Let's talk washing machines

August 3 |
The washing machine is very sick © by haxney, used under Creative Commons license.
I have a question for the Offbeat Homies, although I'm not sure how offbeat it is.

We had an older washer break, and apparently it is not something Miss Fix-it here can fix. Being as it is an older washer and repairing may be an endless pit, we have decided to replace it.

Does anyone have a washer they'd recommend? Has anyone ever purchased a refurbished appliance, and how did that work out?
-Kristin

  1. I've found that consumer reports has really comprehensive info, we will be using their ratings to make our purchase, it does require a membership though :-(. Read about your options (front load/top load) and determine what is best for you. When I was looking at refurbished units there was not great enough of a price difference to buying new, in my opinion, to go that route. I did however find some amazing deals on craigslist and will definitely look there when the time comes. You will have details that matter to you- like for me I hate the washer I grew up with because it took 2hrs to finish a cycle so I want something more speedy. Also check at stores for last year's or floor model deals.

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    • Almost all public libraries have Consumer Reports access – and librarians who can help you navigate it!

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  2. One thing you can do to save money is buy appliance sets that are different model years, but otherwise the same model/color etc. We saved hundreds of dollars on a new washer and dryer set that way. But we didn't go to home depot, we went to a small local business. I don't think that big business lets you make those kinds of errors, or split sets!

    That being said, I did all my research at home depot, checked the specs and sizes in store and online, and am very happy with my front loading washer/dryer set.

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  3. We bought a Samsung front loader (washer and dryer) less than a year ago. It was one of the top rated appliances by Consumer Reports. So far I have no complaints! I especially like the sanitize mode on the washer. We used to for some used baby stuff we bought and it blasted away all of the stains and grit and nasty stuff that was on the seat covers. It was amazing! We bought it from HH Gregg so we were able to haggle on the price a bit and they gave us free delivery and 18-month interest-free payments which really helped with not feeling the pain of buying new appliances so acutely.

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    • The library often has a copy of Consumer Reports.

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    • I have a Samsung front loader set too and I would never go back to a top loader. Like you said, the specialized settings for sanitizing and delicates are awesome.

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  4. We recently bought a set for our new home, I found the research overwhelming! We went with a Speed Queen set and I am thrilled! Its old school, with no bells and whistles, but it has steel parts, is made here in the US, head glowing reviews, and came with a 3 year warranty! We could have spent 3x's as much on a front loader. I am glad we didn't :)

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  5. When my mother bought a high efficiency washer, her water bill dropped dramatically. I would recommend investigating HE machines.

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    • I have one. We currently rent and don't pay for water, but once we move into a house soon I'm sure we'll be really glad to have it.

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    • Yes, we've noticed a big difference in our water bill as well!

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  6. I love my top loading HE Maytag washer and dryer with the steam feature. They were wedding/christmas gifts from the in laws so price not a factor. I love the washer for cloth diapers, it really gets the stink out and there is no agitator in the middle so it fits queen comforters well.

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    • We've been looking into getting one of these washers but I'm going to be new to the cloth diaper world and want to make sure it's right for them. I've heard that you need a washer that has a setting for large loads (which my old washer has) for cloth diapers because they need the extra water for getting all the gunk out. I thought those new ones weighed the load first to figure out how much water to use, so there's no "large load" option for extra water. Is this true…or can you just do an extra rinse cycle for cloth diaper loads? This is all so new to me…!

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      • Sort of off topic, but there are ways of "tricking" your front-loader into putting out more water to wash cloth diapers. I run an extra rinse cycle at the onset, in cold or warm, and then a hot-hot cycle with extra cold rinse for wash. I have also been known to thrown in an extra, soaking-wet bathroom towel to make the washer think the load is larger than it really is. I do have to strip my diapers in a bucket of oxy-water about once every three months, and run a bleach load on the inserts only to get rid of excess funk about once every four months or less. If you google cloth diapers and washing machines, I bet there are a ton more comments out there on your specific type or style of washing machine.

