Back-to-school displays still dominate the shelves of many stores. But if you look past them, you can find great deals on many other items as well.

September is a good time to buy washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and, as fall approaches, leaf blowers.

With the new school year starting, it’s also a good time to snag a deal on desktop and notebook computers.

Consumer Reports tracks the prices of the products we test, so we can tell you month by month what to purchase on deep discount. Plus, we provide shopping tips, buying guides, and ratings to ensure that you’ll find the best deal.

To see more items on sale in September—and the rest of the year—check out our calendar of deals.

Washing Machines

You can pay $400 for a washing machine, or nearly five times that amount, depending on the size, type, and features of the model.

Top-loading agitator washing machines cost less and wash clothes more quickly than top-loading high-efficiency machines. But the high-efficiency washers have greater capacity and use less water.

You may also want to consider front-loading machines, which typically cost more than top-loaders, but also clean better and are gentler on fabrics.

Think about the size. The standard size for a washing machine is 27 inches, but large-capacity versions may be 2 or 3 inches bigger. You’ll need to leave at least 6 inches behind the machine for water hookups and an inch between the washer and dryer, so before going for the larger model, make sure it will fit into the space you have—and through doorways.

Consider your needs. Even if you have the space for a larger washing machine, you might not need it. A 6.2 cubic-foot-capacity machine can hold 28 full-size bath towels. That might make sense for a large, active family. But if you do less laundry, you might find a 3.3 cubic-foot machine, which holds 14 towels, big enough.

See our Washing Machine Buying Guide for more information and to link to our ratings.

Clothes Dryers

There’s nothing quite like a warm towel right out of the dryer. That luxury can be expensive, though, depending on the size of the dryer you choose and the features it contains. Electric dryers are more popular than gas versions, but the two types perform comparably.

Consider appearance. While there is no functional reason to have a matching washer and dryer, many consumers prefer to buy a pair for aesthetic reasons. If you fall into that category, check out our ratings on the best pairs to make sure that both appliances pass muster.

Listen carefully. Look closely at the machine’s ratings on our noise tests, particularly if your laundry room is located near your family room or kitchen. While dryers do make some noise, there are models that won’t disturb you when you’re in the next room.

Be sure to check out our Clothes Dryer Buying Guide and see our ratings to help you decide which model to buy.

Computers: Laptops and Desktops

A laptop is the best choice for college students, so they can take notes in class. But a desktop model will cost you a lot less. To figure out the right one for you, read our buying guide and see our ratings.

Weigh the advantages. For students, consider the weight of the computer. Some laptops are much heavier than others. Also consider ergonomics, another important factor. For instance, Chromebooks are small laptops and relatively inexpensive, but if you don’t find them comfortable to type on, they may not be a good buy for your purposes.

Consider other key features. Battery life is important when you are on the go. Make sure you have enough memory, without paying for more than you need. While 8 gigabytes (GB) is common, for anything other than heavy multitasking or video editing, 4GB should be plenty.

Leaf Blowers

It won’t be long before the leaves start falling, and getting a good deal on a leaf blower now could make your autumn easier. Leaf blowers are also handy for clearing sandy decks in the summer or light snow in the winter. Look for a machine that is easy to carry and offers convenient controls.

Decide what kind you need. Gas handheld models are more portable than corded electric blowers, but they’re also heavier and noisier. If you have a lot of leaves and a level property, you’ll get the most power with a walk-behind leaf blower on wheels, but it can be unwieldy and take up a lot of storage space.

Protect your ears. Even the quietest leaf blowers can be deafeningly loud. Purchase hearing protection, and be kind to your neighbors by not using it very early or very late in the day. Some towns limit leaf blowers to certain hours, so check with your municipality for the local rules.


Using a dishwasher to clean your plates and silverware can conserve more water than washing by hand.

Dishwashers with an Energy Star designation are 12 percent more energy-efficient and 30 percent more water-efficient than standard models, which can lead to significant savings on your utility bills.

Today’s dishwashers can fit 12 place settings, and are relatively easy to load. (You can read more in our Dishwasher Buying Guide and link to ratings as well.)

Skip the pre-rinse. If your dishwasher comes with a soil sensor, pre-rinsing your dishes may actually leave them dirtier. That’s because the sensor will decide that the dishes are fairly clean already and only give them a light rinse.

Look for flexibility. A model that can be reconfigured as needed can be useful. For example, racks that move up and down and movable silverware holders make it easier to fit large loads or to squeeze in oddly shaped items.