How to Buy the Best Washer and Dryer

If experience is the best teacher, surely I have achieved expert status in the field of buying clothes washers and dryers.

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Twenty-five years ago we bought our first brand new washer and dryer—a traditional Whirlpool matching—from a warehouse club. The price came to $1,100 with tax, out the door. Nothing fancy, just a couple of workhorses. After 16 years of constant use, the washer finally failed beyond repair.

After a great deal of research and contemplation, we settled on the LG Waveform Ultra Capacity High Efficiency Top Loading washer and companion steam dryer which I wrote about in more detail HERE for why we made that decision and how I got that brand new matching set for half that price!

I loved my LG appliances until we moved into a tiny apartment with space for only the washer or dryer or both if we could stack them. Can’t stack a top-loading washer, so we gifted the LG set to our son and bought a stackable GE front loading washer and dryer. Fabulous decision. Front-loading washers have been so greatly improved over the years. I had no problems at all with nasty smells or moldy build-up. And I really enjoyed the steam feature on the dryer. 

The GE set sits in storage now because the laundry room in our new home is not properly configured for a gas dryer. That will change one day soon, but in the meantime, I am thoroughly enjoying the 12-year-old Whirlpool washer and dryer set that came with this house. Talk about de javu! I’m right back where I started so many years ago with a couple of  workhorses that have only basic settings—no digital displays.

With that background in mind, together with a long conversation I had with a repairman who works on all brands of washers and dryers except Samsung (he absolutely refuses to work on Samsung products which I found interesting)—and in response to so many readers wanting to know the best inexpensive washer/dryer—here is my advice:

SET A BUDGET. Determine the price you’re willing to pay for the appliance(s). Lock eyeballs with that number and commit to finding the best option without going over budget.

MUST HAVE FEATURES. Write down the top three features you need in this appliance. Traditional basic top-load washers will offer temperature management and load size options and that’s about it. From there, determine what you must have. Or do you really need more than the basics?

TAKE A TOUR. Go to a Sears store (or similar), which now carries the top brands of appliances (you can also shop online at Sears retail or the Sears Outlet), with your three requirements. Then listen and pay close attention to what you learn.

In the store, the salesman will try to steer you into a higher-end model with lots of bells and whistles you’ll probably never use (which I know from experience). Keep going back to your three “must-haves.” Personally, I would lean toward a traditional Whirlpool or General Electric appliance. Once they become ancient they’ll still be working well. Parts and service for these two brands are considerably less expensive than for brands like Samsung and LG.

MAKE THE DECISION. Once you narrow your choices to the one that fits with your budget and meets your needs, make the decision find the best price, arrange for delivery and installation and don’t look back. Hint: Check Sears Outlet online every day, as the scratch-and-dent inventory changes very often.

Finally, if you hold out to find the absolute perfect washer/dryer at the perfect price, you’ll still be looking next year this time—and driving yourself nuts with indecision.

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22 replies
  1. Zachary Tomlinson
    Zachary Tomlinson says:

    I’ve moved into another apartment but I don’t have all necessary household appliances. I’ve decided to start from the dryer. So, your tips are very helpful and I like especially the one about writing down the top three features I need in this appliance.Now I feel prepared for checking different stores.

    Reply
  2. LSH
    LSH says:

    Just a note on what I found out recently while looking for a new Freezer. Sears Surplus is no longer owned by SEARS, it is now owned by a separate company. Price for my freezer @ Sears.com was cheaper than the dented one. Sears products sold, but!!!

    Reply
  3. Lolly
    Lolly says:

    This was so timely! I’ve spent the last 2 weeks looking at/reading reviews of washers & dryers. Our 3 year old Whirlpool washing machine has developed a suspension problem and the laundry load is continually off balance. The machine is in the garage & I could hear the drum banging against the sides of the machine when I’m back in the bedroom. With our old machine we could put a load in & leave. Not with this one!

    So two of my top 3 must-haves are top loading (leaving a front-loader door open in our garage wouldn’t work) and shallow enough that I can actually reach the bottom. (I’m 5’3″) CR gives certain machines high marks but many of the reviews are awful! I don’t know who or what I can trust. Feel like I need to go back to my childhood decision-making skills & do “eeny, meeny, miney, moe”!

