Which front-loading washer is best?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

My Maytag washer is not terribly old (8-9 years, I think), but with five people in our family, it's gotten a pretty good workout during its life. Now more often than not, loads become unbalanced - probably a loose or stretched belt, which could be fixed, but.....

I'm really eyeballing the front-loading washers - I resisted when we moved into this home because my washer was only a few years old. But we're in a rural water district (so our water is 3 TIMES the price per gallon as our city neighbors - ouch!) and we're on a septic system. Both of those issues make the low water consumption of a front-loading machine look pretty attractive.

Maytag's Neptune is the trail-blazing granddaddy of the home front-loading machines (unless you start down the foreign models.) And my mom loves her Neptune (she got it about the same time I bought my top-loading Maytag.

What about the LG brand? (My cell phone is an LG - and that's about all I know about the company.)

Any other brands that are as good or better value than the Neptune?

I know I could go to Consumer Reports and get the low-down....but I've found their advice doesn't always hold true, and I'd rather hear from folks who have been down this path. What model did you choose, and why? Would you buy the same model again, if you had it to do over, or would you make a different choice?

Boone, IA


I had a Maytag top loader for years but when it finally gave up I decided to get the new Neptune. I think it was the first or second year they were introduced. I had a mildew problem with the gasket around the door but it worked great. We built a new house and I wanted a built in washer and dryer. The Neptune wouldn't work as a built in so I gave it to my sister for all her help with our move and bought a Frigidaire washer and dryer for my new laundry room. It's just me and hubby now and we don't do a ton of laundry but we also are on rural water with a septic tank and if you want a built-in front loaders are the only choice. We picked the Frigidaire because it was the cheapest built in. It's been 2 years now and I've been very happy with it. I love having a built-in because I've got a great Formica top for the laundry I take out and no socks go down between the washer and dryer but if it's a replacement the built-in might not be economically feasible. The Neptune had more room but I still can wash my queen sized comforter in the Frigidaire so I'm happy. So, after all this rambling I'll say, the Neptune is a great washer but other machines are good too. But front loaders are great as they use less water and detergent and I'll never go back to a top loader. I also think they are gentler on the clothes and you don't need to use the dryer as much as the clothes are much drier when they come from the front loader.

Hope this helps,


Frederick, MD(Zone 6a)

Here's my recommendation :) I know it's pricey up front, but in the long haul with energy efficiencies and the fact that it only takes the dryer less than half the time to actually dry the clothes which again saves on energy and also on clothing wear and tear...for us it's the Kenmore Elite HE 4t. We got a great deal on it at our local Sears. The comments below are from Consumer Review :

Among front-loading machines, experts favor the Kenmore Elite HE 4t, which, at about $1,430 for the basic model, is more expensive than even the fanciest top-loaders. Reviewers say, however, that it's also better. The front-loading HE 4t breaks new ground in efficiency, using one-third the amount of water as a conventional washer, with a 3.8-cubic-foot capacity—among the largest on the market. And yet, the HE 4t isn't physically larger than other machines. The HE 4t has great water extraction, so clothes take less time to dry; and has twelve cycles including delicates, jeans, a "whitest-white" cycle that includes the automatic addition of bleach, an express cycle, and a sanitary setting, which heats water to 160 degrees. That's hot enough to kill dust mites in bedding. The HE 4t does all this while keeping energy consumption low.


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Dea (and Nancy ;o)

I had read something about the Kenmores, but I gotta be honest - I once went with Kenmore appliances, and that was the lousiest dishwasher I've ever had. (It was stainless, so it LOOKED good, though *grin*)

Since then I've been just a little leary of Kenmore stuff (it was another case where Kenmore was rated higher than other appliances in its class.)

Frederick, MD(Zone 6a)

Agree! We have no other Kenmore appliance in the house other than this one. We never thought in a million years that we would every buy a Kenmore anything.

