Buying a washer and dryer can be very daunting, as there are so many options. The average washer and dryer should last around 10 years before something major breaks, according to many manufacturers. When shopping for a new washer or dryer, you’ll notice that a lot more cycles and features have been added, capacities are larger, and the prices might leave you rolling in the aisle. Here are a couple things you should know about today’s washers and dryers.
Longer wash times, but bigger capacities. Many front-loaders are excellent at cleaning. High-efficiency top-loaders are also great, despite using a lot less water than conventional top-loaders. But that improved water efficiency means longer wash cycles. That’s why manufacturers have increased capacities, making it possible for you to do more laundry at once.
Bigger capacities can put laundry out of reach. One way for manufacturers to boost washer capacity is to make the tub deeper in high-efficiency top-loaders, and some washers are also taller now. However, if you are small, it will be hard for you to get up to get into the washer to retrieve any small pieces you may have left in there. For taller people, this generally isn’t an issue; however, if you are petite, this is something you should really take into consideration. You may not think it is a big deal at first, but over time, it is sure to bug you.
Washing waterproof items may do damage. This warning catches some people by surprise, and it should because even if you don’t hike or camp, you probably have a plastic liner for your shower curtain. High-efficiency top-loaders use a lot less water and spin faster than regular top-loaders. That fast spinning extracts more water so less dryer time is needed, but water can get trapped in waterproof items and when the spin cycle gets going, the load can become unbalanced and cause the machine to shake too much. And that can damage the machine and laundry area. Manufacturers’ instructions for washing waterproof items vary.
Moisture sensors are great, but pay attention to small loads. A dryer’s moisture sensor detects how damp the laundry is and adjusts the drying time accordingly, preventing fabrics from being over-dried and possibly saving energy and money—an improvement over thermostats, which tend to make the dryer run longer. That’s one reason why you’ll often see thermostat models at the bottom of our dryer ratings. But dryers are designed to handle full loads, so when you toss in just a few items, the machine may shut off prematurely if the clothes do not touch the sensor frequently enough, leaving your laundry damp. You can prevent this by using a timed-dry cycle for small loads.
High-efficiency dryer claims are just that. Drying laundry uses a lot more energy than washing it and when GE, Maytag, and Whirlpool started promoting high-efficiency dryers that could save energy, time, and money, we were interested. But don’t be dazzled by the claims. Manufacturers like to say that their comparisons are based on dryers that use thermostats instead of moisture sensors. But these sensors aren’t a new technology; your dryer might have them even if it’s not labeled high-efficiency. Specs are being developed for the first Energy Star dryers. When shopping, choose a dryer with a moisture sensor.