If you’re ready to update your laundry room with a new washer and dryer set, there are many factors to consider. From cost and size to loading style and durability, this guide will help you make some important decisions before you start the buying process.
Understanding the Three Types of Washers
When it comes to choosing a washer, there are three main types:
- Traditional top-loader: This is a conventional type of washer that uses an agitator to clean clothes. It’s likely what your mother and grandma used, and it’s still around today.
- Front-loader: High-efficiency (HE) front-loading washers were introduced in the U.S. in 1997. They use less detergent, water, and electricity to run.
- HE top loaders: Unlike traditional versions, HE top loaders don’t have an agitator. Just like front-loading washers, they use less water and less detergent.
Which Type of Washer Is Best?
The first decision you’ll have to make is which style of washer works best for you. Here are some factors to think about:
Though the technology is older, there are some advantages to choosing a traditional top-loading washer. The main one is cost. Out of all the styles, you’ll find the best prices on this type of appliance, and if your budget is tight, this may be your only option. Another advantage is that washing times are less compared to HE washers. Unfortunately, times on the dryer are longer because clothes are wetter when they come out of traditional top loaders.
As mentioned above, front-loading washers are more efficient and save you money because they use less water, detergent, and electricity. For the first 10 years after they were introduced, front-loading washers grew in popularity. According to TraQline, a sales tracking firm, 45 percent of washer sales were front-loading washers. As of 2014, that statistic dropped to only 29.5 percent.
So why the decrease? The main issue is that the first generation of front loaders had the tendency to grow mildew in the front gaskets along with having a musty odor. The new generation of front loaders, however, are less likely to have this problem. Plus, if you follow the recommendations for taking care of your appliance, this shouldn’t be an issue. You should:
- Run a cleaning cycle at least once a month.
- Only use HE laundry detergent and use the right amount (only about 2 teaspoons per load).
- Leave the door open after each load to let the washer dry out.
HE Top-Loading Washers
If you want an HE washer without having to bend down to unload it, an HE top-loading washer is a great option. It’s gentler on fabrics and quieter than front-loading washers. With front loaders, vibrations can cause these appliances to travel across the floor. With HE top loaders, you don’t have to worry about that.
Plus, HE top loaders are less expensive than their front-loading counterparts, so they’re perfect in-between options for those with a medium-sized budget. With HE top-loading washers, you can wash a lot at once too. Capacities generally range between 4.5 and 6.2 cubic feet, which means you can wash large loads like king comforters.
Other Considerations for Washers
One reason that traditional washers cost less is they come with fewer wash options. Typically, a traditional top-loader only has a few cycles available, including permanent press, normal, and delicate. HE washers have more options that might include special cycles for towels, bedding, and waterproof items.
Additionally, HE washers typically sense how much is in the drum and add water accordingly. Some owners of HE washers complain that the appliances don’t use enough water, but more water doesn’t necessarily mean that clothes are cleaner. Having the auto-sensor means you get enough water for the load without wastage.
Choosing a Dryer
Oftentimes, the dryer you choose matches your washer. Despite this fact, dryers typically cost about the same as the washer, so if you choose a more expensive option, you’ll be offered a pricier dryer to match. This can be good or bad depending on what features you want in a dryer.
One thing to consider, though, is how the washer you choose affects drying times. Though it might seem like drying times relate to how good the dryer is, it’s actually the washer that determines the efficiency of the dryer. HE washers go through a high-spin cycle that helps draw out more water from the clothes than a traditional washer. The drier the clothes are when they go into the dryer, the shorter the drying times.
While a traditional washer might only take 35 minutes to wash, the matching dryer might take as long as an hour and a half or more to dry, slowing down the laundry process. With an HE set, washing and drying times are similar — about an hour to wash and an hour to dry. Because the dryer finishes in about the same time, you’ll be able to get laundry loads done more efficiently, making it easier to keep things moving.
Other Dryer Features
If you’re looking to save money, you can opt for a dryer that has fewer features. If you buy from the same manufacturer, you might find a cheaper dryer that still pairs well visually with the washer.
However, dryers have some great features that might make them worth investing in. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:
- Steam drying: Hooked up to a water line, steam drying helps get wrinkles out of clothes.
- Dual-opening door: With this type of door, you can switch from opening it downward (for transferring clothes into the dryer) to opening it sideways (for getting the clothes out once they’re done drying).
- Upper drying rack: This is a small area in the top of the appliance used for drying items flat.
- Wi-Fi connection: It gives you the ability to start and stop the dryer, set preferences, and customize the cycle from your smart device via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Shopping for a new washer and dryer set can be a lot of fun. There are so many more features available now than what you could find 10 years ago. The main thing is deciding on a budget, choosing what features are essential for you, and seeking out the best deal.