The Best Washer and Dryer

Running out of clean socks? Our pick for the best washer and dryer for the home is the $900 Kenmore Elite 41472 washer and the $900 Kenmore 81472 dryer. This combination offers the ability to wash a big pile of socks in 38 minutes, then dry it in 25: just over an hour from dirty to clean and dry.

WAIT: July 28, 2014
Both our main Kenmore pick and our alternative pick from Whirlpool have been discontinued, but we are working on an update soon. We're setting this guide to wait status in the meantime.
Expand Previous Updates
April 16, 2014: Updated the guide throughout with Consumer Reports' 2014 washer ratings. Our pick's overall score did drop slightly, but it retained "excellent" ratings in the areas we think are really important: washing performance, water efficiency, capacity, and gentleness.
February 27, 2014: Because of the tendency of some front-loading washing machines to smelly moldy after a lot of use, we added a "Caring for your Washer" section below with tips for preventing mold from forming.
June 14, 2013: Sears upped the price of our favorite Kenmore Elite pair, so we did some research and added another alternative, the Whirlpool Duet.

There are other washers and dryers that can wash this quickly, but the 41472 has the distinction of washing both quickly and well. And it does it without using a lot of water or electricity.

The Kenmore Elite 41472 washer has earned plaudits as the Best of the Year and Editors Choice from Reviewed.com, and a Recommended rating from Consumer Reports—the two best appliance review publications in the world. Importantly for those who hate washing clothes, it is quick: the Accel-Wash feature means it completed a normal load in 38 minutes.There are other washers that wash just as quickly, but the Elite 41472 has the important distinction of still doing a good job in this short wash time. It’s also a couple of hundred dollars less expensive than many of its competition, while still being a great washer.

The dryer we like, the Kenmore Elite 81472, has a very accurate moisture detection system that doesn’t over dry your clothes and steam. It won the best of the year award from WasherDryerInfo.com, and is one of their Editor’s Choice products.

What to Look for When Buying a Washer and Dryer

There are literally hundreds of models of washers and dryers available, and we know that our picks may not be right for everyone, or may not be available. So here are our tips for helping you make the right choice.

Washers and dryers can cost anything from $400 to about $2000 each, and this range of prices means a huge range of features and performance.

The mid range of about $1000 each is where the smart money goes, as these devices offer the best balance of performance and price.
At the cheap end are the same type of top-load washers that your grandmother used, and at the expensive end are space-age washers with controls that would confuse a rocket scientist. The mid range of about $1000 each is where the smart money goes, as these devices offer the best balance of performance and price. They also offer the features that have proved to be useful in getting your washing done. While the more expensive models get the latest features, the ones that people actually use are the ones that then end up trickling down to the mid-range models, which is why we think that these are the models to get.

If you already have an older washer and dryer, you might be considering upgrading. This makes sense if your current washer is very inefficient; the sort of 10 to 15-year old top loader that you find lurking in the basement can use a huge amount of water (40 gallons is not unusual) and electricity. Replacing this with an efficient front loader that uses about 12-13 gallons per normal wash could mean a saving of 25 to 30 gallons of water per wash. Consider that the typical family does about 400 washes a year (according to the California Energy Commission), that could mean a saving of 10,000 gallons of water a year. In addition to helping to save water (a vital thing in drought-hit regions), this could save up to $113 a year (based on the NY City water rate for 2013 of $8.71 per 100 cubic feet, or 1.1134 cents per gallon). And with water rates constantly rising, that makes sense.

Front or Top Loader?

For most users, a front loader is the way to go as if offers better clothes washing and using much less water and electricity. Top loader washing machines used to be the king of the hill; your parents used one, and they were pretty much the only ones available. That changed in the 1980s and 1990s when the US government brought in limits on how much power and water they could use, and the manufacturers scrambled to comply with them. This meant that most of their research switched from the power-hungry and water-guzzling top loaders to the more efficient front loaders, which use less of both. They use less water because the water is more agitated inside the washing drum, and less electricity because the drum is smaller, lighter and easier to turn.

And although modern top loaders are getting better, they still struggle to match their front-loading cousins for washing performance, efficiency, and how gentle they are on clothes. The top loaders tested by Consumer Reports consistently earn lower scores. There, the top-scoring top loader (the LG WT1101CW) for 2014 earns a score of 77 out of 100, while their top scoring front loader (the Maytag Maxima XL MHW8000AG) gets an overall score of 86: a significant difference in tests where a fraction of a point can be the difference between being number 1 and number 10 on their chart. “The best front loaders wash better than the best top loaders” says Emilio Gonzalez, the Senior Program Leader for washer testing at Consumer Reports. “Even though you have some good top loaders, front loaders just seem to do a better job.”

For the best overall performance and economy today, front loaders beat out top loaders.

Front load washers also tend to be gentler on your clothes. All washers damage clothes while washing them, but front loaders tend to do less damage than top loaders. The less damage the washing machine does, the longer your clothes will last.

Front loader washing machines also allow you to stack the washer and dryer, putting the dryer on top of the washer to save precious floor space. Top loaders do offer the advantage of easier loading, but at the price of space, more water and electricity. For the best overall performance and economy today, front loaders beat out top loaders.

How Much Capacity?

Washing machines come in a range of sizes, from portable models with one cubic foot drums to monstrous models with 5 cubic feet drums that could hold a mountain of washing. For most users, the ideal will be about 4 cubic feet capacity. That’s enough to wash 12 to 15 pounds of laundry, which is a good sized basket of laundry.