But trust me - this thing is goooooooood :)


Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

That's definitely good to know. This is my third washer (in 23 years), and my first one was an "El Cheapo" extraordinaire, and lasted as long or longer than anything else I've had. Washer #2 was a GE, and the motor began leaking after a couple years. We used it until it finally seized up (on recommendation of the repairman who said it would cost more to fix than to replace, and it might run for a month or several years ;o)

This one was bought when the GE bit the dust, and I debated with myself then over a front-loader. But they were still pretty new, and I wasn't willing to roll the dice on a $1400 investment on new technology.

Now that they've been around a while and have performed well, I wish I had bought one then.

Oh well, the prices have come down some and I think some of the initial design flaws (like the leaky gasket - my mom's did that too) have been ironed out.

My very first washer 35 years ago was a front loader and it was Westinghouse which I don't think even makes appliances anymore. Loved that thing and it lasted for years. And get this, my very first refrigerator was a freezer on bottom which was also 35 years ago.

Today I just have a normal Maytag toploader. DD has the Maytag front loader and really likes it.

I'm surprised about the kenmore appliances. I personally have never had any but have tons of friends that will only buy kenmore and have never had any problems with them.

Fremont, CA(Zone 9a)

We opted for a top loader.We have a Fisher & Paykel washer http://usa.fisherpaykel.com/model_overview.cfm?mod_uuid=301D5899-65B7-DB96-12E5C08AD4C89AAE

Yeah, I know, no one has ever heard of them. They are made in New Zealand. The final spin cycle is 1,000 RPM - sort of like a jet engine, but the clothes come out dry, and amazingly not all mashed up, like you would expect with that high speed. We got our at Lowe's. They are cheaper than the front load, but have comparable energy ratings (217 on a scale of 170 for good to 1,298 for bad.) Estimate energy cost with gas water heater $9 per year. ($17 with electric.) We picked it over the front load because there is less stooping (unless you spend the extra $ to get the stand for the front load) and comparable energy usage.

Obviously we are very happy with our Kiwi washer.

Here are some price comparisons at Lowe's (this is for my area, your prices may be different.) http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productList&catalogId=ENERGY_WASHER It can be helpful in narrowing down your choices.

These links http://www.shopping.com/xGS-washing_machine_reviews~NS-1~linkin_id-3062175 and http://www.consumersearch.com/www/house_and_home/washing-machine-reviews/ may also give you some helpful information

Himrod, NY(Zone 6a)

Terry, I have a Bosch Nexxt Esence which we purchased in October of 05. We are country people and all of a sudden we were running out of water so my husband decided that we should get one of the new front loading washers.

We purchased it at Lowes and it seemed like it would be a dream washer. My old one a Whirlpool I loved but it used sooooo much water. We got this one home and installed and did an empty run like it said. It entertain all of us (cats included) going round and round. But it does take about 90 minutes for a load to go thru from beginning to end. Yes, the clothes are quite dry, yes, it holds a LOT (like 3 sets of sheets 1 set king and 2 full) and it seems like things are as clean as the old washer. BUT 90 minutes is a long time. I also have to mix my bleach with water before I add it to the load, I was seeing spots on some of the light colors that I would sometime mix with my whites.

Would I do it again. I'm not sure 15--20 gallons verses 45 makes it a good choice and more clothes per load. (We did though find out the DH had raised the pump too high in the well and that was one of the reasons for running out of water!!!!!!! Since lowering the pump back and the new washer we have not run out since October, go figure!) I think if I needed a new washer I would probably do this again but for the reason that we did buy it (the old washer was still OK) I'm not sure.

All I can say is ask questions: How much water for a full load, wash through spin? --how long is the cycle? --how to add bleach with out the spots or making the cycle even longer. --does opening the door reset it to the beginning of the time cycle? Just ask ask ask!


Denver, CO

I just moved a few months ago into a home with a Maytag Neptune front loading washer and I have to tell you, I'm NOT impressed. I don't know how old these are. Two reasons.

1. Several times I pull clothes out to throw into the dryer, and there is a residue of dirt inside the tub. This is with a 2nd rinse. Yuck.

