A batch of laundry losers from our washer and dryer tests

Consumer Reports News: July 05, 2012 09:08 AM

Dirty laundry is a fact of life, but the worst machines in Consumer Reports' latest tests of washers and dryers weren't much help. They didn't clean well, were inefficient, or both. The GE GTWP100M[WW] top-loader left our fabric swatches about as stained as they were before washing. Lousy dryers baked our loads rather than drying, and some of them took forever to do their job. While our top front-loader scored an 88 and our top dryer a 78, some of the poorest performers had overall scores of 40 or less.

Washing machines
No front loaders made our laundry list of losers and even some that were middling on cleaning were excellent at water and energy efficiency. The same can't be said for a number of top loaders. The seven washouts on our list range in price from $380 to $800 and four of them were particularly dismal at getting clothes clean. The best thing about the Speed Queen AWN542, $800, was its vibration score. Overall it scored a 40 and for that money you can buy the top-scoring LG WT4801C[W] for $700 and still go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. The LG also had an excellent vibration score but, more importantly, aced the washing tests and got good scores on water and energy efficiency.

Clothes dryers
For $1,180 you'd think that the Daewoo DWRWE5413WC electric dryer would deliver perfectly dried clothes. But the dryer got mediocre scores on our tests of drying three loads of laundry of different sizes and fabric mixes resulting in a score of 37. Five others did about as poorly. Save your money and instead consider one of two CR Best Buys, the Kenmore 6800[2], $700, or the LG DLE2240[W], $650, which both excelled in our tests. Five gas dryers ranging in price from $400 to $850 were also sub-par performers. And similar models of electric and gas dryers from Hotpoint and Roper earned scores of 15 and 12, respectively.

Don't throw money down the drain
When shopping for a washer or dryer, know which features add convenience and which aren't worth the money. Touchpad controls let you quickly choose cycles and keep an eye on the remaining time and status. Automatic detergent, bleach and softener dispensers release the powder or liquid at the right time in the cycle. A stainless-steel or plastic tub won't rust if chipped, unlike a porcelain one. Steam settings on washers only slightly improve stain cleaning, however. And steam settings on a dryer still left shirts wrinkled though they did help remove more odors than conventional dryers.

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