Best and Worst Front-Load Washers From Consumer Reports' Tests
Front-loaders save water and energy, but some work better at getting clothes clean
Unless you have a bad back, it’s easy to be seduced by front-load washers. They’re spacious and easy to load, and their sleek appearance can spruce up even the dullest laundry room.
The best front-loaders clean better and gentler than high-efficiency top-loaders and top-load agitators, while using less water (averaging 10 gallons compared with 13 gallons for top-load HEs and 20 gallons for agitators). And they adjust the water to the size of the load you’re washing. So they’re efficient even for small loads.
Front-loaders represent about 29 percent of the washing machine market, according to Mark Allwood, a CR senior market analyst. They also make up the majority of Green Choice washers in our ratings, the most eco-friendly machines designated by a green leaf icon.
One of the big reasons that front-loaders aren’t more popular is that some consumers are turned off by their tendency to develop mold, mildew, and odors. In our most recent member survey, 15 percent of all front-load washer owners sensed mold, mildew, or odor in their machines.
Cleaning and airing out your front-loader regularly can help. To clean the drum and gaskets, CR’s laundry experts recommend running the tub-clean feature or a hot water cycle with bleach but no laundry. It’s also a good idea to leave the door open after each wash. But if you have adventurous toddlers who could possibly climb inside, keep it closed.
Front-load washing machines also require bending down to load and unload clothes, so they may not be the best option for someone with physical restrictions unless the washer is placed on a pedestal.
Most front-loaders can be stacked with a matching dryer. But check the features and specifications listed with our ratings to ensure the pair you’re considering can be stacked. Some washer-dryer pairs can’t be stacked for a variety of reasons—like a washer-top detergent dispenser or different-sized washer and dryer.
Our ratings include more than 40 front-loaders from brands such as Electrolux, GE, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Speed Queen, Whirlpool, and others. LG is the only front-load brand we’ve tested that rates Excellent for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.
As you’re shopping, double-check dimensions in our ratings to make sure you can fit the new machine into your space (and through doors). CR members can read through our ratings or reviews of five impressive front-loaders below, as well as two we don’t recommend.