2. Granted these were used when I moved in, but there is a buildup of lint, hair and gunk around the outer edge of the rubber gasket on the front. For the life of me, I can't seem to clean it out, and there doesn't seem to be a filter anywhere. With animals in the house, I need to de-fur both washer and dryer.

And this is a minor irritation point, but the darn thing keeps rotating the clothes when I don't pull them out at the end of the cycle. The absolute last thing I need is to be nagged by an inanimate object.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6a)

My front-loading "find" **grin**



Newark, OH(Zone 5b)

We bought a Frigidaire front loader in 2003 when we re-did our basement and garage into an apartment for my MIL. I think it is the model FTF530E -- http://www.frigidaire.com/products/laundry/washers/front_load/prod_FTF530E.asp I don't have it right in front of me to tell ya, but ours has the same functions as the site shows.

It does not have quite the huge capacity that the upper end front loaders do, nor does it have all the bells and whistles like digital readouts and the plethora of cycles to choose from, but it didn't have the big price tag, either.

It was only $597 and does great for us. True, I can't do a huge comforter in it and expect it to tumble enough to get really clean, but as seldom as those are washed, I can go to the laundromat.

It is very energy/water efficient and so quiet you don't even know it's running except when it spins (but even that you don't hear unless you're in the room with it). It has manual dials, which I read were good because there is no digital pad to go out on them. There are basic functions:

Water temp: cold, warm or hot (cold rinse)
Extra rinse option
Slow or fast spin
Cycles: pre-wash, delicate, light wash, normal wash, heavy wash

I think that's it. It buzzes when it's done. Ta-da! LOL

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9a)

Solitaire- my Kenmore front-loader wasn't getting clothes dry enough, the clothes came out wet and sometimes soapy, with particulate crap at the bottom. Wow, what a bargain, I said to myself, but DH took off the front panel underneath the door and scrounged around in there until he found the filter, which needs a torx wrench to get the cover off, by the way- and found the trap- full of dog hair. I bet anything that's what your problem is, just don't forget to unplug it before you go exploring. I;m going to dmail this to you also, since the appliance board isn't very active.

It's a dirty trick, because a lot of people would never think to go inside the appliance to look for the filter, so you'd call a repair guy, who'd know just what the trouble was, etc. etc.- but if you educate yourself about where they hide the filter on yours you can solve that problem, I just about guarantee. They don't get clogged very often at all, fortunately, but it drastically affects performance when it does get clogged.

Another thing- I usually leave the door open between loads, so the inside doesn't have a chance to grow mildew or anything like that.

Lisbon, IA(Zone 5a)

Hi guys. We just took deliver of an LG washer and dryer yesterday and I couldn't be happier. ;) Heck, the hubby said we should put a couple of chairs down in the basement in front of it cause it was cheap entertainment. :)

But seriously, they are a really sweet pair of machines. I agonized over what to buy for about 6 months. My old set was a mis-matched Maytag Performa (ie, lower cost) washer and an used Whirlpool dryer we bought 15 years ago (with the washer) from a friend who was moving and it was used when she bought it. I really agonized over whether to buy Whirlpool or Kenmore, Bosch, Siemens or the LG's but the LG's won out and I'm very happy. Unfortunately, Maytag wasn't even in the running this time due to it's current quality and managements crisis. Whirlpool made a nice set for Kenmore's called the Oasis but it was brand new technology and so.....

Anyway, we like them so far. :)


Hico, TX(Zone 8a)

