While dryers have changed relatively little in the past 10 years, washers have become more efficient. But some new ones are having a tough time meeting new federal energy rules without sacrificing cleaning. Our latest tests found huge performance differences among machines.
The U.S. Department of Energy now requires washers to use 21 percent less energy, a goal we wholeheartedly support. But several major manufacturers are meeting the new standard in part by lowering wash-water temperatures, which often lowers performance. Traditional top-loaders with center-post agitators are having the hardest time, with some leaving our stain-soaked swatches nearly as dirty as they were before washing. Most top-loaders received only mediocre washing scores, and some had the lowest scores we've seen in years.
Fortunately, our tests also revealed models that are both capable and efficient.
The top four brands--GE, Kenmore (Sears), Maytag, and Whirlpool--account for most washer and dryer sales. Other brands include Frigidaire (made by Electrolux), Hotpoint (made by GE), and Admiral, Amana, and Roper (made by Whirlpool). You might also run across such brands as Crosley, Estate, and White-Westinghouse, all of which are made by the larger brands. Asko and Miele are European brands. Fisher & Paykel is imported from New Zealand, LG and Samsung from Korea, and Haier from China. …