Everyone loves clean clothes – and even the best washing machines don’t last forever. While there are some washing machines that can push the 14-year limit (based on 1 load of laundry per day, every day of the week), most manufacturers agree that 10 years is likely to be about it for even the best washer.
Selecting a washing machine isn’t a particularly fun task, though Consumer Reports (ever the hero when it comes to appliances) does have a buying guide to help you narrow down what’s important.
Generally speaking, however, capacity, energy efficiency, and price seem to be the factors most important to consumers. And, although some buyers can be swayed, usually there’s a big preference for front loader or top loader washing machines. (That’s before tackling the companion dryer question.)
While the choices seem unlimited, you’ll find there aren’t that many solid options out there – especially if you have size, budget, or capacity restraints. And, incidentally, you’ll find the reason why we’ve managed to keep this list so compact in our #3 Fave. While not our absolute fave, it’s abilities may just surprise you.
This is the largest residential washing machine you can get. It’s got all the features you want, plus it’s remarkably water and energy efficient – and it’s super fast, even when well-loaded.
While the price has come down, the size has not; it’s massive and it may not fit in everyone's home.
If you firmly believe that bigger is better and your laundry room is the size of a bedroom, this is the machine you want. If you have a smaller space to work with, you'll want to consider the dimensions of this washing machine before getting too excited about this washing machine. It’s huge. The dimensions of this front loader washing machine are 30”W x 32.5”D x 42.625”H. You’ll need 5' across to put this side-by-side with a dryer. And if you want to stack your appliances, you’ll quickly realize that 7' is really, really tall.
Okay, once you’ve gotten over the size of this baby, the details are really what matter.
Firstly, you can fit 28 pounds of dirty laundry inside the 5.6 cu. ft. of this washing machine. Keep in mind that the average size load is +/-8 pounds. You should be able to fit a soccer team’s worth of clothing inside and still have room for more.
And, yet, it does an impeccable job of getting clothes clean. Washing large loads is aided by PowerFoam technology. The SuperSpeed option will take about 15 or 20 minutes off of load time – and you’ll probably end up doing so for most loads as there doesn’t seem to be a discernible difference in the cleaning ability. The normal cycle is already rather swift at about 45 minutes and the average time is about 65 minutes.
This Samsung uses less water and less energy than most machines and still operates with a high rpm speed. But the best feature, as the folks at Good Housekeeping are quick to point out, is the Self Clean+ option. Using steam, to reduce mold and mildew, you won’t have to spend a lot of time on cleaning the appliance itself.
And, in case you’re wondering, front loading washing machines were not part of Samsung’s November 2016 recall, so you don’t need to worry about the door flying off its hinges. You should, however, use low-sudsing detergent, as recommended by the manufacturer.
Load access: Stackable front loader with tumble action
Display and controls: Electronic display with a dial and option buttons
Number of water temperatures: Automatic temperature control
Dispensers: 5: detergent, prewash, fabric softener, bleach, oxygenated additive. This is the highest number of dispensers. And, while you may not need them all, some of the fancy ones are really nice to have.
Maximum spin speed: 1300 rpm – this is the highest rpm speed on the list. Once again, you may not need it, but it will definitely speed up drying.
Kilowatt hours (per year): 100 – this is exceptional. It’s not the absolute best but this is definitely the range you want to be in – if you can afford it.
Dimensions: 30”W x 32.5”D x 42.625”H. It weighs 267 pounds – this is one of the heaviest machines. Don’t attempt to set this up without some assistance.
Interior capacity: 5.6 cu. ft – this is definitely one of the biggest capacities you can get – and certainly the largest on this list. You can throw a whole lot at this baby. Not everyone needs it, but if you have a lot of laundry to get through, you’ll appreciate it.
Price: You’ll get a 1-year limited warranty built into the price of this Samsung washing machine – and extras are up to you. Fortunately, you shouldn’t have to pay the $1,700 MSRP. $1,100 to $1,200 is more reasonable and what you’ll normally find.
This is an affordable large-capacity top loader that still fits within the standard 27” width many nooks have. It’s good on water and electricity consumption, has loads of features and excellent vibration standards.
It’s not the most gentle of machines, and not all of the cycles are swift.
Unlike many machines with large drums, this appliance will fit into the snug 27” you have for it. As a top loader, though, it is rather tall. So, if you’re on the short side, you may struggle to reach the bottom of the barrel.