We've had kenmore products before and they last a very long time. We are looking at getting a new washer/dryer b/c we have moved and we had to leave the other behind. I really didn't want to leave MY washer until my husband showed me the front loaders and found that they save so much water.
A stand for a front loader would not be that hard to make and they would be well worth the money to buy from the store. The tubs are tilted to make it easier to get the clothes out. Not all front loader tubs are tilted. I hated having to climb into the top loader to get the last sock out (I'm short).
We were looking at the top of the line HE 4t like someone mentioned above, but the next step down is just as nice with only a few less whistles and about $500 less. The dryer is the exact same, but I think it costs less when paired with the lower model. There are even lower priced models that are front loaders with nice features, too. They just aren't "top sellers" with snob appeal and color options. You will find these toward the back of the store - the sales people don't hang around them or approach when you are looking at them. Perhaps they don't make as much money off them? Who knows, they might better in the long run?
We looked at the Neptune as well. The first Neptunes out had some design or part problems that were fixed after a couple years on the market. So any new Neptunes should be fine.
Washer shopping is so different now than when we bought our first washer (the one I had to leave behind). So much new technology! I have to admit, snob appeal hits me, too.
I have heard of Fisher and Paykel - (we are building and need lots of appliances) - this company makes a unique dishwasher - you can buy the top drawer and the bottom drawer separate - you can buy three drawers. They run separately or together. Although quite pricey, they are water savers. How many times we have wanted to run half a load but had to wait until it was full!!!

Tucson, AZ(Zone 9a)

FYI, Consumer Reports has listed Fisher and Paykel appliances almost universally as the brand needing the most frequent repairs, and they aren't that common, which I imagine would jack up the cost of repair as well. I do like the snob appeal, too, though!

West Pottsgrove, PA(Zone 6b)

As an amateur appliance repair guy, I recommend fixit now.com- absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about appliances, and then some. A lot of repair types contribute, parts numbers, schematics, advice, everything. The humor may not be for everyone, but I like it... Haiku poetry about dishwashers, anyone? I don't know if the site is still current, but the archives alone are a gold mine. Did you know there's only 4 appliance manufacturers in the world? They make all the 'brands' you see in the stores. Check it out...

Toronto, Canada

I have to vote for Kenmore HE 4t I had one three years ago and I was in love with it.
Seriously! No fighting (with twisted sheets), No wrestling (with the bra strap tangled into the shirt sleeve) , No weight lifting (the heavy water laden jeans).
I now have a top loader...sadly, I separated and down graded.
You don't know what you miss until you miss it.
My Kenmore HE 4t. (not the man)
I'm spending the money after renovations to do away with those clothing hassles I have now adopted. :)

Medicine Hat, Canada

Ok people here is the whole scoop on front loads. First of all KENMORE makes nothing of there own. They change there contracts every few years. Currently the Elite Series front load is and LG made product. LG is a unique company that is based out of South Korea. They tend to change their product very quickly and my experience professionaly with them is that they tend to make up facts about their merchandise because they can under Korean Law. There are only a handful of large companies left making appliances. Most of the brands are tied to a parent company and if you go to the majors they have this broken down on their websites. The number one rated front load washer for use and realiabity and ease to fix by service agents is the Whirlpool Duet series of washer and dryers. These are now also Maytag EPIC wash front load washers and dryers, but ONLY the Epic wash is Whirlpool made. Now the Duet washers and Epic was are not actually made my Whirlpool they are STILL made in Germany by the number one selling maker of front loads in Europe. YOU do the math people..they have used front loads in Europe for ages they know what works and what doesn't. Good luck and happy laundry

Burin, Canada

I was about to purchase the whirlpool duet based on the advice in this blog. However, I decided to go a step further and research the product itself. Apparently, there are quite a few dissatisfied Whirlpool customers and it seems like Whirlpool's customer service is less than pathetic.

I would like to purchase a 4cu foot front-load washer that actually cleans my clothes. I live in a rural community so repairmen aren't that easy to come by - at lease ones that are familiar with hi-tech gadgets.

My previous top-load washer and dryer were purchased as a set in the mid 1990's - Kenmore. They've moved with me to several apartments and were put in storage for nearly 3 years. Both still work but the clothes are not getting as clean as I would like and the washer is not spinning out as good as it used too. I've had some issues with Sears - waiting months for parts that never arrived (prepaid) to eventually be told that the part was no longer available. The part arrived in the mail a week later.

