There are a surprising number of important choices to make when purchasing a new washing machine: Do you want steam features? Should it be top or front loading? What size is right for your family? We’ve taken a look at the latest laundry tech and narrowed down your choices to the best options currently on the market. Take a look!
Note: It’s often stated that front loaders are better at cleaning and use less water than top loaders, though newer high-efficiency top-load models do away with the agitator for more capacity and a better clean. This means the prices on some top-load machines rival front loaders. Still, when we compiled the list of our favorite washers, it turned out to be top-heavy on front-load machines.
Best for most people
Why you should buy this: This machine simply gets clothes cleaner than any other we’ve seen.
Who it’s for: Anyone who’s looked at their fresh-out-of-the-washer clothes wondered if they’re actually clean.
How much will it cost: $1,099
Why we picked the Electrolux Perfect Steam EFLS617SIW Front-Load Washer
The Electrolux Perfect Steam front-load washer might look a tad different with its Nest-like dial, but what’s hidden inside the machine really makes it unique. A special chamber premixes water, stain remover, fabric softener, and detergent, basically whatever you’re adding to the machine, together for a faster, better clean.
Priming the water full of detergent means every drop that touches your clothes will help get them clean, and other products, like softener, are far more evenly distributed than when you dump a capful in the drum itself. It has special settings for blood and chocolate, so you don’t accidentally set the stain by using the wrong water temperature.
With only nine cycles, the 4.4-cubic-foot washer might seem a little light on the options, but you still get steam clean and sanitize settings and a StainSoak feature for tough stains. The SmartBoost technology also lets you get a really good clean in cold water and drops the fast wash down to an impressive 15 minutes (the heavy duty cycle, by contrast, is two hours long). Like other Electrolux machines, you can reverse which way the door opens, and it comes with a guarantee that it’s quiet enough to live on your second floor.
The premix chamber is really what makes the sleek-looking Electrolux shine, and it offers peace of mind that dirt grime, both visible and unseen, is getting removed from your clothes.
Best Large-Capacity washer
Why you should buy this: Large capacity, an effective quick wash, and steam options will help you get laundry done faster.
Who it’s for: Families who are constantly doing laundry or people who prefer to wash their clothes in bulk.
How much will it cost: $990
Why we picked the Kenmore Elite 41072 Front-Load Washer
With the Kenmore Elite 41072, you can expect to get a lot of laundry done and get it done fast. Its oversized 5.2-cubic-foot capacity is capable of churning 16 pounds of laundry, though if you only toss in half that, you can expect to get a good clean in 15 minutes with the Express Wash. It should also be able to wash your comforters, saving you a trip to the laundromat. For serious stains and soils, there’s a SteamTreat option and a Sanitize setting, which meets NSF standards and kills 99.9 percent of bacteria.
The dial with all the cycles looks sleek, and the 14 options themselves are straightforward: You know what you’re getting with names like rugged, workout wear, and whitest whites. And while that many cycles may seem like overkill, they’re all supposed to save you time. The kids wear setting, for example, is meant for set-in stains but also runs through an extra rinse to keep detergent off sensitive skin.
It’s not the biggest washer we’ve seen. Newish mega-capacity washers can offer as much as 5.7 cubic feet of space and wash over 20 pounds of clothes at a time. When it comes to features, size, and performance, this Kenmore is still cavernous and has the cleaning quality to match.
Best compact washer
Why you should buy this: Small in size and capacity, this washer still has some features you won’t find on certain full-size machine.
Who it’s for: Condo owners who still want a washer loaded with options.
How much will it cost: $999
Why we picked the Electrolux EIFLS20QSW 24-Inch Compact Washer
The Electrolux Compact Washer is a boxy little device, 33.5 inches high, 24 inches wide, and 25 inches deep. With 2.4 cubic feet of capacity, you won’t be shoving a couple weeks’ worth of laundry in here, but it is one of the largest sized drums amongst the compacts. The LED display glows white to show off the machine’s 14 cycles. There’s a jeans cycle, as well as one specially designed for wool sweaters. There are also ways to further customize cycles, by setting the temperature from eco-cold to hot, opting for no spin or setting it to max, and setting the soil level from extra light to extra heavy.