    Our 20 yo Maytag dryer is still going strong! BTW, isn’t Whirlpool made by the Maytag company?

    Reply
  4. Gehugh
    Gehugh says:

    Here is a bit of advice we have learned fron the School of Hard Knocks:

    Before you buy, find out what/who the service provider is in your area for ‘under warrenty’ work. Out of warrenty work is a whole different story. Not all brands can be repaired by all service companies and it is something to be aware of. Not all manufacturers will play fair with you, either.
    Our most recent troubles began whe we bought our K brand refrigerator-freezer and separate stand alone upright freezer. When the upright freezer started ‘leaking’ excessively a few months after we bought and had it installed, we were met with a wall of obstacles. The K brand people didn’t want to hear about the problem, much less come out and take a look after we went through the ‘troubleshooting’ actions. It still leaks excessively, but we live with it. As for the refer-freezer combo, 3 months into that purchase the cheap plastic upright support for the storage bins broke. To replace it required a visit from a repair person, and not only was the one support available, the whole shelf and support has to be replaced.

    The trouble with living in a semi-rural area is that the ONE repair person for the brand appliance you own can be totally inept and unreliable. I had to beg the customer service person on the phone to just send me the whole shelf and support, explaining what our local repair person is like. He came over once to ‘repair’ our 2000 Maytag Neptune (the major problems that almost sank the Maytag company) washer, under the influence of alcohol in the early afternoon and forgot all about us and the part he was supposed to order when I called a week later. Maytag was no help. Maytag didn’t acknowledge our ownership. We purchased a new machine. Needless to say, once burned, twice shy. After treatment like that I just wonder if this is the same world I grew up in. NOT! So we finally got the part, made a few modifications with Titebond III and a few plastic sheets for reinforcements (seeing where the design flaws were) and we’re happy now.
    I purchased a new dishwasher last winter. A highly rated brand I’ve had experience with and have trusted for generations. Found out in a few weeks it wasn’t cleaning properly. I found what I think is the problem. Called the 800 number to find who can come out to repair. Guess who? Not for us, thank you. So every week or so I pick minute food particles out of the sprayer arm orifices. Amazing! I am currently so disgusted with appliances and appliance repair. Hoping one of the kids will marry a decent one and bring them home for good! So if I need to purchase a new appliance in my current home, I will shop around, find out what the repair options are and pray real hard!

    Reply
  5. Sharon Campbell
    Sharon Campbell says:

    Or, you can go to the used appliance store. People move and leave really good washers and dryers behind. Look for the one that is cleanest, including in the hinges. They are used the least, because people don’t clean well when they are getting rid of things.

    Reply
    • Pigoff
      Pigoff says:

      My neighbors get free appliances on freecyle all the time and have never had a problem with them before. Granted they are used so the actual life is always different. Evelyn got one that was about 3 years old and works well. The wife (the man put the offer in) said his wife had to have a stainless steel pair and was giving the set away. Some people have more money than brains I think. LOL

      Reply
  6. Pigoff
    Pigoff says:

    I guess next time I have to buy a washer dryer I will look into the speed queen brand. Never heard of them but they are sounding good to me.

    Reply
  7. Pigoff
    Pigoff says:

    I am 53 years old and I was raised with front loading washers and dryers (Europe has had them forever) and I will never ever buy one. I hate them with a passion. they take forever to wash and dry and you can’t open them until they are done. No more looking to see if anything is dry before the dryer stops or adding one more thing in while the water is still loading. LOL My mother still has those front loading ones because they do not make top loading ones in Germany. The ones I am using right now are probably about 25 years old but they are working perfectly and I won’t even consider new ones until they die and go to the washer dryer junkyard in the sky. LOL. I love GE products especially the older ones because they last forever. Not so the new ones. I had a dryer that I bought new before I bought my house and it died a week after the warranty expired. The technician told me it was cheaper to buy a new one than to fix it. I called the company and they told me that dryers weren’t made to last forever. I now know that 3 years is forever in the manufacturing world. The older ones were made to last at least 20 years. LOL. I got a used one from a thrift shop and it is still working so I got my $25 out of it after 10 years. I wouldn’t even take the front loading ones if they were given to me for free other than to sell it. LOL. But then that is my opinion. I am hard headed I guess but the new stuff just doesn’t last in my opinion. I had to buy a new stove 5 years ago and I sure hope that it lasts for 20 plus years……… Keeping my fingers crossed.
    My daughter got a set from a couple that bought the new fangled stainless steel ones and they have been working for the last 5 years. Not bad for free. Hers are GE too I think. Her husband had to replace the belt but after that they are working great.

