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Before You Buy a Clothes Washer


Before You Buy a Clothes Washer

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Before you buy a washer, follow this guide to find the right washer for your household. Washing machines are a major purchase for most households. Spend some time online reading reviews of the top-rated machines.

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Washer Types

There are three basic washer types - High Efficiency Front-Load, High Efficiency Top-Load and Traditional Top-Load. HE front-load machines use less water and energy than top-loaders and usually offer more capacity. HE top-load machines also use less water and energy than a traditional machine. Since they have no agitator, there is more room in the wash basket for large items. Traditional machines are usually less expensive and still offer a wide range of sizes and features.


Have you ever weighed your laundry? A regular capacity washer (4.0 cubic feet) typically holds 12 to 16 pounds of laundry per load. Large capacity home washers (4.5 cubic feet) hold up to 20 pounds. Think of your routine and the size of your family. If you only need the large capacity for comforters and bulky items, a trip to the laundromat is much less expensive for this occasional use.

If you are purchasing a used washer, here's how to determine the size/capacity of the washer drum.


If you are planning to stack your washer and dryer, a front-loading machine is the only option. If you have a small space, look for compact models. Get out that measuring tape before you go anywhere. Measure the laundry room space - height, width and depth - as well as the sizes of any appliances you plan to keep, measure the doorways and access areas, write it all down and take the tape measure with you when shopping. Consider noise levels if the washer is near living space. Front-loading machines are generally quieter than top-loading.

Cost of Operation

Most standard washing machines use 40 gallons of water. Models that have qualified for the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Star rating use less than half that amount. Almost all washers made before 1999 don't meet current USDE usage guidelines. Buyers should consider the long-term operational costs when selecting a model.

Options and Special Features

Today's washers come in a rainbow of colors, offer automatic product dispensers, multiple cycles and even steam cleaning. Again, carefully consider your family's needs and how you do laundry. Do you need delayed start cycles? Touch pad controls? Dispensers for fabric softener that you don't typically use? Extra features are nice but you will be paying extra for each one. Be sure it is something that you will actually use.

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