The very first thing you’ll need to decide from a choice of three different types of washing machines:
These are regular top loaders with center-post agitators. These washers are the cheapest of the 3 types. However, they cost more to operate ‘cos they consume more water and electricity. These washers also hold less laundry (about 12 to 15 pounds) and operate at a much higher noise level.
Which are top loaders without center post agitators. These machines consume less water and electricity than regular top loaders and can hold more laundry (about 20 pounds or higher for models) than regular top loading machines. Since high efficiency top loaders spin at higher speeds they tend to tangle and wrinkle clothing. These machines cost much more than regular top loaders and in some cases, their selling prices can be as much as front loading washing machines.
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These machines are the best washers, and they’re also the most efficient. Most front loading models can hold between 12 to 20 pounds of laundry loads and use less water than top loaders. Front loaders also tend to be gentler on clothes than top loaders. However, their high spin speeds may cause excessive vibration.
The next thing you should be looking at is the washing machine’s capacity. And rightfully so, since the larger the washer’s capacity, the fewer loads they’ll do and the more energy and water they’ll tend to save.
The average capacity you will find on the market will be roughly between 12 and 20 pounds. Anything that falls within these limits will be adequate for most users.
What’s more important is the load balancing ability of the machine: Some models automatically balance the load so that all the clothes do not accumulate on the same site of the tub while spinning (if they do, the machine will vibrate excessively, making a lot of noise and moving around).
On standard models, you’ll usually find about four cycles including heavy duty, normal, delicate, and permanent press. Advanced models will have those basics and more than a dozen other cycles such as prewash, rinse and spin, stains, steam, towels, bedding, baby care, bulky/large, cotton/normal, express wash, hand-wash/wool.
In general, the standard cycles will be enough for most users. You don’t need to pay more for those extra cycles that you may never be used.
Steaming clothes can clean them more efficiently, loosen dirt better, or just freshen up clothing items. Leading appliance makers like LG, Whirlpool, and Samsung all offer steam washers. Steam also conserves overall water usage. Great if the model you are looking at has a steam option and priced within your budget (bear in mind that you’ll be paying much more if the machine had a steam option).
The extra rinse cycle is really an “extra” feature that most people will not use. Its main purpose is to make sure that no detergent residue is left on the clothes. People with sensitivity against detergent residues or those who have certain allergies will look for this feature.
Auto dispensers for bleach, detergent, and fabric softener release powder or liquid at the appropriate time in the cycle; bleach dispensers also prevent spattering. Some ultra-advanced models hold months’ worth of detergent, dispensing it automatically while letting you refill the reservoirs less frequently.
Standard models usually spin clothes around 600-900 RPM, whereas advanced models will spin up to 2000rpm. Faster spin speeds typically mean better moisture extraction in the spin cycle, reducing drying time and energy consumption.
Stainless steel is a nice, but not necessary feature to have in a washing machine. Usually, plastic tubs last at least as long as the machine. Since stainless tubs can withstand higher spin speeds, they are more common in high speed models (which extract more water and speed up drying).
This feature lets you program the washer to start at a later time, say at night when electricity rates are lower. It’s a handy feature to have but not all models offer it.
Some models have an end of cycle alarm that beeps when the cycle is finished, so that the user can pick up the clothes without causing excessive wrinkles, odors, etc. This is another nice feature to have but it’s not in the least essential.
Many high-end washers come with touchpad controls that incorporate menus for customized programs. Some models offer dedicated cycles for fabrics such as silk, as well as four or more water-level settings. Customized programs can be confusing, especially while you’re learning them. The basic cycles and settings can handle most washing needs, and you can replicate most special cycles with buttons or dials. Three settings for water level are plenty.
Like wash cycles, some advanced models will have more temperature combination for different types of fabrics, such as extra hot-cold, hot-cold, warm-warm, warm-cold, and cold-cold. They may also have automatic temperature settings.
Standard models, however, tend to feature three basic settings: hot-cold for whites; warm-cold for lights; cold-cold for dark colors.
In the past, most washers came with three basic “load” sizes that determined the water level: small, medium, large, and heavy. Advanced washers often have sensors that detect the load size and amount of water needed.
Amazon.com offers a vast array of brands & models of washing machines where you can browse through and learn more about them by reading Real Customer Reviews that can help make a wiser buy decision.
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