Simple Buyer’s Guide for a Washer – Find Your Ideal Model

On average, 13.3 million washers are purchased each year in the United States. With so many options available, it can be challenging to figure out which one is the right choice for you.

After all, a washing machine can last more than 10 years, so I’m sure you want to make the right decision to avoid being stuck with a leaking washer or strange-smelling clothes.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. With 7 years of experience repairing and covering appliances, I’ve created a list of key factors you should consider when buying a washer.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the differences between the main types of washers, and their modern features (and the ones you can skip), as well as answer your most common questions about buying a washer.

So, whether you’re a first-time buyer or want to replace your current washing machine, keep reading our expert advice and relax knowing you’ve got a washer you can rely on.

Types of Washing Machines

When making a purchase decision, you should take into consideration the different types of washing machines.

Their differences in design and functionality make this the first factor to consider when looking for a new washing machine.

Keep reading to learn more about their differences:

Front Load Washing Machines

The easiest way to recognize these washing machines is by looking at their door, which is located at the front of the unit.

Font-load washing machine
A front-load washer loads from the front side.

To get your clothes clean, front load washers use a tumbling motion in a horizontal drum. In addition to their design, these washers use less water and electricity than top-load machines to operate, are normally gentler on clothes, and typically have a larger capacity.

However, it’s important to consider that front-load washers are usually more expensive than top-loading machines and require more maintenance.

Top-Load Washing Machines

Unlike front-load washing machines, top-load washers have a lid on the top of the unit, which makes loading the clothes in the machine a lot easier.

Top-load-washing machine
A top-load washing machine is loaded from the top.

These washers come with an agitator or with an impeller to move the clothes around the drum and clean them. When choosing between these types, bear in mind that agitators are great for heavily soiled clothes and large loads, and impellers are great for delicate clothes.

Top-load washing machines typically have a smaller capacity than front-load washers, but can fit into smaller spaces.


As its name implies, a washer-dryer integrates both functions into a single appliance, which is great if you have limited space.

Washer-dryers are ideal for small families, as they have a smaller capacity than other types of washing machines.

Bear in mind that while washer-dryers can be convenient, they may not perform as well as separate washing and drying machines. They also require more maintenance, as their functions are integrated into a single unit.

Washer Buying Considerations

Now that we’ve covered the main differences between the different types of washing machines, let’s dive into other important factors to consider when buying a washer.

#1 Size

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a new washing machine is the available space.

You see, having a narrow space to install your appliance may impact your decision when selecting a top-load or front-load washer. For instance, if you have limited space, you may need to consider buying a front-load washer.

To ensure that your new washing machine fits perfectly in the designated space, I recommend measuring the height, depth, and width of the area. Then, write these measurements down and refer to them when browsing for your new washer.

Measure the designated space to make sure your new washing machine fits perfectly.

When measuring the space for your washer, ensure it has enough breathing room. You’ll need to leave at least 4 inches (10.16 cm) of space between your appliance and the wall.

This way, you’ll prevent heat buildup and keep the hoses from bending.

#2 Capacity

If you’re thinking of buying a new washing machine, you’ve probably noticed there are different capacities (small, medium, and large capacity).

But how can you choose the right washer capacity to ensure the best cleaning results?

Simple. You’ll need to consider the size of your household and the weight of laundry per load.

The following table will help you define the capacity required for your washing machine:

Small Capacity (1.5-3.4 cubic feet)Medium Capacity (3.5-4.4 cubic feet)Large Capacity (4.5+ cubic feet)
Household Size1–2 people2–3 people3 or more people
Lb/kg of Laundry Per Load4 to 8 lb (1.8 to 3.6 kg)12 to 16 lb (5.4 to 7.2 kg)16 to 20 lb (7.2 to 9 kg)
You can find the capacity of a washer on the manufacturer’s website.

If you’re wondering how much your average load of laundry weighs, you can step on a scale without holding the laundry basket. Then, weigh yourself holding the basket to calculate the difference.

When in doubt, you should choose a washer with a slightly larger capacity to ensure that it can handle larger loads or items, such as a king-size comforter.

#3 Features

Once you have defined the size and capacity that your washing machine should have, it is important to take into account the different features available.

You see, there are some features that are essential for getting the best results. But, to be honest with you, there are other features that I think are unnecessary, and it’s better to save your money.

The features I recommend looking for when buying a new washing machine are:

  • Automatic dispenser: This feature automatically dispenses the correct amount of detergent, bleach, and fabric softener at the right time during the wash cycle. I recommend looking for this feature, as it will help you get the best results, reduce waste, and save money.
  • Auto-sensing: Automatically adjusts the level of water depending on the size of the load. This feature helps you save water and ensures your clothes come out fully clean when the wash cycle is finished.
  • Noise-reducing feature: It reduces the amount of noise produced during the wash cycle. This is a must-have feature if you work from home or if your washer is near your bedroom.
  • Extra rinse cycle: Most modern washing machines offer this additional rinse cycle to remove any detergent residue that might be left in your clothes. I strongly recommend this feature if you have sensitive skin or heavily soiled clothes. But, bear in mind that selecting this cycle may increase your water and energy bills.
  • Child lock: If you have kids, I strongly recommend looking for a washing machine that supports this feature, as it keeps them from accidentally tweaking the settings and getting hurt.

