The Best Washing Machines (and Their Matching Dryers) (2024)

The research

  • Why you should trust us
  • How we picked and tested
  • What about matching dryers?
  • Our pick: LG WM4000H
  • Other good LG washing machines and dryers
  • Runner-up: Electrolux ELFW7637A
  • Also great: GE GFW655
  • Also great: GE GTW585BSVWS
  • Other good washing machines
  • The competition
  • A caveat, if you have a newer home
  • Privacy and security for Wi-Fi–connected washers and dryers
  • Use less detergent, and other tips for your modern washer
  • Tips for optimal drying
  • What to look forward to
  • Sources

Why you should trust us

Staff writer Andrea Barnes covers large cleaning appliances, including dishwashers. She also wrote our guides to laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent and provides tips for getting the most out of your dishwasher and laundry appliances. She has been doing laundry since 1998.

Wirecutter has been evaluating washing machines and their matching dryers since 2013. For this guide:

  • We combed through hundreds of owner reviews and spoke with numerous owners of washing machines.
  • We used the AI tool FindOurView to identify issues and themes in thousands of owner reviews.
  • We spoke with product managers and designers at various appliance brands, including Electrolux, GE Appliances, LG, and Samsung.
  • We visited the GE Appliances headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, and toured the facility.
  • In 2023, we hosted a group of paid testers with diverse backgrounds, builds, heights, and mobility levels to discuss, use, and evaluate large appliances at our office in Long Island City, New York.

How we picked and tested

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In our most recent round of testing, in 2023, we tested 12 washing machines (eight front-loaders, four top-loaders) and 12 dryers in our testing facility in Long Island City, New York.

You can read our full testing protocol for details.

Here’s a summary of what we evaluated:

  • Convenience and ease of use: We’ve found that most people prefer shorter cycle times, less noise and vibration, and minimal maintenance, so in our tests we favored models with those features. As for capacity, standard front-loaders and top-loaders are all big enough for most people’s laundry needs. We noted how easy the control panels were to read and operate, as well as the number and types of cycles available. We also paid close attention to the door and lid design.
  • Fabric care: A good washing machine should be able to remove stains and odors while minimizing wear or damage to fabric. In our tests, we’ve found that front-loaders are almost always gentler than top-loaders (though plenty of top-loaders, such as our also-great pick, still do a fine job). To measure gentleness, we washed a predamaged fraying fabric, a Poka-Dot fabric swatch (PDF) covered in tiny raised dots that fall off when abraded, and a high-quality cotton fabric with holes cut into it.
  • Stain removal: Even when you’re using a weaker laundry detergent, a good washing machine should be able to remove stains well. Features that can help with cleaning performance include extra-hot temperature settings, automatic soak or prewash options, and, to a lesser degree, add-water options.

    We tested cleaning performance using prestained cotton strips that are made to the standard of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers; these are the same type of strips that all washer brands use to gauge their machines’ performance. We washed a strip with a 12-pound load of mixed laundry (including T-shirts, jeans, blouses, and socks) using 2 tablespoons of Tide Original liquid detergent in each washer twice, on the “normal” setting in both cold and hot water. After air-drying the strips overnight, we compared them.

  • Reliability and longevity: After talking to many washing-machine owners, interviewing a variety of industry experts (including retailers, repair technicians, and brand representatives), and analyzing data online, we’ve concluded that you’re lucky if a washer lasts for 10 years with no major repairs. We looked for models from brands that have strong dependability track records.
  • Energy efficiency: Every washing machine we recommend is a high efficiency (PDF) model. Our front-loader picks are all Energy Star certified. Front-loaders are overall more efficient than top-loaders and use far less water. Regardless of what kind of washing machine you own, you can make your laundry room more energy efficient by washing your laundry in cold water, as heating water uses a lot of energy.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity: With some Wi-Fi–enabled washing machines, you can get diagnostics, cycle preferences, information on energy usage, and integration with a voice-controlled assistant and other smart-home devices. We paired an iPhone 13 with every machine that offers a connected app and evaluated the app’s usability and functionality. Some people may find it easier to use an app on their phone or tablet to operate their washer and dryer. Lucy Greco, a blind accessibility expert at University of California Berkeley, describes some of the shortcomings of an LG washing machine in two of her videos, as well as some workarounds that she and LG put in place to make the connected models more accessible.

What about matching dryers?

We installed each washing machine with its matching dryer. Matching pairs are more than just aesthetically pleasing, as often you can stack a matched pair so that they fit better into your laundry area. Still, matched pairs don’t necessarily work better together, particularly if you stay within the same brands. Multiple experts we’ve spoken with have emphasized to us that a good washer is harder to find than a good dryer. If your old dryer still works, it’s perfectly fine to keep it. The same goes for mixing and matching for budget or availability reasons.

