Washing machines come in two basic configurations: front loading and top loading. It is essential to know the difference between front load and top load washing machines. Both types of machines are essentially tubs that fill with water, spin to clean their contents, then rinse out and drain the water. In a top loading washing machine, this is done by spinning the clothes while fully immersed in water while in a front loading washing machine the clothing falls in and out of the water as the tub spins, but the basic idea is the same in both cases. Despite the general similarity of all washing machines, there are many special features and functions available on different washing machines.
Energy efficiency is a major concern among all washing machine brands. Washing machines consume enormous amounts of power and water. Choosing a machine large enough to handle your typical loads but not so large it wastes power and water can help manage water and power use and their associated costs. Special features that use sensors to control water fill levels, water temperature, and the number of rinse cycles can also greatly improve energy efficiency.
In general, front loading washing machines are more energy efficient than a similarly sized top loading machine but cost more and may require using special detergents that can be difficult to find. However, front loading machines are usually smaller than top loading machines and that may mitigate some of the energy savings. Front loading machines also tend to crease clothes more than top loading machines, although in general top loaders are rougher on clothes.
Some washing machines also include features that dampen noise and vibrations such as extra insulation and reinforced frames. Choices such as a sanitizing cycle, delayed start options, anti-wrinkle programs, and pretreatment replacements may be important features for some people.
Size of washing machines
Size may also be an issue. Some homes only have a limited space set aside for washing machines. Smaller machines, stackable washer and dryer sets, or combination washer and dryer units may be required to fit that space.
Washing machines tend to last a long time, but they can and do break down. The most common problems are transmission failures caused by using too much detergent or fabric softener and water valve failures. A handy do-it-yourself homeowner could replace a faulty water valve in about 90 minutes but experts recommend hiring a professional because of the risk of leaks and flooding.
Homeowners can improve the lifetime of their washing machines by looking for stainless steel transmissions, agitators, and other components. Mike Hendershott, Appliance/Air-Conditioning Sales Manager at Home-Tech Service Inc of Fort Myers, Florida, especially recommends buying a machine with a stainless steel wash tub. He says “customers should lean toward stainless steel wash tubs. They’re more durable, keep their shape better, and won’t absorb odor.”
Most washing machines come with a one year warranty including both parts and labor but excluding issues related to incorrect installation. Some manufacturers extend the warranty to cover specific parts for longer periods. For example, Haier will replace leaky outer tubs for up to five years while Electrolux and General Electric stick strictly to a one year warranty for everything.