These days, it seems difficult to imagine that not too long ago(okay, maybe a while ago) people were manually washing their clothes. All those hours spent rubbing your clothes against a hard surface near a lake or river... Fortunately, those times are gone, and we can now simply shove our clothes inside a machine, press a button, and drift off as the machine does the work of half a dozen people.
Yet still, there's a world of difference between old, struggling washers and bleeding-tech monsters with more buttons to press than a remote control. For the majority of people, the trick is picking something in-between.
Washers and dryers – the basics
Before getting a new washer, think about the kind of cloth washing you'll be doing. Does your family have a lot of members, say, over 5? If so, you'll need to pick a washer large enough to handle all that clothing in a timely fashion. Do you tend to do a lot of work, professionally or as a hobby, that leaves your clothes dirty in hardcore ways? Then you'll need to pick out a powerful machine with lots of features, such as steam cycles.
If you also want a dryer, you'll need to make a choice between using separate machines for washing and drying or using one that does both. Having a specialized machine for each chore might ensure a better job, and will also save time in case of multiple large loads. On the other hand, a machine that does both can save a lot of space, not to mention being cheaper. Regardless of your choice, steam is yet another desirable feature here – try going for one that has steam refresh, as well as moisture sensors.
Top versus front-loading washers and dryers – which are better?
The main difference between washing machines is whether clothes are inserted from the front or at the top. While they can seem very much alike, there are a few important things setting them apart. In general:
- Front-loaders are the more common household option, and with good reason. They tend to do a more efficient job of cleaning than their top-loading counterparts, partially because more models include a steam-cleaning option. A front-load washer is ideal for households with limited space and a constant heavy load of dirty clothes. They're also more energy efficient. However, their perks often come with an increased price tag, especially with high-end models. They're also known to violently vibrate during heavy washing cycles – something that can be extremely annoying, not to mention noisy. It will also scare your pets to death.
- Top-loaders, on the other hand, don't produce much noise and vibration, even with stronger washing cycles. Aside from being able to add laundry after the cycle starts, you will also have an easier time operating them – although this often means a lack of features. Quality top-loaders are also cheaper than quality front-loaders.
- A hybrid loader, also called a High Efficiency top-loading washer, strives to combine the best of both worlds. As such, it handles heavy load with little vibration, spends less water, doesn't retain water that can become foul-smelling and cleans fast. The main downside is the price – most of the models are more expensive than traditional machines.
Picking the right type, brand and model washer and dryer for your needs
It's easy to get confused with so much competition between brands. There's a seemingly endless amount of models, with many seeming virtually identical. Still, some brands have elevated themselves above competition time and again by manufacturing quality appliances. While every washer and dryer can break, some companies' products simply break less frequently than others'. Anything that says Whirlpool, Electrolux, LG or Samsung will likely serve you for many good years. We'll list the best budget and high-end option when considering both washers and dryers, although you should definitely do some research of your own.
Best budget washer: Depending on what you consider affordable, the LG WT1101CW costs half that of some machines with worse performance ($700). While it consumes more water than it should, it's a top-loader with strong washing capabilities and intricate controls; it can also handle a large load.
Best high-end washer: If you want to go all-out, the Samsung WF56H9100AG has one of the largest tanks out of any front-end washer, and it also has plenty of fancy features like steam cycles. While the price of $1,500-$1,700 puts it out of reach of many and the 1-year warranty is nothing to write home about, this washer outperforms most models in all areas that count.
Best budget dryer: If you don't care about matching machines and consider $900 to be a budget price, the LG Steam Dryer DLEY1201V does the job exceedingly well thanks to its steam-drying option. With 12 different cycles to choose from, you'll probably find this dryer nicely complements any high-end washer out there.
Best high-end dryer: Want the best company for your expensive washing machine? Aside from energy efficiency and an LCD screen that lets you program the appliance to your heart's desire, you can actually control Samsung's $1,300 DV457 model with your smartphone. How's that for high tech?