Because Inquiring Minds Wanna Know

I’ve told you before that I’m an info junkie.  Whenever we have a big purchase to make I generally spend hours online researching, examining Consumer Reports with a fine tooth comb, reading customer reviews, and comparing features and prices.  Then I begin interrogating friends and family.  I have to know what everyone has, what they like, what their experiences are, and what they recommend.  Of course by then I am in information overload and you may find me sitting in the corner, sucking my thumb and twirling my hair.  And yet I do it every time.  What can I say?  It’s fun in a sick sorta way.

Over the past few months, I’ve known that my clothes dryer is on the blink.  It’s about 11 years old, and with 5 people creating laundry in this house, it works HARD.  Lately it hasn’t been drying things thoroughly, and I often have to run a second cycle.  Then a couple of weeks ago it started making this dreadful noise like it was crying out in pain.  My husband thought perhaps it needed a new belt and suggested we look into having it serviced.  He was hoping to breathe new life into it.

I secretly hoped it was about to die a rapid and painless death.  I’ve been wanting to upgrade to a newer, fancier model for a while now but we couldn’t justify it as long as we had one that was still running.  In fact, I suggested that we should just go ahead and get a new set since ours was clearly on their way out.  But my prudent husband wasn’t buying it, so like the submissive wife that I like to think I am, I agreed to go the repair it route first.

My husband, Mr. DIY himself, kept saying he was going to look into it, but you DIY widows out there know how that goes.  There are already about three outstanding projects around here, so I wasn’t holding my breath.

Finally this past weekend, I decided to call in a repairman to have a look, fully expecting him to want to replace a belt or that drum something-or-other.  On Saturday morning a heavy-set gentleman in torn Levis approached my front steps with a clipboard in one hand and a tool kit in the other and introduced himself as Jim.  I brought him into my newly-cleaned laundry room and showed him our ailing patient.

He turned it on and off a few times, asked me a few basic questions, took a deep sigh and stated solemnly, “It’s the motor.”

I tried to squelch the gleeful grin that was threatening to spread across my face as I said for clarification, “So he’s on his way out, huh.”

Jim nodded sympathetically, “Yep, it would cost almost as much to repair it as it’s worth,” as he began scrawling on the clipboard he had brought along. “It may run for a while longer, but sooner or later it’s going to start cutting off in the middle of the cycle.  You’ll have to wait 15 minutes or so for it to cool down before you can start it up again.  And then it’ll just stop turning on altogether.”

I stood there sedately and waited while inside was dancing a jig.  I could almost feel the pages of Consumer Reports in my greedy hands.

Finally he ripped off the paper and handed it to me.  “Seventy-eight, sixty-five,” he stated.

CLUNK.  I have to pay this guy $75 to tell me I need a new dryer?

I stifled the urge to point out to my husband that if we had just gone out and bought a new set like I’d suggested, we’d have an extra $75 to put towards it.  Or, I may have mentioned it one or ten times; I can’t exactly recall.

At any rate, we are now in the market for a new washer and dryer.  Yes, I’m getting the washer too; they have to match, dontchaknow.  And besides, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time…

So my question for you is a simple one:

Front loading or top loading?

My preliminary research indicates that most people prefer the front loader; however many complain about vibration and about a pesky mildew issue around the seal.  And also, I’m not sure I could get used to not adding clothes once the load is running.  I’m always finding just one more thing to throw in there.  So those are my reservations.

However, if we get a front loader, we will be able to install a handy shelf across the tops of them, which would create a lot of extra clutter-catching space.  Plus they just look cool.  And who says appliances shouldn’t be fashionable too?

So spill it.  What do you recommend?  Brand names and any other pertinent details are appreciated.

Join The Conversation

38 Responses

  1. My reasoning has nothing to do with features or energy savings or anything…

    I won’t get a front-loader simply because of all the accidents that I hear about with these. Most recently, a 5 year old girl who climbed in, her little brother pushed/fell into the button to start it, and she died within seconds.

    It terrifies me! I don’t want to burst your new dryer/washer bubble, just be careful! Maybe if you’re getting a new one, invest in a lock, too!