The dryers themselves barely influenced our washer picks, because dryers are usually very similar to one another. Most dryers are perfectly acceptable for use with any washing machine. But there is one exception: Heat pump dryers take longer to dry clothing and tend to perform better and faster if used with their matching washing machine. If you’re determined to get a heat pump dryer, the easier approach is to choose your dryer first.

To test dryers, we dried the same 12-pound mixed load of laundry that we used to test washers in each dryer on its “normal” sensor-dry setting, along with several loads of sheets and a king-size comforter. (None of the full-size dryers had issues with tangling or bunching, which bodes well for both medium and large loads.) We compared the weight of the load before washing against the weight of the load after drying, and we checked all items at the end of a cycle for dampness. (Although underdrying is inconvenient, a small amount of moisture is better for fabric care, as overdrying can wear out fibers due to abrasion from extended tumbling and additional exposure to high temperatures.)

Our pick: LG WM4000H

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Our pick

LG WM4000H

Fast, gentle, effective, reliable

This speedy and gentle front-loader is excellent at removing all kinds of stains. It has a solid reputation for reliability, but LG’s customer service is not great.

Buying Options

$800 from Best Buy

$798 from Home Depot

$798 from Lowe's


A matching LG dryer

This matching electric dryer can stack with our pick. It’s also available in a gas version.

Buying Options

$800 from Best Buy

$798 from Home Depot

$798 from Lowe's

The speedy and well-rounded LG WM4000H has been our pick since 2022, and we’ve been recommending LG models since 2016.

It cleans very well. In our tests, the LG WM4000H was one of a handful of full-size front-load washers (including our runner-up and also-great picks) that consistently removed a large percentage of stains from our industrial stain strips.

It has some of the shortest and most effective wash cycles we’ve seen. The WM4000H’s TurboWash 360 setting enables some of the shortest wash cycles available on a high-efficiency machine. In general, this model washed a 12-pound load on its “normal” setting in about 43 minutes and an 8-pound load in 37 minutes, taking about 10 minutes less than our runner-up pick. TurboWash 360 is not available on less-expensive LG washing machines, and none of the other machines we tested had anything comparable. The setting recirculates water around the machine’s drum, cleaning clothing with the help of a pump and five spray jets. The WM4000H uses less water (and likely consumes less energy) on the TurboWash 360 setting.

It offers a wide range of cycles and settings. The WM4000H features 12 different cycle settings, including those for allergens (typically simply a higher heat), bedding, and whites, along with the expected cycles for delicates and permanent press. This model also offers prewash, multiple rinses, and a post-wash tumble to keep clothes fresh before you move them to the dryer.

The WM4000H’s internal heater is capable of heating water to higher temperatures than your tap can. Though we suggest limiting your use of this high-temperature wash to conserve energy and avoid shrinkage (experts recommend doing the majority of your laundry in cold water), the feature can be helpful for sanitizing.

It’s gentle on fabrics. In both our fraying and abrasion tests, the WM4000H had a better-than-average score.

It offers a large capacity. Like most front-loaders, this washing machine easily accommodates large loads. In addition to 12-pound loads, it easily fit and washed a king-size comforter in our tests.

It has convenient maintenance features. The WM4000H’s filter door is readily accessible, and you can remove its detergent drawer for cleaning. To help manage odor, this model also has a specific cleaning cycle that you can run periodically. The machine also has a magnetic door prop that aids in odor and mildew prevention.

It is durable and reliable. Our research indicates that the WM4000H is one of the more durable front-loaders available for around $1,000. Product engineers and repair technicians we’ve spoken with have had favorable things to say about LG washing machines in general, though some technicians have said that they find them a bit more difficult to repair than those from other brands.

We’ve received positive long-term-use feedback from owners of this machine. We’ve also noticed small quibbles here and there: In our analysis of more than 2,500 Home Depot customer reviews, one of the more common complaints concerned leaking caused by manufacturing defects. The incidence rate was small, though, at less than 2% of Home Depot’s customer reviews as of November 2023. This model is made in the USA.

It has smart features. The WM4000H connects to LG’s ThinQ app, which we were able to download and connect to easily. The app allows you to monitor cycles, save frequent wash settings, receive maintenance alerts, and start the machine remotely. The app also monitors load balance; an unbalanced drum, which often goes unnoticed, can eventually strain the machine and lead to major damage and expensive repairs.

