Head is on spin-cycle when it comes to finding a new washer and dryer
January 29, 2010 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Washer and dryer shopping has me completely overwhelmed. I need guidance to see through the soapsuds.

I've been shopping for a high efficiency, preferably front loading washer and dryer, for the past four months and I am completely at a loss as to what to do, seriously. The options are overwhelming and I do not do well with salespeople, I turn to you, Internet!

There are a few things I absolutely need (option for a super short wash and dry cycle of <40 minutes, minimum 4 cubic feet in washer, front loading, and steam cleaning). I'm trying to stay under $1400/each. Is there a website I can input my needs and it compiles a list of washer and dryers that fit my requirements? Or, better, any personal experiences with certain brands?

I'm leaning towards purchasing from a local business, but pointing me in the direction of online sites for price comparison or even what washer and dryer I should buy, I'd really appreciate it because my head is on spin-cycle right now.
posted by banannafish to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I wish I'd trusted Consumer Reports and just gotten the recommended machine. But the Bosch set is purty.
posted by theora55 at 1:11 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tangential, but... it sounds like you are wisely not considering a combo washer-dryer, which is good because if one breaks.... well that just sucks.

Front loading is also wise, and works even better if you install them on a raised platform so they're even higher. Six or eight inches.

I would definitely buy local from a place that has (a) been around 10+ yrs and (b) does service.
posted by rokusan at 1:12 PM on January 29, 2010

In addition to Consumer Reports, I found this site to be pretty useful.

(And you totally have my sympathy on the washer/dryer buying hassle -- I do not know why there are like 49872394729 different models and they all have designators like "KLX238VPT8745", which makes comparison shopping extra-confusing...)
posted by Kat Allison at 1:24 PM on January 29, 2010

I have always gone with used Maytags, from here and there.

There are probably more energy-efficient ways to do it, but the above has been my M. O. my entire adult life.
posted by Danf at 1:26 PM on January 29, 2010

Coincidentally, a co-worker of mine just had her second Whirlpool dryer in a year catch fire yesterday, so maybe don't buy one of those.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:53 PM on January 29, 2010

For whatever it's worth, my (cheap, $500 7-8 years ago) washer gave up the ghost a few months ago. When the guy came out to tell me that the cost to repair was ~75% of the cost of a new (cheap, $500) washer, I decided to get something for my service call by asking him what he'd been running into with different brands and models.

The upshot of what he told me was that 75% of his calls were for the high-tech high efficient washers, that the components that typically failed most were the logic units, that the average repairs were $750 or so, and that he didn't see any noticeable difference in failure rates across brands.

After that, I gave my my plans to buy one of the sexy new high tech units, and bought another $500 washer. I'll revisit it again in another 7-8 years when this one dies...
posted by nonliteral at 2:02 PM on January 29, 2010

I went with the reccomendation from Consumer Reports. The $30 / Annual was made back on that one purchase - the other appliances that failed that year (new house, old appliances, natch) were icing on the cake.

I wound up going with a pair of LGs, and love them. I didn't get the raised storage bins at the time, I wish I had - more space, higer appliances means less stooping over to load them.
posted by GJSchaller at 2:02 PM on January 29, 2010

Shockingly, we found the customer service at our local Best Buy in terms of guidance as to what to buy in this area really really helpful.

(Whirlpool Duet Sport, bought a few years ago, very happy... not sure about the speedy wash though).
posted by miss tea at 2:03 PM on January 29, 2010

also suggesting Consumer Reports. Even the good companies release a stinker every now and then.

One note with the front-loading washers - make sure you're installing it somewhere that's rock-solid stable - that spin cycle can shake the entire house.
posted by swngnmonk at 2:12 PM on January 29, 2010

Not Frigidaire!
posted by kmennie at 2:27 PM on January 29, 2010

I had a fancy-schmancy Hoover washing machine that kept going wrong on me. The LED was very unpredictable and kept going wrong, effectively preventing me from using the machine on a number of occasions, or it would go blank mid-cycle and the machine would stop, full of water.

A repairman showed me the inside of the machine - there's basically a breeze block (cinder block) inside the machine to stabilise it, and the vibration from this during the spin cycle can cause havoc with sensitive LED displays, particularly if the machine is (like mine) on a concrete floor. He recommended that my next machine have dial controls rather than LED.

