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Washing Machines Buying Guide

Imagine the days before washing machines? It must have been exhausting to tackle all of that scrubbing, churning, emptying, and rinsing. Today, thankfully, we have fully automated washing machines that can tackle the filthiest clothes right down to the most delicate linens, and all with the push of a button.

That does not mean that all washing machines are alike, however, and if you are about to buy one it really pays to understand your choices. It also helps to understand just how your choices will impact your household budget as well as the environment.


The Styles

Today, we have two different styles of washing machines - the front loader and the top loader. Many consumers already understand that the front loaders are the best choice for those who worry about energy and water consumption and general all-around performance. These are also the machines that never "walk" because they have a fast spin speed and a horizontal rather than a vertical direction. The front-loading washers are also much gentler on garments.

The top loading washing machines are usually chosen because they are cheaper and because they allow for optimal control. This latter issue is due to the fact that you can open and stop a top loading washer at any point in the cycle, while the front loaders cannot be stopped at all.

The top loaders are found in two variations, and these are the impeller and agitator types. The impeller is less familiar as it sits at the bottom of the wash tub and spins the water and garments. It is the agitator that most recognize, and features a central pole in the drum which agitates the water and moves the items in the water.


The Capacities

Once you determine the style of machine suitable to your needs and budget, you then have to take the issue of capacity into consideration. This is often expressed by the amount of weight it can handle, with figures around 6kg being the lowest and 8kg being the highest.

When you are buying a washing machine, even if it is going to be the most affordable model you can find, keep the capacity in mind. It can be very inefficient to run two loads because you chose a smaller machine.

Also take the programs available to the unit into consideration too. Many washing machines have common "cycles" such as cold, hot, and even spin or rinse cycles. You do want to have access to controls over the cycles, and even additional functions. The most modern machines have special sensors that can identify your needs by such things as weight or the amount of debris released in the preliminary rinse. These are great features, but they can boost the price of a machine without actually offering a lot of use. Just be sure you can control the temperatures, length of the cycle, and the size of the load.

Finally, as you consider washing machines, you may need to consider the amount of time it takes for the different machines to handle a load. The top loaders are very quick while the front loaders are notoriously slow in their cycles. This can mean that electricity usage is more than anticipated.


Choosing by Efficiency

There are also many efficiency ratings available for washing machines and the WELS, the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme, lets consumers know about the efficiency of any washing machine by giving it a rating of 0 to 6. With six being the most efficient model available. Machines may also feature an Energy Star Rating that will give a 0 to 10 figure, with the higher number indicating better energy management.


Final Considerations

As you begin to search for the best washing machine for your needs, take into consideration such things as the looks of the unit, the ease of use, and even what materials are used in construction. Each and every one of these factors will play a part in how long the machine lasts and how much you like it.

For example, if you want a small machine for an apartment or a smaller home, you will want to explore the front-loading options. However, you might care more about speed and opt to invest in a smaller capacity top loader.

Be sure you investigate the quality of the display and the durability of all of the materials used. You want a costly product like a washing machine to last many years and if you invest in a cheaper model with weak knobs or easily broken buttons, it is not likely that you will get your investment out of that machine.

Do some online comparison shopping to see what others have to say, and don't ever base the decision entirely on the price of the unit, as this may not be an accurate reflection of its quality.