Buying a Washing Machine
In the market for a new washing machine? Here are some quick tips to help you.
- Price. Washing machines can range in price from just a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Most do a good job for simply washing clothes (obviously, check ratings). The more expensive ones may have more bells and whistles. Before you buy, understand all the costs, including delivery and whether there is a charge for hauling away your old machine.
- Size. Most washers have widths of either 27 inches or 24 inches. For one or two people, a smaller unit may be sufficient. The more people in your household, the more laundry and the bigger size is desirable. But you’ll need to measure the space to make sure you have enough room. In addition to the space you need for the machine, you will also need about six inches of space for the water hookup, and you should have an inch at least between the washer and dryer. For a front loading machine, make sure you have enough space to open the door. For a top loader, you’ll want to make sure you have enough room to raise the lid.
- Top vs. front load. Top loading units tend to be less expensive, but use more water and hence more energy, leading to higher water bills. Traditional top loaders also do not spin water out as effectively, so the laundry may need more time in the dryer. However, there are some high efficiency top loaders that use water more efficiently (these units require low suds detergents). These units also remove more water than traditional units, so drying time can be shorter. However, these machines require more time than traditional units, and clothes can emerge wrinkled due to lower water usage and faster spin rates.
Front loaders use less water, making them more energy efficient. They also spin faster, so clothes come out drier. Many people complain that front loaders get moldy and smell. But you can prevent that by leaving the door open when it is not in use and wiping it down after every use.
- Finish. Washing machines traditionally have been white, and these are still available. But you can also find units in dark stainless finishes.
- Bells and whistles. Higher-end models can have more cycles and advanced features. Newer models have dispensers for laundry pods. There are even “smart” washing machines that can alert your smartphone when the load is done (maybe even by playing a song).
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