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A washing machine isn't just an investment in your home. It's also an investment in yourself. When you pick one out at the store or online, you're really selecting a sidekick that'll help you tackle your chores quickly and efficiently, so you can get back to living your life. Looking at the different front-loading, top-loading, all-in-one, and portable options, you may not be sure what type of sidekick is best for you. That's completely fine.
To start, you have to decide on what design will pack the biggest punch for your household. Front-load washers can be easier to load and unload, while a stackable one is ideal if you have a matching dryer and limited space to do laundry. Washers with a large drum—which is the inner tub where you put your clothes prior to cycle selection—are best suited for families, or anyone who'd like to wash a comforter right at home. There's also high-efficiency models that are pros at conserving energy and minimizing water waste, but still effectively clean your dirty clothes.
Once you've decided on your "type," you can dig into other specifications like cycle options, the drum material, smart features, and the kind of washing mechanism the washer uses: an impeller plate or a central agitator. Here, the best washing machines for you to consider.
Best Overall, Front Loading: Samsung WF45T6000AW 4.5 cu. ft. Front Load Washer with Vibration Reduction Technology+
Capacity: 4.5 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 10 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Powerful and gentle operation
Energy Star certified
Must run a calibration cycle
Finish scratches very easily
Front load washers have a reputation for being gentle on clothes. For that reason, many households like to opt for this newer design, which features a swinging door and front control panel. If you fall under this category, the Samsung WF45T6000AW is your best option, as it's a powerful, gentle, and savvy machine. With a 4.5-cubic-foot drum, it is pretty standard when it comes to space to clean your clothes. However, it has 10 preset washing cycles, six additional options, and five water temperature levels for you to use.
It also has a self-clean cycle which will ensure that the drum stays sanitary and aromatic. (Although, you can leave the door opened a crack after each cycle, and that'll also help a ton.) In front-load models, self-clean cycles are a lifesaver, as mildew and bacteria can easily build up in the drum and around the rubber seal. Paired with its Energy Star certification, this washer is a savvy and proactive member of any laundry room, and will save you time, energy, and money in more ways than one.
Now, it is important to note that this appliances comes with a learning curve. It's worth perusing the user manual for information on the cycles, in addition to what you need to do after installing the machine. The delivery and installation team may help you hook up the washer, but neglect to remove the shipping bolts or run the necessary calibration cycle. If you don't mind sitting down with your manual for the first cycles, you'll certainly enjoy what this appliance has to offer, including quiet, peaceful operation.
Best Overall, Top Loading: Whirlpool WTW7120HW 5.3 cu. ft. Smart White Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.3 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 36 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Plenty of cycles to choose from
Gentle impeller plate
Can be hard to reach clothes
Can unbalance when washing bulky items
The Whirlpool WTW7120HW is a superstar top-loading washer. This machine is easy to use and includes desirable features like 36 different wash cycles, as well as a 5.3-cubic-foot, stainless steel drum that is able to hold a king-sized comforter with total ease. It's lacking in both a steam function and CEE rating, but makes up for it with a Load and Go dispenser. This dispenser holds 20 loads worth of detergent and dispenses the proper amount into each load, saving you a ton of time and energy on laundry day.
In addition, this Whirlpool model uses an impeller plate to help shift your clothes gently. A pre-soak cycle lets you treat stains for up to 120 minutes, without taking up precious sink space, and there's a pre-treat brush and dual temperature faucet built into the appliance for tackling tougher spots. When you're ready to start a cycle, head to the sleek back panel that's home to digital controls, and select your settings with the washer's guidance or on your own.
This appliance can be controlled remotely using an app on your phone. However, a subscription is needed to take advantage of this feature. In addition, the Whirlpool washer can unbalance easily in the face of big and bulky items like rugs. If you can't evenly distribute the weight of what you're washing, you should still plan to take it to the laundromat to avoid any long-term issues.
Best Budget: Amana NTW4516FW 3.5 cu. ft. White Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 3.5 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Agitator | Cycles: 8 | Drum Material: Porcelain enamel | Smart Capabilities: No | Energy Star Certified: No
Five water temperatures
Deep fill setting
Porcelain enamel tub
No fabric softener dispenser
It's no secret that a washing machine can be an expensive purchase. The Amana NTW4516FW is a wallet-friendly option for a household who's unexpectedly changing out their machine, renovating their laundry room and looking to save money, or wants something basic. It performs very well, despite featuring a few "compromises" like a 3.5-cubic-foot, porcelain enamel tub. (This is smaller than average, and the material has the risk of chipping and snagging clothes.) The control knobs let you easily pick from eight cycles, as well as five water temperatures.