You’ll need a larger washer for big items like comforters, (About.com laundry guide Mary Marlowe Leverette says that a 4.6 cubic feet drum should be enough to hold a king-sized comforter), but consider how often you need to wash these before you spend the extra; if you only wash these occasionally, an occasional visit to the super large capacity commercial washers at your local launderette may be a better option. Gonzalez says that most people don’t need a bigger capacity washer. “We run all our tests on an 8 pound load, which is an average sized load… Most people never wash 20 pounds of laundry. Even with a machine that can hold it, I don’t think most people would really use it. I wouldn’t use that as a key buying decision unless I had a very large family or other unusual situation.” Big families with more than 3 children may want to look at a model like the biggest front loader currently available, the LG WM8000HVA, which has a truly humongous 5.1 cubic feet drum. If you are drowning in a sea of grubby kids’ clothing, a bigger washer means fewer washes, which saves time and money. “Given that some cycle times are longer than they used to be, maybe having that larger capacity means one big wash instead of two small ones” says Gonzalez.

Awash in a Sea of Cycles: What Wash Cycles do you Need?

However many cycles you think you may or may not need, one essential feature is the ability to customize the cycle by controlling the water level and temperature. If you have a few pairs of particularly grubby cotton socks, for instance, you might want to do a smaller, but very hot wash. Being able to customize the wash for this saves money over having to use a cycle that may use more water than needed.

Being able to customize the wash for this saves money over having to use a cycle that may use more water than needed.

Once the clothes are washed, the water needs to be removed. Washers do this by spinning the clothes, and the better this process is, the quicker the clothes will dry afterwards. Barry rates a fast spin cycle as one of the most essential features of a washer. “As far as essential features are concerned, I’d recommend a high efficiency machine (the water savings are tremendous), plus a high-speed spin cycle (it’ll save you time and money in the dryer).”

However, a fast spin cycle can also damage delicate clothes, so a good washer should offer a range of spin cycles, from fast for everyday to slow for delicates.

What do greater numbers of cycle types do for you? Not much.

Some washers offer more programs and controls than a space shuttle, but you aren’t going into orbit.

Essentially, all you need are three core wash cycles: fast, normal/regular, and a heavy wash.
Essentially, all you need are three core wash cycles: fast, normal/regular, and a heavy wash. Combined with controls that allow you to tweak the amount of water and temperature, these three different cycles can cover pretty much all of your washing needs, so you can safely ignore most of the extra cycles. Gonzalez of Consumer Reports estimates that 80% of people just wash everything on the normal cycle. “All of the choices in cycles sound great but almost everyone settles on two or three that meet the needs of their family,” agrees Mary Marlowe Leverette. “For best results, a washer should offer at least three cycles: gentle, regular and permanent press. These choices also provide the correct final spin speeds that will protect fabrics whether delicate or prone to wrinkling.” Other experts agree with her assessment.

Makers also are picking up on this trend. Keith Barry of Reviewed.com says that most manufacturers are moving away from offering a huge range of cycles to focusing on the core ones. “There’s a trend towards moving away from the polyester-specific cycles, like permanent press,” he told the Wirecutter, “Cycles like normal and cottons are fairly straightforward, and they’ll always get used. I think the 20-cycle machine fad is done, and we’re starting to see newer models with pared down choices.”

One cycle that many people look for is a sterilize cycle, which uses very hot water to kill germs. But Leverette says that this is not essential, recommending instead the use of disinfectants: “Some users worry about disinfecting clothes but there are other methods for disinfecting that don’t require hot water.” She recommends the use of sterilizing disinfectants that can be added to the wash, rather than the hot water of sterilizing cycles. Specifically, she says that Pinesol and Lysol can be safely used in a load that needs disinfecting , which is cheaper and easier than using high temperatures.

Extra Features

Manufacturers are constantly coming up with new ways to sell you a washer by adding new features, but most of these add little or no benefit. Steam was all the fashion a couple of years ago, with lots of washers adding a burst of steam to the start of the wash that, they claimed, help to move stubborn stains. However, this showed little improvement when Consumer Reports tested washing performance with and without steam: “past tests showed that steam settings cleaned stains slightly better, but these machines cleaned very well even without the steam.”

One feature that definitely makes a difference is the Turbo Wash feature from LG. This is also present on some Kenmore washers (which are actually made by LG) under the name Acell-Wash. This involves squirting jets of water and detergent into the wash, which improves the water flow around the clothes and accelerates the action of the detergent. This didn’t seem to cause much damage to clothing: Consumer Reports rated its gentleness excellent (subscription required), meaning that it caused minimal wear and tear on clothes. This translates to quicker wash cycles that are tested to clean just as effectively as their non-Turbo Wash cousins.

Dryers

Dryers are much simpler beasts than washers, using hot air to dry your clothes while tumbling them in a horizontal drum. As a general rule, you need about double the size of washer drum to give adequate space for the clothing to move around in the warm air and dry quickly. There are two power sources for the head: gas and electric. Most people favor electric for safety reasons, but gas might be cheaper in your area, so it is worth considering if you have a gas pipe nearby. Check with your local utility for the current costs, then run the numbers through the calculator from Michael Blue Jay (AKA Mr Electricity).

Most electric dryers run off a 220V outlet, which uses a different style of plug than standard sockets. This will be already installed in the basement or laundry space of most modern houses, but if not, it’s something an electrician can typically quickly install. There are models available that run off standard 110V sockets, but these are less common; Sears lists 7 of these, but has a much wider selection of 220V models: 124 in all.

