Life is humming along and then your 12-year-old washer breaks, and as the dirty laundry piles up you find out that the repairs will cost more than half the price of a new washer. Next thing you know you’re standing in some store and wondering if your vision is suddenly blurred or does the sticker on that front-loader really say $1,600? Sadly it does. But you can get clean laundry for half that. Here’s a look at six impressive washers from Consumer Reports’ washing machine tests that cost $800 or less.
These high-efficiency (HE) washers use a lot less water than conventional top-loaders—the kind with the center agitator—and spin faster, cutting dryer time and saving energy. Use an HE detergent. Regular detergents are too sudsy for HE washers and can extend wash time as more rinsing may be needed. Our top-rated HE detergent is Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release. Here are four top-loaders to consider most of which fell just shy of our top picks list.
Front-loaders usually cost more than HE top-loaders. The best front-loaders clean better and use even less water than the best HE top-loaders. Front-loaders spin faster than HE top-loaders so more water is typically extracted, reducing drying time but front-loaders generally have longer wash cycles. And of course, use HE detergents. Here are two models to consider that were impressive in our tests.
For all the details on test results and features, see the results of our washing machine tests. Be sure to note the capacity scores. Manufacturers keep increasing capacities so that you can do more laundry at one time so we updated our capacity scores. A machine now needs to hold about 25 or more pounds of laundry to earn an excellent capacity score. Most families can get by with a machine that’s rated very good or even good in capacity. Very good indicates that the washer fits about 20 to 24 pounds of laundry. A good score means the washer holds about 15 to 19 pounds.
Find a laundry pair that fits all your dirty laundry. The quietest duos tend to cost more but if your machines live in the basement you can spend less and still get top performance. Here are the best matching washers and dryers from Consumer Reports' tests.