It is Energy Star certified. The WM4000H uses an estimated 105 kWh of energy per year (PDF). This model is one of Energy Star’s most-efficient models; of our other picks, only our runner-up has a lower yearly energy-use estimate.

Its matching dryer performed well in testing. The LG DLEX4000 dryer handled a king-size comforter and an 8-pound load of sheets well; the comforter dried in a reasonable amount of time, and the sheets didn’t tangle. This model also dried our mixed load sufficiently on its “normal” cycle, leaving just one thick knit dress a little damp (which actually isn’t entirely bad for your clothes).

This dryer has a reversible door, an interior light, and a lint tray that is easy to access and clean. The DLEX4000 (and any 27-inch LG front-control dryer) can stack on top of the WM4000H washing machine; you just need LG’s KSTK1 stacking kit. (LG sells pedestal options for each machine, as well.) This model is also available in a gas version.

Both the washer and the dryer have decent warranties. LG covers the WM4000H washer with a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor, as well as a three-year parts (no service) warranty on the drum and a 10-year parts (no service) warranty on the motor. The dryer has a one-year parts-and-labor warranty; the drum is covered for three years.

Both the washer and the dryer are available in two finishes. The WM4000H washer and DLEX4000 dryer come in either white or black steel.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • The WM4000H’s control panel is hard to see in the dark. Using it can be particularly challenging for those who have low vision.
  • LG’s customer service experience is known to be taxing. Though service headaches are somewhat typical for any large manufacturer, we found Reddit threads dedicated to complaining about LG’s appliance customer service. We called and chatted online with LG customer service for this guide; some representatives were helpful, but the long wait time was frustrating.
  • It can be loud. A handful of owner reviews mention that the WM4000H is louder than expected. We did not experience this in our testing.

How the LG WM4000H has held up

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Senior staff writer Jackie Reeve, who has written most of Wirecutter’s guides to home textiles, has had the LG WM4000H and DLEX4000 for four years and uses the set regularly to clean all the bedding she is long-term testing, along with the household laundry. She says that the most impressive thing about the washer is how quiet it is. Jackie also likes having a sanitary cycle since she has a kid in the house, and she appreciates that the phone app pings her when a load is done.

Although Jackie is generally happy with the matching DLEX4000 dryer, she finds that the sensor-dry presets never work for her. She uses the timed-dry settings instead.

Other good LG washing machines and dryers

The LG WM5500, a sleek-looking front-loader, did well in our testing. Its stain removal is top-notch, and this model features the same effective TurboWash 360 setting that our top pick has. Its digital controls are slightly finicky, though they are better lit than those of our pick. In addition to the usual wash cycles, the WM5500 includes an AI-driven cycle, but in our tests that setting didn’t seem to improve the machine’s performance beyond typical sensor washes.

LG makes a handful of other front-loaders with the same basic design as the WM4000H. The WM3600H, which is similar in function to our top pick but doesn’t have the TurboWash 360 setting, is slightly cheaper.

Runner-up: Electrolux ELFW7637A

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Electrolux ELFW7637A

Customizable settings, longer wash times

This high-performing front-loader removes stains very well and has an array of specific and useful settings. But it doesn’t have as good of a reputation for reliability as our pick does.

Buying Options

$1,000 from Lowe's

$1,000 from Home Depot

$1,000 from Best Buy

Electrolux ELFE7637A

A matching Electrolux dryer

This electric dryer is designed to prevent overheating and handle fabric carefully. It’s stackable with our runner-up washer.

Buying Options

$898 from Lowe's

$898 from Home Depot

$900 from Best Buy

If our top pick is sold out, if you’d prefer a brand other than LG, or if you have a larger household with a range of fabric-care needs, we recommend the Electrolux ELFW7637A. It’s a delight to use, with many cycles and settings that allow for customization. But its wash cycles run longer than those of our top pick.

It’s an excellent cleaner. The ELFW7637A’s stain-removal abilities stood out in our testing. On a “normal” tap-cold setting, it was able to remove the largest percentage of the stains on our stain strips. We attribute much of that result to the washer’s SmartBoost detergent-dispensing technology, which dilutes laundry detergent in a separate chamber before evenly dispensing it versus releasing detergent all at once. It seemed to work: In our testing, we never found detergent residue in this dispenser.

It has a wider variety of settings than our other picks (though not all of them are useful). The ELFW7637A’s many setting options allow for a greater level of cycle customization than you can find in our other picks. Its extra-rinse setting senses excess detergent and washes it away—something that those with detergent sensitivities may appreciate—and its stain soak option broke down tough stains very well in our tests.

But we can’t say that all of its settings deliver. The specific options for cleaning chocolate and blood that we tried in testing didn’t do any better than a standard soak.

