Home Tech The best washing machines for 2020

The best washing machines for 2020

The smart home team at Digital Trends has spent roughly 10,000 hours testing appliances. Based on this testing, as well as additional research, our pick for the best washing machine is the Electrolux EFLS527UIW Front-Load Washer with LuxCare Wash System.

The Electrolux EFLS527UIW is user friendly, and it truly does an exceptional job at cleaning clothes. But, if you want something bigger, smarter, more affordable, or maybe just something from a different brand, we’ve included our picks for the best large-capacity washer, the best front load washer, the best top load washer, the best smart washing machine, and the best cheap washing machine.

At a glance

The best: Electrolux EFLS527UIW Front-Load Washer with LuxCare Wash System

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Why we picked the Electrolux EFLS527UIW Front Load Washer with LuxCare Wash System

The Electrolux Perfect Steam front-load washer might look slightly different with its large dial and adaptive detergent dispenser, but it’s what’s inside the machine that really makes it special. It’s specifically designed to accept detergent pods, along with other types of detergents.

With only nine cycles, the 4.3-cubic-foot washer might seem a little light on the options, but you still get steam clean and sanitize settings, along with a StainTreat feature for tough stains. StainTreat creates the ideal washing environment based on the specific stain you select.

The LuxCare Wash System makes it so the machine has smart load sensing, automatic water level adjustment, and temperature control; and, the fast wash setting takes only 18 minutes. Like other Electrolux machines, it has a reversible washer door, and it’s quiet enough to live on your second floor.

The best large-capacity washer: Kenmore Elite 41072 Front-Load Washer

Electrolux Perfect Steam EFLS617SIW Front-Load Washer

Why we picked the Kenmore Elite 41072 Front-Load Washer

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With the Kenmore Elite 41072, you can expect to get a lot of laundry done and get it done fast. Its oversized 5.2-cubic-foot capacity is capable of churning 16 pounds of laundry, though if you only toss in half that, you can expect to get a good clean in 15 minutes with the Express Wash. It should also be able to wash your comforters, saving you a trip to the laundromat. For serious stains and soils, there’s a SteamTreat option and a Sanitize setting, which meets NSF standards and kills 99.9 percent of bacteria.

The dial with all the cycles looks sleek, and the 14 options themselves are straightforward: You know what you’re getting with names like rugged, workout wear, and whitest whites. And while that many cycles may seem like overkill, they’re all supposed to save you time. The kids wear setting, for example, is meant for set-in stains but also runs through an extra rinse to keep detergent off sensitive skin.

It’s not the biggest washer we’ve seen. Newish mega-capacity washers can offer as much as 5.7 cubic feet of space and wash over 20 pounds of clothes at a time. When it comes to features, size, and performance, this Kenmore is still cavernous and has the cleaning quality to match.

The best front load washer: Samsung FlexWash

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Why we picked the Samsung FlexWash:

We had the opportunity to test a version of the Samsung FlexWash in-house and — truth be told — this model gave our overall pick a run for its money. In total, the FlexWash has a decent amount of space inside the machine (the front-load compartment has a capacity of 4.5 cubic feet, and the smaller top compartment includes one cubic foot inside). This dual setup allows you to wash two separate loads at the same time.

This means long gone — at least in theory — are the days of lazily stuffing your colors, whites, and darks into a single cold wash to save time. Similarly, the small albeit more than adequate top washer allows you to clean small daily loads and minimize the daunting weekly laundry day chore. You can also connect with your washer via the paired Samsung app to monitor cycles, remaining time, and other data, meaning you never have to prematurely leave your La-Z-Boy in the name of laundry ever again.

With Wi-Fi connectivity, SmartThings compatibility, vibration reduction technology to reduce noise, and a variety of settings for your clothing, this washer is extremely feature rich. Nonetheless, the FlexWash isn’t without its flaws — our only real gripe about the FlexWash is the overall size of the unit. With a base height of almost 47 inches, this washer is nearly tall enough to ride a host of roller coasters without an adult chaperone. That said, those with an already cramped laundry room should steer clear of this brute, however, those looking for a Swiss Army knife of a washer will be more than pleased with this beastly beaut.

