Updated June 2022
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best washers

No one likes to do it, but everyone has to: the laundry! Whether you’re just trying to clean your own clothes or you have a large family to look after, the only thing that can make this tiresome chore slightly better is a reliable washer. A good washing machine will make your whites white and your colors stain-free and fresh, every time.

Washer options are incredibly varied today. Most are high-tech appliances that offer the perfect temperature based on the fabric you’re cleaning. Some offer extremely high heat cycles for sanitization. Some promise to be gentle enough to “hand-wash” your delicate clothes.

This shopping guide was designed to help you cycle through your options. At BestReviews, we search for the best products under the sun, and we don’t stop until we find them. If you’re shopping for a new washer, please see our recommendations in the chart above. If you want to learn more about the world of washing machines, read on.

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Top loaders have been a popular option for years, but recent concerns about energy efficiency have brought front-load washers into the spotlight. Some top-load washers actually allow you to control the water level. This might be a good option if you’re trying to conserve water.

Front-load vs. top-load washers

There are two main categories of washers: front-load washers and top-load washers. The names literally refers to where you load your clothes, but load style is more than just a design difference. It affects how your clothes are cleaned, too.

Front-load washers

  • Render an excellent clean

  • Require less water and detergent 

  • Can help you save on energy costs

Top-load washers

  • Use more water

  • May have a greater ability to accommodate blankets and comforters

  • Generally cost less than front-load washers

Choosing your machine size

How big of a washer should you get? Consider exterior dimensions and load size before making a purchase.

Load size

How much clothing can you wash at one time? This is an important consideration indeed. Smaller washers have somewhere between two and three cubic feet of space. Medium and large washers run closer to 3.5 or 4.5 cubic feet of space. If you need lots of room, you can find some high-end washers with over 6.2 cubic feet of load space.

"If you don’t want to have to take your blankets and comforters to the laundry mat, be sure to choose a washer that is big enough to accommodate them."

Exterior dimensions

Some washers are quite large. A height of 42 inches is standard, but some high-end models with two washing spaces may stand 47 inches tall.

Some washers are smaller, including portable models. You can find smaller washers that stand between 33 and 37 inches tall. Width and depth vary only slightly; even on the smaller models, you need slightly over two square feet in order to house your washer.

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Expert Tip
Interested in saving space? Consider a stackable washer and dryer. Even some of the larger models available today are stackable.

Specialty cycles

Some washers come with a number of specialty cycles, including the following.

Heavy-duty cycle

Intended for really dirty clothing, the heavy-duty cycle has a longer wash period and a higher tumbling speed in order to remove more dirt.

Hand wash cycle

This delicate cycle is intended for intimate clothing and items with embroidery or that call for hand washing for some other reason. It tumbles clothing gently and uses lots of cold water.

"High-efficiency (HE) washers use less water and have fast spin cycles that leave clothes drier right out of the washer. This saves energy by lessening the needed drying time."

Pre-wash cycle

This cycle is generally seen on top-loaders. It allows clothing to soak for a period of time in order to help release stains. Some front-load washers have a steam cycle that serves the same function. Because a front loader does not have a basin in which water sits, the clothes are steamed to release stains instead.

Sanitize cycle

The sanitize cycle is an absolute must for people who use cloth diapers. Washers with this specialty cycle have an internal heater that heats water to a higher temperature than your household hot water heater in order to kill germs and bacteria. This cycle is also a great choice for bedding and undergarments.  Look for a machine that promises to get out 99.9% of germs on this cycle.

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Did you know?
For an average household, a washer with a capacity of three to four cubic feet will usually suffice.

Washer prices


For $200 to $500, you can get a decent top-load washer. You are likely to have fewer cycle options at this price, and most washers in this range are not front loaders. However, some top loaders are still sold as high-efficiency models.

"Front-load washers spin sideways, which can cause them to shake. If you are putting one in a second-floor laundry, choose a model with extra support in the suspension system. Some washers come with shock absorbers to cut excessive vibration."


For $500 to $800, you can get a good front-load washer. It will have a lot of cycles, and you will likely get a couple of specialty features as well, such as a sanitizing cycle or a steam cycle for combatting with stains.


For $800 to $1,700, you can get a larger washer with all the bells and whistles. Washers of this caliber are often made of stainless steel with a capacity of over six cubic feet. Some are able to handle more than one load at a time; others have a pre-wash top compartment.

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HE (high-efficiency) washers are not exclusively front-load machines. Some top-load models are HE, too.


Q. How do I know how many cubic feet I need?

A. Keep three things in mind when choosing a washer size:

  • The number of people in your household

  • How often you plan to wash clothing

  • How many clothes you typically need to wash

To further explore this question, ask yourself the following: Do you or your children change clothes more than once a day? Do your kids wear school uniforms and change out of them right after school? Do you like to get out of your work clothes in the evening? How many times do you go to the gym or have sports activities every week? Do you have young children who might soil their bed linens? All of these things will increase your laundry load.

Q. Do I need special detergent for a high-efficiency washer?

A. Yes. If you own a high-efficiency washer, you should use “HE” detergent. The reason: HE detergents are made to be “low sud.” Excess suds can cause problems in your HE washer because they counteract the washer’s cleaning function, preventing tumbling. They also help hold soils in suspension in low water, so they don’t re-soil your clothes as they go through the cleaning process. That means if you continue to use your “regular” detergent with you HE washer, your clothes are not going to get as clean.

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