What washer and drier to get? How to decide?
May 26, 2016 12:04 PM   Subscribe

We bought a new-to-us house that does not come with a washer and drier. However, washers and driers seem to be way more complicated than I could have ever possibly imagined. Does anybody have any recommendations for a good washer and drier? Or, can anyone point us toward somewhere that will help us narrow down our decision? Or even tell us brands to consider or avoid?

There are three of us—two adults and toddler who is in cloth diapers but hopefully will not be for much longer. We're looking for machines that will be first and foremost reliable and that will last us for a long time. We'd also like machines that are fairly quiet.

We've had a bad experience with front loaders before—we had a machine on the second floor of a house that shook everything until we ultimately replaced it with a top-loader that was a bit better. With that said, in the new place the laundry room is on the main floor and so the vibration might not be as big an issue.

We've also seen salespeople touting the benefits of steam machines. We're skeptical of the value of this in the washer but wonder if it is worth it in a drier. What other features are awesome/marketing hype?

What other things do we need to consider?

I think as an absolute maximum we're willing to spend about $2000 (Canadian) for both machines, but we'd probably be more comfortable closer to $1500.
posted by synecdoche to Shopping (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I just bought and returned a Kenmore HE top loader from Sears. It was the worst customer experience of my life and the washing machine was terrible. I replaced it with an LG front loader and have been much happier. I used to have a front loader and it got really gross eventually but I think some of that was user error and some of it was the drainage in that machine was not good. Everything I've read suggest that newer front loaders don't have nearly the drainage issues as the old ones did. The new machine has a steam function but I don't know that it really makes much difference.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:10 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

In terms of getting the best price, buy at Home Depot or another store with a similar policy. Then go online and find your model super cheap somewhere else and take the ad to Home Depot. They price match with an additional 10% of the difference off. I got my appliances this way and ended up getting about $600 returned to me. Yeah, I could have just bought at the cheaper places but A) That's more of a pain and B) Then I would only have saved ~$545.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:14 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

We've had a set of front loading washer and dryer for about a year and we love them. We got the Samsung full size stacking machines (both can sit on the floor too). Two things we soon learned were that they are sensitive to being overloaded and it is much better to use the laundry detergents that are specifically for high efficiency machines. Once we adjusted, we have had much cleaner clothes than before and wouldn't trade for anything else.
posted by txmon at 12:17 PM on May 26, 2016

Front loader vibration issues have gotten a lot better over the last few years. We had a ten year old front loader in the second floor of our house and it sounded like a helicopter was landing on the roof when it spun. We just replaced it with a new LG front loader and you can barely hear it outside the laundry room. My research indicated that LG front loaders were generally the best combo of effectiveness, reliability, and price right now. They come at many price points. I got mine from Costco.

My new dryer has steam and I haven't used it yet.
posted by town of cats at 12:22 PM on May 26, 2016

This Sweethome review has several recommendations for both side and top-loaders, with detailed explanations.
posted by ourobouros at 12:22 PM on May 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

And you can always read Consumer Reports at the library.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:31 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Whirlpool is my go-to brand. You can get workhorse top loader and a dryer VERY inexpensively.

Don't buy more than you need. If bells and whistles seem unnecessary, they are.

Check for scratch and dent deals.

This is not a purchase where breaking the bank makes any kind of sense.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:32 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

I had an LG front loader pair for 9 years that I loved and only sold because I was moving cross-country. They never gave me a bit of trouble. (The trick to front loaders is that they have to be balanced very carefully, so the quality of the installers is important - an inexperienced installer can leave you with a loud unbalanced machine)

Anyway, after a year in a rental with a geriatric top loader that ate my clothes, I am very happy to have bought a new set of LGs. The new set is just as great as the old ones. This time around we bought from Costco, largely because the price was good, but also we could be sure that the installation, service, etc would be top notch.
posted by antimony at 12:45 PM on May 26, 2016

I'd disagree with Ruthless Bunny: Hopefully, you're going to be doing something on the order of 3,000 loads (200 loads a year for 15 years) of laundry in these. Unless your budget is really tight, spend the extra few hundred dollars for a good quality front loader. We worried about vibration on the second floor, but Consumer Reports included a vibration rating, so we were able to get one that is noticeable, but not a problem. That was about 7 years ago, so I'd guess they have improved further.

The benefit I've noticed is that the spinning removes much more water, so the drying takes less time and energy. Apparently the front-loaders clean better too: Why not a top-loader?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:00 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

With that budget I'd go for Miele without a second thought. Front loaders don't vibrate if they're set up right. Make sure the installers remove the clamps that hold the drum in place during transit!
posted by derbs at 1:10 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have this Samsung front-loader and matching dryer. They work incredibly well, are quiet, and they play silly happy little tunes when cycles complete. We got a deal at a big box store for about half the list price. I'd absolutely recommend them.
posted by donnagirl at 2:08 PM on May 26, 2016

Definitely get a front loader, preferably one with a built-in heating element and a sanitize cycle. They can heat the water enough that it kills everything even without bleach. LG is good, but I had good luck with the Frigidaire Gallery series. (Frigidaire is one of many brands made in the same Electrolux factory that are essentially identical mechanically)

Vibration issues with front loaders are incredibly rare if the machine is level. If it is out of level even a bit, you get the crazy vibrations. If you get crazy vibrations, the spin cycle will never run correctly and you lose out on one of the biggest benefits of a front loader: the drastically reduced drying time.

