Best Eco-Friendly Washing Machines From Consumer Reports' Tests
Our expanded Green Choice designation will help you find a new washer that's easy on the environment—and your wallet
When you’re shopping for a new washing machine, you want one that gets your clothes clean, of course. But what if you could invest in a machine that helps keep the environment clean, too? Consumer Reports’ Green Choice designation identifies the most eco-friendly washers. They’re marked by a green leaf icon in our washing machine ratings.
Washing machines continue to evolve; they’re gentler on clothes and more efficient than ever, and they use 70 percent less energy than they did in 1990, according to the Department of Energy. Today, smart washers can tell us how much detergent to use and which eco settings to use, and even ping our smartphones when our load is finished.
Still, some are greener than others. Among the washers currently in our ratings, the most water-efficient need about 8 gallons to wash our 8-pound test load. The least efficient use about 30 gallons.
What Makes a Washing Machine a Green Choice?
CR’s Green Choice icon distinguishes eco-friendly washers from the rest, based on water and energy use, reliability, and many other factors. Models must earn top scores in a variety of key environmental assessments, including:
Water efficiency: We gauge a washer’s total water consumption (hot and cold) per pound of laundry. The most water-efficient models in our ratings use an average of 10 gallons of water, 75 percent less than older models.
Energy efficiency: We calculate how much electricity is needed to run a washer, heat the water it uses, and dry clothes post-wash. (Washers that extract more water while spinning the clothes require less energy during a tumble dry cycle, earning a higher score.)
Brand reliability: Based on information from surveys of CR members who purchased a new machine in the past 10 years, this rating estimates the likelihood that a particular brand and type of washer will break or experience problems within the first five years of ownership. Washing machines that are less likely to break will probably need fewer repairs and may stay in use longer. This is better for the environment because it reduces waste and the environmental impact of manufacturing replacements. They’re better investments, too.
Gentleness: We measure how rough a machine is on washed fabrics. After all, the longer your clothes last, the less likely you are to have to replace them. Global clothing consumption has doubled over the past 15 years, with the proportion of hard-to-recycle synthetic polyester in clothing doubling since 2000. That has triggered microplastic pollution and waste that can harm marine microsystems. And that’s not counting materials and carbon emissions used to make and replace clothes.
Weight and volume: A washing machine’s environmental impact begins long before it reaches a consumer’s home. We assess the weight of the appliance, as well as its dimensions, to estimate how much raw material went into producing the machine. Also, the bigger or heavier a washing machine is, the more it costs to package and ship from warehouses to retail to your home, contributing to carbon emissions en route.
Special features: We credit the washer if its eco settings or extra cycles help the machine run more efficiently, such as automatically minimizing water and detergent use or temperatures.
Best Eco-Friendly Front-Load Washers
Most of our Green Choice washers are highly efficient front-loaders, which use an average of 10 gallons of water per load compared with 13 gallons for high-efficiency (HE) top-loaders and 20 gallons for agitators. Here are four stellar Green Choice front-loaders from LG and Electrolux.
Best Eco-Friendly Compact Front-Load Washer
Ten compact front-loaders earn our Green Choice designation. The top-rated options in this category cost between $1,000 and $2,000. This model from Samsung retails for far less than the others and is a Green Choice.
Best Eco-Friendly HE Top-Loader
Only four HE top-load washing machines in CR’s ratings earn the Green Choice designation. Here’s the top option.
Best Eco-Friendly Agitator Top-Loader
LG snags the title here, too, as a rare Green Choice top-load agitator in our ratings.