While some people love having all the bells and whistles in a washing machine and don't mind paying for it, there are plenty of others for whom cleaning performance, and not perks, is paramount. The good news is that if price is as much of a concern as performance, our research revealed a couple of washing machines that deliver good performance at a great price.
If your heart was set on a front-load washer, but sunk when you saw their typical price tags, be sure to check out the Whirlpool WFW87HEDW (Est. $600). It gets feedback that is as good as or better than some pricier front-load machines, and that feedback is overwhelmingly positive from experts and owners alike.
At Reviewed.com the WM3050CW is an Editors' Choice selection and tester Jonathan Chan recommends it for those who want a straightforward washer with a few useful features and good performance where it counts. Megan Wollerton at CNET praises its simple controls and very good performance. She ultimately gives it an overall score of 7.5 out of 10, with an 8 for features and concludes it's, "a solid upgrade over the most basic of front-loaders."
You give away some bells and whistles compared to higher end front-load machines, such our Best reviewed front loader, the Kenmore Elite 41072 ($1,000). But the WFW87HEDW still has some nice extras, such as TumbleFresh and Steam as well as seven other cycles. Chan notes that the Heavy Duty cycle, "blasted through sweat and cocoa stains, a pattern that repeated itself across all cycles." It's slow though, as most HE front loaders are these days, but there is a Quick Wash cycle that cuts washing time somewhat.
Still, some owners give the Whirlpool WFW87HEDW very high ratings precisely because of its minimalist vibe, with many saying they don't want washing clothes to be rocket science. Instead, they want to be able to just toss in a load, walk away, and end up with clean clothes, and, with the WFW87HEDW, that's exactly what they get.
The WFW87HEDW is white, but it also comes in the more expensive chrome shadow as the Whirlpool WFW87HEDC (Est $1,000). Both washers are Energy Star Certified.
If your budget is tighter still, and you are fine with a top loader instead of a front-load machine, take a look at the very well-regarded GE GTW680BSJWS (Est. $550). For a cheap washer, this model is absolutely decked out, including a warm rinse option that earns raves from Chan, as well as 14 preset laundry cycles, deep fill and extra rinse options, an auto soak setting, and five soil and stain settings. It's fast, too, the fastest gun in the West, according to both experts and owners, with the quickest option giving you a clean crop of clothes in about 15 minutes.
Reviews from experts are mixed when it comes to cleaning performance with the GE GTW680BSJWS. One independent product review organization gives it a rating of just Good, whereas Chan is more complimentary, saying the GE performs above average even on the normal settings. Owners are firmly in Chan's camp, saying the GE does a great job cleaning their clothes, and the 4.6 cubic feet capacity is plenty, they say, for all but the largest families. We saw dozens of comments that this GE is, "the best washer I've ever owned."
While no top loading washer will ever reach the efficiency levels of a front loader, the GE GTW680BSJWS isn't exactly an energy hog. Chan estimates annual usage rates to be about $42 (though that will of course vary depending on your local utility rates), pretty low for a top-loader. It's Energy Star Certified, as well. The only real complaint we saw about this GE washer is that some feel it's quite loud, although, as we find with any and all products that produce any sound at all, noise is always in the ear of the beholder; plenty of owners say they don't even notice that it's running. The GE GTW680BSJWS only comes in white.