And, we’ll deal with the downsides first – just to get them out of the way. When comparing specs with specs, you’ll find it difficult to find anything outstanding about this machine. It has just 3 dispensers and the energy and water efficiency levels are good, but not excellent. Same goes for noise levels – it won’t sound as if you’re working with a 1980s appliance or anything; it’s just that it could be quieter. More importantly – at least for some users – is its overall gentleness on clothes. It’s really not bad, but this top loader is built for families (as many of these models are); if you really want to protect your super-expensive clothing, we do suggest moving along. It’s just not as gentle as front loaders, but it is better than most top loaders.
Now, for the good stuff…
Not only is this a good looking machine, it’s sold at a terrific price. It has nine amazing wash cycles, including bedding. The LG Steam technology does an incredible job with super dirty clothes. The display panel lights up to tell you what’s going on – and interrupting the load to add the sock that fell out on your walk to the laundry room is about as easy as lifting the glass lid.
And then there are the options. Of course, you won’t have any idea what these are because some of them sound as though they perform the same tasks. (They don’t; and that’s why you have a manual.) There’s also an Allergine cycle that, while it takes more than 2 hours to complete, will be a total benefit to babies and those with skin sensitivities.
Finally, although this article relates specifically to washing machines, it’s worth noting that this appliance’s matching tumble dryer is absolutely incredible (DLEX5680V). When you buy them together you’ll be ever so happy with yourself.
Load access: Top loader with wash plate action
Display and controls: Electronic LED with a dial and option buttons
Wash cycles: 9: permanent press, whites, heavy duty, delicate, normal, steam, speed, bedding, presoak – this is definitely more than average given the price. And, many will appreciate the explicit bedding cycle.
Number of water temperatures: Automatic
Dispensers: 3: detergent, fabric softener, bleach – this is the minimum standard.
Maximum spin speed: 1100 rpm – this is about average. You can certainly get more speed than this machine offers, which will bring down the kilowatt hours, but you may not find a need for it.
Kilowatt hours (per year): 135 – it’s not the worst, but it’s also far from the best.
Dimensions: 27”W x 28.375”D x 46”H. It weighs 146 pounds. This is a top loader and it’s definitely one of the tallest machines out there. You’ll need to reach to pull clothes out of the bottom; if you’re on the shorter side, this may not be the one for you.
Interior capacity: 5.2 cu. ft. – this is big, but not the biggest on the market. Still, you probably won’t find much call for a larger machine.
Price: The MSRP is $1.200, but you’ll pay between $800 and $1,000. With that, you get a 1-year parts and labor warranty and a 10-year motor warranty. Not too shabby!
This machine is super energy efficient, easy on the wallet, gets the job done, and fits within the standard 27” space traditionally allocated to washing machines.
Cycles take a little longer than similar models with larger drums.
This washing machine is the reason this list is so small. It fits into four categories – best budget machine (on list price and realistic selling price; we’ve seen it $700 in the recent past), best compact washing machine, most energy efficient washing machine, and best washing machine for seriously dirty kids (erm, for fighting stains).
Until November 2016, we would have had a difficult time (and a slightly longer list) as the Samsung WA45H7000AW Washing Machine competes on price and size, but that particular model is part of a recall due to lids flying off while in use.
That’s not to say other washing machines aren’t good; it’s more that this Maytag is the best in all three categories.
As for compact, it’s 27”W x 32.94”D x 39”H. Not only will it fit in the standard space, it’s not so tall that stacking your appliances makes it difficult to reach into the upper one. It can only accommodate 4.5 cu. ft. of laundry, which is small. But it’s only small given the recent trend towards gigantic machines. If you don’t have a lot of laundry, you won’t even notice – you can still fit an entire hamper inside.
As for energy efficient, this baby hits the ultimate Tier III efficiency rating with an energy factor of 2.92 and a water factor of 3.2. You want that. Indeed, you may even qualify for an efficiency rebate if your state offers it.
And, if you can get it for $700-800, you absolutely should. Of course, the MSRP is $1,100, which isn’t bad, but you shouldn’t expect to pay that price.
Plus, you will find this does an impeccable job with clothes. Between the PowerWash system and the steam for stains options, you’ll find your clothes look as good as new for a long, long time. Okay, it’s not as gentle as a few other machines might be, but it’s super tough on stains. It gets an excellent stain-fighting seal of approval from just about everyone, including Consumer Reports.