Its cycles run a bit long. This machine’s “normal” cycle runs about 10 minutes longer (47 minutes) than that of our pick. Though a 15-minute quick wash is available, we recommend saving that mode for particular situations, such as recently stained items or barely soiled table linens, and washing less than 5 pounds of laundry at that setting.

It’s gentle on fabric. This washing machine tied with our top pick in our abrasion tests.

Its control panel is more user-friendly than our pick’s. Electrolux’s control panel on this machine is better lit and much easier to see than LG’s design on the WM4000H.

It isn’t Wi-Fi connected. The ELFW7637A does not have a companion app.

It’s well liked. Online owner reviews for this machine are excellent. The complaints we saw usually focused on typical washing machine problems, such as leaks and balance issues. We did notice a handful of gripes about the door being misaligned, but that is most likely related to delivery and installation. Electrolux representatives told us that the company designs its products to last for a minimum of 10 years “with zero failure” under average use.

But Electrolux has a so-so reputation for customer service. Electrolux customer service is merely okay. If you live outside of a major metropolitan area, it may be harder to find someone who can repair your machine.

It is Energy Star certified. The ELFW7637A uses an estimated 85 kWh of energy per year (PDF)—the lowest estimate of all our picks.

Its matching dryer did well in testing. The Electrolux ELFE7637A dryer easily handled a king comforter and many other mixed laundry loads. It features a reversible door, and in our tests its sensor-dry setting delivered dry items every time. Unlike other sensor-driven dryers we tested, this dryer can accurately predict the dry time within 90 seconds of starting a cycle, which is convenient for planning ahead. This model also comes in a gas version.

The washer and dryer are stackable. You can find pedestal options for each machine.

Both the washer and the dryer have a standard warranty. Electrolux covers the ELFW7637A washer and ELFE7637A dryer with a one-year parts-and-labor warranty that honors any reason the machine might fail. You can extend the warranty to two years.

Both the washer and the dryer are available in two finishes. The ELFW7637A washer and ELFE7637A dryer come in either white or titanium.

Also great: GE GFW655

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Also great


Mildew prevention, longer cycles

A thorough cleaner, this model manages mold better than the other front-loaders we recommend. But it has longer cycles than our top pick and is potentially less reliable.

Buying Options

$1,299 from Best Buy

$1,299 from Home Depot

$1,168 from Lowe's


A matching GE dryer

The cycles on this matching electric dryer are a bit longer than those of other machines we tested, but our clothing emerged fully dry every time. It is also available in a gas version.

Buying Options

$1,299 from Home Depot

The GE GFW655 is a great cleaner equipped with an assortment of wash programs, but its longer cycles can be a pain. This model also has antimicrobial-treated parts and an interior vent system to help mitigate mildew and odors.

It cleans about as well as our top pick. In addition to being about as effective as the LG WM4000H in our tests, the GE GFW655 was similarly gentle on fabrics.

But it has very long cycles. On average, this model took about 20 minutes longer than our top pick to wash a load on a “normal” cycle. All of its wash cycles are longer than those of our other picks; this machine often tacked on time near the middle or end of the cycle, rendering the digital countdown on the display somewhat meaningless. (As on our other picks, a quick-wash cycle is an option, but we don’t recommend it in most situations. If you use it, stick with a very small load of 5 pounds or less.)

It’s equipped to decrease mold and mildew growth. The GFW655 addresses mold, mildew, and odor—which often befalls front-loaders—with a gasket, a detergent tray, and a drain hose all treated with Microban antimicrobial technology. (The Microban parts are blue.) Additionally, a venting function (video) drains and dries the washing machine to further aid in mildew prevention, so instead of keeping the machine’s door open to help keep the interior dry, you should be able to close the door without worrying about mold developing.

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Its reliability track record isn’t quite as strong as that of our top pick. Reliability ratings and reviews for the GFW655 are slightly lower than for our other picks. Our analysis of online reviews revealed that people don’t seem to find GE Appliances front-loaders as reliable as LG models. In general, GE Appliances has a slightly lower service reputation, though it has a dedicated service fleet. Repair technicians can also use remote diagnostics on GE appliances, a step that makes it easier for them to troubleshoot and determine replacement parts.

It’s Energy Star certified. The GFW655 uses an estimated 158 kWh of energy per year (PDF).

It’s Wi-Fi enabled. During testing, we successfully connected to the GE Appliances SmartHQ app, which among other things allows you to track wash cycles, download wash programs, start the machine remotely, and keep tabs on detergent levels in the auto dispenser (should you choose to use it). Unlike LG’s app, SmartHQ does not offer maintenance alerts, but it does provide access to service within the app.