Among these selections, the Amana washer also has a deep fill setting that'll override the automatic load sensing technology, and make sure your items are thoroughly saturated. There's also an auto-clean cycle to help keep the tub smelling and looking fresh. Given the price tag on the washer, this cleaning cycle is a rare find. However, you will have to deal with a weak spin cycle. The unit has a top spin speed of 700 RPM, so thick items can be left dripping wet. Keep this in mind when running a cycle with "deep fill," so you can avoid wringing out the items for yourself.
Otherwise, you'll enjoy that this washer is basic. It doesn't leave you with technology troubles, or a not-so happy budget.
"Be careful not to spend beyond your means. I always recommend that people maintain an emergency fund, which is a savings account made up of three to six months of committed monthly expenses. If splurging on a large appliance significantly eats into your emergency savings—or even worse, you don’t have enough saved to cover the purchase and need to take on credit card debt—then consider buying a more affordable appliance or saving up until you can make the purchase with more financial breathing room." — Brittney Castro, Mint CFP
Best High-End: GE GFW850SPNDG 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
Smart home compatible
Can sync with dryer
Can be noisy at times
Technology is complex at first
This high-end washing machine from GE is a modern and fresh option for your home. It's outfitted with a 5.0-cubic-foot drum that's very spacious, especially for a front-loading machine, and 12 cycle settings. It has a steam function for when you need to remove tough spots and wrinkles, and can be stacked with its matching dryer with the purchase of a compatible stacking kit. Notably, the GE front-loader also includes an in-door venting system to dry out the appliance in between cycles. This—along with parts made with a bunch of different materials—helps address mold and odors that build up in this type of washer.
Aside from the sanitary design, the appliance is also equipped with WiFi and compatible with smart home systems. It can sync with its matching dryer to transmit settings, which is particularly convenient for any household on the go. The washer finishes, and the dryer is ready with the best settings for what you have placed inside. What if you frequently wash small loads? Skip the dryer altogether, as this machine can dry up to two pounds of laundry using an internal fan.
The only complaints you may have with this machine is that it can be noisy at times, and comes with a bit of a learning curve. Like any new appliance, definitely take the time to read through your user manual and make sure it's set up in a flat location.
"Get familiar with the features of the washer and dryer that you own. Newer models may have many cycles to choose from, but understanding the purpose and content of each washing load will help drive your decisions and help you avoid cycles that are not necessary or will shorten the life of your clothes." — Marilee Nelson, certified building biologist, environmental consultant, and co-founder of Branch Basics
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 a SideKick model
Has a very wide build
A household with supersized laundry needs will love the 5.8-cubic-foot capacity of the LG SIGNATURE WM9500HKA. As one of the largest capacity models on the market, it can manage a king-sized blanket, several towels, or a family of four's weekly laundry with ease. It's also a high-efficiency model, meaning each cycle is thoughtful with how much water it uses to wash your clothes. This is particularly great for those who run their washer at least four or five times per week, and want to save money with a planet-friendly routine.
In addition, the LG SIGNATURE washer has a steam function, which tackles stains and wrinkles set into your clothes in a gentle fashion. If you have a smaller load to wash—say, of dish towels, or socks—you're also able to purchase a separate LG SideKick model that's able to sync with the washer and complete a smaller load at the same time as a larger load. Other notable features include a versatile dispenser, and large viewing window on the front of the machine. The brand's app also keeps you updated on any cycle remotely, and serves as a hub on laundry day.
In total, you can make use of 14 unique settings if you own this washer, including one that's designed to remove allergens from your clothes. Just be aware: Since this is a high-capacity model, it does measure at nearly 30 inches wide. You may have trouble fitting it in your laundry room and sliding it through your door frame post-delivery. It'll be in your best interest to measure for this model, before you go buy it.