Sears does offer the best prices, and it's been years since the dryer issue, so I'm willing to give them another try. However, I am so confused as to what to buy. I'm aware of the mildew issue, the soap issue and the filter issues - seems like these issues are easily resolved by becoming more familiar with the machine (e.g. opening door, cleaning filter, not overloading the machine, etc.) and are not a deal breaker. Constant repairs and poor customer service are. The nearest laundromat is 150km (300km round trip) so not having a working machine for months is not an option. That's why any hint of bad service sends me flying.

Is there a top-load washing machine out there (4cu) that does the job without constantly breaking down?

(Mary) Poway, CA(Zone 10a)

A friend of mine had a whirlpool duet and did 4 loads a day every day for 5 years without a problem. ( 7 kids) She left it behind in a move and bemoans its loss ever since.

Alamogordo, NM(Zone 7b)

I have a septic tank and always like to be waterwise so 8 years ago I bought a Maytag front loader. I love it. Never had one problem in all these years. I like that it can handle a large load of lots of jeans or a large quilt, yet do a great job with little water on just a tiny quick load.

Rosemount, MN

Terry, you stated in a comment on front load washing machines that "Maytag's Neptune is the trail-blazing granddaddy of the home front-loading machines." So I thought I should let you know that as far as I know, White Westinghouse was the "trail-blazing granddaddy of the home front-loading machines". I know this because as a small child in the 50s, my mom had a White Westinghouse front-loading laundry pair - they had black glass windows in the round doors on which was written in cursive and in white "White Westinghouse", and it was these machines that later led me to purchase my own Westinghouse frontloading pair in the late 70s/early 80s. Oh, and they were American made.
PS I just bought a previously owned Maytag Neptune SuperStack. I couldn't find one of my favorite old workhorses. I HATE planned obselescence!

(Mary) Poway, CA(Zone 10a)

My Mom had one of those Westinghouse Front Loaders in the 50's too. With 9 kids it was at least 5 loads a day, even Sunday, that she then hung out on the line. The older kids would help her if we weren't at school. When I was much older they moved and left it behind. There was never anything as good as that old washer.

Himrod, NY(Zone 6a)

Not to change the subject but.......I grew up with an easy spin. No it wasn't front loading but you could fill it to the level you wanted and agitate it as long as the load needed and on the side was a spin part. You could rinse and spin in it. Sure wish I had one now. I have a Bosch front loader and it takes over an hour and a half to do one load and if you want to just spin something you are out of luck.

Thanks for letting me put my 2 cents in.


Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

What you grew up with is no longer available. Old machines 20+ years had more tolerance for overloading and oversoaping. I know you don't think you are guilty of doing this, but almost everyone is. And high efficiency washers require HE (high efficiency) soap. Don't just use less of regular detergent to keep the suds down. HE detergent cleans in a different method. Oversoaping is true of clothes washers and dishwashers. Your bosch may be taking a long time if it is trying to heat the water.

The European machines are all much more expensive, and Europe has been using water-saving technology for a very long time. There are several brands. If you really want to know the best things, make friends with a good service tech, not the internet and not an appliance salesperson. The internet is fraught with complaints of everything because people like to rant. All the US manufacturers have changed their warranties on all but the premium brands to one year across the board, and with good reason. You can recognize premium brands generally by their prices, but not always. The four major companies all have premium brands.

Repair technicians know which distributors to go to for the proper parts, the ones that meet manufacturers specs, not the cheap ones you find online. They also warranty the parts. They also attend classes and share their info with other techs. Ask them which brands they don't service and why. Sometimes they don't want to learn how to service that brand or the particular product, and sometimes they don't have access to parts that have to be purchased only from the manufacturer. A good service tech will not do an uneconomical repair and will give his/her best recommendation for your requirements.

Who requests an unecomical repair? A person selling a home and doesn't want to replace the machine.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Quote from 1stzoegirl :
Terry, you stated in a comment on front load washing machines that "Maytag's Neptune is the trail-blazing granddaddy of the home front-loading machines." So I thought I should let you know that as far as I know, White Westinghouse was the "trail-blazing granddaddy of the home front-loading machines". I know this because as a small child in the 50s, my mom had a White Westinghouse front-loading laundry pair - they had black glass windows in the round doors on which was written in cursive and in white "White Westinghouse", and it was these machines that later led me to purchase my own Westinghouse frontloading pair in the late 70s/early 80s. Oh, and they were American made.
PS I just bought a previously owned Maytag Neptune SuperStack. I couldn't find one of my favorite old workhorses. I HATE planned obselescence!

