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Putting a high-efficiency washer in your home has perks, both financially and environmentally. It may cost you a bit more upfront to grab a front-loading or top-loading machine that's conscious with how much water and energy it uses. Plus, you may have to get adjusted to longer cycle times, and how the drum doesn't always fill up all the way. However, a HE washer's thoughtful process pays off quickly, as this type of machine typically has an Energy Star rating that leads to cost savings each month.
The thoughtful process is brought to you by load-sensing technology, which "reads" your load before submerging it in water, HE detergent, and fabric softener. It's paired with practical features, including a built-in faucet, speed cycle, and deep fill setting that raises the water line within the drum for larger loads. In some models, you can make use of a steam function whenever you need to tackle stains, and a cold wash mode that'll extend the lifespan of your colored garments and save you even more cash.
To get started, make a list of your priorities. Some machines focus on performance, while others have a spacious drum or powerful spin cycle. Here, the best high-efficiency washers for whatever priorities you may have.
Best Overall, Front Loading: LG Electronics WM4200HWA 27 in. 5.0 cu. ft. White Ultra Large Capacity Front Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.0 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 14 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Cold wash setting
Need to be vigilant about cleaning
Can be noisy at times
When it comes to washing machine types, a front load washer is the most accessible option you can buy. The location of the door makes unloading and loading your clothes a total breeze, and the control panel's right above for easy selection of your favorite cycles. The LG WM4200HWA is your best bet when it comes to a high-efficiency, front load washer, as it has 5.0 cubic feet of interior space. Compared to other front-load washers, this is very spacious, and more suitable for households large and small.
The LG washer also has 14 cycle options for you to choose from, including a cold wash setting. Make use of this setting whenever you're washing colored garments, or want to save a little extra money. (Typically, hot water costs more, since the water requires energy to be heated.) In addition, the washer has a steam function, and the unit has been certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) for its incredible ability to remove dust, dander, and pollen from the fibers of your clothing. Unfortunately, there is no deep fill setting, but the washer does have a spin speed of 1,300 RPM, which is very powerful.
Not to mention, this washer has a closet-depth build, so you can install it in your laundry room or a closet that's dedicated to chores. It's compatible with LG's SideKick pedestal washer that can handle light loads, and is stackable with its matching dryer. The only "downsides" to this washer are: the door isn't reversible and you'll need to be vigilant about cleaning the tub. Front load washers are known for building up odors, mold, and mildew. Cracking the door after each cycle can help.
"Cold water is the kindest and gentlest temperature to wash your clothes, and pre-treatment of stains in many cases can eliminate the need for hot water! There is less chance of fading and shrinking, and you reduce energy costs." — Marilee Nelson, certified building biologist, environmental consultant, and co-founder of Branch Basics
Best Overall, Top Loading: Maytag MVW7230HC 5.2 cu. ft. Smart Capable Metallic Slate Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.2 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Agitator | Cycles: 13 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Extra power button
Advanced vibration control
May need repairs over time
No steam function
If a top load, efficient machine is what you're after, check out the Maytag MVW7230HC. With a 5.2-cubic-foot drum, this washer is designed to save water and energy, and handle large loads of laundry with ease. There's 13 cycle selections and five rinse temperatures, and you can pick the deep fill setting when you're washing bulkier items like blankets, towels, or sweatshirts. Additionally, it comes with dispensers for your fabric softener, detergent, and bleach.
Instead of pre-treating your stains in your sink, you can make use of the built-in water faucet if you have this washer in your home. It keeps your mess contained, while advanced vibration technology helps keep the washer quiet and in one place when the spin cycle begins. It has a maximum spin speed of 850 RPM, but a wrinkle care option will lower this speed to ensure your clothes are almost ready to wear when they leave the washing machine. While you may not be looking for smart features, this model is also equipped with WiFi capabilities, and can be paired to your phone so you can remotely start or stop a cycle.
Now, according to the model's energy guide, you can expect this machine to cost $12 per year when used with a natural gas water heater. However, you may want to use the savings to opt into a 10-year warranty plan, as it may need a couple repairs after years of use. This model also doesn't have a steam function, or a stackable design, since it's a top-loader.
Best Budget: Samsung WF45R6100AC 4.5 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Front Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 4.5 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 10 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
No deep fill setting
Can vibrate during spin cycle
On a budget? You don't have to settle for a washer with little features or cleaning abilities. The Samsung WF45R6100AC exists, and it has a full suite of bells and whistles for you to take advantage of, including a 4.5-cubic-foot drum—which is pretty standard—and a total of 10 cycle options. There's a self-clean cycle, so you don't have to clean the drum of the washer yourself, and speciality settings like sanitize, rinse and spin, and speed wash. Notably, this Samsung washer also has a steam function for ridding clothes of any stains or allergens, a particularly rare find for a budget-friendly unit.