However you power the dryer, all that hot air has to go somewhere, and most use a vent that leads outside the house. This vent provides an easy path for the hot, moist air, that comes from the clothes. If you don’t have a vent and aren’t able to drill a hole in the wall, then a non-vented is your only option. These are less common than their vented brethren, because dealing with the hot, moist air makes the dryer slower and less efficient. So go with a vented dryer if at all possible for the fastest and most efficient drying.

Unlike in washing machines, steam in the dryer seems to be a new feature that can actually be useful.

Unlike in washing machines, steam in the dryer seems to be a new feature that can actually be useful.
Steam-equipped dryers add a small amount steam to the end of the drying cycle to remove creases and odors. This seems to be more effective, and Good Housekeeping claims that “Steam is more than just a lot of hot air.” Consumer Reports was a bit more cautious, though, noting that “our tests have found that the steam feature left shirts visibly wrinkled, though it did remove more odors than conventional dryers,” in several reviews, such as that of the Kenmore 6152 (subscription required).

Reliability

The reliability of a washing machine is also important, as, when they fail, they have a nasty habit of spilling water everywhere. “You want a model from a brand that’s going to be reliable,” says Gonzalez. “It’s a big investment, and these things are going to last you 10 to 12 years. The warranty on these things is a year, and out of warranty, they are very expensive to fix.” Consumer Reports has studied the reliability of washing machines and has published their findings here: LG and Samsung are the most reliable, with Kenmore in third place. JD Power & Associates also publishes similar data from their surveys of users, and that is available here.

Efficiency

Washers and dryers are amongst the biggest users of water and energy in your home, and can contribute a lot to your bills. Getting a more efficient model can save you a lot of money in the long run. Front loader washers are the most efficient, using less of both water and electricity. The variations between different front loaders are less significant, though: Reviewed.com has a range of running costs of between $30 and $45. The biggest cost can be the water use, and this can be a major cost if you live in an area where water is expensive. “Those that get poor or fair on our scale, the older top-loaders, you are typically looking at maybe 35-45 gallons for a typical wash cycle,” says Gonzalez. “When you are looking at a front loader, you are maybe talking 10 to 15 gallons. If you extrapolate that over the course of a year, that’s a lot of gallons of water.” Over the course of a year, that could mean a saving of about 10,000 gallons of water, which could save upwards of $113 in a place like New York where water is quite expensive.

Noise

The amount of noise that a washer or dryer produces can also be an important factor, especially if you have to place it near a bedroom or living room. “Related to noise could be vibration, as well,” says Gonzalez. “Some of the front loaders spin very fast in the final spin cycle, and that may be annoying to some.”

How We Chose Our Picks

We looked at the range of washers and dryers available at every major retailer, read hundreds of reviews and spoke to those who review these products at all of the leading publications. We built the testing used on washers and dryers at Reviewed.com (one of the leading publications that tests consumer products), so I know what makes a good washing machine—that is, performance, price, economy, features, and ease of use.

The washer and dryer are parts of your house where it doesn’t make sense to skimp.

We looked at every washer and dryer we could find, considering factors such as the washing performance, how much power and water they used, and how well they were built. We initially eliminated those that did a poor job of washing clothes, or those that used excess amounts of water and energy to wash and dry. When we looked at the ones that remained, we considered which ones offered the best performance at the best price. There is no one washer and dryer that is right for everyone, though. The washer and dryer are parts of your house where it doesn’t make sense to skimp. Your clothes are not cheap, and washing and drying them can damage them more than months of wear. That’s why it makes sense to spend more on a washing machine that is going to make your clothes last longer.

Our Picks

The washer that offered the best balance of performance, price, and features was the Kenmore Elite 41472 . It costs $900 new, but offers performance that is better than much more expensive washers. It won the Best of the Year and Editors Choice awards from Reviewed.com, and a “recommended” rating from Consumer Reports. As I said earlier, it is quick—the Accel-Wash feature means it completed a normal load in 38 minutes.

There are other washers that wash just as quickly, but the Elite 41472 has the important distinction of still doing a good job in this short wash time.
It offers 12 wash cycles, 5 spin speeds and a maximum spin speed of 1200 rpm; enough to spin the water from even the largest load.

Like all Kenmore products, this washer is manufactured by another company. In this case, that is LG, and the Elite 41472 is a rebadged and tweaked LG WM 3470HA. Kenmore (Sears’ own house brand) made some important changes, though, according to Barry. “There are significant performance differences between the two. In this case, it looks like slightly more water usage and a little more heat helps to remove stains,” he said. LG created the Accel-Wash feature (they call it Turbo Wash), but Kenmore made one tweak that made their version our pick: the Elite 41472 is cheaper than the LG, which usually costs about $1,100.

To accompany this washer, we recommend the $900 Kenmore Elite 81472 dryer . Although it might seem odd to spend more on the dryer than the washer, the 81472 offers a number of features that make it worth the extra cash, like a very accurate moisture detection system that doesn’t over dry your clothes, and a steam option. This feature can be useful in a dryer, leading to fewer creases, easier ironing and less odor.

There are cheaper options out there: the combination of the Kenmore 4137 washer and the LG DLE 2250W dryer costs about $1,540, but this combination doesn’t offer steam in the dryer or the fast-but-still-clean performance of the more expensive LG, which are both features that justify the extra cost. You could also spend more for models like the well-reviewed Samsung WF455ARGS washer and the matching dryer, the Samsung DV457EVGS, a combination that costs over $3,000. That extra would get you Samsung’s Smart Control system, which allows you to control and monitor both devices from your cell phone, so you know exactly when the wash and dry is complete. But, seeing as most people aren’t hovering over their washer waiting for it to finish, this feature just isn’t worth the extra.

