WASHER & DRYER BUYING GUIDE
When you’re shopping for a new washer and dryer, you need to consider a lot of things. After all, a washer and dryer are appliances you’ll use every week and for many years. So it’s important to choose wisely and get the best washer and dryer to meet your needs.
Think about your answers to these key questions before you head to the store:
- How much space do you have?
- How many loads of laundry do you do every week?
- What’s your budget?
- Are you concerned about conserving water and energy?
- Do you wash a lot of heavy items like comforters or dog beds? Or do you wash a lot of delicate items?
With your answers in mind, let’s explore the wonderful world of washers and dryers!
Front Load Washers
Front load washers generally offer the best cleaning capability and cause the least wear and tear of clothing. They have a large capacity and are often more energy efficient than top load washers.
Front load washers automatically determine how much water is needed for a load, which can be half as much as for a standard top load washer. Front load washers have faster spin speeds, and this helps reduce time and energy spent drying clothes, too.
Some units are stackable to save space, and additional storage space is available underneath the machine if it’s placed on a laundry pedestal.
Top Load Washers
Traditional top load washers cause a bit more wear and tear on clothes if they have a central agitator. They have faster wash and rinse cycles, but clothes will require more time in the dryer due to less efficient spin cycles. But they are easy to load (no bending or kneeling), and most models let you add items after the wash has begun.
High Efficiency (HE) Washers
High efficiency washing machines offer greater capacity for your money than most front load washers, while using less water and energy.
Sensors automatically determine the amount of water needed for a load and then use highly efficient cleaning actions to save even more water. Faster spin speeds reduce time and energy spent drying clothes. They tend to be gentler on clothes, as well.
Check online for possible water and electricity rebate programs in your area for additional savings.
Gas dryers hook up to your natural gas connection and require an external exhaust vent. The purchase cost of a gas dryer will be higher than a comparable electric model, but they usually cost less to operate.
Gas models also heat up faster and dry your clothes faster than electric dryers, adding to their cost-effectiveness. Some gas dryers can be converted to liquid propane (LP) with the additional purchase of a conversion kit compatible with that model.
Electric dryers cost less than gas models to purchase, but they typically cost more to operate. They also tend to take longer to dry clothes than their gas counterparts.
Almost all electric dryers require an external vent, but for areas where this isn’t possible, there are ventless condensation dryers. These models direct the moist air through a heat exchanger to cool and condense the water vapor, instead of sending it out through an exhaust vent.
Condensation dryers may take longer to dry your clothes and will transfer heat into the surrounding room, but they are a good solution when standard vented dryers can’t be used.
If you do loads and loads of laundry, a large capacity washer and dryer is definitely worth the investment. And even if you don’t do a lot of laundry now, if you’re planning on adding to your family in the future, you might consider upsizing now. After all, you’re going to have these machines a long time!
Different brands use different terms for their large capacity models like “super” and “extra” but these aren’t standardized. For a true comparison, look for the numeric cubic feet value, which is based on Department of Energy standards.
When you buy a washer and dryer set, the pair will already be balanced to work with each other, and the styling and performance will match.
Most people don’t think of their laundry in terms of cubic feet, but manufacturers do. Washers range in capacity from 3.1 to 5.0 cubic feet and beyond.
The capacity of your dryer should be determined relative to the capacity of your washer. The dryer needs to be large enough to allow a full wash load to tumble freely, with enough space for hot air to circulate.
Full size washers and dryers can be 24 to 30 inches wide each, requiring up to five feet of space or more. The machines will sit several inches from the wall, and some models have contoured fronts that add to the depth as well. So before you buy a washer or dryer, it’s a good idea to measure the space you have. Also check to make sure the units will fit through any doors or halls on the way.
Stackable Washer and Dryer
Not a lot of room? Go vertical! There are many great compact, stackable laundry centers – framed units that contain a washing machine and a dryer stacked one atop the other. Some freestanding front load washers and dryers can be stacked as well.
Width: Leave 1” to 3” on the sides and between appliances so air can circulate.
Depth: Leave 4” to 6” at the back to accommodate vents, hookups and cords (round vents will require more space than periscope-style vents). Front load washers and dryers typically need 21” to 25” to swing the door open.
