How to Choose a Washing Machine

Thanks to recent advances in home laundry care, washers are more effective and efficient than ever. Whether you need a reliable workhorse to tackle your family's endless stream of dirty clothes or a versatile unit with a wide range of settings for your diverse wardrobe, there is a washer to match your needs and budget.

Types of Washing Machines

The two main types of washers are top-load and front-load. Each type has distinct advantages but determining which one is best involves more than simply choosing a style. In addition to the frequency and size of your loads, you'll want to consider the types of clothes you’re going to be putting in the machine. For heavy-duty laundering, a larger, more efficient washer may be the answer. For smaller households, look at space-saving compact models. For a long-term, cost-effective solution, purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified washer and watch the savings add up on your monthly utility bills.

Top-Load Washers

Top-Load Washers

Top-load units let you add clothes from the top for easy loading and unloading. These washers move clothing through the wash cycle using a central agitator to gently remove stains, odours and more. Selectable water levels allow you to choose how much water is used during the load. Standard models usually feature three heat settings including hot/cold, warm/cold and cold/cold. Deluxe models often include a much wider range of settings and options which may include:

  • Temperature sensors to monitor water temperatures for more accurate fabric care
  • Established technology that provides reliable, consistent performance
  • Lower initial investment with models in a wide range of price categories
  • Energy efficient models that qualify for the ENERGY STAR rating
  • Varying tub sizes that are designed to handle different wash load capacities
Front-Load Washers

Front-Load Washers

Front-load machines are best known for their enhanced performance and high energy efficiency. They offer a larger available capacity due to specialized wash systems that clean clothes without the use of an agitator, freeing up more internal space. This cleaning process is extra gentle on clothing, linens and other items. Front-loading units use very little water and require a special high-efficiency detergent to keep suds at a minimum. Rapid spin cycles provide powerful water extraction for shorter drying times and even more energy savings. The design allows you to stack the unit with a compatible dryer. These units:

  • Use a constant tumbling motion to gently and thoroughly clean clothes
  • Have built-in dispensers that release detergent, bleach or fabric softener at the right moments during the wash cycle
  • Temperature sensors that monitor water temperatures to ensure accurate fabric care
  • A high energy efficiency which earns many front-load washers the ENERGY STAR rating

Compact and Apartment-Sized Washers

Having a washer at home is very convenient but finding enough space for it can be tricky. Compact washing machines fit into smaller spaces, giving you the ability to wash your clothes in the convenience of your own home even if you don't have a lot of extra room. Small washing machines are available as either top-load or front-load and possess many of the same features larger models offer. They are ideal for apartments, townhouses or one and two person households.

  • Top-load and front-load configurations available
  • Offer many of the same features provided by larger models
  • Ideal for smaller living spaces, apartments and one or two-person households
Washer and Dryer Combos

Washer and Dryer Combos

Washer/dryer combos complete your entire wash and dry cycle in the same drum, for the ultimate in ease and convenience. They’re a great option for smaller spaces like apartments, dorms and other compact areas. These units wash in the usual amount of time but drying takes significantly longer. If you’re looking for convenience and space-savings, however, they can’t be beat.

Portable Washers

Portable Washers

Portable washers are another great space-saving option that are a great idea for vacation homes or smaller areas. They connect to a water faucet, making them convenient for use in various areas of your home. Be sure not to overload it though, as larger loads can reduce washing efficiency.

Stackable Washers & Dryers

Stackable Washers & Dryers

Stackable washers and dryers come in a set, saving you money on the initial investment. They take up less space so they’re ideal for condos and smaller homes. They have a slightly smaller capacity compared to traditional units, but they’re still a great option if you’re looking to create an efficient laundry area in a smaller home.

Unitized Washers & Dryers

Unitized Washers & Dryers

Unitized washers and dryers are a single unit of stacked machines and are commonly referred to as laundry centres. The dryer sits on top of the washer to save space, making them another great option for smaller homes and tight spaces, making it easy to transfer loads from the washer to the dryer.

Washer Type Capacity Important Items to Consider
Top-Load

3-5 cu. ft

  • Models in every price category
  • High-end units can offer greater energy efficiency
  • Reliable performance and economical choice
Front-Load

3-5 cu. ft.

  • Highly efficient operation conserves water and energy for extra savings
  • Can be stacked for better use of space
  • Rapid spin cycle extracts more water for shorter dry times
  • More capacity than top-load models
Compact

2.4-2.7 cu. ft.

  • Top-load or front-load configurations
  • More efficient than larger models
  • Offer same features and benefits as standard-sized units
  • Available in stackable configurations
  • Perfect for individuals or couples
  • Units are typically 24” wide instead of the standard 27”
Planning Considerations

Prior to purchasing a washing machine, you'll want to assess both your short- and long-term needs. If you plan to move within the next couple of years, you may want to go with a basic model and then reconsider your options after the move. Conversely, if you've just remodelled your utility room and don't plan on leaving anytime soon, look into ENERGY STAR qualified models that carry a higher price tag but offer added savings over the course of its life. Given the amount and type of laundry you do, find the features that best fit your needs. If you have a lot of delicate items like silk sweaters, purchasing a washer with a hand-wash cycle can save you money and time.

  • Consider both short-term and long-term needs
  • Choose features that facilitate the type and amount of laundry you do
  • Special cycles like hand-wash or delicates can save you money and time
  • Noise reduction is important if you plan to store the unit near frequently used rooms

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Efficiency

Energy Star

ENERGY STAR rated washers (through their advanced design features) use less energy and 35 to 50 percent less water than current federal standards require. Features such as spin cycles that extract more water for shorter drying times have earned many front-load models this notable designation.

Washer Features to Look For

Smart Technology Smart washers use Wi-Fi connectivity to integrate into your smart home and allow you to control and monitor them using your voice assistant, smartphone or other connected device. Some smart options include downloadable custom wash settings, notifications when your cycle finishes, the ability to remotely start and stop a load and more. Certain models can also self-diagnose errors and tell you when a repair is needed or remind you when it’s time for regular maintenance.
Automatic Temperature Regulators
To ensure proper fabric care and activation of the cleaning properties in your detergent, purchase a unit with a built-in regulator that ensures the temperature needs of each load are automatically cared for.
Sensors Some washers incorporate sensor technologies that gauge the size of your load to determine precisely how much water should be added for more effective cleaning and added efficiency.
Safety While most units cease spinning when the door is open, some models feature child locks that prevent the lid from being opened during operation to make use even safer.
Quiet Operation If you plan to store your washer in a utility room near a bedroom, kitchen or other high-traffic area, consider a model that has sound-dampening features. Reduced noise levels are particularly desirable if you run the washer at night.
Tub Material Many units feature porcelain-on-steel tubs, which are durable and include a smooth surface that won't snag or catch fabric. Units with a stainless-steel interior provide solid construction and durable, long-lasting use. Plastic tubs deliver quiet operation and can have a slightly larger capacity than porcelain-on-steel.
Extra Rinse People with sensitive skin or allergies will want to find a unit with an extra rinse feature, which ensures the efficient removal of detergent and bleach to prevent discomfort the next time you wear your favorite shirt.
Electronic Touchpad Controls New, more intuitive control panels with digital displays and touch-screen functionality make selecting your next wash cycle a breeze. Advanced capabilities even let you choose a cycle based on the type of clothing you are washing or allow you to save your settings for one-touch convenience.

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