I just got a new Hotpoint washer-dryer with dial controls, the next model down from top-of-the-range, to avoid the LED problem recurring.
posted by essexjan at 2:43 PM on January 29, 2010

If you want to do exhaustive preliminary research first, I suggest you go to the appliance pages of as many retailers as you can find on the web (Lowes, Home Depot, Best But, H.H. Gregg, Sears, etc.) in order to see a broad range of what's out there. Then, choose the machines that fit your criteria and go back and read the customer comments on them. Lastly, go to Consumer Reports and see what they say.

Nthing the above comments on buying the pedestals (we didn't and rue the day) and also on LG. Ours are five years old and have only given us problems in regard to not cleaning out the drain filter often enough due to several shaggy dogs at home, an easy but neglect-able maintenance item.
posted by Old Geezer at 3:07 PM on January 29, 2010

One thing you should look into (if you haven't already) is whether your city has any incentives for getting front loaders and high-efficiency gas driers. I bought a new set in '08 and wound up getting something like $150 back from the city. Any salesman worth his salt will know all this stuff and tell you.
posted by adamrice at 3:17 PM on January 29, 2010

Response by poster: Okay, useful advice so far... I'm looking into an Electrolux, and now know to get ANYTHING BUT FRIGIDAIRE! I'm still looking for suggestions, since I'm a little overwhelmed, but I do really appreciate the advice (and upkeep advice) so far.
posted by banannafish at 5:56 PM on January 29, 2010

I just purchased a new dryer- got a Maytag Centennial at Home Depot for under 400 dollars. It works well, dries nicely and shuts off appropriately when clothes are dry.

I had gone to the store intending to buy a "nicer" dryer. The salesman convinced me to get the unit I did because the more expensive units are not much different in terms of actual drying ability. They may look sleeker, but they don't necessarily perform better.

Much of the cost of a fancy dryer goes to making it match the look/feel/electronics of the more expensive washer. Washer tech has really improved so paying more may make sense here, but from what I've heard dryer tech hasn't progressed much.
posted by jz at 6:11 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I bought the washer and dryer that Consumer Reports rated highest.

The dryer claims to be able to provide steam. It turns out that it has its own water line, and the clothes get a couple of sprays of cold water while the dryer operates normally. It's exactly like tossing a damp wash cloth in with your wrinkled dry clothes and running the dryer for ten minutes, or just spritzing with a spray bottle. Don't pay extra for steam.

I have a high-efficiency top-loading washer with direct drive. We were told that the spin cycle would be quiet, and without much vibration. It's absolutely true; the floor doesn't shake and the spin cycle is super quiet. Unfortunately, the pump and the agitating are louder than with a conventional washer, but at least you can have it on the second floor and the house doesn't rock.

High-efficiency washers can have big problems with mildew and odors, especially in areas that have high humidity. The HE detergent somehow clings inside the machine, and the film attracts smelly micro-organanisms, plus it's a damp, enclosed environment. Even if you leave the door open between cycles, you may have to clean the machine monthly with a product like Affresh. The manufacturer of our washer says it's a must. I wish I'd known that before buying.
posted by wryly at 6:18 PM on January 29, 2010

Best answer: clothes dryers

washing machines

Consumer Search is an online amalgamation of reviews. It can be helpful.
posted by snowjoe at 6:33 PM on January 29, 2010

We've had our LG washer and dryer for over six years, and they're great. The only issue we've had is a torn gasket (due to user error). As others have mentioned, you have to watch out for mold in the front loader - leave the door open, wipe the gasket every once in a while. I, too, wish we'd sprung for the pedestals.
posted by candyland at 6:48 PM on January 29, 2010

FWIW, my 10 year old Frigidaire front load washer has performed flawlessly. I don't use a dryer, so can't comment on that component.
posted by torquemaniac at 7:29 PM on January 29, 2010

Electrolux and Frigidaire are the same company now. I.E. if you get an Electrolux machine you have bought a label filled with Frigidaire components. There's a lot of crossover like this. Amana, Maytag, and Jenn-Air are all the same company now after buyouts and consolidation. Kenmore, from Sears, can be weird since Sears contracts out to manufacturers to make there items. Typically their higher end washers and dryers are Whirlpool made, but their cheaper front loaders are all Frigidaire constructed. Their fridges can be made by GE, Whirlpool, or Frigidaire. A salesperson worth their salt will be able to tell you or find out easily enough.
posted by ZaneJ. at 9:09 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

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