Height: For top load washers, allow at least 20” for door clearance. If front load models will be installed under a counter, leave 1” of wiggle room so they’re easier to remove when necessary.
Washer and dryer pedestals elevate your washer and dryer to a more comfortable height, and most models provide extra storage space. A pedestal washer functions as a second, smaller washing machine, making it easy to wash a small load of delicates, active wear or whites below while washing the larger load above at the same time.
These days, washers and dryers come with so many bells and whistles, it can be confusing. So take a moment to familiarize yourself with the many available features. Once you get to the store, you’ll be a laundry pro!
Almost all washers offer a few basic wash cycles like normal, delicate and heavy duty. Many machines come with a wide range of cycles, such as wool, bedding, towels, active wear and many more. The settings are smart to use because the washer will automatically adjust water temperature, agitation and spin speeds appropriately.
Standard top load washers give you a few water level choices. High efficiency washers automatically adjust the water level for each load, which helps conserve water.
Some washers come with handy automatic soap and softener dispensers and will pour in the right amount for each load.
Automatic temperature control
Today’s washers go far beyond hot, warm and cold. Many have an internal thermostat that checks and adjusts the water as needed.
Quick wash/speed wash options
Need to wash just a few items but don’t want to waste all that water and energy? Many washers have a quick wash or speed wash option that’s perfect for very small loads.
Standard top load washers stop when you open the lid, but high efficiency front load and top load washers lock once you start them. However, some models come with a pause button or even a small door so you can toss in that last sock.
Laundry pedestals elevate your washer and dryer to a more comfortable height and provide extra storage space. With a pedestal washer below, you can wash a small load of active wear, delicates or whites while washing a bigger load above.
NFC Tag-On technology
With NFC (Near Field Communication) Tag-On technology, you can use your smartphone to download new washer and dryer cycles, view recent cycles you’ve used and even troubleshoot problems.
Extra rinse cycle
This option uses more water, but it’s a good way to make sure all the detergent is rinsed from your clothes. It’s also smart for extra dirty loads to make sure every trace of mud is rinsed away.
Stainless steel tub
Unlike porcelain-coated styles, stainless steel tubs won’t chip, rust, crack or absorb odors the way plastic tubs can. Stainless steel tubs will also hold up better to faster spin speeds.
When basic washing machines finish washing a load, they just stop. But today, many models come with an end-of-cycle signal which might be a little beep or even a tune. This ensures you don’t forget a wet load in the washer, which can quickly get mildewed and smelly.
Some models feature a sink that drops down from the lid for convenient soaking and scrubbing. It tilts back to pour clothes and water directly into the washer and tucks out of the way with the lid.
Energy Star certified
All appliances include an Energy Guide label showing the estimated yearly operating cost. Washers and dryers with the Energy Star symbol on the label meet requirements set for energy efficiency, using less water and energy, saving you money and protecting the environment. Washers that have earned the Energy Star use less energy and water, which can cut down on your utility bills. Energy Star-certified dryers also use less energy than conventional models.
Steam can penetrate clothing fibers better than water to release stains and odors, so many washers now come with a pre-wash steam feature. Select dryers also offer a steam option for removing wrinkles, freshening musty clothes or cleaning non-washable items.
These options use steam or higher-temperature water to reduce germs, bacteria and other irritants. It’s a good idea to test a few garments to make sure they don’t shrink or fade. If you see an NSF Certified label, that means the sanitize setting is long and/or hot enough to kill 99.9% of microorganisms and 95% of dust mites and pet dander.
This steam-based cycle distributes a high temperature of steam and hot water to kill the majority of dust mites and pet dander.
Vibration and noise reduction
High efficiency washers and dryers can offer a vibration and noise reduction setting, which is great if your laundry room is near your bedroom. Vibration reduction is especially helpful if your washer will be on an upper floor, to counter the force of spinning at very high speeds.
Digital displays and touch-screen controls
Washers and dryers are becoming more and more sophisticated; many feature digital displays and even touch-screen panels. Some even let you save your favorite settings.
With delayed start, it’s almost as if the laundry is doing itself! You can prep a load and then set a timer to run the washer or dryer when you want it to, perhaps right before you get home from work or late at night when energy rates are lower.
Some higher-end models have built in Wi-Fi to connect with your smartphone. This way, your phone can alert you when a load is done and even troubleshoot problems.
