The first automatic wash machine was manufactured in 1937, revolutionizing the way consumers did laundry. Today, washers and dryers are common household appliances, and consumers can choose from a wide variety of models with lots of different features.
Because of the availability of so many features, consumers should assess their needs before heading to the store to purchase a new washer or dryer. Without understanding the differences between machines, consumers can either spend more money than they need to or come home with new appliances that won’t meet their needs.
Need a Washer or Dryer?
We'll match you with the washer and dryer company that knows exactly what you need.
Top 10 Best Rated Washers and Dryers
Kenmore, established over 100 years ago, offers both traditional top-loading models and efficient front-loading washing machines. Kenmore also has some of the largest capacity washers available on the market.
|Read 1883 Reviews|
Panda manufactures small, portable washers and dryers. Their products are designed for apartments, dorm rooms, RVs and other small spaces. Most units weigh less than 30 pounds, and have a 5- to 12-pound capacity.
|Read 6 Reviews|
Midea, the world’s third largest appliance maker, was founded in 1968. They focus on space saving appliances. Their washer/dryer combo units don’t need an outside vent and take up less space than stackable washers and dryers.
|Read 11 Reviews|
While KitchenAid no longer manufacturers washers and dryers, used models can still be found online or at local used appliance stores. KitchenAid's laundry line had a reputation for durable models that stood the test of time.
|Read 15 Reviews|
Founded in 1976, Staber has made its name in the appliance industry by focusing on quality products and customer service. Staber washers feature a unique design to help get clothes cleaner and are shipped directly to you.
|Read 52 Reviews|
LG offers both electric and gas dryer models, appealing to different energy needs. The company also offers combination washer and dryer models that are stackable for those who need optimal performance machines in a compact space.
|Read 215 Reviews|
Sears distributes numerous brands of washers and dryers, including but not limited to Kenmore, Whirlpool, LG, Maytag, and Samsung. Models are high-efficiency or traditional, to accommodate the laundry needs of different families.
|Read 705 Reviews|
LG washing machines come in different colors and are created with a modern design. The washing machines also feature two unique technologies; LG True Steam and a 6-motion washing cycle that mimics hand-washing movements.
|Read 1981 Reviews|
Whirlpool washing machines take full advantage of the latest technology and offer features such as 6th Sense Live technology and the Smart Stats tool, which lets you see how much energy goes into your laundry appliances.
|Read 2125 Reviews|
Frigidaire washers and dryers are popular for their quality construction and extras, like precision moisture sensors and pedestal drawers for storage. Models with Quick Wash mode are perfect for when you're short on time.
|Read 355 Reviews|
What features matter most?
One of the most basic features consumers look for in a washer is its ability to properly wash clothing, including effective removal of stains, odors and other debris. At the same time, it's important to have a washer that reduces wear and tear on fabrics to keep clothing in good condition over time.
- Steam washing: Some newer washing machines offer steam cleaning settings that can help penetrate tough stains while being gentle on fabrics.
- Quick wash: A quick wash feature is great feature for when a user wants to save time on their wash cycles. This feature often saves energy as well.
- Gentle wash cycles: While removing dirt, stains and debris from clothing is important, a gentle wash cycle option allows for less pressure and stress on fabric to keep clothes looking great longer. Certain machines also feature a wool cycle setting, allowing users to wash wool without damaging or shrinking the fabric.
- Automatic dispensing: Washers with automatic dispensers can be filled up for many cycles and then automatically dispense an exact amount of detergent for a more efficient use of detergent. It can also ensure you have the right amount of detergent to get out stains and leave clothing clean afterward.
While all dryers usually have no problem drying clothes, there are some instances where a dryer can over-dry clothing. Consumers want a dryer that can leave their clothes in excellent condition after a drying cycle, keep in enough moisture to ensure the clothes aren't damaged, and have different drying settings for extra speed or handling different fabrics.
- Moisture sensor: A dryer with a moisture feature is one of the top features to look for. This sensor is designed to ensure clothes are dried just right, and then tells the machine to shutdown.
- Fabric types: Dryers often include different settings for different fabric types, including regular settings for cotton clothing and permanent press for delicates. The right settings can help get clothing dry without damaging fabrics.
- Speed dry: A speed dry setting allows a user to quickly dry a small amount of clothing with minimal energy output, typically completing drying in a 15-minute cycle.
- Extended tumble: Extended tumble keeps the clothing tumbling after the drying cycle, typically with no extra heat. This is designed to get wrinkles out of clothing.
Energy and water efficiency
Energy efficiency is a major feature that consumers now look for when purchasing a washing machine or dryer. Water efficiency is also important for washers as well. For washing machines, there are new federal standards that require all washing machines made after March 6, 2015 to use less energy and water.
- Energy Star for washing machines: If you purchase an Energy Star washing machine after March 6, 2015, you can expect the washing machine to use 25 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than a standard washer. New efficient washers tend to use much less water and require less detergent that traditional washing machines.
