Choosing Washers and Dryers
The cleanest clothes from the gentlest machines while using the least water and energy.
Synopsis: In this article, contributing editor Sean Groom provides a wealth of information to guide consumers in choosing washers and dryers. He begins by noting how today’s washers are much more efficient in energy and water usage than machines were only a few years ago, and he explains what the various efficiency ratings mean. He then describes how the three types of washers—traditional top loading, high-efficiency top loading, and front loading—actually clean clothes. He ends his discussion on washers by reviewing several features, such as steam cycles and stain removal, found on high-end machines. Groom then shifts his focus to dryers. He calls a moisture sensor the most important feature to look for in a dryer. This device ends the drying cycle when the clothes are dry, not when a certain period of time is up. After outlining several wrinkle-reducing options, Groom describes condensing dryers, which may be appropriate in certain hard-to-vent places. The article includes a sidebar in which Groom discusses the questions consumers should ask before deciding what size machines to buy.
The washer and the dryer are go-to appliances that you rely on day in and day out without much thought. When you need fresh-smelling, clean clothes, you run a load of laundry. However, something eventually fails, and then you find yourself thinking a lot about washers and dryers. For me, this was last year.
The first thing I learned was that the gleaming front-loading appliances—the ones with oversize porthole windows, sensual curves at every edge, designer colors, and the capacity to wash 31 bath towels at a time—cost more per machine than I’d budgeted for the set. As I researched laundry-machine technologies, features, and relative costs, I developed a plan for choosing a laundry set: My first priorities were energy and water efficiency.…