As washers became more complex machines loaded with useful features, they got better at cleaning while using less water. But breakage rates are surprisingly high for some, ranging from an estimated 10 to 25 percent by the fifth year of ownership, depending on brand and washer type. Consumer Reports’ latest reader survey reveals which brands are more likely to break and which are tops in reliability. 

We asked more than 67,000 of our subscribers about their experiences with washing machines that they bought new between 2009 and 2016 that are not covered by a service contract. We also asked readers about repair costs. Unlike our breakage data, our repair cost data does not factor in the age of the washer, or the number of loads run per week. Here's what we found.

Agitator Top-Loaders
Estimated brand breakage rates for agitator washers range from 10 to 18 percent by the fifth year, and Speed Queen stands out as a reliable brand. The median out-of-pocket repair cost for agitator washers is $118. 

High-Efficiency Top-Loaders
HE top-loaders, the kind without an agitator, have estimated breakage rates of 14 to 23 percent by the fifth year of ownership. LG is tops in reliability, although its rate is not meaningfully lower than that of most other brands. But at 23 percent, Samsung is less reliable than most other HE top-loader brands in our survey, so much so that we do not recommend Samsung HE top-loaders at this time. As for repairs, the median cost is $140 for HE top-loaders. 

Estimated brand breakage rates vary from 14 to 25 percent. LG is tops in reliability, but not meaningfully better than most of its competitors. Frigidaire, on the other hand, is more prone to breaking than any other brand, so much so that we can’t recommend Frigidaire front-loaders for now. Median repair cost for front-loaders is $149.

Learn more about washers and dryers. Check our exclusive ratings and recommendations, brand reliability information, and more for washing machines and clothes dryers.

Recommended Top-Loaders

To make our recommended list, washers cannot have brand reliability issues. Additionally, high-efficiency (HE) top-loaders must earn a score of 71 or higher and agitator top-loaders have to score 51 or higher. Why the different standard?

“Agitator washers, as a group, do not perform as well in our tests for cleaning, water and energy efficiency, gentleness, and noise, although they’re faster,” says Emilio Gonzalez, the engineer who oversees our tests. So we set the bar lower for these machines, knowing that some consumers prefer agitator top-loaders over other washer types. 

Among agitator top-loaders, five models made the recommended list, including the Kenmore 22242, $480, and the Maytag MVWB765FW, $800. That's pricey for an agitator machine, and that's because the capacity, claimed to be 4.7 cubic feet, styling, and energy efficiency were more like that of a high-efficiency top-loader. This Maytag used less water than some agitator top-loaders and extracted more of it, cutting dryer time and saving energy. 

HE top-loaders usually have bigger capacities and better overall performance than agitator top-loaders. That said, only two HE top-loaders made the recommended list, the LG WT5680HVA, $1,100, and the LG WT1701CV, $900. Four Samsung washers scored high enough to make the top picks, but their brand reliability issues keeps them off this list. 

Recommended Front-Loaders

We set the bar higher for front-loaders since they perform better overall as a group. They must score 81 or higher and can't have brand reliability issues to be recommended. Fourteen front-loaders in our washing machine ratings are on the recommended list, including the Maytag Maxima MHW8200FW, $1,150, the Samsung WF56H9110CW, $1,450, the LG WM8500HVA, $800, and the Kenmore Elite 41072, $1,260. 

Need a New Washing Machine?
Start with our washing machine buying guide to learn the pros and cons of different washer types. Then check our washing machine ratings, exclusive brand reliability charts, and the features and specs in the ratings to compare models.