LG WM8000HWA
LG WM8000HWA

Best washing machine

No washing machine draws more praise than the LG WM8000HWA (offered in white) or its graphite-steel-clad identical twin, the LG WM8000HVA (Est. $1,100). It's packed with features to make cleaning clothes and maintaining the washer better and easier. Cleaning performance is well liked, and the washer earns the 2014 Energy Star Most Efficient designation.
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Samsung WF56H9100AG
Samsung WF56H9100AG

High capacity front load washer

While the LG WM8000 HWA holds a lot of clothes, the Samsung WF56H9100AG holds a LOT of clothes -- its 5.6 cubic foot washing basket is the largest of any residential machine. The machine is fast, and most reports peg cleaning performance as very good or better. It's feature packed as well, and earns an Energy Star Most Efficient designation. The washer comes in black (onyx) but you can save a bit by opting for the WF56H9100AW (Est. $1,440), which is the same machine, but in white.
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LG WM3050CW
LG WM3050CW

Cheap front-load washing machine

The LG WM3050CW lacks most of the special features found in upscale front-load washers. It also lacks their high price. Though this washer is among the cheapest front loader's currently available, it's cleaning ability and energy efficiency are excellent.
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LG WT1001CW
LG WT1001CW

Best top-load washer

If you are not quite ready to make the jump to a front-load machine, or unwilling to sacrifice the extras that front loaders in this price class omit, the top loading LG WT1001CW is an excellent choice. Its streamlined design moves controls and readouts to the front lip of the washer. Other features include SmartDiagnosis, which can help eliminate unneeded service calls. Capacity is on the small side at 3.6 cubic feet, but that's enough to handle the laundry load of a typical family. Cleaning performance is excellent, and efficiency is good.
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Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW
Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW

Best cheap washer

The Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW proves that a low price doesn't necessarily mean low performance. It's excellent at getting clothes clean, though you might want to steer clear of using it on your most delicate items. There are few special features and the user controls are very basic. This is a high-efficiency washer so water and electricity use are relatively low -- though most front loaders are better still in that regard.
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Comparing reviews of washing machines

Washing machines come in two styles: top loaders and front loaders. In general, front-loading washing machines are the most efficient type -- but they are also more expensive than top loaders.

We found the most current and credible reviews for both types at ConsumerReports.org. The website includes ratings for more than 70 front-loading washers and more than 60 top loaders, each of which is rated on such factors as cleaning power, efficiency, gentleness to clothes and noise level. ConsumerReports.org also allows owners to write reviews for the specific models they test. However, like their ratings, these owner-written reviews are available only to subscribers.

Another reliable source, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, evaluates 26 washing machines for cleaning power, ease of use and gentleness. Energy use is also factored into the final ratings. Overseas consumer publications -- such as Australia's Choice and Britain's Which? magazines -- also review washing machines. These washers typically are not sold in the U.S., but test results can reveal how available brands fare in general.

Owner-written reviews are useful for gauging long-term durability, something that isn't measured in professional tests. We found the best user reviews for washers at retailer sites such as BestBuy.com, AJMadison.com, HomeDepot.com and Lowes.com. Other sites, including Viewpoints.com and Epinions.com, also offer feedback, but they generally provide fewer user reviews.

Institutional sources do not recommend specific models but still offer insight into the pros and cons of certain brands. For instance, the 2011 Home Appliance Study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates evaluates consumer satisfaction with different washing machine brands, based on a survey of more than 5,600 consumers who had recently purchased a new washer. Each brand is rated on such factors as features, performance, warranty and price. The government's Energy Star program and the nonprofit Consortium for Energy Efficiency provide valuable consumer information about the energy and water efficiency of particular washers.

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