If you're in the market to buy a washer or dryer (or both), here's information you can use to help you decide what's right for your home

There are three basic types of washing machines available now. Your traditional top loader, the new high efficiency top loader, and the front loader. Prices range from under $500 for the traditional top loader, to more than $1,000 for the high efficiency top loader and front loader styles. Be sure to compare the strong points and weak points before purchasing. When it comes to dryers, there's not much in the way of different body styles to choose from. They're all front loaders. The differences come in capacity, features available, drying speeds, temperatures, and so forth. Prices range from $350 for your very basic dryer, on up to $1,000 and more for the Maytag Neptune Drying Center. Continue reading for more information on the makes and models, together with price ranges, before purchasing your new washer or dryer.

Recommended places to check before buying:
  • Our first stop is always ConsumerReports.org before we buy. This site will give you good information on available styles and models, as well as comparison between brands and models.
  • Another good source of information is epinions.com. Compare prices from across the web and read reviews from other consumers on Dryers before you decide to buy.
  • ConsumerSearch.com is yet another review site to check before buying.
  • Local sources are your local appliance dealer, or Home Depot or Lowe's.

Buying Advice:

Washers: Consider the amount of money you can spend. If you can afford it, front loaders are a very good deal. They'll save you money in energy, use less water and detergent than top loaders, and are gentler on your clothes. The only drawbacks seem to be the higher cost, you should use special detergent which will undoubtedly cost more, and that you will be stooping over to load and unload the machine. If money is a factor, the traditional top loader is still very good. New technology has improved these models, too. You'll be able to use regular detergent rather than the special kind recommended for front-loaders. Drawbacks are that these models use more water and more electricity.

The new top loader machines do not use the traditional agitators, are also energy-efficient and use less water. From our study of online sources, however, we can't recommend them. They are more repair-prone and are not very gentle with your clothes. The top brand names are GE, Kenmore, Maytag, and Whirlpool. All of these makes offer all three types of washer.

Dryers: When it comes to dryers, there are no styles to choose from. All are front-loading; your choices will be in the different temperature settings each model has, or whether to go with gas or electric models. Gas models cost about $50 more on average than an electric dryer, but your savings in electricity should make up for the difference in cost. If you have gas available, you'd do well to consider a gas model. A feature you will want to consider when buying your dryer is a moisture sensor. Over-drying can damage or shrink your clothing, but a moisture sensor can help guard against that possibility. Setting your dry cycle for "less dry" will guarantee against over-drying. This is one setting you may want to make use of if you have clothes that you prefer to iron. And most dryers will come with an alert to let you know when your clothes are dry. Many models will also keep drying on a no-heat setting if you don't get to the dryer right away.


If you are buying a washer AND a dryer, you'll notice they are usually matched up in sets at your local appliance store or section of the home improvement store. You'll probably want to weigh your purchase decision more on the features of the washer, since there's not much difference in dryers. If you are only in the market for one or the other, don't feel pressured to buy both, unless matching appliances are important to you. After all, the laundry area, unless it's actually in plain sight in your kitchen, isn't usually a central gathering point for guests. But consider all the advice we've given, do your homework before you buy so you can make the best choices based on your personal needs and your budget.

Have fun!

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