Who Else Likes Them?

There are really only two august sources of major appliance reviewers: Reviewed.com and Consumer Reports. Both are very thorough, so it’s a good thing they agree that the Kenmore 41472 is among the best. In fact, Reviewed.com gave the Kenmore a 10 out of 10 score (meaning it is their highest scoring washer at the moment) and proclaimed it was “a good looking washer with excellent stain removal performance.” Consumer Reports gave it a score of 81 out of 100 (the top scorer got an 87) citing that it “offers superb wash performance and gentleness, top energy and water efficiency, and a large capacity.”

User reviews mostly backed up these positive verdicts, with Dan the handyman on Consumer Reports giving it 4 out of 5 stars. He says his unit is “quiet, efficient, it doesn’t rattle in high speeds… We had on a second floor and it doesn’t shake the house even with full quilt/blanket loads.” However, other users did identify one possible point of concern: because this model is actually made by LG, Sears apparently does not carry spare parts, so they have to be specially ordered, which means that repairs take time.

Budget Picks

If this combination is a bit too much for your bank balance, you could consider the Kenmore 4137 washer and the LG DLE 2250W dryer. These add up to about $1,540, but this combination doesn’t offer steam in the dryer or the fast-but-still-clean performance of the more expensive Kenmore. So, we would suggest that you lay out the extra unless you are really strapped for cash.

Buy Refurbished

If you don’t mind a bit of extra work, buying refurbished or returned washers and dryers can save you a big chunk of change. Many people buy a washing machine, decide they don’t like the color and return it to the store. This can mean a bargain for the smart buyer, so it makes sense to ask your local dealer if they have any returns that they are selling. For our picks, the best place to look is the Sears Outlet, where they sell their returned and refurbished items.

A tip: call your local Sears outlet and ask them what day they get their deliveries, then visit on that day to see the models for yourself and to have the best selection, as these tend to be sold quickly.
At the time of writing, Sears has our picks listed for as low as $519 each. This can save you a lot of money, but be sure to pay attention to the condition: although they still come with the manufacturer warranty, some models have significant cosmetic damage. A tip: call your local Sears outlet and ask them what day they get their deliveries, then visit on that day to see the models for yourself and to have the best selection, as these tend to be sold quickly.

A legitimate alternative

Also Great
This Whirlpool washer is a little cheaper and has a quicker cycle, but it's not in stock at most major retailers.
After this article was completed, Sears increased the price of the 41472 washer and 81472 dryer to $1,100 each, and this seems to be the new regular price. We still think that these models are the best pick, but given the fast-changing pricing of appliances, we decided to add a close alternative so you can price shop: the recently released Whirlpool Duet WFW88HEAW washer and the accompanying WED88HEAW dryer. CR loved this washer better than the Kenmore, but the Kenmore scored better at Reviewed.com. It’s close enough that we defer to the price point at any given moment to make this call, which is a rare thing on our site.

Also Great
Just like the washer, this dryer can be hard to find, but it's a good alternative to the Kenmore.
The Whirlpool Duet WFW88HEAW is usually priced at just under a thousand dollars, so it is slightly cheaper than the current price of the Kenmore. Like the Kenmore, which it is very comparable to, it offers an impressive set of features for the money, with a 45-minute cycle for heavily-soiled loads, which is much faster than most (the Kenmore 41472 takes 60 minutes using the Accela-wash cycle and 85 on the Normal cycle).

Like the Kenmore, steam washing is also offered, although many reviewers found that this feature did not offer much real-world improvement in washing performance. There are also options for up to 8 hours of pre-soaking and a 6-hour tumble setting, where the washer will tumble the clothes occasionally after washing to keep them fresh.

Consumer Reports tested it and found that it has excellent performance, with a score of 83 out of 100 in its 2014 rankings. This was thanks to excellent performance in their tests for washing performance, efficiency and capacity. It scored a little lower in gentleness then the Kenmore, getting only a Very Good score, presumably due to the higher agitation used in the shorter cycle. However, this still rates higher for gentleness than most washers, so it is unlikely to be an issue.

The WGD88HEAW dryer is the electric model that complements the WFW88HEAW. This also offers plenty of capacity  (7.4 cu. ft) and a 15-minute steam cycle which refreshes stale clothes with steam. Whirlpool also touts their Advanced Moisture Sensing, which uses three separate sensors to monitor the humidity to determine when the clothes are dry, so the cycle ends quickly. I would have liked to cite reviews for this model, but I could not find any, yet.

The main drawback to the Whirlpool washer and dryers above is that they’re not easily found in big appliance shops like Sears or Home Depot. Luckily it has some close relatives with nearly identical specs, the the WFW94HEAW washer and WED94HEAW dryer, which Consumer Reports rated 81 and a 77, respectively. (Those links lead to Sears but here’s the washer and dryer on Home Depot.) They each cost about $100 more than the 88-series, with a few minor additions, like a “Wash & Dry” cycle on the washer and a “Static Reduce” option in the dryer, which uses a steam mist and light tumble after clothes are dry to reduce status.

For Bigger Washes, Step Up to a Bigger Drum

If you do a lot of washing or often need to wash large items like comforters, the LG WM8000HVA is our pick. This washer is a little more expensive (at about  $1250), but the extra money gets you a 5.1 cu. ft. drum, which is significantly larger than the 4.1 of the Kenmore or the 4.3 of the Whirlpool. This gives it the extra room to handle larger loads (Consumer Reports says it could hold up to 24 lbs of laundry), or big heavy items like sheets and comforters. Consumer Reports also rated this model highly, giving it an overall score of 83, with excellent scores for washing performance, water efficiency, and capacity.