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      • I have a Haier portable apartment washing machine (which I love in an almost sexual way), which is half the size of a regular load, and it cleans cloth diapers really well! I just put it on a "heavy" cycle and all is well with the world

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        • I have one of those too! I got mine from Amazon.com, and I love it. It can connect to either standard washer hookups or sink faucets, and it's small enough that when you move, you can just load it into a car and go.

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      • Our washer you just set it to heavy mode and it does the trick.

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  7. When my washing machine burned out in 2009, I called a trusted repair person. I was going to replace it with a fancy energy efficient front loader. The repair guy told me that the number one reason people call him is because their front loading washing machines have broken. They have problems because water gets trapped, goes stale and stinks (and makes clothes stink too) then the electronics break and he can't fix them — they just need to get a new washing machine. He said the best, most reliable machine is a good, old-fashioned top loading Whirlpool. I got the one with "auto load sensing and triple spray" and it's been great. He also said anything with the EnergyStar label is going to be energy efficient. I got my washer at a local appliance "mart" and got about $150 off because it was a scratch and dent model (small dent on the side you can't see because of where it's placed). Good luck in your search!

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  8. When I bought my house, I already had a dryer, but was in need of a washer. After considering some used front loaders (but you know, you never know what the previous owner may have sent through there..so ew.)Mom and I went to Lowe's and found the cheapest, most old school top loading washer there… and it is AWESOME! Oh look, here it is: http://www.lowes.com/pd_345722-46-RTW4440XQ_4294857976__?productId=3328422&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1
    I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to stuff like that. So I knew didn't want to spend a fortune on a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles. It has all the basic settings: Low to High water, heavy clean to gentle and gets the clothes nice and clean with no issues with my home-made detergent. And you seriously can't beat the $296 price tag. Do I care that it doesn't match my dryer? No. Seriously, its a tool. As long as it works, and works well, I'm happy!

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  9. We bought a HE front load LG washer about a year ago, and it was the best decision EVER! It has a direct drive which is warrantied for 10 years, and tons of options at a good price. When we went shopping the one sales guy loved the LG washer so much that he recommended it to us even though he didn't have it in stock, and sent us to another store that did have it in stock…thus losing his commission.

    We actually went through two older washers within a month, thanks to heavy wet cloth diapers. The LG has stood up to serious wear and tear, and the HE helps too.

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  10. I have an HE front loader that we got on clearance a few years ago when our stone-aged top loader kicked some parts, and we love it. They are smaller, and we have really noticed a difference in our water bill. We can also stack them, which is awesome, because they are in a closet just inside the kitchen, and we plan to stack them later on to allow for a mud room and utility sink. However, they do tend to harbor stink and funk around the gaskets in the washing machine, which means you have to leave the washer open to dry out after cycles, and we are forever opening the laundry room door into it.

    My best suggestion is to comparison shop in person, then find the best price online, and take it around to local dealers to see who can meet or exceed the price. Big box stores will usually run specials like $100 off for every X-brand you buy, or free delivery and removal of your fossil, which can get pricy.

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  11. Since we live in an older house and it is over a crawl space we were told not to get front loader, the amount of vibration that they can produce can actually damage your house if the washer is not on a concrete slab. My husband the eternal computer geek/ researcher jumped at the chance to research the perfect washer for us when our old one died a loud screaming death.
    In the end we bought a high efficiency top loader LG True Balance, and we love it, we even got a rebate from BC Hyro for upgrading our machine. It is very smooth, it doesn't shake the house like the old machine used to, and there is no agitator in it so it is easy on clothes. Plus because it is a top loader it doesn't get the weird smells that front load machines can get.

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  12. Typically Lowes has a washer/dryer sale in November, so last year we picked up this baby for $499: http://www.lowes.com/pd_327003-149-WF350ANW_4294857975__?productId=3203101&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1

    I am IN LOVE with it and the matching dryer we bought for the same price.

    As for refurbished appliances, we got our fridge for 1/3 the price by going to the Sears Outlet and getting a "scratch and dent" model. I touched up the scratches with black enamel paint and nobody ever can tell we didn't buy it brand new. And damn do I love my top of the line fridge!

