5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports Puts Washing Machines to the Test

Posted June 7, 2007 5:44 p.m. EDT
Updated June 10, 2007 8:40 a.m. EDT

— When you buy a new washing machine, you expect it to do the job. But Consumer Reports tests show several of the newest washers are not up to it.

Federal regulations that require washers to use less energy could be one reason why.

Recent tests by Consumer Reports found washers with a center-post agitator, which are less expensive, are mediocre at cleaning.

One of the ways manufacturers are meeting the new energy standards is by lowering the hot and warm water wash temperatures. That tends to lower cleaning ability, the tests showed.

To test washing machines, Consumer Reports washed swatches that had been stained with cocoa, charcoal and sebum, or what is known as ring around the collar.

Several of the top-loading washers didn't clean well, according to Celia Lehrman with Consumer Reports.

If you need a new washer, Consumer Reports said front-loaders offer the best combination of cleaning ability and energy efficiency. But, they're expensive.

The high-rated Whirlpool Duet is $1,200. The top-rated LG Steam-Washer model is $1,500.

If you don't need a new machine right now, Consumer Reports suggests waiting until prices come down or until conventional top-loaders score better in cleaning tests.

When replacing your washer, Consumer Reports said don't automatically replace your dryer. And there's no need to buy a dryer that matches. You'll pay a couple of hundred dollars premium for a matching dryer.