You may have wondered if front load washers are really that much better that top load washers. Well I believe they most definitely are, and in this review, I’ll explain why and let you draw your own conclusion.
If you have read how I loathe doing laundry, then you understand why it is so important that I have a washer and dryer that will make doing laundry as painless as possible. When we moved, we left our old washer and drier behind so we needed to buy a new set. Thanks to my hubby (and with some of my own gentle nudging and not so subtle hints) I now have what I believe to be the best washer and dryer I have ever owned. It’s the Whirlpool Duet front loading washer and Whirlpool Duet Steam drier. Instead of buying a top loader, I was able to convince him to get a front load washer.
Everyone realizes that front load washers are at least a few hundred dollars more expensive than their top loading counterparts. Unless you have money to burn, it is a good idea to take a look at why the extra money is going to be worth it, and if you can make up some or all of that money in the long run. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages that need to determine if the extra money is worth it.
First of all, any new washer or drier is going to be more energy efficient than those that are several years old. Front load washers are very efficient. How are they more efficient? Well certainly they use a lot less water. Front load washers can use between 10-15 gallons of water per load. Some top loaders can use up to as much as 40 gallons per load. Front loaders work by spinning the clothes through the water so not as much is needed. Top loaders need enough water to submerge the clothes as it spins them against the agitator (and how often do you get right the selection of what size load you have? More than likely you probably end up wasting more water).
So imagine the potential of saving 25+ gallons of water per load of laundry. Not to mention the fact that you are going to save on the energy (gas or electricity) needed to heat the water, unless you wash everything in cold water.
With my old drier, I would often have to run the clothes through two cycles to get them dry. Often this is a function of how wet the clothes are when you put them into the drier and how large a load you are drying. I never realized how wet the clothes were coming out of my old washing machine until I started using my new front loader. One of the advantages of a front loader is that they can spin at much higher speeds than top loaders. The higher speed spins out more water, leaving the clothes drier when the cycle is completed. However, since they spin at much higher speeds, you’ll want to be sure it’s properly balanced otherwise the shaking may make you think your house has been relocated to the launch pad when the Space Shuttle takes off.
With the high spin rate, it is amazing how dry the clothes are when the spin cycle is complete - I could almost skip the drier altogether and just put them away. This helps to save even more money because as your clothes are not as wet when they go into the drier, your drier doesn’t have to work as hard and use as much energy to dry the clothes. Since your clothes don’t need to be in the drier as long, you can get your laundry done quicker.
At this point you’re probably thinking OK, so maybe there are some savings I’ll get, but is it really going to be enough to make it worth while just for the savings alone?
Yes, it is! Don’t believe me? That’s cool. If you’re a numbers kind of gal, this article breaks down the savings for you in all the categories I mentioned above and shows how the average break even point is about 4 years. I’m sure most people keep their washers and driers at least that long. Lets face it, energy is not getting cheaper so the more you can save with your washer and drier the better (and the shorter the break even period will be).
The advantages of the front load washers from an efficiency standpoint are pretty clear. What else makes them attractive? Well, have you ever tried to jam a king sized comforter in a top load washing machine? Think Rosie O’Donnell in stretch pants…it just ain’t pretty. With a front load washer you can stick a lot more clothes in there, including those large items you probably end up toting off to the dry cleaner. The Whirlpool Duet holds 16 pairs of jeans. Try that in a top loader!
Then of course there is the agitator…doing what it is supposed to do. It agitates and will cause more damage to your clothes than just spinning them through the water in the same way your drier works. It is just not as gentle on your clothes.
Front load washing machines use high efficiency (HE) laundry detergent which is low sudsing. You cannot use the regular detergent you would use with a regular top loader. The method of tumbling the clothes through the water instead of using an agitator would create more suds so you want to be sure to use detergents that are specially formulated for front loaders. You’ll want to look for detergent with the HE logo on it or some mention that it is specifically for front load washing machines.
Years ago it may have been a problem finding HE laundry detergent, but now it’s not much of an issue. You’ll also save money because you will use less detergent. The first bottle of detergent I bought, and it was a big one, lasted me almost 4 months!
And finally, unless you stack them, it’s nice to have another flat surface to use for folding, keeping the laundry basket on, etc. that the front loader provides. The top of a top loader always seems like a convenient shelf until you need to do a load of laundry.