Best Stackable: Maytag MHW6630HW 4.8 cu. ft. Stackable White Front Load Washing Machine with Steam
Capacity: 4.8 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 12 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: No | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Extra power button
Has a Fresh Hold option
Long cycle times
No reversible door
A stackable washing machine saves space when paired with a compatible dryer. But, the convenience of a stackable model isn’t only in its space-saving abilities. The Maytag MHW6630HW, which can be stacked with its matching dryer with the separate purchase of a stacking kit, is also incredibly quiet. Install it near a bedroom, and you won't be disturbed when a cycle is going. This washer also has 12 wash cycles, and a 4.8-cubic-foot drum which is much more spacious than other front-loaders on the market.
Is your schedule jam-packed, or do you often forget about your laundry? With this Maytag model, you can also rely on the Fresh Hold option. This option tumbles your clean clothes every once in a while after your cycle has wrapped up. It'll also run the internal fan here and there, to ensure the clothes don't develop an odor. Other notable features of this washer include a 15-minute quick wash cycle, a sanitize cycle, and an extra power button that activates a dual-temperature wash to fight stains.
Unfortunately, this model isn't CEE-rated and doesn't have a reversible door. It can also take a long time to complete a load. However, it has all the other bells and whistles you could hope for.
Best High-Efficiency: LG Electronics WM3600HWA 27 in. 4.5 cu. ft. Ultra Large Capacity White Front Load Washer
Capacity: 4.5 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 10 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Cold wash setting
Powerful spin cycle
No interior light
Long cycle times
High-efficiency models use less water and energy to clean your clothes. That means, owning one can cut your bills down greatly and make your home more eco-friendly. If this type of washer seems like a good fit for you, check out the LG WM3600HWA. It has a 4.5-cubic-foot drum, which is pretty average and not the "ultra large" capacity that's advertised. However, it can handle loads of up to 20 pounds of laundry, and is a great pick for households large and small.
After loading your clothes in through the front of the machine, you can select one of 10 wash cycles. You can also choose to use cold water instead of hot water, thanks to the cold wash setting, which allows you to save even more energy and money. (Not to mention, cold wash cycles can be great for colored clothes, and help extend their lifespan.) Other notable settings include an allergen cycle, a self-clean cycle, and a speed wash setting that'll complete a load in just 15 minutes.
Now, if space is an issue in your home, this washer can be stacked on top of its matching dryer—with the purchase of a separate stacking kit—and also has a closet-depth build. The only issues you may find with it is that the cycle times are anything but efficient, and one load can take an hour and a half to finish. You may also miss an interior light that helps you see the inside of your drum, if your space isn't already well-lit. Ultimately, this piece will treat you to the works, though, and be a quiet and powerful member of your home.
Best Portable: GE GNW128PSMWW 2.8 cu. ft. 8-Cycle Top-Loading Portable Washer
Capacity: 2.8 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 8 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: No | Energy Star Certified: No
Pretty spacious inside
Stainless steel basket
Fabric softener dispenser
Expensive for a portable model
Doesn't fill all the way
A portable washer works well for small spaces, and as an alternative to the laundromat. If you're living in an RV, condo, or apartment without laundry services, you'll want to consider the GE GNW128PSMWW as it still has many of the same features of a full-sized washer. For example, you'll load your clothes into a 2.8-cubic-foot, stainless steel drum. This is enough space to wash one or two outfits at a time, and the drum material will prevent rust from collecting after many months of use. Plus, there's an automatic dispenser for your detergent, fabric softener, and bleach.
Now, you can't expect a portable washing machine to do everything a full-sized model can do. This piece will require more hands-on care, since you need to hook it up to a sink when you'd like to use it. While it's set up on caster wheels, the machine is still quite heavy and can be hard to move around. However, there are eight wash cycles to help you give your clothes the best care, so it's worth the extra effort. The cycles included with this washer are delicates, heavy duty, rinse and spin, soak, speed wash, towels and sheets, and whites.
When it comes to the price tag, the GE portable washer costs almost as much as many traditional, larger machines. But, it's worth the investment if you need a more flexible, compact option to get your laundry done.
Best All-in-One: GE GFQ14ESSNWW 2.4 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Ventless Electric All-in-One Washer Dryer Combo
Capacity: 2.4 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Not applicable | Cycles: 14 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: No | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Small loads come out dry
Great space-saving option
Dryer requires an extra cycle sometimes
Need to load the machine thoughtfully
Seeking more space in your laundry room? An all-in-one machine may be for you, as this type of machine combines the two appliances into one, giving you more room to store detergent, hang clothes to dry and sort your loads. The GE GFQ14ESSNWW is the best all-in-one machine on the market, as it has 14 settings for you to choose from and a dispenser for detergent. It's compatible with detergent packs, if you'd like to use that form of detergent instead. You're also treated to a 2.4-cubic-foot, stainless steel tub, which isn't very big, but won't create wear on your clothes.