Unless you’re an appliance repair person, it can be difficult to diagnose problems yourself. That’s where your smartphone comes in. Some models work with an app to identify issues and offer tips to resolve them.
Clean tub cycle
To keep the washer drum clean, run the tub-cleaning cycle once a month to remove buildup of detergent and other residue.
Color and finish
Your grandmother probably didn’t have a snazzy-looking washer and dryer. But these days, you have many options beyond plain white. Washers and dryers come in an array of styles, colors and finishes, including stainless steel, gray, black, red and even blue.
Basic dryers typically have several heat settings, plus a no-heat fluff option. Higher-end models have a wide variety of options like reverse tumbling to keep clothes from tangling, and extended tumbling to keep the clothes tumbling without heat after they’re dry to avoid wrinkles.
Many dryers include a moisture sensor to make sure your loads are dry, without over-drying and wasting energy.
Some dryers allow you to open the door two ways: swing it out to the side or pull it down from the top. Opening the door from the top lets you load wet clothes easily; the sideways opening lets you unload easily. A win-win!
A handy feature that lets you dry shoes without the thump-thump-thump and sweaters without shrinking. The drying rack sits horizontally in the machine and allows you to dry items without tumbling.
Water inlet hoses
If your washer comes with rubber hoses, you might consider upgrading to braided stainless steel hoses to reduce the risk of burst pipes and water damage. If you do use rubber hoses, they should be replaced every five years. One thing to keep in mind when shopping: Not all washing machines include the required fill hoses, so make sure you purchase any you will need.
When you purchase a new dryer, you must also purchase a new vent kit (except with condensation dryers). Vents should be rigid or semi-rigid metal; foil or plastic tubing increases the risk of fire and, in the case of a gas dryer, the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Vents should be cleaned annually to reduce drying times and the danger of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dryer power cord
Electric dryers do not include the power cord. Check to see whether your 240-volt outlet requires 3 prongs or 4 prongs.
Dryer gas connector
Gas dryers require a new gas connector. Old ones cannot be reused.
High efficiency (HE) detergent
High efficiency detergent is required for high efficiency washers. HE washers have lower water levels and need low sudsing soap. Using regular laundry detergent in these machines can prevent your clothes from getting clean and rinsing properly, could damage the machine and may even void the warranty.
If you’ll be stacking your laundry pair, then you will need a stacking kit to provide the necessary stability. Look for the kit that’s compatible with your specific front load washer and dryer models.
Putting your front load washer and dryer on laundry pedestals gives added height, reducing the need to bend over to load and unload, which your back will appreciate! Purchase laundry pedestals that match your washer and dryer. Many come with handy storage drawers, and some models function as smaller second washing machines called twin load washers.
Sanitization or allergy settings
These options use steam or higher-temperature water to reduce germs, bacteria and other irritants. It’s a good idea to test a few garments to make sure they don’t shrink or fade. If you see an NSF Certified label, that means the sanitize setting is long and/or hot enough to kill 99.9% of microorganisms and 95% of dust mites and feline dander.
Steam dryer installation kit
Some steam dryers hook into your water supply and might not include the required inlet hose. This kit includes a 6’ fill hose of braided stainless steel, plus a Y-adapter and 1’ extension hose.
Our mission at Conn’s HomePlus is to make it possible for everyone to purchase quality, long-lasting products for their home. Over the lifetime of your washer and dryer set, you’ll do hundreds of loads of laundry, so it’s worth investing in a quality set that takes good care of your family’s clothes.
Our YES MONEY® financing could help you afford a top-of-the-line washer and dryer set with the latest features. Apply for your YES MONEY® before you head to the store, and you could be approved for $5,000 in minutes!*
When you buy your new washer and dryer at Conn’s HomePlus, you don’t have to wait weeks to start enjoying them. For customers in our local markets, our delivery pros can often bring your new washer and dryer to your home the very next day and even haul away your old items.1
We hope this guide helps you select the best washer and dryer for you and your family! If you have questions about washer and dryer models and features, visit your local Conn’s HomePlus store, and an associate will give you an overview of what’s available. You can also browse our washers and dryers to learn more about the different models and features.
1See Shipping Information for details.
*Subject to credit approval