  2. I would LOVE to have a front loader, I have a few friends that have them. They all love them, and a couple have the lock that you can put on the machines.

    You can even put shelving below the machines, adding even more storage space.

  3. Front loaders. This is my fourth set (four different houses- Maytag, LG, LG, and Frigidaire brands) and I love them. Each time we sold a house the buyer INSISTED on getting the washer and dryer.

    Front loaders are gentler on clothes, use less water, and you can really load them up. I wash my king sized quilt in mine.

    My last two sets were LG’s and I did find that if the washer wasn’t left open a crack until the inside dried out it could smell musty. I have not had this problem with this set of machines (Frigidaire brand) and I have to close the washer fully because the machines sit directly behind a set of doors that otherwise would have to remain open. Also.. they are gorgeous. I had a beautiful red set in my last house. My current set is navy blue and so pretty it’s a shame they are behind double doors.

  4. I just bought a new dryer this weekend!!

    One thing to consider. I did not get a set. I figured that a new washer wouldn’t really add value (it agitates — what else is there?), so I am going to wait for it to die.

    My old dryer has been on the brink for ages. It never quit, but we had to run it twice for every load. I don’t even want to think what I’ve paid in electricity.

    I got one that has the dryer sensor and I got a large capacity one, but it’s not fancy. I’m not sure that I could spend $1100 EACH for a W&D! I know that there’s a middle ground as well, but I am happy with my $400 model.

  5. One more thing about front loaders. They cost a LOT to fix. A friend of mine has a really nice top of the line one. Something (fairly simple) broke, and it cost several hundred dollars to have it fixed.

  6. I have the maytag front loaders – 7 years old. I love them except for the mildew – I will not buy another front loader because of it.

  7. Check out the Whirlpool Cabrios. The washer you can get without the agitator and it runs just like a front loader but its a top loader. We bought it 3 years ago and LOVE LOVE it!! For me to wash a normal size load it takes about 36 minutes and then 40 minutes is the time on the normal dryer setting but it runs faster and is really about 33 mins. Ohhh How I love them. (Sears has a comparable one I believe called the Kenmore Elite Oasis)

  8. Okay that first comment? Scares the CRAP out of me. I’d be the type to forget ONCE to lock it and my kids would be the type to realize it that ONE time. {shudder}

    Plus I’m the QUEEN of “throwing things in” after it’s already started. I know for me personally, I’ll have to stay with the top-loader. Thankfully ours is still goin’ strong.

    Oh, and by the way? I spent WAY more than you this weekend for someone to tell me something WASN’T BROKEN. Stay tuned tomorrow. Argh.

  9. I love the Whirpool Duet washer and dryer we got 3 yrs ago when we moved into our home. The Whirpool does not have the mildew problem that the Maytags do (though I hear in newer models Maytag has fixed the problem). The drainage holes where the rubber and the drum connect are flush with the bottom so the water completely drains. Mine never smells & clothes don’t get stinky if I forget to put them in the dryer right away. I have left them in the closed washer for up to a whole day w/ no problem. Lots of the clothes (especially fleece pjs and lightweight cotton) come out of the washer practically dry. In the summer I’ve been known to throw a thin cotton tee on while still wet if I’m going outside – dries so fast with the heat.

  10. Jo-Lynne,

    We are in the process of building a new home and we were shopping for washer and dryer also. Of course I wanted top of the line front loading and I wanted a counter top built over the top so I could fold the clothes as I took them out of dryer. My brother in law built a home recently and had purchased a pair and said that the washer was not cleaning the clothes that well and was wearing out his shirts. I thought huum, ok, but I still wanted them. Then the salesperson at the appliance store where we are buying all of the appliances told me she had them in her last home and was very disapointed and went back to top loading. She said that sometimes her clothes did not smell that great. Well that took the cake, I love fresh clean smelling clothes and do not want to take a chance of that happening. So we are going with top loading. But I still think the front loading look better. Ask people who you know have them and see.


  11. We have a set of Maytag front-loader washer and dryer that are going on their 2nd year. I *LOVE* them because they save me so much time in the cycles. My 16 month old just discovered the buttons on the front, but luckily they each have a ‘lock’ button so unless he holds the button for 5 seconds, it stays locked and loaded! No mildew problem here and I have also forgotten to change loads so wet clothes stayed in overnight and absolutely no smell the next morning!