The matching dryer did fine in our tests but took a long time. The GE GFD65 dryer took 47 minutes to dry our mixed test load—about 10 minutes longer than our top-pick dryer. (It also left our thickest garment a bit damp, but so did our top pick.) The GFD65’s speed-dry setting thoroughly dried a test load, but it took 55 minutes, despite an originally estimated dry time of 34 minutes. (In our testing over the years, we have noticed that cycle extensions are typical on GE Appliances machines.) This dryer is also available in a gas version.

The washer and dryer are stackable. GE Appliances also sells an optional pedestal (currently out of stock) and riser for each machine.

Both the washer and the dryer have fine warranties. The washer comes with a limited one-year warranty for both parts and labor, as well as a limited 10-year warranty on the motor. The dryer has a limited one-year warranty for both parts and labor.

Both the washer and the dryer are available in two finishes. The GFW655 washer and GFD65 dryer come in white and carbon graphite.

Also great: GE GTW585BSVWS

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Also great


Modern top-loader, affordable price

This top-loader with an agitator cleans well, offers multiple fill options, and has a few useful energy-saving features. But some cycles are tough on clothing.

Buying Options

$600 from Best Buy

$768 from Lowe's

$849 from Home Depot


A matching GE dryer

This matching electric dryer offers dampness sensors, a variety of cycles, and an interior light.

Buying Options

$600 from Best Buy

$598 from Lowe's

$598 from Home Depot

If you prefer a top-loader or would like to spend a little less on a washing machine, the GE GTW585BSVWS top-loader impressed us.

It’s a strong cleaner. Though the GTW585BSVWS fell short of the front-loaders we assessed in cleaning power, it was one of the best cleaners with an agitator, even on the “normal” setting. (In contrast, we needed to use the least-efficient settings on the other top-loaders we tested to see even moderately good results on our stain strips.) This machine’s excellent cleaning performance is largely attributable to its two-phase filling process: A small amount of water fills the machine in the first phase, creating a more concentrated detergent solution for laundry to soak in. During the second phase, more water fills the drum, and the machine continues to clean the broken-down stains.

It offers more options for fill levels. Most of the top-loaders we tested had limited water-fill options, but the GTW585BSVWS has five options that you can control manually. Even so, we still recommend using the auto setting for most loads because it’s the most efficient.

But it can be rougher on fabrics. As with other top-loaders, this washer’s heavy-duty cycle is harder on clothing than that of a front-loader.

And its cycles take longer. Washes on the GTW585BSVWS took a bit more time than on other top-loaders we tested.

Its controls are straightforward. The controls, consisting of a simple dial and buttons and clearly marked cycles and temperature settings, are easy to use and read. A memory setting allows you to save your favorite cycles.

The GTW585BSVWS is not Wi-Fi enabled, but GE Appliances does sell the optional SmartHQ Connect Module, which you can add to the machine for use with GE’s SmartHQ app. (The company also has a few fancier, app-connected top-loaders, such as the GE Profile PTW905BPTRS, which we plan to test.)

Its detergent dispenser could be better. We found the detergent dispenser hard to open at times, and it felt somewhat flimsy.

It is not Energy Star certified. The GTW585BSVWS is the only one of our picks that does not have an Energy Star certification, though its projected energy consumption (PDF) is still better than that of many of the top-loaders we researched, including the three others we tested (none of which are Energy Star certified). Depending on the setting, this top-loader uses a fair amount of water; filling up any top-loader’s drum generally takes a lot of water, and even high-efficiency top-loaders use about twice the amount of water as high-efficiency front-loaders do.

Its matching dryer performed well. The matching GE GTD58EBSVWS dryer fully dried large loads well in our tests, and its sensor-dry setting produced fully dry clothing consistently. It has dampness sensors, a variety of cycles, and an interior light. It is also available in a gas version.

Both the washer and the dryer have a good warranty. GE Appliances covers the GTW585BSVWS washer with a one-year limited warranty for parts and labor and a 10-year limited warranty on the motor. The company covers the GTD58EBSVWS dryer with a one-year limited warranty.

Both the washer and the dryer come in only one finish. The GTW585BSVWS washer and GTD58EBSVWS dryer are available in white.

Other good washing machines

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If you want a solid front-loader from a brand other than our picks: The Maytag MHW6630HW and its matching Maytag MED6630HW dryer both did very well in our tests. Though the MHW6630HW was slightly less effective than our picks in stain-removal power, and it did not handle fabric as gently, we appreciated its look, feel, and usability. The same goes for the dryer.