No external vent is required for the dryer function, so you can install this model anywhere a conventional washing machine would go. In addition, it has a steam function, which will allow you to tackle wrinkles or stains head-on. You will need to pencil out an entire afternoon to do a load of laundry in this machine, as the cycle times can be incredibly long, especially if you need to run a second drying cycle. However, you'd run into this issue with any all-in-one machine. This particular model at least provides a timed dry setting and will leave smaller loads completely dry.
The key is to follow the instructions in the manual, and be thoughtful when loading the drum. Items like a pair of jeans may require extra time, so we recommend putting them in the same load as your other jeans. You can also divide your towels into smaller loads. At the end of the day, an all-in-one machine works best for one or two people and will serve you well if you're not in a rush and can take time to learn its ins and outs.
"I suggest investing in functional and beautiful baskets or containers. They’re a great way to keep laundry closets tidy and organized, all while concealing essentials that tend to be a bit of an eyesore." — Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert
Best for Energy Savings: 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
Good at fighting stains
Has a CEE Tier II rating
Must be aired out frequently
Door can become leaky
Balancing your budget with your chores can be difficult, but the Electrolux EFLS627UTT has an efficient design that'll make things simple on your end. Its drum may only be 4.4 cubic feet large, but it's made of stainless steel, and is plenty big enough for a family of three or four. There are dispensers for detergent, fabric softener, and bleach, and a specialty StainSoak feature helps you eliminate grass, oil, red wine, or whatever stains may be setting into your clothes. StainSoak works by mixing water, detergent, and stain remover before your chosen cycle starts. Then, it'll use the mixture within your cycle to remove the type of stain you choose.
Aside from fighting stains, this washer is also thoughtful with its energy and water usage. It has a CEE Tier II rating, and is estimated to use only 85 kWh per year, which is equivalent to $10 per year when it's used with an electric water heater. When it comes to cycle options, there are nine different settings for you to choose from, including a 15-minute cycle that'll help you get clean clothes when you're in a rush. Other notable settings include hand-wash, steam, and sanitize.
The only major downside with this Electrolux washer is that, like most front-loaders, it's prone to mildew and mold. You'll want to be vigilant and leave the door open after every load so the interior drum and the seals can air out. You'll also want to check for any leaks around the door. They can develop after months of use.
For a quiet, powerful, and front-loading washing machine that will suit most people’s needs, the Samsung WF45T6000AW (view at Lowe's) is our top pick. It aims to treat your clothing items with precise care, and has vibration reduction technology so that laundry day doesn't overwhelm your space. Looking for a top-loading model? You should shop for the Whirlpool WTW7120HW (view at Home Depot). It has a deep drum for tending to bulky loads, as well as a detergent dispenser that doesn't need to be refilled with every cycle.
What to Look for in a Washing Machine
The best type of washing machine for your household is determined by the layout of your living space, your lifestyle, and your preferences. If your home doesn't have a dedicated laundry room, you should consider a stackable, all-in-one, or portable model that will save space, and can potentially fit in a closet. If you have a large family, or are frequently washing bulky items like a comforter, then a high-capacity washer is the best option for you. From there, you'll want to pick between a front-loading or top-loading design. A front-loading washer can require more maintenance to avoid mold and mildew, but a top-loading model doesn't typically have a stackable design.
The size of your washer's drum—or interior—is measured in cubic feet, and can range from as little as 2.5 cubic feet to nearly 6.0 cubic feet. The more space you have, the more laundry you can tackle at once, and the more flexibility you have to wash items like towels, comforters, or backpacks. Those who live in a small space, or only have to do laundry once a week, can likely consider a model with between 2.5 and 4.5 cubic feet of space. Larger households should opt for a high-capacity washer with between 5.0 and 6.0 cubic feet of space. Keep in mind: a top-loading washer is typically more spacious than a front-loading one, too.
Although most washers will have basic cycles like whites, delicates, and permanent press, it's important to consider what other settings your household could benefit from. Other cycle options on the market include towels and sheets, heavy duty, speed wash, activewear, allergen, and sanitize. Front-loading washers can also have a self-clean option, which makes maintaining the freshness of the drum much easier. How much you want to spend on a new washer will determine how many cycle options you have. High-end machines typically have more settings, and allow you to customize your own.