A couple more features separate this washing machine from the rest – it offers a memory option so you can easily get back to your fave program and the FreshHold option will keep clothes fresh with an internal fan and tumbling that runs for up to 12 hours after your load finishes.
So, why isn’t this the number one machine? It’s the smaller capacity and the heavier weight. It’s also that it doesn’t perform quite as well in terms of noise and vibrations – with this machine, it’s a little more noticeable. Plus, it’s nowhere near as good looking as some of the competitive machines. Luckily, you can tuck it away in the laundry room, so looks don't matter quite as much.
Load access: Stackable front loader with wash plate action
Display and controls: Electronic readout with dial and buttons on the front facing
Wash cycles: 11: allergen, bedding, clean washer with Affresh, cold wash, delicates, drain & spin, normal, Powerwash, rapid wash, sanitize, wrinkle control – that’s really not bad at all, is it?
Number of water temperatures: 5
Dispensers: 3: detergent, fabric softener, bleach – this is the standard.
Maximum spin speed: 1200 rpm – this is the second highest speed on the list and we’re not certain you would need more, especially when you consider the energy usage.
Kilowatt hours (per year): 89 – this is one of the best out there. It’s definitely the lowest on this list. And, we think this is an absolutely stunning number given the appliance you’ll get with it.
Dimensions: 27”W x 32.94”D x 39”H. It weighs 235 pounds – low and heavy. This is a low and heavy machine. If you’re quite tall or suffer with back pain or mobility issues, you may want to consider risers.
Interior capacity: 4.5 cu. ft. – okay, it’s small. The average is about 5.0 cu. ft. Now, not everyone needs such huge capacities. Given the performance and price of this puppy, you can probably talk yourself out of the bigger is better adage.
Price: Along with whatever you pay for this machine, you get a 10-year limited parts warranty and your standard 1-year limited warranty. The MSRP is $1100, but you’ll probably pay $800-900. We’ve seen it as low as $700. Now that's a seriously, seriously good deal.
This front loader has a 5.2 cu. ft. capacity, smart features (via ThinQ), an ergonomically-designed door, and is compatible with the LG SideKick.
Besides being quite expensive, ThinQ doesn’t work with iOS phones. Ouch.
Before we delve into the really fun parts of this washing machine review, we’d like to cover the basics – you know size, speed, and ability to do its job well. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Firstly, the 5.2 cu. ft. of space is generous and many users can’t justify much more. It operates at 1300 rpm and while we would have expected its energy efficiency to drop a little more than 120 annual kilowatt hours, that’s really not bad. Water efficiency is also great.
You get 14 preset cycles (including bedding and Allergine) and an additional 13 options. It’s difficult to find a residential washing machine that can do more. Still, it’s gentle on clothes and users love the way it cleans silently.
In terms of size, it’s bigger than the old standard of 27” which isn’t a problem for everyone, but it won’t fit every laundry nook. And, although it’s stackable, that may not be a possibility with the SideKick.
Additionally, that’s one of the things we really like about this (and all LG front loaders). This add-on mini-washing machine allows you to wash small loads or wash two totally separate loads at once. Now, that’s a serious time saver. Of course, you will pay for the add-on, but… you’ll want one once you realize what it can do. And, how it works.
Plus, there’s also the Smart ThinQ programming that allows you to control your washing machine through your phone. Options include: remote start, smart grid, download cycle, smart diagnosis, cycle set, laundry starts, smart message, and energy monitor.
Basically, this washing machine does everything well, but it’s not cheap.
Load access: Stackable front loader with tumble action
Display and controls: Electronic LCD on the door panel
Wash cycles: 14: normal, permanent press, delicate, speed wash, TubClean, sanitary, Allergiene, heavy duty, BrightWhites, towels, rinse & spin, download, jumbo Wash, bedding – this is an absolutely fantastic range of cycles and we can’t imagine that you would need more. Many buyers will see the bedding cycle and not worry about the rest.
Number of water temperatures: Automatic Temperature control
Dispensers: 4: detergent, fabric softener, prewash, bleach – this is more than the average and a decent selection.
Maximum spin speed: 1300 rpm – this is one of the highest available speeds and the best on this list. You probably won’t need more than this.
Kilowatt hours (per year): 120 – given the great spin speed, we would have expected this machine to use less energy, but it’s not the worst. Perhaps future models will pull this closer to 100.