  12. I am on my second washer in 10 years. Stay away from Maytag Neptune. It was awful and died after 7 years of use. I did not have any trouble with mildew but my sister has. I replaced my Maytag washer with an LG and I LOVE IT! I don’t have any trouble with mildew and I don’t leave it open after I’m done with laundry. No problems with either machine vibrating either. You can interrupt most front loads to throw something else in. I still have my Maytag Neptune dryer but will replace it will an LG dryer when it dies.

    I think you are probably good with most front loads but I would stay away from Maytags – in the 10 years I have had a house full of them, I have replaced my washer, fridge (6 years old) and had major repair on my dishwasher and oven. My microwave is on its last leg and we are counting the days until we can replace them with stainless steel.

    Good luck deciding :}

  13. I have the Duet washer & dryer and I can’t really say that I recommend them. Altho mine is 2? years old so there might be some improvements. I have a serious issue with the smell. Towels especially just smell musty, and I have to bleach them. Mine are cream colored, but if they were colored, I guess it would ruin them. I have to be sure and run a load of bleached clothes once a week (and I almost never used to bleach) and I also had to buy this stuff called Smelly Washer that I still have to use sometimes. I also cannot put the detergent or softener in the cups, I have to pour it directly in the washer to avoid buildup, which is just annoying as heck to me.

    Here is the other thing with the front loader. We ain’t no spring chickens. Bending over, especially to get the wet clothes that are stuck to the sides of the drum, is not easy on the old child bearin back. It is not awful on me yet, but it is on my mom who helps me with laundry a lot. So you can get the stand. Well, that’s another $200. And then, well you are taller than I am, but with the stand, it kinda takes away from the benefit of storage on top because it makes it very tall.

    If I had to do it over again, I would go with the Cabrio. I love the benefits of no agitator: I love that it is gentler on your clothes, I love how gigantic it is – I have washed everything from comforters to car mats in there – and I love how efficient with water it is. But the smell. Man. I am a smell person, and that slightly musty smell is a real big bummer for me, and I am irritated that I spent almost $1000 on a washer yet have to go to give it such special treatment.

    Oh – you can still throw stuff in the front loader, you just have to pause a second for it to unlock and throw it in real quick so water doesn’t get on the floor.

  14. PS – I know they say that you can wash like 17 pairs of jeans at once, blah blah. Yeah, you can cram it all in there. But I have found if I do, then they really don’t come out clean, and I end up having to wash them again. So don’t believe the hype – the new washers are better, sure. But you will not want to marry it like all the ads say you will.

  15. LOVE my front loader washer and dryer. They are on the second floor, no vibration, no mildew, no problems. Ours are natural gas powered, very energy efficient. AND the clothes come out almost dry by the time they are done washing so dry time is actually less than wash time. This means you can have the dryer empty and almost folded (if you are quick) by the time the washer is done with the next load.

    ours are the Kenmore top of the line from a couple of years ago. They did really well on the consumer reports, I have no complaints of the mildew smell (and I live in a place where there is a LOT of potential for mildew, year round!) and I just love them. And dcrmom, you KNOW I’m an appliance junkie (some might even say snob, hmph). Go for it!

  16. I have the frigidare combo and I love it. Front loaders rule :). We had a visit from the repairman (covered under warranty) and he gave us a ton of information…First off he told us that he personally only uses powdered detergent and a full cup of it. He said “try this, put some liquid detergent on your hands and rinse it off…what do your hands feel like? Then do the same with powdered…notice the difference? If you have any cuts on your hands…it really hurts and if it hurts what does that mean??? It’s killing the germs” He said this takes care of the seal and boot problems as well. I know it’s a long winded post…BUT you did say “spill it”…LOL

    I would try and go for stainless steel drums as well, they’re sturdier than plastic when it comes to buttons and rivets on jeans.

  17. We have a 7 year old front loader. It is the full size version (not the over-sized version which most people have nowadays). You pretty much summed up the pros and cons in your post. I like mine a lot. I stack them because my laundry room is TINY.