The Competition

There are a lot of washing machines and dryers available, so we dredged through as many reviews as we could find to determine our picks. Here are a few of the ones we considered on the way, and why they didn’t get our nod. Firstly, we eliminated conventional top load washers: although models like the Hotpoint HSWP1000MW are cheap (priced at about $390), they are also very uneconomical, using much more water and electricity than their more expensive cousins. They also put much more wear and tear on your clothes, because the central agitator constantly batters the clothes to circulate the water. “Generally speaking, a pole agitator is worse on clothes,” says Barry of Reviewed.com. The new breed of High Efficiency (HE) top loaders like the LG WT480 (subscription required), which use a wash plate rather than an agitator, are better, but they still use more water and electricity than front-loaders and don’t wash as well. So we decided on a front-loader washer.

That still left plenty of competition—Sears, for example, lists 69 front-loader washers. So we turned to the experts, looking at reviews from places like WasherDryerInfo.com (part of Reviewed.com) and Consumer Reports. Both companies do excellent testing that looks at the performance, economy and usability of washers and dryers. There were several strong contenders that came out of this analysis, but a number of them had problems that removed them from the list.

The Samsung WF457ARGS was well reviewed by both Consumer Reports (subscription required) and Reviewed.com, both of whom praised the low noise and fancy LCD control panel, as well as the Smart Control feature that can start and monitor the washer from your cell phone. But this latter feature adds to the already considerable cost of $1,400, and the washer didn’t perform as well as others. Reviewed.com described it as something that “Jane Jetson would buy at her local Mooning Dales, but don’t get too excited… We’ve seen less expensive machines perform just as well or better than this one in terms of stain removal, water retention, and annual cost.”

Similarly, cost was the downfall of the LG WM8000H, which cost a hefty $1,345. Plus, Consumer Reports found that it “offers superb overall performance, but wash time is 100 minutes—among the longest of the recommended front-loaders.” The Whirlpool Duet WFV96HEA had a similarly high cost ($1,200), as did the $1,300 Electrolux EWFLS70JIW, which Reviewed.com said “wowed us with its stain removal power, speed, and efficiency, but confused us with an aggravating door and a user interface seemingly designed by Will Shortz.”

Caring for Your Washer

As some readers have noted, some front-loading washers can develop mold. We found these handy tips in Consumer Reports that should help to keep mildewy build-up at bay: run an empty hot wash cycle with chlorine bleach; wash loads with warm or hot water as often as you can; wipe down the door gasket and glass after use; clean out the detergent dispenser once or twice a month; use a dehumidifier if your laundry room tends to stay damp; and leave the washer door open between loads to let it air out — but lock your laundry room door if you have small children.

Wrapping it Up

Although $1,800 might seem like a lot to spend on a washer and dryer, our picks of the is the $900 Kenmore Elite 41472 washer and the $900 Kenmore 81472 dryer represent a real bargain; they provide the best washing and drying performance out there, saving time, electricity, water and hassle. And when you are dealing with a task as tedious as washing and drying, that means a lot.

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Sources

  1. Mary Marlowe Leverette, Before You Buy a Clothers Washer, About.com
    "About.com laundry guide Mary Marlowe Leverette says that a 4.6 cubic feet drum should be enough to hold a king-sized comforter"
  2. Keith Barry, Kenmore Elite 41472 Review, Reviewed.com Laundry, June 7, 2012
  3. Mary Marlowe Leverette, When to wash Women's Clothes, About.com
  4. Mary Marlowe Leverette, When to Wash Men's Clothes, About.com
  5. Kenmore Elite 41472, Consumer Reports (sub. required)
  • dilladop

    Speed Queen

  • Ben Campbell

    Do any of the test units have reversible doors? It seems like these assume the washer will go on the left. My house (and every place I have ever lived, for that matter) is plumbed to put the the washer on the right. This was not much of a problem for top-loaders, but is pretty inconvenient for front loaders.

    • Richard Baguley

      Ben, unfortunately, few front load washers have reversible doors, as that could make the seal less reliable.

  • JBritton

    Top loaders seem to be more reliable – there is just less complexity to it. That’s also why they are in general cheaper.

  • tracieoh

    Just went back to a top loader, Speed Queen, after an aggravating battle with mold in our Whirlpool Duet Sport front loader. It was given a favorable rating from Consumer Reports back when we bought it in 2007, by the way. Combined with the supposed energy savings, it seemed like a smart purchase at the time.

    I’ve always found it curious that CR remained mostly mum on the mold issue, not giving it the attention paid to the newer Pyrex dishes. And, with several consumers having similar mold problems, it would seem like something they’d investigate.

    But, as this article makes no mention of mold either, I’m lead to believe that it’s one of those issues no one wants to touch?

    • Richard Baguley

      Tracieoh, mold can be a serious issue with washers, but it isn’t something we are able to evaluate, unfortunately. I know there are a number of class action suits going on about it right now that allege that it is caused by machine defects (see http://www.topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/4091-judge-hacks-ge-washing-machine-mildew-class-action-lawsuit#), but the truth of the matter is hard to determine.

