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Washing Machine Buying Guide

The washing machine is one of the longest-lasting appliances in your home. If you can find a machine that fits your lifestyle, brighter laundry days are ahead.

Washing Machine Buying Guide

Washer Space and Connections

Measure your space

  • Width: Keep in mind that washers and dryers need one inch of space on either side for air circulation.
  • Depth: Add six inches of space for door clearance, dryer vents and hookups.
  • Height: Top loaders need an added 20 inches of above-machine clearance for the door.

If space is at a premium, consider going vertical. There are many viable compact laundry centers. And don’t forget that some front-loading washers and dryers may be stacked for space savings.

You'll also need:

  • A level floor with no more than a 1-inch slope.
  • Hot and cold water lines within 3 feet of washer hookups.
  • A 3- or 4-prong power cord, depending on the configuration of your outlet.
  • Connection to nearby wastewater drainage system.

Top-load and Front-load Options

The traditional top-load and newer front load units share many of the same functional features.  Style-wise there are a few differences.

Benefits of Top-Loaders:

  • No bending or kneeling
  • Largest capacity
  • Traditional look

Benefits of Front-Loaders:

  • Additional storage space underneath the machine if placed on a pedestal
  • Optional steam sanitation feature for a deeper clean
  • Special cycles that allow a load to be washed and dried in the same machine
  • Modern look

Washer Features to Consider

Tub Capacity

This term refers to the inside wash tub and is measured in cubic feet. A large capacity washer lessens laundry loads, which is perfect for growing families and those who wash bulky items at home. For reference, a 4.5 cu. ft. washer fits 25-50 bath towels. As a rule, it’s usually best to choose the largest capacity your space will allow.

Laundry Habits

Are you guilty of washing a load and letting it sit? You might want to look for Wash Now, Dry Later capabilities. Do you wear fabrics that require lots of TLC? Insist on a Delicates cycle to avoid hand washing.

Today’s washing machine features take the hassle out of special cleaning challenges. Additional features to consider: add a garment, quick wash, delayed wash, sanitation, steam cleaning and advanced cleaning technology that automatically releases oxygen based cleansers to brighten without bleach.


A quiet machine is essential if it’s to be placed near a living area or bedroom. Check the machine’s specifications for vibration reduction and look for added insulation and improved suspension for quiet operation.


Most washers on the market are already ENERGY STAR® qualified, but it pays to check the washer’s performance according to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency or the CEE. The CEE denotes tiers based on a machine’s Modified Energy Factor and Water factors. The more efficient the unit and the less water it uses, the higher its tier.

High Efficiency or HE washers are ENERGY STAR® qualified and have higher spin speeds to remove more water from laundry, reducing dry time.

You may pay a little more up front for washers with outstanding ratings, but you’ll offset that cost over the life of your washer by conserving energy and water. For example, some washers save up to 7,000 gallons of water each year. That’s enough for 3,000 showers. A worthy trade, no?

Fashion or Function

Finally, consider a matching set. It’s not only aesthetically pleasing, your washer and dryer are actually engineered to work together. Factors like spin speed mean reduced drying time and your matching dryer will feature special cycles and sensors to accommodate the function, ensuring clothes are never over-dried, making them last longer for additional monetary savings.