If you want a top-loader and our top-loading pick is unavailable or doesn’t appeal: We recommend waiting for a Maytag or Whirlpool agitator top-loader—such as our former budget pick, the Maytag MVWC465HW, and its replacement, the Maytag MVW4505MW—to go on sale. These machines are affordable, and they did a great job in previous rounds of testing.

If you want to spend less than what our picks cost on a front-loading washing machine: Consider buying the cheapest front-loader that you can find. The cheapest front-loader is still likely to outperform similarly priced top-loaders, and its predicted reliability should be about the same.

The GE GFW550 is very similar to our current also-great pick, the GE GFW655, but it lacks a couple of wash programs and an auto-dispensing detergent option. (We did not test this model.) Like the GFW655, the GFW550 has parts made with antimicrobial Microban, as well as a reversible door and Wi-Fi–connected features.

The LG WM3400CW did excellent work in our stain-removal tests, performing nearly as well as our top pick, the LG WM4000H. It took about 15 to 20 minutes longer on the “normal” cycle to complete a load, however, and it was somewhat less gentle than our top pick on fabrics.

The competition

This is not a comprehensive list of all the machines we’ve considered. It includes only models we’ve tested that are still available.


The high-end front-loaders in the LG 9000 series are almost comically large. Hardly anyone needs a washing machine as big as the 5.8-cubic-foot 9000 series machines.


The Amana NTW4516FW agitator top-loader is usually one of the cheapest washing machines you can buy. It’s made by Whirlpool Corporation, but compared with affordable Maytag top-loaders, it’s less efficient, rougher on clothes, and lacking in settings.

GE’s lower-end top-loaders, such as the GTW335A, are similar to the Maytag and Whirlpool models that we recommend. Their online ratings are consistently lower than those we’ve seen for Maytag and Amana models.

The LG WT6105CW produced decent results in our testing, but compared with other top-loaders we looked at, it has less-enthusiastic owner reviews, and we preferred other models.

The Maytag MVW5430 did okay in testing, but its cleaning was inconsistent. This model has an impeller, not an agitator.

Models from Samsung, one of the best-selling brands of washers in the US, pack in a ton of features for a lower price in comparison with competing machines. In previous rounds of testing, we assessed the Samsung WA50R5400 and WA40A3005 HE top-loaders and the WF45R6300 and WF45T6000 front-loaders. All of them did fine in our testing, and for the lower price, they may be worth considering.

Speed Queen’s durability is admirable, but the Speed Queen TR7 fell short in cleaning performance unless we used its least-efficient settings. Of note, though: Its matching DR7 dryer has a pet-hair cycle that removed a fair amount of golden retriever fur during our testing.

A caveat, if you have a newer home

Many newer homes have GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets or breakers, AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) breakers, or both. GFCI protection reduces the risk of electrocution, particularly water-related electrocution, at home; it is required by the National Electrical Code in bathrooms and laundry rooms, as well as near kitchen sinks. AFCI breakers are designed to keep the electrical system from starting a fire. A small percentage of people may find that their washing machine tends to trip the circuit breaker for no discernible reason, an annoyance known as “nuisance tripping.” This can happen for a number of reasons. If you’re encountering this issue, and a service technician has already determined that the washing machine isn’t the culprit—and your home was built in the past few decades—the problem may lie with your outlets.

To figure out if nuisance tripping is what you’re dealing with, Miele (the manufacturer of our upgrade compact washing machine pick) suggests checking whether the machine works in a location without GFCI or AFCI protection. You can use an extension cord for testing, but keep in mind that it isn’t a permanent fix—for regular use, your washing machine should be plugged directly into a protected outlet for safety. In a newer home, however, all receptacles (another word for outlets) might be protected, and this troubleshooting method may not work.

We spoke to a few electricians, and they said that replacing the affected outlet is the first thing to try. Miele told us that some of its customers corrected the issue by replacing the receptacles with those made by other brands, since the tolerances of these devices can vary. (The brand of a breaker, however, needs to match that of the panel.) One reader told us that they were able to fix the problem by using an adapter for a NEMA 14-30 outlet, but that may not be an option if your home is new construction.

If swapping out the outlets doesn’t help, you may have to call an electrician to figure out what else might be the problem.

Privacy and security for Wi-Fi–connected washers and dryers

Connecting any device to the internet carries security and privacy risks, so if you do so, it should be because the connected washer or dryer offers some feature that you would benefit from using—otherwise, it’s not worth taking such risks. If you’re not interested in an appliance’s smart features, you don’t have to connect it online.

Having Wi-Fi features in a washer or dryer also means that you have to think of it as you would any computer, which includes awareness of the data that the company collects and shares, the software and security update cycle, and your responsibilities in setting up the appliance securely. Be sure to use a unique password for any accounts you need to create, enable two-factor authentication if it’s offered, and always update the appliance’s software when prompted to do so.

