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Clothes Washers

Top Loading Washers

Top loading washers use agitators to move water through clothes. Top loaders are easier to load with laundry and let you add clothes after the washing cycle has started. Also top loading washers are the least expensive type of clothes washer. If you get a top-loading washer, look for one that lets you adjust water levels. That way if you have a small load you can set it to use less water. Top-loading machines tend to be noisier and more likely to have loads go off balance.

Side-Loading Washers

Side-loading washers use less water than top loading washers. A side-load washer tumbles the clothes to move clothes through water (similar to the way a dryer tumbles clothes). Side-loading washers can be gentler on clothes because there is no agitator that the clothes may get caught on. Side-loading washers can do just as good of cleaning job as a top load washer (and some people claim they get clothes cleaner). A side-loading washer can use around 10 to 20 gallons less water per load and this reduces water usage and energy usage (less water needs to be heated). Using less water also helps reduce the load on a septic system.

You can use less detergent in side loading washers. You'll need to use low-suds detergents to get the best results when using a side-loading washer. Side-loading washers usually set the water level automatically based on the size of your load. These machines spin faster than top loaders and can strain more water out of clothes to help reduce drying time (and reduce energy costs of drying). Side loading washer can also save space because you can stack the dryer on top of them if you'd like.

Side-loading washers cost more than top-loading washers but the annual energy savings and water savings can help recover the additional expense. Some utility companies offer rebates if you buy an efficient washer. One disadvantage of a side-load washer is that you need to have all your clothes in the washer before turning it on (the door needs to stay shut while it is being used).

Top-Loading Calypso Washer

Whirlpool makes a top-loading washer called Calypso that does not have an agitator in it. This washer is has a vibrating plate that creates waves of water that flow through the laundry. According to the company this wave motion is gentler on laundry, cleans larger capacities, cleans better, and uses less water.


Consider who may be using the washer. If your children or an elderly person may use the washer then you may want the controls easy to reach. One-touch controls are easier to use then having to select multiple options.

Temperature Control

Some washers provide temperature control to keep cold water from being too cold. On cold-water settings, if the water is too cold detergent is less effective at cleaning the laundry. If hot water is too hot it can cause shrinkage. Some appliances monitor the temperature of the cold water to insure it doesn't get too cold or too hot. In general cold water should not be colder then 70 degrees F or hotter than 100 degrees F.

Compact Washers

If space is limited you can have a compact washer. Some compact washers come on rollers to let you store the washer in a closet. Some compact washer let you hook the hose to a kitchen sink. Usually compact washers can handle loads that are around two-thirds the size of a regular washer.

Combination Washer and Dryer

You can buy appliances where the washer and dryer are combined into one unit. This saves space and lets you do a complete washing and drying cycle without having to move clothes form the washer to the dryer. The main disadvantage is that it can take more time to do laundry if you have a lot of loads to do.

Stacked Appliances can Conserve Space

Some washers and dryers allow you to put the dryer on top of the washer to conserve floor space. This can also make it easier to use the dryer because the door will be at a more comfortable height. However, stacking appliances will eliminate the workspace normally available on top of the appliances.

Washer Tub & Durability

Look for a tub that is made of plastic or stainless steel. Some tubs are made of steel and coated with porcelain. If the porcelain gets chipped then the tub can rust. If you use the top of your washer as a work surface then a porcelain top is less likely to scratch then a painted top. Rust and corrosion are an important consideration in the quality of washers. A washer needs to endure harsh chemicals and hot water to last. Ask the salesperson what types of rust proofing the tub, frame, pump and hose fittings have. Also check the warrantee to see if rust and corrosion is covered by the warrantee.


A porcelain top lid will tend to last longer and resist scratching better than a painted lid.


Some machines offer 3 dispensers so that the machine can automatically dispense detergent, fabric softener, and bleach. This lets the machine add soap at the best time and it can reduce the chances of bleach damaging your clothes. In addition, some dispensers monitor the amount of laundry that is in the machine and adjusts the amount of detergent that is dispensed. This can prevent unnecessarily waiting detergent. Also, overusing detergent can damage clothes and create environmental problems. Some machines have higher capacity dispensers that let you add detergent for 30 days worth of laundry. Most dispensers require liquid detergents but you can get machines that have dispensers that allow liquid or powder detergents to be dispensed.

Lint Filters

Some washers have self-cleaning lint filters. If you have a septic system you should strongly consider getting an external lint filter for your washer to prevent lint from going into your septic system.

Washing Cycles

Most machines let you to set at least 3 types of cycles for washing and spinning clothes. For example a machine may have cycles for cotton, permanent press, and delicate clothes. Some machines let you adjust the amount of time for a rinse cycle. Some machines also offer a hand-washing cycle to be extra gentle. Having a cold water rinse will do just as good of job washing and will save energy.

Stain Pretreatment

Some washers have a pretreatment cycle used to soak laundry that has stains. Some pretreatment cycles spray a higher concentration of detergent and water into spinning laundry before clothes washing begins. After the clothes are saturated with a higher concentration of detergent then more water is added and the wash cycle occurs. Pretreatment cycles may eliminate the need to retreat clothes before putting them in the washer. On some washers you can tell the machine what type of stains you want to remove and the washer will customize its cycle according to the type of stains you want to remove.


Today, many homes have the laundry room close to the living space. If your home is like this then consider getting a quieter washer. Some manufacturers put insulation inside the washer to make it quieter. Also stronger cabinets and better stabilizing springs help make a washer quieter. Thick rubber legs can help reduce vibration noise and protect your floors from scratches.

Spin Speed

Washers remove moisture from clothes by spinning the clothes to extract water before the clothes are moved to the clothes dryer. The faster the washer can spin clothes then the more moisture can be removed. This also reduces drying time and saves energy. A washer that can spin clothes at 1,000 rpm or higher will tend to extract more water and reduce the time and cost of drying your clothes.

 Washer Safety

Some machines lock the door when the spin cycle is going on and other machines quickly shut down the spin cycle when the door is opened. The spin cycle is the time a person is most likely to get injured if they open the door while the spin cycle is going on. Never put your hands in a clothes washer while it is running. Wait for spinning clothes to completely stop before attempting to access the tub of a washer. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission serious injuries have occurred when people become entangled in spinning laundry. Injuries from washing machines have caused arm and hand amputations, finger amputations, and broken arms.

Other Features

You can get washers with built in stain guide manuals for tips on stain removal. Some washers have small monitors that give tips for removing stains.

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