The best top load washer: Samsung WA50M7450AW

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Why we picked the Samsung WA50M7450AW: 

This top-load, HE machine by Samsung is a great value. At 5.0-cubic-foot, the washer is large enough for a family. Or, if you’re a smaller household, you can use the large size to your advantage and do laundry less often. With VRT Plus technology (like the FlexWash), your washer will run quietly and you won’t have to hear machine rumbling while you’re trying to relax after a hard day. Complete with 11 preset wash cycles and seven customization options for things like temperature and speed, you can wash virtually any type of clothing in this washer (well, almost).

Since this model is on the more affordable end of the price spectrum, you won’t get features like a sanitizing or allergy cycle, and it doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. However, you should have everything you need with this Samsung HE washer. It even has a self clean feature to keep the stainless steel drum clean.

The best smart washer: LG WM9000HVA High-Efficiency Smart Front Load Washer with TurboWash

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Why we picked the LG WM9000HVA High-Efficiency Smart Front Load Washer with TurboWash

This LG washer has a 5.2-cubic-foot capacity, so you don’t have to worry too much about overloading it with clothes or blankets. It has 14 different programs, including a speed wash, sanitize, and tub clean program. TurboWash is effective at stain-fighting, and there are sanitize and allergen cycles for killing unseen ickies.

This washer isn’t just smart for the sake of being smart. The washer’s LG SmartThinQ app can help you diagnose and fix problems with the washer before a repair person shows up at your home. You can also select a cycle, start or stop your washer, and get notifications about when your laundry will be done. It’s compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant too.

It’s also compatible with the LG SideKick Pedestal Washer, so you can do two loads at once if you opt for that add-on. No more having to wait to wash your kid’s dirty soccer uniform or a small load of dark clothing.

The best cheap washing machine: Kenmore 25132 Top-Load Washer

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Why we picked the Kenmore 25132 Top-Load Washer:

If there’s one thing that makes many top loaders attractive, it’s their price, and the Kenmore 25132 is no exception. While you won’t find a lot of the added features included with front-load machines, this appliance still has a wide variety of cycles and temperatures to choose from and a spacious 4.3 cubic feet of capacity — enough to was 19 towels at once, according to Kenmore. There’s even a bulky/bedding cycle to go with that space.

It lacks the deep-clean steam option found on pricier washers, but the stain boost helps clean up messes by letting clothes soak a while longer. Having that built-in means you won’t have to pretreat as many stains. For smaller loads you need clean ASAP, there’s an express cycle that will take around 45 minutes.

The control panel favors knobs over buttons, and there are quite a few: One to turn the stain boost on or off, one to include fabric softener or not, one to set temperatures, one to add an extra rinse, and the main one for the cycles. All of that makes navigating the options fairly intuitive and less likely you’ll forget to push a button amid a cluttered interface.

This Kenmore model uses more water than its front-loader counterparts, but it does offer a lot of features for its price.

Research and buying tips

How do I choose the best washing machine?

When buying a washing machine, there are a variety of factors you’ll want to consider. In addition to considering your preferences, your budget, and making sure your machine fits your laundry room, you’ll also want think about the size of your household and the characteristics of each person (and their clothing). Do you have fashion-savvy teenagers? Does your household contain business people who need to care for professional attire? Or, perhaps you live with people who typically just need to wash sweats, jeans, and t-shirts?

If you have a large household and the people in your home have a variety of different types of clothing, you might need a higher-end washer with different care options and cycles. If you have kids, you might need a machine that’s a beast at fighting stains. On the other hand, if you have a household of adults who wear easy-to-wash fabrics like polyester and cotton, you can probably go with a more basic and inexpensive washing machine.