On top of these features, you can also make use of a stackable design if you'd like to save space. You will need to purchase a separate stacking kit, in order to stack this unit with its matching dryer. However, it'll be worth it, if you currently feel like your chores are taking over your home. Downloading the app to your phone will also allow you to troubleshoot any issues, without having to contact a repairman or Samsung representative. (Although, it's always recommended to have a professional complete any repairs, so you don't harm yourself or your home.)
Depending on the style of your laundry space, you can also shop the machine in a champagne, platinum, or white finish. Just know: the machine has a maximum spin speed of 1,200 RPM, but tends to shake and vibrate a lot during the spin cycle. You'll want to follow all instructions for setting it up and make sure it's balanced.
Best High-End: GE 5.0 cu. ft. Capacity Smart Front Load Steam Washer
Capacity: 5.0 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 12 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Can sync with matching dryer
Quality venting system
Takes time to learn features
No deep fill setting
The GE GFW850SPNDG has it all. Feature-packed and practical, this front-loader is worth every dollar you spend on it, as it has 5.0 cubic feet of interior space, 12 cycle options, and a quality venting system. Since it's a front-loading machine, a venting system is incredibly useful in the fight against odors, bacteria, and mildew that can accumulate in the drum. GE has paired the system with gaskets, dispensers, and a drain that are made of antimicrobial materials, so the impressive clean is never impaired.
Venting system aside, the GE washer also is WiFi-enabled so you can control it remotely from your phone. It has the ability to sync with its matching dryer, and transfer cycle settings so your garments are treated to the very best care, as well. If you're in a rush or simply lazy, an internal fan can tumble small loads until they're almost dry. This means, you can slip your socks and underwear into the tub, make your selections, and have clean clothes ready to wear by the time the cycle is done.
Of course, all of these amenities will take time to master. It's in your best interest to sit down with a user manual within the first few days of owning your machine, to get to know its long list of features. Within a manual, you may see that there's no deep fill setting, but the washer does have a steam function. Plus, it has a maximum spin speed of 1,300 RPM, a stackable design, and a reversible door.
"Even though you’re ready to move on from your washer and dryer, you can perhaps donate it to organizations, or get some sort of tax benefit from it ... Sometimes, it’s just a matter of thinking about, how can it be repurposed?" — Felicia Gopaul, certified financial planner, founder of Financial Control Mastery, and creator of the Financial Freedom Fundamentals™ course
Best High-Capacity: LG SIGNATURE WM9500HKA 5.8 cu. ft. HE Mega Capacity Smart Front Load Washer
Capacity: 5.8 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 14 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Compatible with detergent packs
Can download new cycles from your smartphone
Has a very wide build
Some households worry less about saving space, and more about tackling baskets of laundry every week. They would rather purchase a washing machine with a large drum, reputation for being reliable, and long list of cycles. The LG SIGNATURE WM9500HKA fills those needs, with its 5.8-cubic-foot drum and total of 14 unique cycles. The drum is way over the average for a front-load washer, and the cycle options include specialty settings like allergen, sanitize, tub clean, and knits. In addition, this machine is equipped for the use of detergent packs, if you prefer to use one instead of filling up the dispenser with liquid each time.
Other notable features of this supersized LG washer include a steam function, and WiFi capabilities that'll let you download new cycles from your smartphone. While the unit doesn't have a stackable design or the coveted deep fill setting, it does also have a CEE Tier III rating that'll help you save money with every load. The drum spins at a maximum speed of 1,300 RPM, which is ideal if you're trying to tackle your laundry in a timely manner, and you can purchase a SideKick model if you need to expand your washing capacity.
After purchasing, your only negative review of this machine may be that it has a wide build that makes it hard to squeeze through a doorway at the time of delivery and installation. It also has a steep price tag. If you need to tackle a lot of laundry per week, though, spending the money will be worth it.
Best for Environment: Electrolux EFLS627UTT 4.4 cu. ft. Front Load Washer with SmartBoost Technology
Capacity: 4.4 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 9 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: No | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Compatible with detergent packs
Can be leaky
Must be aired out frequently
Looking for a HE washing machine that's a true friend to the environment? Well, look no further than the Electrolux EFLS627UTT. While most high-efficiency models are good for the planet, this front-loader has a CEE Tier II rating for its efficient nature and thoughtful water usage. It's estimated to use only 85 kWh of energy per year, which is significantly less than comparable models and equivalent to $10 per year on your energy bill when it's used with an electric water heater. On top of these top marks, the front-loader has a dispenser that's compatible with detergent packs, a reversible door, and nine cycle options.