      • tracieoh

        Richard, thank you for providing the link about the GE class action. We’ve received a notice for Whirlpool, and from what I’ve read regarding other cases, it doesn’t look good. I suspect we’re just another casualty of green-washing, as I strictly followed the upkeep suggestions, which were to keep the door open after every load and run a monthly bleach cycle. When I saw that companies were selling tablets designed to “clean” front loaders, noting they can have a bad smell (no, really! Wonder why) I was shocked at the hubris. Not knowing the whys behind the defects, perhaps cost-cutting measures, I can only sit dejected, knowing that in today’s world, we put the interests of the business first, blindly assuming/hoping they fulfill their part of the relationship (remember what’s good for GM is good for America, AND VICE VERSA?) and trickle down on us.

    • James Mattison

      CR is utterly relentless in liberal causes. It is a liberal cause to green the earth! That means downplaying mold or any other unfortunate side-results, regardless of the particular product that they are reviewing. They are quite biased, and sometimes do not give the answer mom and pop would expect. Rather, they sometimes give the answer that they want mom and pop to follow.

  • Baltassar

    LG front-loaders do have reversible doors (just bought a set). Not sure about the mold issue mentioned by another poster, but the new LG washer has a latch arrangement that keeps the door slightly ajar when you are not using it, which might help solve this problem. I didn’t expect to like the new front loaders as much as I do. They are not slow, as I expected, and because there’s no agitator in the washer you can wash more delicate stuff.

  • http://www.pretzelwisdom.com itay

    I’m curious if you’d keep your recommendation the same now that the Kenmore model costs 1100-1200 at Sears (white vs gray), vs the LG which you can get for 1080-1180. The price changed last night.

    • Richard Baguley

      Itay, our recommendation stays the same. Sears/Kenmore did some tweaking on the model that seems to improve performance, so it is still worth it.

  • Aetles

    Here in Europe the machines from Miele usually win tests of washers and dryers, they are German built, quite expensive but lasts very long and reliable. But they’re not very common in the US I believe…

  • m urph

    Is there a recommended gas dryer? Gas is a LOT cheaper in my neighborhood.

  • foresmac

    The top Kenmore Elite model is virtually identical mechanically to the Whirlpool Duet and the top Maytag front loader (I forget the brand name). All are designed and built by Whirlpool with slight differences designed to appeal to different market segments. For instance, the comparable Maytag models use “commercial” quality parts that are rated for much longer wear/lifetime. Kenmore models are designed to always optimize for the shortest cycle times. The Whirlpool model may get clothes technically cleaner (in certain edge cases) and keep fabrics lasting slightly longer but cycles times will be longer (for both washing and cleaning).

    Besides Kenmore’s speed advantage, you also get the benefits of buying from Sears, including special sales, warranty, service, etc. Whirlpool will tend to have the “best” performance while trading speed. Maytag charges a premium for premium components, but it will tend to outlast the other two brands.

    • Jamie Wiebe

      Hi there, thanks so much for the comment. It looks like the Kenmore Elite we mentioned in the article is made by LG, not Whirlpool, but we’re checking into the rest of the your points. Much appreciated!

      -Jamie

      • foresmac

        I’m surprised to find this is true: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_makes_Kenmore_washers

        Whirlpool made Kenmore washers and dryers exclusively from the dawn of Kenmore laundry appliances until apparently 2009 (I last worked there in 2007). Whirlpool still manufactures conventional and advanced top-load laundry, it seems.

        • Richard Baguley

          Foresmac, the definitive way to tell is by looking at the source code for the Kenmore washer, which identifies the manufacturer. Do any of the other commenters who have this washer know the code? You can find it using this guide: http://www.appliance411.com/purchase/sears.shtml

  • http://Twitter.com/AbbiV AbbiV

    Thank you for writing such an informative guide- made me feel very knowledgeable and well prepared when I went to the store :-)

    Sears just dropped the price of the Kenmore Elites you recommend back down to $899 (with an additional $70 cash back on their points card good towards a future purchase) BUT this price only seems to be available *in* store. I noticed that there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the Kenmore 4147 & 4137 models, other than looks and a 10% increase in capacity. Both have the Turbo/Accel Wash option and the matching dryer (Model 8137) has steam too. I thought the 4137/ 8137 tandem was a better value :-/ Any reason that they didn’t score as high with you?

  • ultravelocity

    We had this washer but it developed mold within 6 months. Switched to a top loading LG.

  • Peter_Meyers

    Great article! I live in a space-constrained NYC apartment. Any thoughts regarding compact/stackable washer dryer models?

    • zmook

      The Kenmore 41472 and 81472 are stackable, according to mfgr specs (I haven’t purchased yet).

  • http://www.lalitree.com lal_tree

    I considered this article pretty heavily when I decided to buy a new washer and dryer earlier this month. I ended up getting the LG WM 3470HA (in white) at Lowe’s for $867 with free delivery and haul away of my old washer. I also got the matching dryer for the same price. Considerably cheaper than the Kenmore version, considering that Sears also wanted another $50 for delivery.

  • KatGamer

    Would you consider picking a best washer-dryer combo unit for those with tiny apartments or homes?

    • Russ

      for people who live in small apartments and/or households who don’t have someone at home to switch clothes between two machines, check out this LG compact washer-dryer combo unit.

      I’m both a small apartment dweller and someone who isn’t around to mind the machines. I’ve had it running twice a day for the past year and it works well. Load sizes are small, but being able to put the clothes in before work and come home to clean clothes is nice. Likewise, I can put in a load before bed and wake up to clean clothes in the morning.

      http://www.lg.com/us/washer-dryer-combos/lg-WM3455HW-washer-dryer-combo

  • UFCIsSux

    Did the author get paid by the word for this article? Sheesh, that’s a lot of words just to say that front-loaders are better.