You may come across washing machines that connect to Wi-Fi and are compatible with home systems, allowing you to monitor your laundry using your phone. However, this feature may not be worth the extra cost, as these washers may require more maintenance without offering any other significant benefits.

You’ll also find washing machines that offer a steam feature that is supposed to reduce wrinkles and sanitize your clothes.

However, according to Consumer Reports, this feature doesn’t improve the washer’s cleaning ability and can increase water consumption by 18 gallons. This is why I recommend avoiding this feature to save some money.

#4 Efficiency

When choosing a new washing machine, you should consider how much water and energy it uses. This way, not only will you save money, but you’ll also protect the environment.

I recommend looking for a High-Efficiency or Energy Star-certified washer, as it can help you save up to 20% on electricity costs (which adds up over years!). On top of that, it uses about 30% less water than regular washing machines.

But, bear in mind that the amount of water and energy used can vary depending on the size of the load, the selected cycle, and the type of washing machine.

For example, front-load washers are designed to use less water, thus energy, than top-load machines.

So, if you’re looking to save some extra money and be eco-friendly at the same time, a front-load washing machine might be a great choice for you!

Tip: If you’re going to buy a High-Efficiency washing machine, please consider that you’ll need to use a HE detergent to prevent excessive suds and avoid damaging your appliance.

Use high-efficiency laundry detergent
High-Efficiency detergents have an “HE” symbol on their packaging.

#5 Price

As you probably imagined, the price of washing machines can vary depending on their type, size, capacity, and features.

Washing machine prices can vary greatly, some models cost $400, while others can reach up to $3,400! But, the average is usually around $900. Just keep in mind that, typically, top-load washers are more affordable than front-load machines.

You see, front-load washers typically cost more than top-load washers because they have a more complex design and advanced technology.

Washing machine price
When buying a new washing machine, you should consider different factors, such as your budget, features, and water consumption.

But, remember that they can use less water and energy and have a larger capacity, which can save you money in the long run!

#6 Materials

Moving on, it’s also important to consider the material of the drum when purchasing a washing machine.

You see, plastic drums are very popular in affordable washers; however, I don’t recommend this material because it can easily develop strange odors and get damaged when using hot water.

Porcelain-coated drums aren’t recommended either, as they can get chipped by zippers or other metal objects. When this happens, the exposed steel can begin to rust.

This is why I suggest looking for a washing machine with a stainless steel drum. This material is more durable, rust-resistant, and easier to clean.

Stainless steel washer drum
Stainless steel drums are typically more resistant.

But, bear in mind that washers with a stainless steel drum can be more expensive.

#7 Wash Programs

You should also make sure the washing machine you want to buy has the programs or cycles you need.

For example, some washing machines have a “Delicate” setting, which is great if you want to take extra care of your fancy clothes.

But, be careful not to get a washer that has too many cycles that you don’t really need. For instance, some washing machines come with special settings, such as “Babies”, “Pets”, or “Sportswear” that might not be relevant to your lifestyle.

If you’re like me, and live alone or have a small family, you probably only need a few basic cycles, and getting a simpler washer might be the right choice.

#8 Reviews

If you’ve already considered all the 7 factors mentioned before and have a few specific washer models in mind, but are still having a hard time making a decision, I recommend reading reviews.

Reviews can help you learn about the experience other customers have had with the product and give you an indication of the washer’s effectiveness.

If you see that the washing machine has lots of positive reviews, it’s a good sign that it will meet your expectations. However, if you notice that there are a lot of negative reviews, it might be worth considering another option…it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

You can easily search for the reviews by entering the washing machine brand and model number you’re planning to buy on Amazon’s or Home Depot’s search bar.

Choosing Your Washer

Now that we’ve covered all the factors to consider when buying a new washing machine, it’s time to make a decision.

Remember to take into consideration your lifestyle, space, and budget. For instance, if you have a big family and do multiple laundry loads per week, a large-capacity (4.5 + cubic feet) front-load washer might be a good fit for you.

If you care about the environment and want to save water (and money), you should also consider buying a front-load washer, as it uses less water and energy than top-load machines. Don’t forget to look for a High-Efficiency or Energy Star-certified washer.

On the other hand, if you have limited space and a tight initial budget, a front-load washer might be the way to go.

When buying a new washer, don’t forget to consider the features that can simplify your laundry routine, such as the automatic dispenser or auto-sensing feature.

Keep in mind that the ultimate decision will depend on your unique needs and preferences. Try ranking our recommendations based on what’s most important to you.

Then, take time to carefully evaluate your options and make the right choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the most reliable washing machine brand?

When it comes to washing machines, the best brand for you will depend on your needs.
People in the United States prefer Whirlpool, LG, GE, and Samsung. These brands have excellent reviews, which could be a good sign that they’re reliable.

How long do washing machines last?

On average, washing machines last for about 10 to 14 years. But, this can vary depending on the brand, how often you use it, and how well you take care of it. Some washers can have a shorter lifespan if not well-maintained.

What size of washer do I need to wash a king-size comforter?

If you’ll wash big comforters, I suggest getting a washer with a larger capacity (4.5+ cubic feet). Remember, it’s best to wash the comforter by itself, this way it can move freely and get cleaned evenly.