Before buying a washing machine there are some factors you should consider to make sure you choose the one that suits you and your needs best. You can use this buying guide for washing machines to help you make an informed decision.
How many children do you have? Are you active? Will your clothing be extra soiled from sports or other activities? Are you busy? The wash load size and number of loads that you will be doing is another consideration. Do you have time to do many smaller loads or will you need to do fewer larger loads.
How much space is available? Measure the area where the washer will be very carefully. Even small mistakes in measuring can create big problems in when it is time to install your washer.
Top Load versus Front Load
The first decision you will have to make is whether you want a top loading washer or a front loading washer. There are advantages and disadvantages for each type. While front loading machines may be more common in the U.S., in Europe, front loading machines are the norm.
The cost of the washer is probably one of your first deciding factors. Top load washers are definitely cheaper than the front loading variety. Front loading washers are somewhat expensive. You can expect to pay several hundred dollars more for a front loader.
At this point you should probably consider the running cost. Water consumption is decreased with front loading washers. Efficiency is increased. This is because on a front loading washer the drum is horizontal and as it turns gravity pulls the clothing down along with the water.
Top loading washers have a vertical drum and must be filled up with water in order to operate. Top loading washers have to re-fill the entire drum for the rinse cycle but front loading washers use sprays instead. This will have a direct effect on the cost of running each type of washer.
Even though front loading washers are more expensive, in the long run they will save you money on the cost of running them. You must weigh the upfront cost against the long term savings and see which is best suited to your budget.
Some front loading washers also require the use of special high-efficiency detergent. This detergent is more expensive than regular detergent and there are a limited amount of choices available. Front loading washers are also gentler on your clothes. This again is due to the drums’ position. The agitation that is needed for a top loader inflicts more wear and tear. This will shorten or extend the life of your clothing. The front loader will save you additional money in the long run as your clothing will need to be replaced less often.
A disadvantage to using a front loader is that you will not (at least not without great difficulty) be able to add additional clothes to the cycle once it is started. It is very convenient to be able to open the lid on top and simply drop in additional clothing while the washer is running.
The amount of time it takes to finish a load of laundry is longer with a front loader. The spin cycle on a front loader has a more powerful motor. This means that your clothes will have less moisture at the end of a front loading machine’s completed wash cycle. This means less drying time and less energy used.
With a front loader you have the option to stack a dryer on top of it instead of having no alternative to the side-by-side placement of a top loader and dryer. If you choose to place a dryer next to a front loader you will increase the amount of space for folding laundry and storing detergent and other laundry supplies. There is the necessity for adequate space for opening the lid with a top loader, so pay special attention to the space that you have available for a washing machine.
There are many optional controls available on washing machines today. This includes but is not limited to auto-wash, delicate-cycle, short-wash, light-cycle, anti-wrinkle and delayed-start. Overall you should be flexible in your decision. You may have to sacrifice certain wants, for certain needs and availability.
Feature to Look For
All other considerations being equal, if it comes down to a choice between models, choose the washing machine with one or more of these features. Plastic or stainless steel tubs are much less prone to chipping rusting than ones that are porcelain-coated steel. Tubs made of stainless steel are able to tolerate higher spin speeds as well, so these models can extract more water from your load during the final spin, saving you money on drying time.
Models that have touchpad controls instead of dials usually are more adjustable and even let you save favorite settings for different load types, although they are typically found only on the high end models. Look for an automatic lock if you have young children in the house; these prevent top loading machines lids from being opened during spin cycles.
If you or someone in your household has sensitivities to fragrances and other chemicals in detergents, look for a machine that allows you to dial in an extra rinse and spin cycle.
Photo by jim212jim, Creative Commons Attribution License