    We have not had any problems with safety, although you might want to check if any out there have safety locks or something.

    If I was getting a new washer though, I would get a cool color! 🙂 But that’s just me.

  18. Ooh!!!! I can help! I can help!!!!
    Would you believe it? Ha!
    So, a while ago something was going on with my parents’ freezer, and we had to bring a repair guy out…..
    Somehow, during conversation with him he told us that he also does repairs to washers and dryers. Good to know!
    And THEN somehow it came out in conversation that he HATES front-loading washers. HATES. As in – he won’t even work on them because no matter the brand, they’re pieces of junk.
    So, there you go.

  19. I had a repairman come to check out my washing machine about 5 months ago. It, also, is terminal. (Un?)fortunately, it hasn’t croaked yet. I had been wanting to get some of those front-loading machines too. BUT my repairman recommends against those. He said his main business is repairing those machines so he advised me to opt for the standard top-loading set.

  20. Ok, I have officially left off lurking. I love reading your posts, and I’m hoping to help with your dilemma.

    I love my front loader. It’s the Whirlpool duet system. The smell is easy enough to handle, just leave the door open a smidge, and use an old cleaning rag to dry the seal after your last load of the day. and if you hang that rag over the door, presto, it won’t close, so no smell.

    My favorite feature is that they’re stackable, so I don’t lose precious space above the units.

    Laundry is a never-ending battle around here, as I’m sure it is in your home, so I just stopped worrying about throwing in that one last item. Good luck with whatever you choose.

    P.s. I’ve had my set for about three years, and never had a single problem with them.

  21. I’ve had a Maytag front loading set for 4 years and love them. I have them on the stands so that there is no bending to pull stuff out and I love the drawers in the stand for storage.
    We have not had any problems with ours…we read the booklet and have followed the directions-novel idea, right? We have never had mildew but then the book said to leave the door open(just a little) when not in use and its worked.If you leave the door closed when not in use they suggest using bleach in a load at least once a month. I bleach all of our cleaning/dusting cloths so I assume that helps,too.
    I would suggest getting the warranty but then that’s my new policy on any appliance purchase.
    Don’t get the washer until you need it…its really not worth it.

  22. I’m in the market too. Not because ours are broken but because I’ve been saving my pennies and nickels forEVER trusting that one day I will be able to buy some front-loaders. Only, after doing the research and reading each of these comments, I’m not so sure. I even purchased a pair at Home Depot over the weekend. Luckily I can cancel without any fees up until delivery (which I purposefully scheduled way out!). I hope you are getting closer to a resolution than I am.

  23. I have a new set of Samsung front loaders and I heart them! I have heard horror stories about them, but I have not had any problems (knock on wood). You only have to use a tablespoon of detergent, and my drier has a sensor on it that senses if more or less drying time is needed. The washer has a high spin cycle that is awesome and makes the drying time less:) I wash only once per week (there are 5 of us) and only do 5 loads:)!!! Yay!!! When I am done, I dry the rubber seal on the inside of the washer and leave the door open until bedtime so the inside can dry out. I don’t know if this is really neccessary, but since so many people talk about having odor problems, I’m not taking any chances. Hope you find something you love!

  24. Front loader

    much more eco-friendly – energy and water
    much more wallet-friendly

    and when I got mine, there were all kinds of rebates availale at the store (water co, electric co, county….) so it made it MUCH cheaper to buy than the top loaders. And I’m saving money each month on utilities.

  25. I have a Kenmore front loader and I love it! I have had it for 4 years and it’s still going strong. I do leave the door cracked open when I am done so it will dry out and have no problems with odors. (I HATE odors). If you do go with a front loader make sure you get the stand for it so it sits up higher, plus mine has a nice storage drawer in it. Good luck with your decision!!

  26. Okay, my spent-a-ton-of-money-on-nothing post is up and it will make you feel better about your $75, I guarantee it.

  27. or it ends up falling on the floor. We just bought LG front load washer and dryer and I love them. I got the dark gray color.

    I too have heard the horror stories and did lots of research and asked lots of questions.

    The advice I got was: leave the doors open and let them dry out over night. Always wipe down the washer. Empty the water hose in front once a month. Make sure you use the HE detergent and not too much.

