Clothing in a dryer.

Consumer Reports’ tough tests continue to reveal that some laundry detergents clean only slightly better than water and that some washers use lots of water yet leave clothes dirty and dingy. And some dryers have a tough time doing their job, too, taking longer than usual to completely dry a load.

Such unimpressive performance results in you throwing money down the drain.

And a washer or dryer that doesn’t stand the test of time will cost you, too. That’s why we now incorporate lab test results, predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction into one Overall Score for each machine in our ratings of washers and dryers.  

Washing Machines

Some of the prices here are appealing, but you’ll find far better choices in our ratings.

The Electrolux EFLW417SlW, $700, rates Excellent in washing performance but is tough on fabrics and doesn’t extract as much water as the other front-loaders in our ratings. That means the dryer runs longer and it costs more to dry a load. The Electrolux EFL317TlW, $800, is also rough on fabrics.

Despite GE front-loaders’ impressive results in most tests, their brand reliability rates only a Fair, so we don’t recommend this brand at this time, or Frigidaire, which is the least reliable brand of front-loaders.

Among compact washers we tested, the Whirlpool WFW5090GW, $900, is the worst at cleaning, rating only a Fair. 


High-Efficiency Top-Loaders
The Samsung WA40J3000AW, $650, uses the most water of the dozens of HE top-loaders we tested, yet it still leaves stains on fabrics, rating a Fair in washing performance, as you’ll see in our HE top-loader ratings.

The Fisher & Paykel AquaSmart WL4027P1, $1,000, is somewhat better at cleaning, earning a Good rating. But Fisher & Paykel is the least reliable brand of HE top-loaders in our member survey, rating a Poor in predicted reliability, and we cannot recommend this brand at this time.

Agitator Top-Loaders
Many agitator top-loaders we test rate a Good in washing performance, meaning they do a decent job cleaning, though they may have trouble with heavily stained items. (Pretreating will help.)

The GE GTW330ASKWW, $500, and Fisher & Paykel WA3927G1, $800, however, earn just a Fair rating in washing performance. They left many of the stains on our test fabrics. So did the Roper RTW4516FWAmana NTW4516FW, and Whirlpool WTW4616FW, despite using more water than a number of the other agitator machines. All cost around $400, along with the Kenmore 20232. It rates a Good in washing but uses more water than most and extracts less of it, so your dryer runs longer.

It’s not every day that a washer earns a Poor rating in washing performance, but that’s what happened with the Speed Queen TR7000WN, $1,070. Check out our Speed Queen TR7 review for more details. 

And based on our member survey, Fisher & Paykel is the least reliable brand of agitator top-loaders, rating Poor in brand reliability, and Frigidaire earns only a Fair rating. CR cannot currently recommend either brand. 

Clothes Dryers

Any dryer will get the job done eventually. But a money-wasting dryer might take longer, use higher heat, or overdry laundry when you want clothes a bit damp.

All this is harder on fabrics and uses more energy. The LG WM3997HWA, $1,600, and the Kenmore Elite 41002, $1,330, score a Poor in drying. Both are all-in-one washer-dryer machines.

Even when a dryer performs well in our tests, consider the brand’s predicted reliability. Our member survey shows that full-sized Hotpoint and Fisher & Paykel electric dryers earn a Poor rating, and CR doesn’t recommend these brands at present. We also cannot recommend Fisher & Paykel and Frigidaire gas dryers, because they also rate a Poor in brand reliability. See our dryer ratings for all the details. 

Laundry Detergents

With laundry detergents, you can waste money a couple of ways. Detergents that don’t clean well might require you to redo a load. And if you don’t measure the detergent, you might end up using more than you need.

These detergents were no match for common stains such as body oil, dirt, and grass. You’ll find much better detergents in our laundry detergent ratings.

Among liquid detergents, Xtra ScentSations and Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry HE detergent clean only slightly better than plain water. You can also skip Xtra Plus OxiClean and Sun Triple Clean

Should You Wash Clothes in Hot Water?

Think your clothes come out cleaner with hot water? Consumer Reports' appliance expert, Emilio Gonzalez, explains to 'Consumer 101' TV show host, Jack Rico, why it might not be necessary to wash clothes at a higher temperature.