Dimensions: 29”W x 33.75”D x 41.25”H. It weighs 227.1 pounds – that’s heavy. Make sure you book someone to install this for you.
Interior capacity: 5.2 cu. ft. – this is slightly better than average. Sure, it’s not the biggest, but it’s really rather generous.
Price: The MSRP for the washing machine itself is $1,800. If you add a SideKick at the MSRP, you’ll pay $2,530. That’s a shocker, we know. But, you should pay about $1,850 at the moment… yes, for both. And you’ll also receive limited warranties with that; we recommend bumping up your protection.
This front loader machine has plenty of adjustable settings, a 5.2 cu. ft. capacity, a stay-fresh feature for long days, and it’s energy and water efficient.
The door isn’t adjustable from one side to the other and if you pack it full, the wash cycles will take time.
We know this isn’t the largest capacity washing machine. It’s also not the cheapest. It doesn’t have 49 preset cycles, nor does it automatically adjust water temperatures. It’s also not the swiftest machine on the market.
So, why is it number one? What makes it the best washing machine overall?
It makes compromises in all the right places. It can handle a very generous amount of laundry with a capacity of 5.2 cu. ft. You’ll find this around the $1,000 price point. The wash cycles it does have are super customizable – and the kids wear cycle is a boon for many families. And, as long as you don’t overpack this machine, you can expect many loads to finish in 40-60 minutes.
The noise and vibration reduction features also make for quiet, smooth operation. You can actually run the washing machine and enjoy dinner even when the laundry room is next to the kitchen table.
And, it gets better still. Energy and water efficiency, along with washing performance, are excellent. You’ll get the results you want without damaging your clothes, your budget, or the environment.
You have the option of 5 soil levels and additional energy and time saver options, just as you would expect. Parents will appreciate the NSF-certified sanitize cycle that removes up to 99.9%. Add to that the StreamTreat which lifts stains quickly and easily. Who needs bleach? You won’t with this machine. There’s also a ColorLast option and a Stay Fresh feature which will jumble your clothes around every so often when you’ve not had a moment to empty the washing machine.
Okay, the average load time is about 75 minutes, and the door opens to one side, and that’s all you get. But, most people can totally work around that. What might give you some grief, however, is the size. At 29”W x 33.875”D x 40.8”H, it’s a little wider than the traditional standard of 27”. But, again, you can stack this with your dryer if you have a small laundry nook.
Finally, if Kenmore isn’t your thing, you may want to consider the LG WM8000HVA; it’s almost exactly the same machine under a different brand name.
Load access: Stackable front loader with tumble action
Display and controls: Electronic LED with a dial. Words are, for the most part, easy to read and operation fairly intuitive.
Wash cycles: 9: whites, heavy-duty, delicate, normal, rinse & spin, steam, light wash, speed, specialty – it’s a good selection number for the price, though we wouldn’t have minded a bedding wash cycle. Of course, you can still get bedding in the machine; there just isn’t an explicit cycle for it.
Number of water temperatures: 5
Dispensers: 3: detergent, fabric softener, bleach – this is more or less standard. You’ll find additional dispensers in other machines, but many people can’t find a use for them.
Maximum spin speed: 1200 rpm - it’s not the highest available, but it is really, really good. Indeed, there may not be any benefit in going higher.
Kilowatt hours (per year): 102 – this is very reasonable; it’s actually one of the lowest available.
Dimensions: 29”W x 33.875”D x 40.8”H. It weighs 204.6 pounds. This is just about average on all counts.
Interior capacity: 5.2 cu. ft. This is a little better than average.
Price: The MSRP is $1,650, but you’ll rarely find this washing machine listed as such. At the moment, you can find it for about $1,000. The included warranty is 1 year on parts and labor, but you’ll want to top up your protection plan as you should with any major appliance of this sort.
Katie’s Cleveland proud; but she’s also lived in Australia, Switzerland and now stays in South Africa. That’s a roundabout way of saying she can’t sit still; she’s always moving, always busy.
She has a BA in International Relations from Kent State University and work towards a Masters in Human Rights. She speaks French, is learning German and used to dream in Spanish. For years, Katie worked as a producer on fashion and advertising shoots before she realized her passion was the written word.
Katie’s far more interested in guy’s gear than women’s, except she has a wardrobe brimming with little black dresses. She drinks her beer out of the bottle and is raising her two boys to be better men.