Front versus Top Loading Washers and Dryers

Categories: Spend

Mary Hunt founder and publisher of Debt-Proof Living, a highly regarded organization consisting of interactive website, monthly newsletter, personal finance tools and almost 20 books, recently wrote about the front and top loading washer and dryer debate. I thought this information to be very valuable to people considering those new appliances.

Dear Mary,
In a recent column you said you didn’t buy a front-loading washing machine, as you learned from others’ mistakes. What are the pros and cons of a front loader, and what’s your opinion of the top-loader machines without the middle agitator? Pat, email

Dear Pat,
Front-loading washers suffer from a unique set of technical problems, due to the drum lying sideways. If the clothes are out of balance or there are too few items in the load to properly balance it, many front-loaders will just shut down, or rock slowly until time runs out. I have received a myriad of comments from readers with front loaders who complain about water left behind at the end of the wash cycle, bleach spotting, long wash cycles, excessive vibrations and other complaints.

One issue unique to front-loaders is most troubling of all: mold buildup in the rubber gasket of the door and the resulting odor on clothes, especially towels.

If all of this is not enough, recent studies of consumer-reviews posted across the Internet show a trend of U.S. front-loading washers to have problems with bearing failure usually within the first six years, with the repair costs close to a replacement cost.

Following a great deal of thought and research, I purchased an LG Wave Force top-loading washer and the companion Perfect Steam dryer. The washer has no center agitator, has extra large capacity and high efficiency. So far I could not be happier. The wave action is a hoot to watch through the window on top of the machine. I can wash a small load or large, customize the water temperature, use preset cycles for specific needs, and even stop the cycle to add garments or change the settings at any point. Whites come out bright and sparkling without using bleach and even in cold water, which thrills me to no end. (Read more about my new washer and dryer, “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Three Others,” on my blog.) 

Dear Mary,
I read your column, “A Badge of Thrifty Honor.” I’ll ask the question that I know everyone wants to ask: HOW did you find that washer/dryer deal? Gail, email

Dear Gail,
We purchase refurbished machines. The washer and dryer are the top of the line models from LG and were used as floor models in trade shows. Neither had been operated. But because they were removed from the boxes and people opened and peered inside, they could not be sold as “new,” so they became “refurbs.” Both appliances have full warranties and are about as new as can be as far as I am concerned.

The washer, as you read, has a small scratch on one side. I found the washer locally on www.CraigList.org. I found the dryer by searching online, at www.SearsOutlet.com. The secret is that I knew exactly the models, and I wanted them in white and I was willing to wait until I found them.

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