Cycle options for this washer include hand-wash, delicates, rinse and spin, and more. If you're trying to rid your clothes of difficult stains and bacteria, there's also a sanitize option you can select. Electrolux's StainSoak technology can also help remove oil, grass, and dirt from your clothes. Before a cycle starts, it mixes water, detergent, and stain remover, and then treats your clothes with it. This combination can be very effective at removing spots, and making your clothes look almost brand-new.
Aside from stain-fighting technology, this washer also has a steam function, and can be stacked with its matching dryer. Like most front-loaders, make sure you leave the door to this model cracked after every cycle, though. It's particularly prone to developing odors, and can also be leaky after several uses.
"The more energy efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run, and the lower your utility bills might be." — Marguerita Cheng, certified financial planner
Best with Steam: Samsung WA54R7600AW 5.4 cu. ft. High-Efficiency White Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.4 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 12 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Deep fill setting
Low spin speed
Customer service team is unreliable
The Samsung WA54R7600AW is a top pick for a high-efficiency washer for more reasons than one. First, it has a top-loading design that'll feel familiar in your home. It uses an impeller plate to gently agitate all of your clothes, and it has 12 cycle options including one for activewear. The drum is 5.4 cubic feet large, which is also plenty of space for three or four people to complete their weekly laundry. Most notably, the Samsung washer has a steam function, which is essential for fighting allergens, stains, and wrinkles.
If you didn't already know, the steam function adds steam into the various steps of your cycle to enhance its cleaning powers. The steam is able to seep into the fibers of your clothes and detach pollen, dander, or dirt that has latched on—with or without you knowing. This setting is helpful for anyone who suffers from asthma or seasonal allergies, and could benefit from that extra layer of clean. In addition, the washer also has a stainless steel drum that doesn't attract wear and tear, or bacteria.
This washer does not have a stackable design, since it's a top-loader, but does have a deep fill setting for overriding the load-sensing technology and soaking your blankets and comforters. While the spin speed only reaches a low 750 RPM, you can enjoy other amenities like a built-in faucet.
Best for Performance: LG Electronics WT7300CW 5.0 cu. ft. High Efficiency Mega Capacity Smart Top Load Washer
Capacity: 5.0 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 14 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Powerful spin cycle
Very spacious interior
Finish is very prone to fingerprints
Can be hard to reach items
High-efficiency washers are known for longer cycle times that can derail your day. The LG WT300CW aims to solve your problems by providing top-notch performance. It has a 5.0-cubic-foot tub that's larger than you'd originally believe, and 14 unique cycles, including tub clean and deep fill. To get the very best out of the high-efficiency, top load washer, you'll want to thoughtfully spread items on the impeller plate, which will give your clothes a thorough and gentle clean.
Notably, the LG washer is no stranger to top-notch performance. In fact, during testing, its load-sensing technology held up when washing everything from pillowcases, to stuffed animals, and a basket of shirts and socks. The spin speed—at 950 RPM—was powerful enough to remove any excess water, but not leave wrinkles in place. No matter what your household priorities are, this type of performance is eye-catching, and sure to make laundry day feel easier and more streamlined.
As the owner of this LG washer, you'll just want to be aware of a few constraints. For one, it can be pretty difficult to reach the bottom of the drum, especially if you're on the shorter side. The finish of the washer is also very fingerprint prone, especially if you opt for the stainless steel.
"The washer has a sensor that runs each time before a load begins; this feature weighs the load and determines the right amount of water to use. Even after 21 loads, we didn’t have a single negative experience with any of the programs or features. Every item came out clean with no soapy residue. And although the spin cycle is strong, we never found that our clothes were wrung out too much or overly wrinkly." — Shannon Wells, Product Tester
For a high-efficiency washer that's front-loading, the LG WM4200HWA (view at Home Depot) is our top pick. This appliance is powerful, and has a cold wash setting that maximizes your clothes' lifespan and your energy savings. If you're in the market for a top-loading washer, the Maytag MVW7230HC (view at AJ Madison) won't likely disappoint. It has a spacious drum, smart features, and vibration control, and a built-in faucet for pre-treating stains.