Front loaders are awesome. They use a ridiculously small amount of water, use far less energy, are gentler on the fabric, yet still get clothes cleaner than a tub-style. (And they stack!) You will be shocked at just how much soap you have in your clothes. It took four or five washes in the front loader before my clothes stopped being sudsy from the leftover soap embedded in my clothes from years of top loader use.

If you do want a traditional top loading machine, get a Speed Queen. They are built like tanks. Miele makes a compromise machine that has the guts of a front loading machine but has the door on the top if you have space issues or back issues with bending over as far as is necessary to load/unload a front load machine. Don't get an agitator-less top load machine. I have yet to hear of someone liking any of that type, always complaints..
posted by wierdo at 2:20 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I can truthfully say that I have never loved an appliance as much as I love our front loading washing machine (LG, but I don't remember the exact model). It does a good job of washing clothes, it does a great job of wringing enough water out of them so that the dryer doesn't have to work as hard, and it barely uses any water (this is important. I live in California. Excess water consumption is punishable by death). I've only had it a few years, so I can't say how long it will last, but I am 100% enthusiastic about it up to this point.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:20 PM on May 26, 2016

I love my Samsung front loader HE. I can use it for delicates that should be hand washed, quick loads for guest room sheets, heavy duty loads of rags used to clean up the muddy dog, normal clothing loads, and I once even laundered a full size backpack with an internal frame that was caught in a sewer backup and came out of the washer just fine. The washer wasn't harmed either. I wash shoes in it, too, even my flip flops. It's an all-purpose cleaning machine.

It does not leak or vibrate. It sings when it is finished. It is very pretty. There are lots of pretty colors. I love having so many different settings, and am surprised at how many I use. I don't use much soap, and don't use fabric softener, but I do use bleach occasionally. I buy HE soap with oxyclean in it and use about 1/3 of what's recommended, and my clothes come out very clean. I wash almost everything in cold water.

I have had this pair for eight years, and when I added a pair to a rental unit, I put the more recent models in. I won't worry that they'll leak or break, and they look lovely - very enticing for prospective tenants.

I should note that I got both pairs at the bargain outlet of our local appliance store, for a discount because they were last year's colors, so please don't laugh at me for my unfashionable laundry appliances. (I spent the savings on therapy.)
posted by Capri at 2:25 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am going agaisnt the tide here and say we (my whole extended family) has been buying samsung top loader HE washing machine and matching dryer with very good results. Little vibration, no center agitator, hardly every out of balance, not too loud and so far we haven't worn one out (oldest is over 10 years now) or even needed repairs.

In general the higher end Samsung is a usually safe bet for ANY appliance in my experience.
posted by bartonlong at 2:28 PM on May 26, 2016

I love my LG Waveforce washer. It is a top loader but it has no spindle thingy, so I can stuff whatever in there, even big comforters. The loads do take a while but they conserve water. I wash everything in cold water except underpants, and it all comes out clean.

I have a Samsung dryer. It's great. I never think about it.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:04 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you get a front loader, look for a feature that helps keep the door slightly ajar while not in use.

Unless you want to stack them, don't be afraid to mix and match brands. I ended up with an LG washer and a Samsung dryer - the only minor quibble is that the doors open in opposite directions in a mildly inconvenient way.
posted by Candleman at 3:37 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just made this purchase! I asked many people and the common comments where that the one without agitators did not get the clothes clean enough and if you get one that chooses the amount of water for you, you will be very sad. I was also told that the fancy ones with all the bells and whistles can be problematic because they have more bits that break.

I settled on a moderately priced set with an agitator and the option of choosing my own amount of water fill, as well as the option of allowing the machine to choose for me.

My only regret is that I bought a washer that is too big for me. I love being able to wash a week's worth of laundry in one go but, if I gain any weight, I won't be able to reach the very bottom of the machine, as I am 5'3 and it was apparently designed for a much taller person with longer arms.

So, touch the bottom of the machines that you are looking at and don't spend as much as you could, because you won't get what you are paying for.
posted by myselfasme at 6:43 PM on May 26, 2016

I just overthought this plate of beans myself. I ended up buying the Sweethome recommendations. The article is long and full of useful details. Key takeaways:
  • Compact machines are significantly worse than full size
  • Front loaders are better than top loaders
  • Driers are all roughly the same, focus on washers

posted by Nelson at 9:07 AM on May 27, 2016

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