's a big plus for those with allergies or who smoke.

With a drum bigger than the average concert hall, it is perhaps no surprise that the washer itself is big. At just under 43 inches high, this washer may not fit in some laundry rooms. It’s also rather noisy, according to several Amazon buyers. So, it's a great pick if you need to wash uniforms for an entire football team, but make sure that it will fit in your house first.

Best washing machines: Kenmore 41262

(Image credit: Kenmore)

9. Kenmore 41262

A good washer that can save you money.

Type: Front Loader | Size: 27 x 39 x 30.0 | Capacity: 4.5 cu. ft. | No. of Cycles: 8 | Wash Features: Bulky/Bedding, Express Wash | App Control: No | Energy Consumption: 90 kWh/year

Very good washing performance
Uses little electricity and water
No Wi-Fi or smart-home features
Limited selection of cycles

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.  

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.

Front- or Top-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.

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