Washing Machine Buying Guide
May 7, 2019 by Waverly Wilde
From team uniforms to coffee stains on your favorite shirt, having your own washer can be a huge relief when you need clothes cleaned as soon as possible. But not all washers are created equal — at Howard’s, we have washer options in dozens of styles and brands, with features that perfectly suit your household. So, how do you pick out the perfect machine? Our team of experts has put together these guidelines to help you decide which washer will fit best in your home and fulfill your family’s needs.
Always start shopping with a price range in mind. Washing machines come at a range of price points, with a basic top load washer usually selling for about $500, while high-tech models max out at around $2,000. You’ll want to consider what features will make your life easiest, and find that perfect balance of convenience and affordability.
Space and Capacity
When you’re picking out your washer you’ll want to consider your household’s needs. Do you have a house full of budding athletes? Or do you just have yourself and Fido to think about? You’ll want to get a washer that suits both your space and the amount of laundry you actually need to wash. If you’re finding yourself running load after load in your space-saving compact washer, you may want to upgrade, or at least supplement with a portable washer or washer pedestal. Once you’ve decided on price points, measure the space you have.
The average washer measures about 27 inches wide, and if you have a dedicated laundry room, it will probably be configured for a 27-inch-wide machine. Very few washers are wider than that, but if you need extra space, you can often find taller or deeper options that offer larger load capacity.
Slightly smaller than the standard models, compact washers are usually closer to 23 inches across. These are perfect for medium-sized apartments and homes without designated rooms or basements for laundry. The few inches of extra space saved by a compact washer will make a big difference if you’re storing your machine in a closet, bathroom, or kitchen.
• Combo Unit
Most washer/dryer combo units are stacked, designed with a top load washer on the bottom and a dryer on top. These models are tall and slim, perfect for small spaces like closets and hidden corners. More modern, high-tech combo units include both washing and drying power in a single machine. Allin-One washers/dryers don’t require any switching over of wet clothes — as soon as your wash cycle is done, you can start drying at the touch of a button.
Perfect for dorms or apartments without space for a built-in washer, portable washers are slim and easily storable. You can find these in lots of different sizes, from about 23 inches wide, all the way down to 17 inches. They don’t typically have too many exciting features, but they’re great for supplementing an existing washer or saving yourself from regular trips to the laundromat.
There are three main styles of washers, each with their own pros and cons. Which style to choose is typically one of the biggest decisions you’ll face during your shopping journey, so it’s important to understand how each one will affect your laundry habits.
• Top Loader
It used to be that top loaders were the simpler and cheaper variety, but the price gap between these and front loaders is rapidly closing, and you can find plenty of top loading machines with high-tech features. Buyers love them for their reliability and relatively low price points. They’re also easier for many people to use, since they don’t require you to squat or bend over to load clothes. Top loaders are also a great option for busy families, as they often let you add clothes after the cycle has started.
• HE Top Loader
HE stands for high efficiency, and any washer with this tag has to meet strict guidelines for water, energy, and detergent efficiency. This makes them great for saving on water and power bills, though wash cycles can tend to be longer, and they require special detergent to function properly. The main difference between a standard top loader and an HE top loader is the agitator. Most top loading machines have a central post, or agitator, that helps move clothes around the tub. HE machines don’t have this feature, which makes room for more clothes, but can also make it more difficult to get a complete clean.
• Front Loader
Front load washers will usually fall slightly higher on the pricing scale, but with the tradeoff of more advanced features and arguably more effective washing cycles. Front load washers often have more tub space (since they don’t require an agitator) and use less water per cycle. They’re also a great option for people in wheelchairs, or with disabilities that affect mobility and balance. All front load washers are HE compliant, which means they’re typically more energy efficient too.
• Built-in Sink
This feature is a huge plus for families with young kids or messy hobbies. The built-in sink lets you pre-treat stains or do quick rinses without spilling water on your laundry room floor. It works wonders for rinsing away tough stains, and it’s also great for handwashing delicates and other items that need special care.
• Automatic Detergent Dispenser
The auto dispense feature makes sure you’re using the right amount of detergent every time. Just pre-load detergent into the machine, then the washer will measure out just the right amount for your load every time, doing away with all the guesswork. It also reduces laundry to the touch of a button, making it easy for kids (or busy grownups) to get laundry done anytime.
Get connected anywhere, anytime with a Wi-Fi enabled washing machine. As smart homes continue to expand in popularity, several companies have introduced washers that can be controlled right from a smart phone. On some models, you can check your machine’s efficiency, customize wash cycles, and best of all, start a load remotely. You don’t even have to be home to do it! Connected washers can help make laundry easy and help keep your machine and your clothes in tip-top shape.
• Pedestal Washer
Plain old storage pedestals for lifting up your front loading washing machine will soon be a thing of the past, as more companies are offering extra wash space in the pedestal instead. Lots of front loaders have separately-sold pedestals that pull out to reveal a second, smaller wash drum. These are a great addition for running small loads and cleaning delicates and overflow from your main wash cycle. It helps save money and water, and is the ultimate in efficient use of space.
If you’re still not sure what washer is right for you, go back to the basics. What’s the most important quality you’re looking for in a new washer? With your shopping priorities in mind, think over these options that we offer in-store at Howard’s.
• Shoppers on a Budget
If you’re looking for a reliable washer without all the bells and whistles, look no further than Maytag. One of the nation’s most trusted brands, Maytag never offers up a bad washer, but this one in particular is a great buy for budget-savvy shoppers. This washer might not have all the options of a more expensive model, but it still has plenty of wash options to get your clothes looking good as new, including PowerWash and Deep Water wash cycles. It gets the job done right without breaking the bank.
• Small Space Dwellers
Save on space without sacrificing speed or special features. This Bosch front loader has great stain removing capabilities, powerful water heating, and fast wash cycles that rival the finest full-size models. This model and its twin dryer are stackable, so you can save even more space while keeping your laundry room stylish and effective.
This mega-sized machine really has everything but the kitchen sink. With TurboWash, Steam Clean, and Wi-Fi connectivity that lets you start, stop, and customize wash cycles from your smartphone, this is the ultimate in laundry tech. It even works with voice-activated smart home systems like Alexa and Google Assistant! LG is at the forefront of the connected appliance game, and their smart washers always have something exciting for the tech-savvy shopper.
• Eco Enthusiasts
If you’re looking for a machine that saves energy, water, detergent, and money all in one, this Electrolux model is the one for you. It’s an HE washer with great ratings from Energy Star, and it’s got plenty of cycles and options for effective washing. That makes it a great choice not only for the eco-conscious but for anyone looking for a high-quality washer.
• Big Families
This sleek top-loading model has tons of space for big loads of laundry and looks great in any home. By far the most exciting feature though is Samsung’s ActiveWash built-in sink. It’s perfect for treating grassy knees and juice stains, as well as rinsing out spills on the go. The built-in sink means no water spills between the sink and the washer, and the top-loading door far out of reach of little hands makes the laundry room safer for curious kids.