    Reply
  8. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    We bought Maytag and Whirlpool washers on the recommendation of Consumer Report Magazine. Neither lasted very long. After countless hours of research- we bought an American made Speed Queen washing machine. My husband found on youtube how to raise the water level to fill the machine completely. I am in Heaven. It has a center adgitator and fills completely. Washes clothes like a dream and is a real work horse as is made for commercial use. I did not buy it for it being made in America – that was icing on the cake. Consumer report did not rate it very well but that is because I can actually fill it with water and get clean clothes. We have very hard water and I attract dirt like Pigpen so we needed a real work horse.

    Reply
  9. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Our 14 year old Maytag top loading machine finally was beyond repair this past spring. We did not want to spend a bundle on a new one so we went to several places to search for the best for our money. We were in Lowe’s and happened upon their scratch and dent inventory. There to our great joy was a new top loading Maytag with a retail price of $899 marked down to $539. We checked it over carefully. It had a dent in the top left front which did not affect the performance of the machine. It is in the laundry room which is out of sight so the dent doesn’t really matter. It is a HE machine so it took us a little time to get used to the difference in operation but so far so good. We are still using our 14 year old Maytag dryer so the new washer spins the clothes out better which improves it’s efficiency running less time to dry. It really pays to do your homework.

    Reply
  10. Emily Booth
    Emily Booth says:

    All excellent advice! I would also add — read the instruction manual before purchasing. One washer I was considering required a monthly maintenance of opening a bottom panel in an inconvenient location to drain a water valve. This was a deal killer for me. My choices were narrowed by the size of my closet (I don’t have a laundry room; I have a laundry closet requiring stackables) and needing a gas dryer. I did a lot of research. I went to several stores including Sears Outlet. I found what I needed at a well known family owned appliance store. The brand I bought is not highly rated by CR for being repair free so when I had any questions I called or emailed the brand’s customer service. I still need to go to the laundromat for very heavy items like small cotton rugs. But, so far, I’ve been very happy with my purchase.

    Reply
  11. Marla
    Marla says:

    I love my Speed Queen too. We also have the basic units – top loading washer but electric dryer (I wish we had natural gas here). Years ago when we were looking for ours almost everything I read about them was positive. They are made in America and are truly workhorses. They’re made the way washers use to be made when our mothers and grandmothers were buying appliances. The materials they use are supposedly heavier gauge than what most (dare I say all) other manufacturers are using today. Speed Queen does most of their business selling to the coin operated laundromats and people in that business are going to seek out the best, not wanting to have their machines down for service. Having said that, our units do not have coin slots (they look just like the ones you grew up with). I can’t say enough good things about ours.

    Reply
  12. crabbyoldlady
    crabbyoldlady says:

    There’s a reason the Maytag repairman was so lonely. When I bought my house in 2000 it came with a washer that was purchased in 1987 when the house was built. It has run steadily and reliably ever since with no repairs. It will probably outlast me.

    Reply
      • Pigoff
        Pigoff says:

        Things were made to last in the past. I hate that we became an throw away society. I almost laughed when I called the company when my dryer broke a week after the warranty expired and they told me that they weren’t meant to last forever. I never thought that 3 years was forever. Got all mine the last few years at a thrift store or on freecycle and all of them lasted me 5 years or more after I got them. Win win for me.

      • Sharon Campbell
        Sharon Campbell says:

        We never buy new. Look at the used store, lift the lid and look in the hinge area. It that is nice and clean, the washer was probably seldom used.

    • Bookworm
      Bookworm says:

      I’m still using my 1971 copper-colored Maytag washer and dryer. I dread the day either one stops working — I don’t look forward to the research and shopping!

      Reply
  13. Deretta Austin
    Deretta Austin says:

    We love, love, love the Speed Queen washer and dryer we bought just this spring. Top loader washer, gas dryer – basic, but not a lot to break down, either. The washer basket is huge! One of our best friends does appliance repair, and he said that he would probably never be asked to come to a repair at our house!

    Reply

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