A bulk dispenser is most commonly found in high-capacity washers, and allows you to fill a dispenser once with detergent and/or fabric softener, and not have to fill it again for 20 to 40 loads. This feature is most helpful for households who run at least four or five loads per week, due to children or athletes. When a cycle begins, the washer will use load-sensing technology to read your load, and then tap into the bulk dispenser and dispense the correct amount based on your load's size.
Advanced wrinkle care
Wrinkle care technology tumbles clothes in a washer periodically after a cycle is complete. It uses a bit of steam and the tumbling motion to prevent wrinkles from developing, while you’re at work, handling other chores, or waiting for a load in the dryer to finish. This feature is typically seen in smart or high-end washers, and is made for a multitasking household or someone who is comfortable with their appliances running while they’re away. It essentially gives your washer the capabilities of a dryer.
There’s technology in washers that reduces the amount of vibration they produce during a spin cycle—when the drum is typically moving very fast to extract water from clothes. This is known as vibration reduction technology, and keeps a washer from shaking, shimmying, and creating a ton of noise. If your laundry machines are set up near a bedroom, this is a particularly suitable feature for you.
Dust, pollen, and dander can easily latch onto clothes, no matter what fabric type they may be. Although water inactivates pollen, an allergen cycle is made to specifically target these triggers and gently release them from every fabric type using steam. This new setting is typically found in higher-end models, and is ideal if you live in an area with a high pollen count, or have someone in your household who suffers from asthma.
How do I clean a washing machine?
To keep your washing machine fresh and mildew-free, you'll want to add two cups of vinegar or lemon juice to the tub, and run the hottest and longest cycle your machine has. Some machines have a self-clean cycle, which will cleanse the tub for you. No matter which way you choose to clean you washer, you should plan to do so twice a year, or more often if your model is a high-efficiency or front-loading model. For more cleaning information, check out our guide on how to clean a clothes washer.
How do I wash shoes in a washing machine?
Shoes can easily collect stains from grass and dirt. You'll only want to put athletic shoes in a washer, as they're usually made out of durable fabrics that won't get damaged in the machine. To start, use a vacuum and attachment to remove any loose debris. Then, remove the laces and put them in a mesh laundry bag, and remove the insoles and wipe them down. Place your shoes in a mesh laundry bag as well, and then into the washer with a load of similar-colored towels. Select a lower spin speed for your desired setting. For the step-by-step process, check out our guide on how to wash tennis and athletic shoes.
How long do washing machines last?
If you care for your washing machine properly, it should last for at least 10 years. You can maintain it by using the right detergent, since some washers aren't compatible with detergent pods or require a high-efficiency detergent, and cleaning the drum periodically. In addition, don't overload your washer with clothes and towels, and make sure your machine is balanced at all times.
Can you wash pillows in a washing machine?
Not all pillows can be washed in a washing machine, so you'll want to check the laundry tag on yours before putting them into the drum. Typically, you can wash a polyester-filled, down, and feather ones. You must wash two at a time to keep your machine balanced or add white towels, if you have a front-loading washer. Pillows should be washed with a couple teaspoons of detergent, and on a gentle cycle with cold water. For polyester-filled pillows, go to our washing guide here. For down or feather pillows, go to our washing guide here.
How do you balance a washing machine?
You'll know your washing machine is off-balance if it's excessively vibrating, making a lot of noise, and shifting around your laundry room. To bring it back to a balanced state, first check your load, and see if the items are evenly laid out. Bulky items should be on opposites sides of the tub. Next, make sure the legs of your washer are at the same height, and the floor below it is even and flat. If your machine is on a pedestal, apply the same steps to the pedestal.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Having tested and researched dozens of laundry machines, we looked at reliability, functionality, and value when recommending the best washing machines on the market. We considered each washer's capacity, cycle options, and type of agitator, in addition to dispensers, drum material, efficiency, and advanced technology. For insight, we spoke with: Brittney Castro, certified financial planner for Mint; Marilee Nelson, certified building biologist and environmental consultant, and co-founder of Branch Basics; and Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy trend expert.
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 to select the most effective washers. She also looked at verified customer reviews on major retailers' websites, compared the specifications, checked out the recommended washers in-person, and vetted the newest features for actual usefulness.