- Energy Star for dryers: Energy Star dryers use 20 percent less energy than standard dryers. Energy Star recommends consumers purchase dryers with a moisture sensor, and consider a gas-powered dryer instead of an electric one for better energy savings.
- Spin speed: Most washing machines have a spin speed ranging between 1,000 and 1,600 revolutions per minute (RPM). Models with higher spin speeds tend to get clothing drier faster, meaning less energy is used later for the drying process later.
- Low heat Setting: Dryers that offer a low heat setting usually provide better energy savings. This setting dries clothing over a long period of time at lower heat.
Consumers should ensure they have the right capacity for their washer and dryer. Capacity impacts how much clothing can fit in a cycle, the washing and drying ability of a machine and even has an impact on energy consumption and the environment.
- Capacity increasing: For both washers and dryers, the trend seems to be an increase in capacity. For washers, expect to see capacities ranging from 12 to 28 pounds depending on whether the washing machine is a top-loading or front-loading washer. For dryers, you can expect to see sizes of large, super and even super-plus on some models. Increased capacity allows consumers to fit more clothing in during a cycle and reduce the frequency they need to wash and dry clothing.
- Width considerations: Standard washers and dryers are around 27 inches wide, but for larger models you can expect three extra inches to each machine. That means larger models paired together might require an extra six inches.
- Average capacity needs: Most families can meet their needs with washers that can fit 15 to 24 pounds of laundry. However, larger families and consumers who do laundry more often may need larger capacities. For dryers, larger capacity machines can also dry clothing more quickly, helping save on energy costs.
In some cases, washing machines and dryers can be quite loud, an important factor if bedrooms or other important rooms are close to the laundry room. However, some newer models are extremely quiet, depending on the brand and type of machine you purchase.
- Washing machine noise: Top-loading washing machines tend to be noisier than front-loading washing machines. Front-loading washing machines usually have a tighter seal, and due to their design, are less likely to be unbalanced during the washing cycle.
- Mechanical transmission: Top-loading washing machines tend to use a mechanical transmission, which usually produces more noise than a front-loading machine.
- Dryer noise: Newer dryers tend to produce less noise than traditional dryers. Consumers often also look for an option to turn off end-of-cycle sounds to reduce noise disturbances.
Consumers should look for washing machines and dryers that offer long-term quality and endurance. There are a number of factors that can impact maintenance, durability and ease of use.
- Washing machine differences: Top-loading washing machines tend to require less maintenance than front-loading washing machines. Front-loading washing machines may need to have the door seal replaced from time to time, and some older models may also be more prone to leakage than top-loading machines. Top-loading machines may also require a freshening cycle to clean the door seal.
- Dryer differences: In terms of repair and maintenance, dryers with a top-mounted lint collector and a lint sensor are excellent features that reduce breakdowns, decrease fire hazards and improve efficiency.
- Warranties: Some companies are so sure of their design, they offer 20-year warranties on their washers. Normally, consumers can expect one to five year warranties that will cover mechanical breakdowns.
What are different types of washers and dryers?
Traditional top-loading washers are usually the cheapest. They're easy to load, even in mid-cycle, and usually hold between 12 to 28 pounds. The newer high-efficiency top-loading washers tend to hold more clothing and use less water and energy, but tend to be more expensive.
Front-loading washers are highly energy-efficient and usually produce little noise. These washers spin clothing at very high speeds, reducing drying time and also reducing water consumption. They may require slightly more maintenance, but newer models tend to be on par maintenance-wise with top-loading washers.
A full-size dryer is the standard type of dryer on the market, but there can be great variation between different brands and models regarding drying ability and other features such as moisture sensors, quick wash cycles, noise reduction technology, LCD displays, and other useful additions.
While most consumer dryer purchases are electric dryers, some consumers are now opting for gas dryers. These dryers usually cost more upfront, but they can provide long-term energy savings that many consumers find desirable.
Compact washer and dryers
A compact washer or dryer tends to be a smaller version of standard washer and dryers. These models are often 24 inches wide instead of the standard 27 inches, and are designed for consumers with less space or less frequent washing needs.
Who's it for?
Families tend to need a washing machine and dryer with larger capacity, and may want to consider more energy-efficient models due to increased frequency of washing. Families may also want to look for quick wash features to handle many loads in one day.
For individual consumers, a smaller capacity washer and dryer are usually sufficient. These type of consumers might also seek out features like like quick wash cycles in a washing machine to save time. For working professionals, a wrinkle-remover steam cycle on a dryer is the type of feature that might be very appealing if they need a shirt to look great before work.
Apartment owners may have some special considerations for washers and dryers. For example, space limitations might mean they want a smaller or more compact washer and dryer. If they move a lot, portable washers and dryers might be a worthwhile investment as well. In addition, washers and dryers with noise reduction technology may help keep a smaller apartment quiet and reduce complaints from neighbors.
