Laundry day used to be a time when you could get through a week's worth of the family's laundry in a few hours. Not any more. With the advent of more stringent federal standards for water and energy efficiency, wash times have been getting longer and longer. That's because it takes more time to clean clothes with less water.

To compensate, manufacturers are making washers with larger and larger capacities. If you can’t do the laundry quickly, at least you can do more of it at once.

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The models in Consumer Reports' washing machine ratings have capacities that range from 3.2 cubic feet to nearly twice that. Our washer experts consider large-capacity machines to be 5 cubic feet or larger. The biggest tested? It boasts 6.2 cubic feet, large enough to fit 17 full-sized bath towels.

“Manufacturers increase capacity in several ways—making the tub deeper or wider, for example,” says Rich Handel, the CR test engineer who runs our washer tests. “So while standard width is 27 inches, these larger-capacity machines may be up to 3 inches wider.”

You’ll see the dimensions noted in our ratings. Measure the space you have to work with before choosing a model, and allow at least 6 inches behind the washer for plumbing hookups, and about an inch between the washer and dryer. You’ll also want to measure the doors to your home to be sure a new machine can fit through them. 

Lab-Tested for Your Home

Consumer Reports used to factor washer capacity into a model’s Overall Score in our ratings, but after readers told us that they want to decide for themselves how important capacity is, we removed it from our calculations. You’ll find each washer’s claimed capacity in our washing machine ratings.

To find out how well each washer cleans, testers launder swatches of fabric stained with precisely calibrated amounts of red wine, cocoa, and carbon, which is similar to soot, among other stains. The test is meant to challenge washers to see which one gets the swatches cleanest—none do a perfect job—and to reveal real differences among machines.

What to Know About Large Washers

All that extra capacity doesn’t come without trade-offs, of course. A bigger tub typically means a bigger machine, so make sure it’ll fit in your laundry room (and through a door in your house). And if you want a top-loader, reach into the machine when shopping and try to touch the bottom of the tub. Some readers tell us they can’t, and resort to kitchen tongs and other devices to retrieve socks.  

Here’s what else you’ll want to know about large-capacity washing machines.

King-size comforters. According to our tests, you’ll want to look for a washer with a claimed capacity of at least 4.5 cubic feet to fit this bulky bedding.  

Washer vs. dryer capacity. When you buy a matching washer and dryer, you may notice that the claimed capacity of the two machines is different—the dryer’s is larger. That’s so you can fit the wash in the dryer; clothes expand as they dry and need the added space to tumble around.

Large capacities, small loads. Most front-loaders and high-efficiency (HE) top-loaders (the kind without an agitator), have a sensor that adjusts the amount of water based on the weight of the load. Some of these machines also have a special quick-wash cycle meant for smaller loads. These features are starting to show up on some agitator top-loaders, too. 

Top 15 Large-Capacity Washing Machines

These large-capacity washing machines scored Very Good or Excellent overall and have claimed capacities of at least 5 cubic feet. They’re listed in alphabetical order within each category. 

HE Top-Loaders

• Kenmmore 28132, $700
• Kenmore Elite 31552, $850 
• LG WT5680HVA, $1,080
• LG WT7500CW, $800
• LG WT7600HWA, $750 
• Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DW, $900


• Kenmore Elite 41072, $1,260
• LG WM9000HVA, $1,100
• LG Signature WM9500HKA, $1,800
• Samsung FlexWash WV60M9900AV, $1,400
• Samsung WF50K7500AW, $1,080
• Samsung WF56H9100AG, $1,400

Agitator Top-Loaders
The agitator eats up space, so these washers typically have smaller capacities than the other washer types, often in the 3.2- to 4.2-cubic-foot range. The machines below have capacities of 4.7 to 5.2 cubic feet and are the best of the tested models, scoring Good overall. They appear in alphabetical order.

• Kenmore 20372, $780
• Maytag MVWB765FW, $800
• Maytag MVWB865GW, $900

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