Of all the washer types, front-loaders spin the fastest to extract water from laundry. That high spin speed, combined with the tub rotation—similar to a dryer’s—can cause front-loaders to vibrate.

As full-sized front-loaders evolved and manufacturers re-engineered suspension systems, vibration has become less of an issue. Not so with their smaller cousins: When Consumer Reports recently tested 10 compact front-loaders, all of them vibrated noticeably more than their full-sized counterparts. That disappointing performance is reflected in their vibration scores, which range from fair to good in our ratings.
 
Compact washers and dryers are downsized versions of full-sized machines that are often stacked in a closet or other tight space near living areas. How bad is it? To get a sense of what we're talking about, see the video below. The Samsung WW22K6800AW was one of the washers that got mediocre scores for vibration in our tests.

Vibration tends to be worse on wood-framed floors than concrete so to gauge washer vibration, for both compact and full-sized models, we test them on wood-framed. Does stacking the washer and dryer improve or worsen vibration? We stacked the matching dryer atop each washer to find out. “Stacking didn’t change vibration much,” says Emilio Gonzalez, the engineer who oversees our tests of laundry appliances. “We saw some improvement with the Miele W3048 front-loader when stacked with its matching dryer, the Miele T8023C.”

Next we used a lower spin speed on another stacked washer and dryer to see if that helped lessen the washing machine vibration. “There was no significant change with that either,” says Gonzalez. And our past tests of anti-vibration pads found they didn’t cut vibration by much.

The Bottom Line

In the end, all 10 compact front-loaders vibrated in our tests. These washers usually vibrate the most at the beginning and end of the spin cycle. If a compact washer is the only size that fits your space, and you have wood floors, then zero in on a washing machine that scored very good or excellent in cleaning and good in our washing machine vibration tests, such as the top-rated Bosch 800 Series WAT28402UC, and make sure the washer is properly balanced when installed. See our washer and dryer ratings for more choices.

Questions? Email kjaneway@consumer.org.