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Washers and dryers that are loaded with features

The options you need and ones you don't

Published: July 25, 2014 08:00 AM

The best washers and dryers in Consumer Reports' tests use less water and energy to remove tough stains and dry clothes. They also hold much more laundry, are stylish, and are quiet enough to place near bedrooms or the family room. Here's the details.

Performance and price. Not everything in 2014 is an improvement. That performance power translates into longer wash cycles, up to 115 minutes, because it takes longer to wash well with less water. Prices have also increased as manufacturers load washers and dryers with more cycles and increase capacity. It’s easy to find models that cost $1,000 or more each. But you don’t have to spend that much to get great performance.

Features. Some newer features, such as a steam option, make good advertising copy but increase cleaning only slightly and don’t remove wrinkles in the dryer. Other features really do make doing laundry easier. Auto load sensing is terrific because it figures out just how much water is necessary for each load. Auto temperature control adjusts the water to the appropriate temperature, and auto dispensers release detergent, bleach, and fabric softener at the right time.

Capacity. Jumbo capacities let you wash more things at once so that you can do laundry less often. (A machine now needs to hold about 25 or more pounds of laundry to earn an Excellent score for capacity in our Ratings.) But not everyone needs to wash 12 to 15 pairs of men’s jeans at once. Nor can you just stuff everything into the same load and get great results.

Connected machines. Wondering whether your wash is done? Some washers and dryers from LG, Samsung, and Whirlpool let you start and monitor cycles via an app on your smart phone—no need to run up and down stairs. And some Kenmore, LG, and Samsung models let you use your smart phone to diagnose washer problems.

For Kenmore and LG, just dial an 800 number, put your smart phone over the washer’s power button, and push the button, and your machine sends information to a company rep who may be able to solve the problem without having to come to your house. Samsung’s app recognizes the error message displayed on the control panel and provides a remedy for the problem. It’s no surprise, though, that “smart” features are usually available on pretty pricey machines. Here are the top washers and dryers from our tests.

Samsung DV56H9100EG

3 top top-loading washers

3 top front-loading washers

3 top electric dryers

—Kimberly Janeway

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