How to Choose a New Washing Machine: 5 Questions to Ask

By Terry Mehilos | Feb. 07, 2017 7:06 am PST

buying a washer

Front-load vs. top-load? Stainless or plastic? What to consider before purchasing a new washer.

There are seemingly endless options when it comes to clothes washers — front-loaders vs. top-loaders, stainless steel vs. plastic interiors, energy-efficient products, even designer washers in a variety of colors. It can be hard to know which washing machine is right for your home and lifestyle.

Here are five things to consider when you’re buying a new washing machine.

1. Front-load vs. top-load? That depends on how big your space is, says Steven Wallace, a Sears washer expert. For a small space, “front-loaders are good because you can stack the dryer on top.” Sears offers special stacking kits for each brand.

You should also consider the size of your family and the amount of water you’ll use, Wallace suggests. Front-loaders use about 21 gallons on average for a wash cycle, he says. New high-efficiency top-loaders use about 25 gallons, while old-school belt-drive top-loaders can use more than a whopping 40 gallons for a single load.

Keep in mind that although they use less water, front-loaders generally take longer to run through a regular wash cycle.

2. Does it matter how many loads I typically do? With today’s machines, Wallace says, you can do seven loads a week or seven loads a day. But, he says, “the average life of a washing machine is 10 to 15 years as long as you’re doing maintenance, cleaning the machine and not abusing it by overloading it.”

3. What features are most important to me? For families on the go, a smart washing machine that connects to your smartphone might make sense.

Want cleaner clothes faster? Consider a washer with Kenmore’s Smart Motion Technology, which uses multiple wash motions and offers customized care for different types of fabric. Some machines even have a wash cycle just for kids’ clothes, almost like a delicate cycle with a slower spin. Other specific cycles are made to better clean workout clothes or bedding, plus cycles that will sanitize, express wash or clean better in cold water.

“All manufacturers offer different settings and it’s really your personal preference,” Wallace says.

4. Stainless steel tub or plastic? While both work well, “the stainless is more durable, lasts longer and is easier to clean — but it’s a little more expensive,” Wallace explains.

5. What kind of warranties are available? Most manufacturers offer a one-year warranty. Some offer other warranties for various parts, Wallace says. For example, some carry a 10-year warranty for the outer tub or a lifetime warranty for the stainless steel inner baskets.

Learn more about the extended coverage you can get from Sears.