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  13. Here's what I do for any large purchase (washer,dryer,refrigerator,car,etc) : go to ConsumerReports.com. Pay the $20 to get an annual membership and check out their ratings. Buy something they recommend.

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  14. Several years ago I had to replace my stacked washer/dryer and I went to a local electronics store that my family has gone to for years. Along with selling brand new appliances, they also sell refurbished. My budget was around $700 and I was really hoping to find some nice refurbished stuff because $700 would just barely buy me a brand new washer that was the cheapest you could get.

    I ended up getting a refurbished set of the Whirpool Nautilus line. I got lucky that even though these were around 5 years old, they were owned previously by an older couple who were snowbirds. So they were only used half the year, and not used very hard when they were used. The owner had done basic maintenance on them (replacing belts, etc). At the time these were sold they were top of the line. I LOVED THEM. I wish I could have kept them. Sadly we moved and our new place didn't have room for them (they were large) so I sold them to my future sister-in-law.

    I would seriously look into finding a local repair place if you can and see what they have to offer. You can get some great deals. If I had had more money I could have gotten a really nice LG washer/dryer set that was only a few months old for $1000 instead of $3000 brand new. There was nothing wrong with them, the couple were just eccentric and replaced their appliances far too frequently.

    Also, my two cents on consumer reports. Read them carefully. They used to be notorious for reviewing one make and model of appliance/car/etc with a different model. For example I read one review one time they gave a review of a Lincoln after having driven a Ford. Yes, they are the same chassis and same parent company, but two totally different cars. So just read carefully that the model they tested is the same as the one reviewed.

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  15. When I moved into my studio apartment, there was a closet big enough for a stacking washer/dryer but the complex had no units available for me. This left me in a pickle since I'm a massage therapist who does a shit ton of laundry. When I began to shop around, the width of the tiny closet and the 120V outlet were my main challenges. I needed a unit with a larger capacity that could handle more than a couple towels at a time – this bitch was gonna have to allow me to do at least half a day's laundry in one load.

    After an exhaustive search and lots of research online (the 120V outlet was a pain in the ass requirement), I ended up with this unit, an all-in-one that I LOVE: http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202336996/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&keyword=wm3987hw&storeId=10051&relatedSearch=wm3987hw

    Not only does my washer/dryer sing me a song when the laundry is done but I can load it and let it do its thing while I go out and run errands for hours since I don't have to take the laundry out of the washer and then put it in the dryer. It washes and then dries all on its own. And I don't even have to get to it right away when it finishes – it will occasionally fluff my laundry for up to 4 hours so it won't sit there and get wrinkly. There is also a feature where I can set it to begin up to 19 hours later so I can literally do a load of laundry while I sleep and wake up to freshly washed clothes.

    The downside is that the capacity is a bit smaller because it's a front loader so you can't just jam in a huge load if you want it all to get properly washed. But it regularly handles up to five flannel massage sheets at a time plus face cradle covers and a linen bag and does fine. It also has an evaporative dryer so it can take a LONG time to dry (like 2 hours) and it takes some practice to figure out how long to dry things so they don't come out a slightly damp. That said, though, I LOVE MY WASHER/DRYER! And I swear to god, my clothes are a million times cleaner than they were when I had a top loading unit. I can't recommend this one enough!

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  16. As far as buying a cheap washer dryer set, we bought ours from rent-a-center. It had been borrowed and returned after 30 days for the washer and after 68 or something for the dryer. A matching set that you can finance for 3 months and then pay off because otherwise the price almost triples. But we got a 90% brand new set for $650.

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  17. We were on a tight budget so we hit up our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and found a great washer and dryer for only $100 for the pair. As long as you don't mind getting them used, the Habitat ReStore is a FANTASTIC resource, and not just for washers and dryers :-)

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  18. I have a newer Samsung front loader set that came with the house I just bought. I love the different settings for delicates, heavy loads, knits, etc. Really easy on my clothes and on my electricity/water bill. Only complaint is what some other ppl have mentioned – water tends to stay stuck in the gaskets unless you wipe it out after each wash, and it will smell if you don't leave the door open for awhile after the wash. Regardless, this is something I will accept because it's worth it for the way my clothes come out.

