Two new front-loaders are the best washers Consumer Reports has tested in years, and they’re fast. The Maytag Maxima XL MHW7000AW ($1,150) and Whirlpool Duet WFW88HEAW ($1,000), a CR Best Buy, took only 45 minutes to do an eight-pound load. That’s less than half the time of many front-loaders and half an hour quicker than Consumer Reports top-rated top-loader.
But not all washers are getting faster. Frigidaire’s Affinity high-efficiency top-loaders took almost 2 hours — the longest of the 131 washers tested. They did clean well but left the loads a little worse for the wear. Smaller capacity means those Frigidaires wash less per load. Plus water extraction wasn’t great, so you’d spend even more time waiting for stuff to dry. Here are the details:
Made in the United States. Seventy-eight percent of Americans would rather buy a US-made product than an identical one made abroad, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. That’s getting easier since washers and dryers from GE, Maytag, and Whirlpool are now made here.
Free apps, for a price. Wondering whether your laundry is done? Some higher-priced LG, Samsung, and Whirlpool dryers that were tested let you monitor your laundry’s progress, extend tumbling, or stop the dryer using your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Whirlpool’s app sends an e-mail or text when the laundry is done.
The Samsung and Whirlpool apps also let you start the dryer remotely, though you have to load the dryer, turn the power button on, and select cycles before leaving home. But why would you want wet laundry sitting in a dryer for hours? It’s also not a good idea to have these appliances running when you’re not around.
“High-efficiency” dryers? Drying laundry uses far more energy than washing it, but previous attempts at “eco” and energy-saving cycles saved only pennies per load in tests. So Consumer Reports was interested when GE, Maytag, and Whirlpool started promoting high-efficiency, or HE, dryers that could save energy, time, and money.
When CR pressed the manufacturers, they said their comparisons were based on dryers that use thermostats instead of more accurate moisture sensors. But these sensors aren’t a new technology — your current dryer might have them even if it’s not labeled HE. So simply look for a dryer with a moisture sensor, and don’t be dazzled by HE claims.
Blocked-vent indicators improve. Dryer vents clogged with lint extend drying time and increase energy use. Lint is also the leading cause of an average of 4,400 reported dryer fires a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Earlier versions of blocked-vent indicators were unreliable in tests, but the new Airflow Alert and Check Vent indicators on Maytag and Whirlpool dryers, LG’s FlowSense, and Samsung’s Vent Sensor detect fully blocked vents more reliably. LG’s sensor even stopped the dryer, and the Whirlpool dryer app can send you an e-mail or text if there’s a problem. But they weren’t as good at detecting partially blocked vents.Consumer Reports writes columns, reviews, and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics, and other consumer goods. Previous stories can be found at consumerreports.org.