Electrolux added a two features that aren’t standard on compact washers: the sanitize feature — which kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and allergens — and the steam option, which removes odors from dry clothes or aids in stain removal.
Not everyone has a dedicated laundry room or basement where they can stick a full-sized washer, and this Electrolux should fit in many condos’ closet spaces. For a compact washer, it has a decent-sized capacity and features that make it worth the high price tag that often come with these type of machines anyway.
Best bargain washer
Why you should buy this: It may be frill-free, but this spacious washer cleans better than some of its high-priced competition.
Who it’s for: Bargain shoppers looking for a solid washer.
How much will it cost: $400
Why we picked the Kenmore 25132 Top-Load Washer
If there’s one thing that makes many top loaders attractive, it’s their price, and the Kenmore 25132 is no exception. While you won’t find a lot of the added features included with front-load machines, this appliance still has a wide variety of cycles and temperatures to choose from and a spacious 4.3 cubic feet of capacity — enough to was 19 towels at once, according to Kenmore. There’s even a bulky/bedding cycle to go with that space.
It lacks the deep-clean steam option found on pricier washers, but the stain boost helps clean up messes by letting clothes soak a while longer. Having that built-in means you won’t have to pretreat as many stains. For smaller loads you need clean ASAP, there’s an express cycle that will take around 45 minutes.
The control panel favors knobs over buttons, and there are quite a few: One to turn the stain boost on or off, one to include fabric softener or not, one to set temperatures, one to add an extra rinse, and the main one for the cycles. All of that makes navigating the options fairly intuitive and less likely you’ll forget to push a button amid a cluttered interface.
This Kenmore model uses more water than its front-loader counterparts, but it does offer a lot of features for its price.
Best luxury washer
Why you should buy this: This machine wins on both looks and luxury, with a zillion features too boot.
Who it’s for: People looking for Pinterest-worthy laundry rooms
How much will it cost: $1,530
Why we picked the Samsung WF56H9100AG/A2 Front-Loading Washer
Samsung specializes in high-tech washing machines with plenty of cutting edge features. Coming in either white or the sleek-looking onyx, it was also clearly designed for those who don’t want to hide their washers in the basement. At 5.6 cubic feet of capacity, it can hold the most clothes of any appliance on this list and falls comfortably in the mega-capacity category.
There are 15 wash cycles, including modes for bedding, deep steam, active wear, allergies, and so on. Specific settings like PowerFoam allow for deep cleaning using air, water, and detergent, while the self-cleaning cycle helps you clean out your washer. In fact, the machine will remind you when it’s time to run that setting, roughly every 40 washes. There are also five different temperature options separate from modes, allowing quite a bit of customization.
The Super Speed setting washes a full load of clothes in an impressively quick 36 minutes and does a thorough job, even on larger loads. Vibration sensors help balance the washing machine even when it’s spinning heavy loads. It even comes with smart capabilities, which allow you to diagnosis problems and find solutions via your smartphone.
Of course, all these features do add up to a high price tag, so you may need to save up for this one.
Should you buy now or wait?
Many people discover the best time to buy a washer is when theirs dies in mid-cycle. But if you have some advanced warning, it can be beneficial to wait. Many manufacturers start rolling out new products in September or October, meaning retailers want to make room for the new inventory.
However, that’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and stores often have frequent deals coinciding with holidays. It’s not just Black Friday: Memorial Day, Labor Day, President’s Day… You can often find bargains during long weekends.
It might behoove you to find out if your local appliance dealer has an annual blowout sale. One located in Seattle, for example, has a yearly sale in early November that draws crowds looking for lower prices.
How we test
Washers are a big purchase for anyone, and doing research before purchasing a new appliance is key. If you’ve read our reviews, you may wonder how we reach our conclusions. We like to take into account both benchmarks and less objective metrics like design. Because our washers are open for the whole Digital Trends office to use, we solicit a lot of feedback from our staffers when considering things like ease of use. This means that we take into account more than just one or two people’s opinions, and it also means the washers go through a fair amount of cycles by the time we’re done with them. Here we’ll explain our testing procedures a bit more in-depth.