Today’s washers are a far cry from those from your grandmother’s. The selection is vast and includes steam cleaning and sterilizing, sinks, faucets, two tubs, connected devices, etc. Buying a new washer can be overwhelming. Here are some things to consider as you begin your search.

  1. Size: The most important consideration is being able to get your new washer into its intended space. Make sure you measure doorways, hallways, turn-corners, stair-widths, etc. from the point of delivery (the road or driveway), right through to its destination Including its destination. This one feature alone can be the biggest issue for you. Washers come in two general categories: compact and standard and both have some variation within those sizes by a few inches.  Height, on the other hand, can vary widely. Further, both sizes have stackable options, depending on the model. If you’re replacing your washer but not your dryer, make sure that they will work together – if they are side by side, check door swing for ease of access. Also, if you’re planning on increasing the size of your washer, but keeping your dryer, make sure your dryer can hold the load size of the new washer.
  2. Style: Front-load or top-load seems to be an endless debate in North America. Traditionally, front-load models tend to be gentler on clothes and use less water and less energy. Not everyone loves them, however, as they can be noisier due to vibrations (especially if not installed correctly) and accessing the clothes means you have to get on your knees to pull them out unless you put the machine on a mount – which now seems to be an option included with many front-load styles. Top-load washers have two options available – standard – that come with an agitator (the spiral cylinder in the middle of the tub) and High Efficiency (HE) – without an agitator. Washers with agitators tend to be harder on your clothes and use more water than those without, so long-term running costs will be higher compared to its HE counter-part. You can also wash a duvet or sleeping bag in tubs without an agitator.
  3. Performance: There are several organizations that test washers thoroughly highlighting which ones perform best, what their cycle time is, and how tough or gentle the machine is on clothes. Check out our resources page for some sites that do a thorough testing job.
  4. Cycle time: What options for cycle length does the washer have? Cycle times can vary between quick wash settings for a 28-minute wash, to whitest whites at three hours.
  5. Features: We could write a book (but we won’t) on the all the features that are possible for washers these days. A far cry from those of even 20 years ago, the dashboard of a washing machine (complete with sing-songy bells and whistles) is looking increasingly like it belongs at NASA. Keep in mind what your objectives are, as well as your own behaviour – if you only ever use the “normal wash” cycle, you can skip any washers with over-the-top features. Connected machines will signal your smartphone you when your load is complete, can stop in mid-cycle or let you add a rinse cycle. Just consider whether you’d ever use those features.
  6. Efficiency: The running costs for your washer can add up, especially if you live in an area with metered water. It’s better for your wallet and the planet if you look at energy and water-efficient models. Generally, front-load machines are both and use the least amount of water and energy. HE top-loaders vary significantly in energy and water consumption, compare models if you have decided on this style.
  7. Reliability: Finding a reliable appliance seems to be an increasing challenge these days. You want one that does its job well without needing repair often, and preferably within the first five years. Read reviews to find out which washers are the most reliable.
  8. Repairability: All appliances eventually need service, especially if it’s used constantly. Make sure the brand you choose has a good service network in your area. Don’t just rely on the salesperson’s word, check out local blogs, reviews and check that the manufacturer has a service network in your area. Also, some machines are becoming less repairable. Check online forums and blogs to see if the model you’re interested in can be easily repaired.

Check out our other articles on our washers page for more information on buying, selling and maintaining your washer.