Use less detergent, and other tips for your modern washer

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Modern, high-efficiency washing machines tend to need more maintenance than agitator washers. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to prevent—and even reverse—some of the most common problems. Here’s how.

For HE washers in general

Use high-efficiency (HE) detergent. This is crucial. Look for the little “HE” symbol on the bottle or box.

These are high-concentration, low-sudsing formulas, and they’re available at any retailer that sells detergent. We’ve done extensive testing and research to find the best HE detergents if you need help choosing one. Note that it’s also totally okay to use HE detergents in non-HE agitator washers.

High-sudsing, non-HE detergents are bad for modern washers because all those bubbles have a tough time dissolving into such small amounts of water, so they’re hard to rinse away. Modern washers can sense too much sudsing and run multiple rinse cycles to knock it all down. But that process adds as much as 20 minutes to the cycle and wastes a few gallons of water—and it might not wash out all the residue anyway.

The remaining residue from partially dissolved suds eventually causes a buildup of oily film inside the washer. That film can smear onto your clothes and act as a breeding ground for mildew and mold. Several of our sources explained to us that detergent residue can block sensors and impact a washer’s performance, as well. You can avoid all of that by using HE detergent.

Use 2 tablespoons of detergent per load at most. And that’s for the big loads, as in 12 pounds and up. For most loads—the average is about 8 pounds—just 1 tablespoon is enough.

HE detergents have at least double the concentration of traditional detergents, and HE washers use less water per cycle, further reducing the need for much detergent. Most washer manufacturers, in their owner manuals, recommend using 2 tablespoons of detergent. That amount should clean well while minimizing wear and tear on your clothes and your washer.

Detergent makers typically tell you to use more: The minimum suggested dose inside a Tide bottle cap, for example, is about 2½ tablespoons. Tracey Long, communications manager for P&G, told us that the washer manufacturers’ 2-tablespoon recommendation is a holdover from a time when HE washers were new and HE detergents hadn’t been developed yet; using less detergent was the easiest way to avoid oversudsing and all of its problems. Modern detergents don’t get sudsy, so you can use more of it, which gets your clothes cleaner, according to Penny Dirr, P&G principal researcher in laundry.

However, representatives from LG told us that they still recommended 2 tablespoons at most, based on recent and regular testing of current detergent formulas. Another LG rep called it out plainly: “Perhaps the disconnect exists because detergent makers want consumers to use more detergent so they buy more often.” That said, washing machine manuals, including that of our top pick from LG, recommend following the dosage instructions on the detergent bottles.

If you use too much detergent, you’ll feel it as a gritty or slimy residue on your clothes, and your washer will start to accumulate that same oily, mildew-friendly film you’d get from using the wrong detergent. These are common issues. Readers write to us all the time complaining about such symptoms. Ofer Hubara, a repair technician in South Carolina, said that many of the long-term mechanical problems he saw in washers stemmed from people using too much detergent and causing residue to build up. If any of this sounds familiar, you are probably using too much detergent. Just use less. It’s an easy win.

For front-loaders in particular

Leave the door open between cycles. Doing so helps to prevent the washer from getting smelly. Everyone in the industry we’ve talked to recommends taking this step. It allows the drum and gasket to dry out between uses, which helps prevent mildew and mold from growing in the dark, damp crevices.

If you have to close the door because you have kids or pets that might crawl into the drum, or because the door would block your path, that’s okay. You might just need to be more diligent with wipe-downs and drum-cleaning cycles.

Some manufacturers have started to incorporate simple features that work around the downsides to closing the door. LG washers, including our top pick, have a little magnet in the door latch that can keep the door propped open slightly; this lets the drum breathe without requiring the door to be wide open. GE models have a venting feature that you can run with the door closed to dry out the drum. Most washers have small drain holes at the edges of their gaskets so pooling water can drain out. These features are not foolproof, but they do help.

Wipe the gasket. A dry rag or paper towel is fine, no soaps or sprays necessary. Most people never think to look into this crease, but it’s prime real estate for mildew and mold—dark, moist, and surprisingly dirty. Manufacturers usually recommend wiping the gasket clean after every use, but that’s overkill. As long as you wipe under the gasket every few weeks, that should be plenty. If you stay on top of this chore, the gasket will never get too nasty. Lean toward weekly wipe-downs if you use the machine frequently, if you add fabric softener to most loads, or if you keep your washer in a humid room. Here’s a tip: Slap a stick-on plastic hook onto the side of your washer and hang a wipe-down rag on it.

