Front load washers get higher ratings from experts than top loaders, because they are able to clean clothes just as effectively as a front loader while using less water in the process. Front loaders tend to be more expensive up front, but the cost of ownership over time will be lower. They're also gentler on clothes, so you may want to take that into account as well.
Among front-load washers -- and, indeed, washing machines of all types -- no model earns more acclaim than the graphite steel LG WM8000HVA (Est. $1,200) and its white-cabinet identical twin, the LG WM8000HWA (Est. $1,150). The washers are recommended across the board by every expert who has reviewed them. Testers at Good Housekeeping found that the washer was gentle on clothing, yet cleaned well, especially in its normal cycle. They also noted that the washer did an exceptional job in its water retention tests; that means that clothes could need less time in the dryer, resulting potentially in even additional savings in energy costs. Overall, the washer earns a 4.5-star rating.
Elsewhere, an independent tester found that the WM8000HVA is a little on the slow side, taking 100 minutes to finish a load (though a TurboWash feature cuts that without decreasing cleaning performance). However that's not enough to keep it from being recommended. This LG washer is energy efficient, easy on clothes and its 5.2 cubic-feet capacity means that it holds lots of laundry, even king-sized comforters will fit, which owners say saves them time and money having to take them to a separate laundry facility. "If you've got a big family, or really hate doing laundry more than once a week, the LG WM8000HVA may actually change your life," says Jonathan Chan at Reviewed.com. Users agree, and we saw a number of comments that the washer saves them so much time that they feel that only increases its overall value.
And, speaking of value, energy efficiency is a particular strength for the LG WM8000HVA. At Reviewed.com, where the washer earns both Editors' Choice and Best of Year honors, Chan estimates yearly electricity and water usage to run about $30 on average. It is also Energy Star Certified. Experts also note that this LG washer removes more water in the spin cycle, thus saving time and money on drying times as well. Other features include steam technology to remove deep dirt while keeping wrinkles to a minimum. SmartDiagnosis cuts down on service calls by allowing remote troubleshooting either via telephone or a smartphone app. The warranty is for one year, while the motor is covered for 10. It pairs with a top-reviewed dryer, too, the LG DLEX8000W, which we review in our separate report on clothes dryers.
If you like the LG WM8000HVA, but want a slightly different look, Reviewed.com notes that the Kenmore Elite 41072 (Est. $1,200) is modeled upon the LG, but with a few Kenmore-exclusive touches. Those touches include a simplified user interface, something that's appreciated by the experts at Reviewed.com and Good Housekeeping. In fact, it's the top rated washer overall at Reviewed.com, with a perfect score of 10 out of 10, and earning both Best of Year and Editor's Choice awards. Still, "Whether you choose the 41072 or the nearly identical WM8000HVA depends on availability and sale pricing," Chan says. "Either one is a good choice." The Kenmore Elite 41072 comes in white. The Kenmore Elite 41073 (Est. $1,300) is the same washer in metallic silver.
While you can put a lot of clothes into the LG WM8000HVA/WM8000HWA and the two Kenmore washers, there are front-loading washers that can hold even more. Among those, the Samsung WF56H9100AG (Est. $1,300) is perhaps the most notable. Like the LG washer, the Samsung WF56H9100AG earns raves from virtually every expert. Good Housekeeping awards it an even higher 4.5-star rating, Reviewed.com grants it an Editors' Choice award, and others make it a solid "Recommended" choice in comparative roundups.
Reviewed.com says that the Samsung WF56H9100AG is the "world's largest residential washing machine," able to hold 5.6 cubic feet of laundry. Size could be a curse as well as a blessing, though -- it measures a considerable 30 by 42 by 33 inches. That leads Chan to recommend it mainly for families that have unusually large laundry needs.
Reviewed.com is a little less impressed with washing performance, which other reviewers describe as very good or better. No one disputes that the washer is fast, and one report states that engaging a SuperSpeed option cuts washing time by an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
Owners of the Samsung WF56H9100AG, many of whom who bought it precisely because of its generous capacity, are overwhelmingly pleased. We did see plenty of comments that they take up a lot of space, but, on the flip, side, much happiness that they could dispense with of a week's worth of laundry quite quickly -- many note that what used to be three loads is now just one. Users also praise the WF56H9100AG's plethora of wash options and say it's very quiet for such a behemoth.
Among this washer's features is Self Clean+, which earns kudos from Good Housekeeping testers. That feature steam cleans the drum and gasket to cut back on mold and mildew -- one of the chief drawbacks to front loaders. A reminder to clean the washer after every 40 cycles is also provided. Efficiency is excellent, and the washer is Energy Star Certified. The Samsung WF56H9100AG is covered under a one-year basic warranty, with coverage extending to two years on the control board, three years on stainless steel drum, and 10 years on the motor. The WF56H9100AG comes in Onyx (black). The same washer is available in white as the Samsung WF56H9100AW (Est. $1,200).