Bargain washers improve in latest tests

LOS ANGELES One year ago, some washers' cleaning abilities had slipped as manufacturers struggled to comply with new energy standards. But as we found out when we teamed up with Consumer Reports, the latest washing machines are working better.

Consumer Reports' tests show the new load of washing machines have a lot more to offer for your money, whether it's a front-loader or top-loader. Tester Emilio Gonzalez ran multiple trials on washing machines, including a tough stain test for washing capability.

"We get swatches of cloth that are uniformly stained with various substances and tested how well the washers removed those stains," said Gonzalez.

Consumer Reports also tested the machines to see how gentle they are on clothes. Testers washed cloths with precisely cut holes.

"After washing, we then counted the number of loose threads. The higher number of threads, the rougher the machine was on the clothing," said Gonzalez.

The testers found most front-loading washers are gentler on your clothes and use less energy and water. While they generally cost over $1,000, Consumer Reports found a Frigidaire washer (GLTF2940F) that retails for $650 and named it a best buy.

"Top-loaders are usually less expensive and they have shorter cycle times, but they haven't been cleaning as well as front-loaders," said Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman from Consumer Reports. "This time in our tests, we've found several inexpensive top-loaders that did clean nearly as well."

Consumer Reports also named one G.E. top-loader (WJRE5500GWW) a best buy. It retails for $480.

Both of the best buy washers have high capacity, meaning fewer loads to do.

You should be aware front-loading washing machines have longer wash cycles than top-loaders, with some running an hour-and-a-half or more. But the Consumer Reports best buy Frigidaire top-loader mentioned in this report is an exception -- it takes just over an hour.


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