  • eaadams

    Thanks for the point to Sears Outlet, that is going to save some serious cash. Just cant afford a full blown deal right now.

  • pegsbored

    Sorry Richard, I tend to whole heartedly disagree with you. From experience I can say front loaders are unreliable, do not clean well, and are overpriced for what they do. While they are flashy and have little melodies that play to tell you the wash is (finally after 2 hours) done, they are junk. I gave up on them and went with a speed queen that is reminiscent of my Mothers 1960′s Kenmore. It’s simple, dependable, and best of all, my clothes are really clean! Front loaders are being touted now for some odd reason and they do not clean well at all, even when acutely following the manufacturers instructions. After a $1500 mistake that died three years later I am the proud owner of a $600 dollar mid level speed queen and love my workhorse. Oh yeah, how’s this for energy efficient. My front loader took a minimum of 90 minutes to do a load and still manage to not get the clothing clean. My speed queen does a much larger load (less laundry loads per week) in about 20 and gets them extremely clean. I think less electricity use is an energy saving feature, is it not? I can get all of the laundry done in 4 hours now where with the front loader it was two days. I’m so happy the front loader died. Dare I say the name brand? I guess I should just say that some manufacturers should stick to TV’s (Samsung). Now the biggie, buy a Speed Queen and support American Industry! If you love your country, buy American made products and Richard, you should be touting this company as well. Or, Richard, are you for American jobs disappearing into China and Vietnam? Oh, and any gals reading this post, sure the pretty front loaders are attractive and look sexy in the laundry room, but take it from someone who remembers clothe diapers….they (front loaders) won’t get out the skid marks without serious pretreatment and scrubbing. The old fashioned speed queen does, and hey it’s retro!
    (proud owner of a two year old speed queen I think will last at least 20)

  • jim goldstein

    One issue with front loading washers. They end up getting a smell like rotten eggs which is close to impossible to get rid of. We use stuff from Amazon to clean it every 8 washes or so but it always returns. Going back to top loading washer. Sure it uses more water but you don’t have to smell like you know what!

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Funny I’ve never had this issue with mine.

      • Will Taylor

        There are MANY complaints about this issue with front loaders all over the Internet. The author even mentioned the related mold issue earlier in the comments. I’m actually surprised that with the proliferation of this issue, that longer-term testing hadn’t been done for reliability and usability. Even a quick glance at the ratings of the washer on Sears.com would be enough to make me nervouse about buying or recommending. Just my thoughts.

        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          Thanks for the feedback!

          • Will Taylor

            Thanks for modding. It’s a tiring and mostly thankless job, so “Thanks!”

  • http://www.THEPHONESEXLIST.com Jan U. Airy

    Does anyone know if there is a difference between Kenmore products in the U.S. and Canada, or if Kenmore has changed their manufacturer arrangements? Everything that I have read online talks about how Kenmore front load washer/dryers are manufactured by LG with, apparently, a few select models (perhaps in the past) made by Whirlpool, I think I read? In any event, I went to a Sears location in Canada yesterday and mentioned to the salesman about Kenmore being made by LG and he said NO they are not, and that they are made by Samsung – right down to the famous Samsung diamond drum, which Kenmore calls their “jewel” drum.

    After HOURS spent – over about a week now – researching various front load washer/dryer combos, I’m not sure that I’m really any further ahead at the moment. I had narrowed it down to Kenmore, Samsung, LG or Electrolux. However … now I’m reading some not great reviews about the particular Samsung model that I almost purchased, and also reading that Maytag was rated #1 by some review site or other (I forget which) after reading elsewhere that Maytag, Whirlpool and GE should probably be avoided. The Sears salesman seemed to agree that GE is one of the worst choices, but he said customers are very happy with their Whirlpool purchases.

    Also of note, the Sears salesman said that buying the Kenmore Elite range is a waste of money – unless you are super sound sensitive. He said the only REAL difference between the basic line and the Elite line is that the Elite has additional insulation to make it quieter and that he would not recommend a customer spend the extra money for an Elite model. I’m interested to know if anyone has any comments in that regard.

    • Maddy

      Hi: I just bought a Kenmore Elite pair from Sears in Mississauga, Canada based on the salesman’s emphasis that Kenmore Elite was made by Samsung. I, too, am surprised that LG is mentioned in this article but could be for different countries.

  • CharlieM76

    Despite living in a low humidity climate, I’m in line with several of the comments here about front loaders regarding mold and smell. I’d like to see you separate out front load and top load washers.

  • Jim Sturgill

    Avoid Sears delivery and setup. They outsource to local companies. This is hit or miss. Our “installers” were glorified furniture movers. They would not adjust door openings and were ill-equipped to connect water or level the units. (They didn’t even have a level.)

    Save your money and pick up at the store. Or better yet, support a company that gives a damn about customer service. (After an hour and 10 minutes on the phone with their customer help line it was clear they didn’t care and only wanted to get me off the line.)

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Will note this and forward along to our editors. Thank you for the feedback!

  • Ryan Booth

    The reviews on the sears sites are abysmal for this. Are you sure??

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      3.5/5 stars & 3/5 stars. Not exactly abysmal. Other examples/links? Maybe I’m not seeing the same thing as you. Thanks!

      • Ryan Booth

        I don’t think I noticed that before. I think I was just reading the actual reviews. A lot of problems. I guess if the net out isn’t that terrible not everyone has a bad experience. Those numbers would still translate to about 40% of people having major problems.

        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          How did you come to that percentage, as well as “major problems”?