I stand corrected - I was simply thinking back about 15 years ago when Maytag led the movement toward front loaders for home laundry :-)

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

We, too, had a Westinghouse "laundromat." The one where you could weigh the load on the door. Entirely different type of machine. Maytag's Neptune is different from the Frigidaire front loads (White Westinghouse, Frigidaire and a few others are all owned by Electrolux/GM).

Miele, Asko and Bosch are all front-loaders, but in this country, the Maytag Neptune was a leader, and it was in fact made by Maytag. You'd be surprised who makes some of the machines with a Maytag name and all the brands which are owned under the Maytag group (now owned by Whirlpool).

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

I have to say I bought Jenn Aire washer & dryer in 1994 or 95 because we live so far out in the tules that I didn't want to have to call for repairs often. At the time they cost more, but I have not had so much as a belt replaced on either machine. And yes, they do get the clothes clean. Think at that time they were made by Maytag. Now I have a broken hinge on the lid of the washer. No biggie.

Wesley Chapel, FL

I have never had a problem with my Maytag for 5 years now, front loading

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

LOL, 2 posts up, on June 8 I said I had not had any problems. Spoke too soon. The thermal fuse burned out because the vent had almost a pillow full of stuff in it. A bed pillow. So, check those vents just like Bubba said.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Most problems are (unintentionally) user created. Never overload and never oversoap and never have a problem.

Scituate, MA

Agree with all the comments on the kenmore He4t except one, don't buy it, I did 5 years ago (the whirlpool duet clone) and yes it is great at cleaning clothes, loading, clothes come out nearly dry with the 1050 rpm spin, I paid over $2,000 including service contract and it has had troubles every few years, control brain went out, and this month the main drum bearing was beginning to go, we knew because the clothes came out with black grease on them in spots everywhere. Took two techs (who did not fix it for nearly 4 weeks by the way) 2 hours when they did show up, as the whole machine has to come apart, new tub rear half and new drum and seal. It was covered by service contract ( I had bought a extended one for another few hundred so now this is a $2300 machine!) but on your own it would be $700 dollars. I'm sorry but a $1500 washer should not need a brain and main bearing in less than 5 years. Look on the net there are many many unhappy people who bought the He4t

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Ljinmass, that main bearing does not usually go bad unless you frequently overload the washer. It is what we consider "uneconomical to repair." As you could see, it is a horrible repair job. How many loads of laundry do you do each week?

Cambridge, KY

There is a clear choice when it comes to the best front load washer. For several years now an LG washer has pretty much been the number one choice for consumers.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Quite an advertisement. Most people love this washer until they have to have it repaired. No one wants to touch it.

(Mary) Poway, CA(Zone 10a)

What other brands of washers do you sell?

Cambridge, KY

We carry all the leading brands which include Frigidaire (which most of my salespeople have because they ran a promo where if they sold 12 pairs they got a pair free),GE, and Samsung. While all of these brands perform quite well, I feel LG is the best choice for features that you get for the money. My salespeople all like their Frigidaire models so that is a good choice also. GE has always been a little more expensive for similar features and Samsung is comparable to LG but cost more. As far as the "until they have to have it repaired" comment, We don't have any problem getting the local authorized service centers to work on LG and we don't have any more issues with LG than we have with the other brands we carry.

(Mary) Poway, CA(Zone 10a)

I'm looking for a made in America washer. The closest I've found so far is some Whirlpool and Maytag that are at least designed, engineered and assembled in America. Will probably settle on one of them, and may have to be a top loader. At least if it breaks down I'll know I helped support some American workers. I've been to Home Depot and I'm going to price check at Lowe's and a few other places for the best deal.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Good for you Mary. Be sure to let us know what you get and where.

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