    I was also told that there was a problem with the mildew smells with older models but most of the newer models don’t have that problem. I also bought some front loader cleaner – maybe that helps.

    I also got the pedestals and love the extra storage space. Without the pedestals it could see it being difficult to bend down to put everything in and out.

    The only thing I do not like is transferring from the washer to dryer. You have to be sure to not grab too much. As for kids getting inside. You actually have to press two buttons and turn one knob to get my washer or dryer to start. So it’s not as easy as it may sound.

  28. I know nothing 🙂 But I’ve heard that Front loaders are better because they don’t use as much water.

    The whole kids drowning thing scares me though – with all the trouble my boys get into, it would be likely that they’d attempt to crawl in it.

  29. About the mildew issue…if you have a laundry room, just leave the door open on the washer so that the seal can dry between uses. I have had mine for almost a year and haven’t had an issue with it at all. A friend of mine has the same set as mine (has had them for 4-5 years I think) and she can’t leave the door open because of space issues. She just wipes the seal dry and runs a Clorox wipe around it occasionally. She says that she hasn’t had any problems with hers.

  30. Tara, thanks! My neighbor has this, and I really think it might be the way to go. But right now I’m in sticker shock and I think we’re going to run this dryer into the ground and then decide whether or not to get a whole new set or just try to get a cheap dryer and keep running the washer. Wouldn’t it be nice if money grew on trees? 😉

  31. I’m in Australia, so our brand names won’t really mean much to you, but I thought I’d weigh in on the whole front/top loader question.

    I grew up in the US, with a top loading machine, and although the appliances are smaller here, I do feel that, generally speaking, top loaders hold more, but are less energy efficient. And do seem to be rougher on clothes. Are also easier to load/unload, in my opinion. I now have a front loader, which uses less water, and is gentler on clothes, but I have to do more loads to get the laundry done. There is also the issue of loading/unloading, as pointed out by another reader. I loathe bending over to load the clothes, so I usually have my two-year old help me. Maybe that’s cheating a bit, but it saves my back!
    Given that we do a lot of laundry here, I prefer the front loader because of the water thing, and the easier on clothes thing. Our laundry isn’t in the house, so we don’t have to worry about anyone climbing in. In addition, here you can turn the outlet off without unplugging the machine, so when I’m done, I just turn it off. If she does sneak out to the laundry, she can’t turn it on, so other than possibly getting stuck, we’d be okay there.

  32. I love those red ones too, but as frivolous as I am, I can NOT pay extra for colored appliances that are going to sit in my laundry room and collect dust. Now, I do splurge for my kitchen on stainless. But the laundry? Can’t do it. As much as I love those navy ones!

  33. I’m late to the party, but thought I would throw in my opinion. I purchased Bosch front loaders last year. I like them okay. I don’t love them as much as I thought I would. You can fit in 15 pair of jeans, but then the vibrations will shake your house like a helicopter is landing on the roof. So, I end up putting in smaller loads than before. And we had to have the entire drum unit replaced on the washer this past Jan. Apparently it was damaged during shipping. The vibration is better, but still not great. And they are expensive!! I can’t say they clean my clothes any better. On the plus side I like that the girls can help with laundry. Even my 7 year old can swap laundry for me. Nice! I figured out the trick on the mildew. I only use Gain powder detergent (got that suggestion from the Bosch repairman himself). I use 2 Tbl. of powder per wash. My clothes smell great and that little amount gets them clean and a small box lasts for months! And not one touch of mildew. If I had to do again, I would get a nicer top loading washer and a step stool for my girls. I would save some money and wouldn’t feel like I put a .25 in bed every time the spin cycle comes around :o)

  34. I have a front load washer/dryer set and I love them! They get clothes super-clean, compared to my old set, and YES you can add clothes after the cycle has started! {You should never worry about your kid getting trapped and killed in a washer or dryer, you should watch your kids and take precautions……5 minutes in a washer is too long for the parents to not notice that the kid is gone!}
    I even wash our King-sized linens in it. Plus, it handles way more clothes than a standard washer, and uses less water! Commit to a set girl, and then ride it out for the next 10 years! I hear that now is a good time to buy…..it seems.

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