          • Ryan Booth

            3/5 is a 60% approval rating. It’s not exact. The 40% would be those that voted 1 or 2 stars and if you read their comments they report major problems. Scientific? Not so much. Just using it directionally.

          • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

            Ahhh gotcha. Sorry I wasn’t being snarky, I was just seriously curious. I guess that adds up. Next batch of updates & notes I send in I’ll include this. Thanks for the feedback!

  • G Close

    We love our Speed Queen washer. The reviews for this online (Amazon and Consumer Reports) are outstanding. It’s old-fashioned, with few electronics and a long warranty. Our high efficiency top load Whirlpool washer lasted all of 2 years, so we wanted something that would last.

  • Amber Fagan

    Just purchased the Kenmore 41472 Washing Machine from Sears. Used the discount code SEARS50 and got it, new hoses, removal of my old one and installation for $881.98.

  • WinstonChurchill101

    Wow-just search Kenmore/Whirlpool repair-specifically F70-71 errors-I have one of these and while it does a good, no a great job when its working, its been repaired multiple times and after about 6 months its error code time-thats what led me to this site looking for a better washer! Its NOT Kenmore-but don’t listen to me-search as I said earlier……my repair bill is greater than the cost of the unit.

  • Guest

    for people who live in small apartments and/or households who don’t have someone at home to switch clothes between two machines, check out this LG compact washer-dryer combo unit.

    I’m both a small apartment dweller and someone who isn’t around to mind the machines. I’ve had it running twice a day for the past year and it works well. Load sizes are small, but being able to put the clothes in before work and come home to clean clothes is nice.

    http://www.lg.com/us/washer-dryer-combos/lg-WM3455HW-washer-dryer-combo

  • Eric Hancock

    You guys don’t seem to have mentioned condensation dryers. Very useful for apartments like mine that can’t vent a conventional dryer outside.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/darrenmurph Darren Murph

    These are now selling (closeout) for under $700 at Sears.com, but I’m seeing a really startling amount of extremely negative reviews for these around the web. With most Wirecutter / Sweethome articles, it’s pretty easy to see that people generally agree with what’s on top. But I’m scared to pull the trigger on these because of the poor reviews. Part of me thinks that washers and dryers in general are targets for awful reviews — maybe more user error than other gadgets?

    • http://jimmypautz.com Jimmy Pautz

      I would take those reviews into consideration. The high efficiency top loading LG washer I had have almost all positive reviews and I love it.

  • GL

    Question on the alternative pick, as the Kenmore 41472/81472 are all sold out in my region. How much weight was given to reliability data for your picks? Looking at the reliability data that Consumer Reports and JD Power has published, Whirlpool lags LG, Samsung & Kenmore Elite. Understanding that there are tradeoffs, what was the thought process in comparing performance vs. reliability?

    I’m considering the Whirpool Duet WFW88HEAWH that is recommended, but the lower reliability scores gives me pause.

    Consumer Reports- % reporting problems: Whirlpool=11%; LG (survey leader)=6%

    JD Power- Reliability score: Whirlpool = 3/5 stars; Samsung, Kenmore Elite, LG & Electrolux (survey leaders)=5/5

    Thanks!

    • GL

      One tip that I stumbled across while shopping online. Some towns or utility companies offer rebates on washers. Be sure the check the Energy Star website (http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator), but I had better luck with BestBuy.com that uses EcoRebates.com. Turns out that I can qualify for a $100 rebate from my town water company that I didn’t know about!

      • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

        Thanks for the note about EnergyStar & rebates! Our picks are slowly going down so we’ll start research on this ASAP and let you know what we find out!

  • Kyle Conroy

    Time to update this. Unfortunately, Sears is no longer offering these models. Any idea if Kenmore is coming out with a replacement for these?

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      Thanks for the heads up! We’ll update as soon as we get some research on this!

  • Ariadne Etienne

    I don’t care about how fast the machines wash and dry. I have lots of clothes. I want to know how reliable it is. What is the history of recall on the machine? What kind of problems have people reported with it? Does the manufacturer have a history of problems with their machines? And of course how energy efficient is it, and how expensive is it to repair when parts that wear out require replacement. I want a machine that will last, not one that will do every single sock in the house in a single wash.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      We’re refreshing this guide. Sit tight!

  • Cory McCarty

    Any chance you could offer any indication of an ETA for the updated guide? I think my washer is dying, and I’d like to wait for a new guide, but if it’s more than a week or two off I might need to go ahead and buy a new one.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      I know our researcher is working on this as we speak, but the bigger the products, the longer the research process. No ETA yet but when I hear something I’ll let you know.

      Also, not sure if you’re aware but we offer a newsletter. We let readers know a week in advance what things will be coming up next. Sounds right up your alley!

      http://thesweethome.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=570aa9140d54361ad5a594320&id=e23d0abb6f

  • guest

    After noticing that the online reviews for CR top-rated HE washing machines were mixed to negative, and the online reviews for the lower-rated Speed Queen were uniformly glowing, I went with the Speed Queen.

    I grew up with CR and have had a subscription all my life, but I strongly suspect that their liberal agenda influences their reviews of certain products.

    I am all for being conscious of energy and water consumption, but I see no reason that my wish to be environmentally responsible should provide an appliance manufacturer with a reason to exploit me by forcing me to buy a washer that is made out of plastic, breaks down all the time, takes forever to wash clothes, and doesn’t get them clean.

    I hear that my Speed Queen will last for 20 years and I hope by then someone will have figured out how to build a HE washer that works.