What to Look for in a High-efficiency Washer
The two types of high-efficiency washers you can buy are front-loading and top-loading. These terms refer to the door on the machine, and how you access your clothes. A front-loading model typically has a round, swinging door on the front of the machine, and can be stacked with a matching dryer. A top-loading model has a door, as its name does suggest, on the top of the machine, and is usually more spacious. It's also a convenient choice for households who deal with stains, as it's easy to pre-treat clothes right over the drum.
Deep fill setting
High-efficiency washers not only use less energy during each cycle, but also less water. Most models have automatic load-sensing technology, which recognizes the amount of clothes in a single load, and then adds just enough water to soak them. A deep fill setting gives you the option to bypass this technology, and soak your clothes more thoroughly. It's an effective option if you frequently wash comforters or other bulky items, or deal with stains, but isn't a guaranteed feature.
The spin speed of a washer is measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM. The higher the RPM, the more likely your clothes will come out of the washer feeling wrung out and relatively dry. The types of fabrics you wash and selections you make can alter what speed your washer spins at, so it's essential to consider the maximum spin speed of the machine when buying. Many high-efficiency washers cap at a lower RPM than standard models. For comparison, an average high-efficiency unit spins at about 750 RPM, while standard models spin at about 1,200 RPM. If you plan on washing a variety of fabrics and bulky items, you'll want to find a high-efficiency washer with a spin speed that's closer to 1,000 RPM, opposed to 600 RPM.
An impeller plate is a new substitute for a central agitator column in top-loading washers. It’s built into the bottom of the drum, and works to spin, soak, and mix soap into your clothes in a gentle manner. It doesn’t include attached fins, so it’s a great feature for households that are running delicate cycles often, or want to avoid adding wear and tear to their clothes over time, as the impeller plates churn clothes less than older models with fin agitators did.
A built-in faucet can be found in the drum of some top-loading models. It eliminates the process of pretreating stains in a bathroom or dedicated laundry sink, and then carrying wet items to your washer. It's useful for small households, where a washer may be installed in a closet or tiny mudroom, as well as larger ones who may deal with food, grass, and dirt stains, due to children and athletes.
How do high-efficiency washers work?
Unlike a traditional washing machine, a high-efficiency washer uses less water, detergent, and energy to clean your clothes. It also doesn't have a central agitator, and uses a series of tub motions to move, soak, and spin laundry. After selecting a cycle, adding your detergent and fabric softener, and starting your machine, the washer will activate sensors that "read" the size and fabrics of your load. It'll pour in water according to that reading, and whether or not you selected "deep fill." For more on how this type of washer works, check out our high-efficiency vs. traditional washing machine comparison guide.
Do high-efficiency washers really clean clothes?
Despite using less resources, a high-efficiency washer is still effective at cleaning clothes. Sensors in the washer make sure your clothes are soaked in an appropriate amount of water. They ensure a very thorough wash, but also little waste. Now, a high-efficiency washer can have longer cycle times, since clothes have to be agitated a bit more. However, this type of machine will spin your clothes really well, leave them almost dry, and easily handle large loads.
Can you use a powder laundry detergent in high-efficiency washers?
You can use powder laundry detergent in a high-efficiency washer if it's high-efficiency detergent. If it is, there will be a high-efficiency symbol on the detergent's packaging, signaling that it's safe to use in a washer that uses less water and energy. Most units are compatible with detergent packs or liquid, as well, as long as they're also made for high-efficiency machines. Compared to standard detergent, your high-efficiency detergent—no matter what form it comes in—will create less suds in the tub, making it easier to rinse your clothes with less water. For more details, check out our complete guide on adding detergent to a high-efficiency washer.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Having tested and researched dozens of laundry machines, we looked at functionality, strength, and value when recommending the best high-efficiency washers on the market. We considered capacity, cycle options, and spin speed, in addition to the type of agitator, and the advanced features you can actually work into your regular routine. For additional insight, we spoke with: Marilee Nelson, certified building biologist and environmental consultant, and co-founder of Branch Basics; Felicia Gopaul, certified financial planner, founder of Financial Control Mastery, and creator of the Financial Freedom Fundamentals™ course; and Marguerita Cheng, certified financial planner. We also consulted a review from product tester Shannon Wells.
Marisa Casciano is the large appliance expert for The Spruce, and has researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, and more in the home space. She adores her Whirlpool high-efficiency, top-loading washer that's thorough and conserves water. For this piece, she read through dozens of user manuals, verified customer reviews, and articles on third-party websites. She tested the features on her own high-efficiency machine to get familiar with them and decide what's useful. Lastly, she went and checked out the recommended washers in-person.