So are there any disadvantages to front load washers besides the up front cost? Well, there are a few things that are different. The main one is that you are going to need to bend down to put the clothes into the washer and take them out. For a lot of people, the bending down to put clothes in and take clothes out of a front load washer with an opening much closer to the floor may present a problem. Of course the manufacturers thought of this and sell pedestals that will raise the washers and driers up. For my particular model there is a 10″ pedestal and a 15.5″ pedestal which would raise up each machine and give me a drawer to store my laundry supplies. On the surface, it seems like a no brainer to get a pair of these. Now remember these machines are very heavy so the pedestals must be strong, but they usually cost on the order of a couple hundred dollars a piece! That’s right, when we bought our new set, Sears wanted $250 per pedestal!
Now fortunately, I am young enough that my back is still in pretty good shape and I knew my husband wasn’t going to go for that. Can you image what kind of day at the spa I could have for $500 bucks? Seriously, I don’t know what the pedestals are made of, but it seems like a lot of money for what you get. So if you want to raise up your washer and dryer and make it easier to load and unload the clothes, just be prepared to pay for it.
There is another disadvantage, which is trivial, but a disadvantage nonetheless. We’ve all had this happen. You put all the laundry in your machine and start it up. It’s chugging away and you find some wayward sock or stray pair of underwear that you forgot your husband didn’t get in the hamper or shoved under the bed. After cursing him, you decide to open the lid, flip it in, and go on your merry way. That works great for a top loader, but not so much for a front loader. Once the water starts filling the tub, the door is locked and mister stinky sock is going to have to wait for the next go around. Well, sort of. There is an unlock/pause button and once pressed, the machine will unlock itself when it is safe (when the water gets to a point where it can stop filling the machine) to open the door so you can add something. However, you still risk a little water dripping out off of the door when you open it so unless you really need to add something, it is not worth the aggravation.
I have had my front loader washer and drier almost a year and I must say, I do highly recommend them. I like mine in particular, but even if you choose not to go with a Whirlpool, I suggest that if you are in the market for a new washer, seriously consider a front loading one. I absolutely love mine. Don’t get me wrong, I STILL loathe doing laundry. But I’ll admit, having these new machines does make my laundry experience a little less painful.
Does it ever end? We are only a family of four and I can’t keep up with the laundry. What do larger families do? The one that always comes to mind when I ask myself that question is that Utah family with 18 kids. The Duggar family. Have you heard of them? I once saw a documentary on them and they do seem to have a finely tuned, smooth operation going there. Geez with 18 kids (and counting) you’d have to have to have organization down to a science right? Anyway never mind all of that. What I really want to know is…how does this woman even still have a uterus? Seriously. And does she EVER sleep? More importantly, with 18 kids, who in the hell has time for sex?!? Good God I barely had enough energy to make the dough for bun number two! Not to mention, Mrs. Duggar has been pregnant 18 times (that we know of). Did I mention how amazed I am that the woman still has a uterus? God bless her. I couldn’t do it. But I digress…back to the topic at hand: laundry.
It’s not so much of actually doing the laundry that I hate. It’s putting it all away. I don’t mind folding it but I freakin HATE putting it away. Especially when I lived in a house where the laundry room was on the main floor. Must have been a MAN that drew up the plans for that place! Yeah, what a real genius he was. He obviously didn’t consider that not only would one have to lug all of the dirty laundry downstairs, but she’d (cuz we all know 9 times out of 10 it is the woman who’ll be doing it) also have to bring it all back upstairs and put it away once it was all clean. That right there was when I decided that I despise doing laundry.
What a royal pain in the ass it was to carry it all back upstairs (God forbid I had a basement and the washer and dryer were down there). Getting it downstairs wasn’t as much of a big deal because where our laundry room was, I could just throw it all down from the second floor and it would land in the hallway right outside the laundry room. It did serve as quick entertainment for the kids though as they climbed up Mount Dirty Duds. However, it obviously wasn’t as easy to bring the washed version back up. And I am not that much of a lazy person…really. All I can say is that my constant bitching finally paid off because it was one of the rare occasions when my husband was listening to me. He went and bought me an awesome washer and dryer for my birthday. I’m guessing he figured if it was a state of the art washer and dryer with all of the bells and whistles (which it really is), then I would actually enjoy the dreaded task of washing clothes. Sorry hunny. Find me one that will wash, dry, fold and put it all away too and then we’re in business!
So, what is the moral of the story? Don’t buy a two-story house with a main floor laundry room! Unless of course your master bedroom is located there too. Still doesn’t help with the kids clothes though so scratch that: Don’t buy a house with a main floor laundry room OR master bedroom!
I’m serious ladies. My husband and I are currently house hunting and I won’t even look at the house if it has a main floor utility room. And I am NOT budging on that one!