Buying Guide: The best front load washing machine
Front load washing machines have made a comeback in the United States, and they can prove to be somewhat of a mystery for those who have been using top load washers with a central agitator for most, if not all, of their lives. However, the benefits of using a front load washer are numerous. Perhaps the most significant for American consumers are the reduction in water usage, ability to clean without much detergent and their energy efficiency. Furthermore, larger loads can typically be completed with this style of washer, and the style of washing is less rough on clothing. Here’s a brief overview of how front load washers work.
A front load washing machine makes use of a stainless steel inner drum, an outer wash tub, a motor, control system, rotational spinning and drain pump. These are features shared with top loading washers, but the process in which front loaders work is vastly different. To start with, the bottom of the inner tub is filled with a small amount of water. The clothes are moved through the water using a combination of gravity and the rotation of the tub. Side paddles on the inside drum perform the action of lifting the clothes and moving them in and out of the water. This mechanical process, known as scrubbing, removes soil from fabric.
Front load washing machines can sometimes mean making an up front investment in your appliance. However, the average life expectancy of these washers is 10 years, but there are ways to make your washer last longer. For example, finding a product with a strong warranty will ensure that repairs and replacement parts can be obtained easily. Furthermore, researching how easy it is to find individual parts for the machine before making a purchase will ensure you are less likely to be faced with no other choice but to scrap an entire washer, should part of it stop working.
So what else should you look for before purchasing a front loading washing machine?
High quality washing machines will be Energy Star certified by the US Department of Energy, which means they will be more energy efficient than the minimum requirements connected with federal standards. To ensure your machine has a low running cost over time, look at the power cost, water costs and water usage. Additionally, if you don’t need to do a lot of laundry regularly, don’t buy a machine with a large drum, as this will waste energy and other resources.
Analyse what your household needs in terms of cycle types and wash options. For example, if you have children who play a lot of sports, a heavy duty cycle designed for tough stains, or a steam wash, will work well. If your baby wears cloth diapers, a sanitize cycle is suited to this scenario. If you have a variety of laundry loads to get through, being able to select the best cycle for a certain set of garments will provide you with the best laundry experience.
This may seem obvious, but many consumers will get carried away with the features a washer has and make a purchase, only to discover the appliance won’t fit anywhere in their home. Before starting to shop for washers, measure up the amount of space. One benefit front load washers have is the fact dryers can be stacked above or below them, reducing the amount of space this equipment takes up.
If you’re planning on making an investment towards a washing machine, you want to know that the appliance is covered in case of faulty parts or issues which could develop further down the line. Some warranties will offer 10 years of cover on the most expensive part of the washer, so it’s recommended to look for these where possible.
If you have laundry which regularly needs a thorough clean, or tough action on dirt and stains, consider washers which have a built in heater. Not only do these help to adjust the temperature of the water – a useful feature during the winter – hot water will do a better job of cleaning clothes.
Additional features such as time delay and pre-soak can prove useful. For example, you may want to load the washing machine and start it later to avoid the appliance making noise at certain times of the day and night. Furthermore, using pre-soak functions allows consumers to soak their clothes for a certain period of time before the wash cycle begins.
How to clean a front load washer ?
If your front load washing machine is starting to smell, there are a number of ways to clean it and remove mold, mildew and other odors. Here are some tips:
- Clean the gasket: Using a rag or towel dipped in hot soapy water or mildew cleaner, wipe the rubber door gasket, ensuring you cover both underneath and around this area.
- Clean the dispensers: Take out the detergent dispensers and scrub them down. You can use a bottle or pipe cleaner to tackle hard-to-reach areas if these parts can’t be removed from the appliance.
- Use cleaners in an empty cycle: Run an empty wash on either the longest, hottest setting the machine has, or a tub cleaning cycle if this feature is available. Use either a cup of bleach, a cup of baking soda, half a cup of powdered enzymatic dishwasher detergent or a commercial washer cleaner designed to tackle residue with this wash.
To keep your machine clean, follow these tips:
- Let the tub dry: After each wash, leave the door of your front load washer slightly open to let it dry completely. However, if you have children or pets who could be at risk of climbing inside the machine, don’t leave the door open unless it has a specially designed magnet for this purpose.
- Remove loads quickly: Once a wash is finished, don’t leave your garments in there for too long. Some washer models will let you keep laundry ticking over in the machine for set periods of time until you can remove it from the machine.
- Choose the right detergent: Select detergents which are designed for high efficiency (HE) machines. Powder over liquid is usually recommended, as this type of detergent won’t produce as many suds.
- Run hot bleach cycles: Do this around once a month to keep your washing machine looking and smelling fresh.
Using vinegar to clean your front load washing machine
There is ongoing debate about whether vinegar should be used on washing machines. While vinegar is an acidic liquid which will effectively cut through grease and grime, it could also break down seals and hoses, causing them to weaken and eventually break with time. Experts are divided – while some recommend using it in clothing free loads to clean out soap residue, others say it could cause damage to stainless steel tubs. If you do decide to use vinegar as a cleaner for your washing machine, do so occasionally and sparingly to reduce the risk of long term damage.
What is the best front load washer?
This decision will boil down to the type of appliance which is best for your household needs. For example, if you want a high energy rating, go for the Electrolux EFLW317TIW. For effective stain removal, try out the GE GFW450SSMWW. The Kenmore 41302 is good for steam wash and sanitize cycles if you have tough stains and cloth diapers to deal with, while the Kenmore Elite 41072 has a large interior for big loads. Ultimately, it’s all down to personal preference.
Which is better: front load or top load washer?
It’s increasingly being argued that front load washers provide many benefits over top load washing machines. For example, front loading washers are gentler with clothes, and can handle larger items such as pillows and comforters more easily. Furthermore, the reduced energy bill cost and water usage will appeal to any consumer, as will the fact that they can be stacked with dryers in compact spaces. While front loading washers are more expensive, you’ll be getting a higher quality clean – plus these appliances will pay for themselves over time.