People Who Are Energy Conscious
For people who are truly energy conscious, it's important to look for models of washers and dryers that offer high energy efficiency. These are the type of consumers who might want to purchase a washing machine with more capacity and a dryer with a moisture sensor, two factors that can help reduce energy consumption and save on energy costs.
Business owners have needs that are slightly different than the average consumer. For example, a hotel owner or restaurateur may require near-constant use of their washers and dryers due to the nature of their businesses. As a result, these types of business owners need washing machines and dryers that have much larger capacities, and which feature more energy-efficient options than standard washing machines and dryers. These extra features can save time and money for business owners.
Kenmore is a household appliance brand that has been marketed and sold by Sears since 1927, underlining Kenmore's long time commitment to delivering quality to consumers. Kenmore washers are produced by top brands like GE, Whirlpool and LG.
- J.D. Powers' award: Kenmore has won plenty of awards for its washing machines, including "Highest in Customer Satisfaction" for its top-loading washing machine in 2014 by J.D. Powers.
- Sanitize cycle: Kenmore washers are loaded with great features, including the sanitize cycle on many of its Elite® washing machines. The Sanitize cycle helps kill 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria without using strong chemicals like bleach.
- Best Washing Machine of the Year award: Reviewed.com heaped plenty of awards on Kenmore in 2014, including the Best Value Washing Machine of the Year award for their Kenmore 4.0 cubic feet Front-Load Washer and the Best Washing Machine of the Year award for the Kenmore Elite® 5.2 cubic feet Front-Load Washer.
- Plenty of options: Kenmore offers plenty of options for customers, including top-loading washers, front-loading washers and extremely energy-efficient models.
- Best for Savers, families, people who are energy conscious and people who want award-winning washers.
Maytag has been inside American homes for over 100 years and continues to provide innovative technology and great customer service. The company is especially famous for its Maytag Man, a symbol of the company's dependability and dedication to service. Maytag continues to build success, with nearly five billion dollars in revenue generated in 2014. Their washers and dryers are available as top loading or front loading and can be configured to fit your laundry room’s space. Maytag’s innovative technology ensures your clothes get just the right amount of clean and just the right amount of dry, all while saving you time and money.
- Best for Value hunters, families, individuals and customers who want a dependable brand.
Whirlpool is generally considered the largest home appliance maker in the world. The company employs over a 100,000 employees, with many of them located right in the United States. The company also has a strong commitment to environmental and social causes.
- Best for People who want a hassle-free washing experience, families and professionals.
The same dedication to quality that GE puts into building products like jet engine turbines and wind towers goes into their washing machines. GE is an American symbol of industry that was ranked the 14th most profitable large firm in the United States and has even had employees that have won Nobel Prizes.
- Best for People who want a washer that offers beautiful design, people who are energy conscious, families and professionals.
Frigidaire has been innovating since the company invented the original self-contained refrigerator in 1918. Since then, the company has grown explosively, making a wide variety of kitchen and laundry appliances that suit nearly every household need.
- Best for People who want to wash a lot of clothes very quickly, large families and professionals.
Staber is specialized in regards to the production of laundry appliances, and it shows through the efficiency and quality of Staber's washers and dryers. Staber also features patented designs and high-quality materials in their production.
- Best for Consumers who like washers and dryers built to last, large families, professionals and businesses.
Samsung's name is associated with quality, and produces everything from electronics to home appliances. Based in South Korea, the company generated a massive 305 billion dollars in 2014, employs nearly 500,000 people and sells its products to nearly every country in the world.
- Best for People who like advanced features, families and professionals.
LG is a South Korean based company employing 82,000 people on a global level. LG is known for its innovative washer and dryer designs and commitment to offering consumers energy-saving options.
- Best for People Who Are Energy Conscious, families, individuals and business owners.
Haier is a relative newcomer to the home appliance industry, but it has made a huge impact. It now employs over 80,000 people and generates over 30 billion dollars a year in revenue.
- Best for Apartment Owners and individuals.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
11 – 15 Best Rated Washers and Dryers
Whirlpool washing machines are available in both high-efficiency and traditional models, and also in stacked units with attached dryers. Whirlpool has a variety of models, including the Whirlpool Calypso Washer and Dryer.
|Read 118 Reviews|
Maytag has been helping homeowners with their domestic chores for over 100 years. Their washers and dryers are available as either front-loading or top-loading and are Energy Star qualified to save you money while you do laundry.
|Read 2515 Reviews|
GE offers all types of washing machines, including stackable models and portable washing machines. They also focus on customer care with easy access to replacement parts and technicians who can service your new washer.
|Read 926 Reviews|
Haier specializes in compact washers and dryers that save space while still offering the functionality of full-size appliances. Offerings include combination washer and dryers, wall-mountable models and portable appliances.
|Read 66 Reviews|
Samsung offers large capacity washers in both top and front loading designs. The company's Energy Star models are environment and budget friendly, and the Super Speed feature gets your laundry done up to 40 percent faster.
|Read 1589 Reviews|