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  19. When we moved into our new house we scoured Craigslist for washers and dryers. We lucked out on scoring a set of Samsung front loading washer/dryers for $700. They were a few years old but in great condition. Look on Craigslist on Thursday/Friday as most people list their things right before the weekend, and act fast if you see something you like.

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  20. We got a good deal by buying a floor model washer…. I forget what it is. High efficiency something or other. We like it.

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  21. We have an LG all-in-one washer/dryer, and love it. However, it is probably not for everyone – it's expensive, and loads take at least 3 hours from start to finish (wash and dry time), however since you don't have to change anything to another machine, we put loads in before we go to bed and have clean clothes in the morning, or put a load to wash before we head to work. We were very limited into what we could put into our condo because the existing plumbing hookups were in the kitchen, but our house inspection showed that the dryer vent line was run completely wrong and a fire hazard. It would have cost us a lot of money to move the washer hook-ups to the basement, and I was concerned about having to haul laundry from upstairs all the way to the basement (I really love having it in the kitchen). All-in-one washer/dryers dry differently (they dehumidify and heat instead of just heating to dry) and don't require a dryer vent. They also don't have a traditional lint trap – there is a lint trap that has to be drained of excess water and emptied every few months (depending on use), and otherwise lint collects on the seal of the door and you wipe it with a damp sponge or cloth when you empty the dryer.

    If space is a concern, or you have issues with venting the dryer, all-in-ones might be another avenue to investigate. It is very energy efficient, and we love ours to pieces.

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    • Any other offbeat homies with all in one units? I am interested to hear more about them. Thinking that it migh be the right fit for us.

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  22. We've had issues with washers and dryers. And having as little money as we do, we've gotten cheap ones from craigslist, friends, tried to repair, etc. We just keep having problems. It'll probably be more worth it to just spend a little extra money to get one that won't break down again.

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  23. I purchased my washing machine and drier from an estate sale. They're both from the seventies, and don't match. The washer is harvest gold and the drier is white. Both in pretty much perfect condition.

    90 bucks for the pair.

    I figure I'll have them a few years until I'm able/willing to upgrade to something a bit more water efficient, but it's just me right now, and I don't have a whole lot of laundry.

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  24. We LOVE LOVE LOVE our washer and dryer. They are on the expensive side, but the low end of high-efficiency washers/dryers. I really don't like front loader washers because they smell if you don't clean them properly, so we went with a top-loader HE washer. It doesn't have an agitator in it so it holds a TON of clothes. And it has a sensor for how much water to use based on the amount of clothes, so I no longer feel as guilty about doing a small load of laundry.

    Our set is the Whirlpool Cabrio.

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  25. As someone who works at Best Buy, I highly recommend checking out a BB near you that you have had a good experience at. I know most chain stores vary by location but you can usually find great sales on open-box, returned, or slightly damaged appliances (think scratches and dents, but otherwise in working condition). In addition, Best Buy offers interest-free financing on their store credit card. With a new washer and dryer you could get anywhere from 18-36 months to pay it back without interest!
    If you are in the market for a fancy-schmancy washer/dryer, Samsung makes a set that can text you when your clothes are done (no kidding!). It also has different loads based on what type of dirty your clothes are (ex: covered in food stains, covered in dirt/grass, etc). If you are looking for something more basic, they have a wide-range of those available too. I do advise to get a high-efficiency agitator-less washer and dryer–they clean better and use less resources, and are gentler on delicate clothing. Front-loading agitator-less washers work the best (and usually can hold the most) but a top-loading agitator-less washer isn't a bad idea.
    I know big box stores get a bad rep but I have been working for Best Buy for nearly a year and I think they are super ethical and they really do care about their customers.
    Good luck with whatever washer/dryer you choose!

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  26. We bought a Whirlpool Frontloader in 2009 (top of the line); 3 years later it is out of warranty and non-working…it is definately something within the electronics but no one has been able to pin-point exactly what. Next step was to start replacing components. Guess what? Components will cost as much as a new unit. We've opted just to buy a new old style top loader unit without all bells and whistles. Oh – and the front loader never made a difference in our water and electric bill.

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