What is the best washing machine brand?

LG is one of the most reliable front-load and HE washing machine brands, according to Consumer Reports data. Brands like Maytag, Kenmore, Electrolux, Samsung, Whirlpool, and GE also earn high marks in terms of reliability.

How does a front load washing machine work compared to a top load?

A front-load washer fills a stainless steel drum with a small amount of water (to a level below the door’s opening). Then, the drum spins and the laundry gets caught in vanes and travels to the top of the machine and back down.

A top-load washer usually has a ceramic drum, and it fills up with more water. An agitator moves the clothing around the drum to get the clothes clean.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both types. A front-load washer uses less water and tends to be gentler on fabrics. However, front-loaders can be more expensive than they’re top-load counterparts, and a front-loader also requires more bending over.

Does a washing machine sanitize clothing?

Hot water alone will not necessarily kill bacteria, as the washer’s hot water temp is typically only around 130 degrees. If you use a disinfectant, like Lysol or bleach, you can sanitize your clothing in the washing machine. Lysol Laundry Sanitizer claims to kill 99.9% of bacteria if you add it to the rinse cycle.

What features should I look for in a washing machine?

A big mistake some people make when choosing a washer is opting for an overly cheap machine and compromising on features that make their life easier. Reliability, value, and compatibility are paramount. But, it’s also important that you don’t buy a washer that makes you hate laundry day even more because it doesn’t do what you need it to. If you need to wash your kid’s uniform separately from your clothes, shell out the extra cash for a dual wash machine. If you need a large machine, pay the extra cash for a larger capacity washer. You’ll be happy you did come laundry day.

What does a smart washing machine do?

Smart washing machines connect to your smart home network via Wi-Fi so you can operate the machine remotely, voice control the machine, and get status updates and messages pertaining to the maintenance and well being of your washer.

How do I clean my washing machine?

Between each cycle, leave the door opened and allow your washer to air dry. This will help prevent mildew from building up in your machine. You can also run a cycle of vinegar through your empty washer, purchase washing machine cleaning products like wipes or tablets, and run a clean cycle. Learn more about how to clean a washing machine here.

Can I use regular detergent in an HE washer?

No. Using regular non-HE detergent in an HE machine is not recommended.

Can I use HE detergent in a regular washer?

Yes. HE detergent is designed for machines that use less energy and water, but you can HE detergent it in a regular machine provided you read the instructions to determine the correct amount to apply for the size of your load.

How long does a washing machine last?

You should expect your washing machine to last at least 8 to 12 years provided you maintain it properly.

How do I know if my washing machine needs replaced?

If your washing machine isn’t performing the way you want it to, if your machine is making your life harder (instead of easier), if it’s leaking, or if it’s using too much energy or water, these are all good reasons to replace your washer.

Should I buy a washing machine now or wait?

Many people think the best time to buy a washer is when theirs dies mid-cycle. But if you have some advanced warning, it can be beneficial to wait. Many manufacturers start rolling out new products in September or October, meaning retailers want to make room for the new inventory.

However, that’s not a hard-and-fast rule, and stores often have frequent deals coinciding with holidays. It’s not just Black Friday. Memorial Day, Labor Day, President’s Day all feature bargains.

It might behoove you to find out if your local appliance dealer has an annual blowout sale. One located in Seattle, for example, has a yearly sale in early November that draws crowds looking for lower prices.

How does Digital Trends test washing machines?

Washers are a big purchase for anyone, and doing research before purchasing a new appliance is key. If you’ve read our reviews, you may wonder how we reach our conclusions. We like to take into account both benchmarks and less objective metrics like design. Because our washers are open for the whole Digital Trends office to use, we solicit a lot of feedback from our staffers when considering things like ease of use. This means that we take into account more than just one or two people’s opinions, and it also means the washers go through a fair amount of cycles by the time we’re done with them. Here we explain our testing procedures a bit more in-depth.

Editors’ Recommendations

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