Clean your washing machine. Yes, your washing machine needs to be cleaned. This means no clothes, very hot water, and a cleaning product designed specifically for washing machines, such as Affresh tablets. Most washers have a dedicated self-cleaning cycle, so use that if it’s available.

Even if you let your washer dry out between each use, and even if you use the appropriate amount of the right detergent, some residue will build up inside the machine, which can leave your clothes feeling oily, create a breeding ground for odors, and interfere with the washer’s sensors. A drum-cleaning cycle dissolves that residue.

Most washer brands recommend running a drum cleaning once a month, or every 30 to 40 loads. Really, though, two or three times a year should be enough preventive maintenance for most washers. Plan to run a few more than that if you run a lot of loads, use lots of detergent and fabric softener, or have a humid laundry room.

Even if you wash with bleach, you should still run an occasional self-cleaning cycle with a boric-acid-based cleaner. Bleach kills bacteria, but boric acid breaks up its breeding ground.

If your washer already stinks, wipe out the gasket fold and run self-cleaning cycles until it smells fresh again; the directions on the box of Affresh suggest that this process takes three cycles, but you might find that one does the trick.

For all washers

Wash smaller loads. When your clothes move freely, they get cleaner. This also prevents a lot of wear on your washer.

“Overloading is what really wears the machine out,” said Kevin Harner, technician and owner of an appliance repair service in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area. “Try not to load it more than halfway.” This tip is particularly important for front-loaders because “the extra weight is a strain on the rear bearing,” Harner said.

We don’t know if there’s a particular load size that will keep your washer safe. And every now and then, it’s fine to take advantage of your new washer’s comically large capacity with an enormous, unsorted mega-load. Just try not to make it a habit.

Expect eventual service needs. Beyond taking these basic preventive steps, expect your washer to need service at some point. Repair Clinic has an excellent series of videos about what can go wrong and how you—a regular person with a simple set of tools—can fix many of the most common problems, including broken inlet valves, cracked hoses, and popped drive belts.

Once you start running into issues such as fried logic boards, busted filter housings, and dead direct-drive systems, call a technician and prepare yourself for a big bill.

Tips for optimal drying

Sort your laundry. Dryer moisture sensors work best with sorted loads—that is, sorted by fabric weight and type and garment care. With a mixed load, the sensor may end the cycle before heavier or thicker items are sufficiently dry if it’s triggered by a lighter, thinner item that has already dried. And the faster-drying items will end up overdrying if heavier, slower-drying items prevent the sensor from ending the cycle. If sorting is too much to ask, you can always use a timed-dry setting instead, but keep in mind that you’re likely overdrying some items if you’re running the timer long enough to get a mixed load dry.

Clean the lint filter after every cycle. Dryers rely on airflow in order to work properly, and a lint filter that’s clogged with lint, fabric softener, or dryer-sheet residue can extend drying times—in addition to being a fire hazard. You can vacuum the lint out of and around the filter as well as any lint or dust around or under the dryer. If the lint filter seems especially dirty, wash it with warm water, and make sure it dries thoroughly before you use it again.

Clean your dryer’s exhaust hose every year. Use a wire brush to get the lint out. A leaf blower can help you clear it out, too. It’s best to go about this task from the exterior, as this Today’s Homeowner how-to video demonstrates. Smooth metal hoses are safer than plastic accordion hoses because lint can’t get trapped between ridges.

Lint buildup in a dryer’s exhaust hose is a tremendous fire hazard and the cause of 2,900 house fires per year (PDF), according to data collected between 2008 and 2010. Pick one day each year to clean your vent—Labor Day, the first day of spring, the beginning or the end of daylight saving time, whatever.

What to look forward to

We plan to test a variety of Samsung top-loaders and front-loaders, including models from the company’s Bespoke line.

Sarah Bogdan, Winnie Yang, and Liam McCabe wrote previous versions of this guide, which was first published in 2013.

This article was edited by Ingrid Skjong and Courtney Schley.


  1. Daniel Conrad, global engineering director of design quality, reliability, and testing, Hussmann, video interview, June 26, 2023

  2. Tre Wright, chemical engineer, phone interview, July 14, 2023

  3. Michael Mattingly, GE Appliances, video interview, May 12, 2023, and in-person interview, October 20, 2023

  4. David Wilson, GE Appliances, video interview, May 12, 2023, and in-person interview, October 20, 2023

  5. Sandro Ledesma, senior product manager at LG, video interview, June 21, 2023

  6. Eduardo Palmeira, laboratory technical leader at Electrolux, video interview, June 20, 2023

The Best Washing Machines (and Their Matching Dryers) (2024)
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