How Much it Holds
All manufacturers base the size of washers on tub capacity. The larger the tub, the more it holds and the less time you spend on laundry. A larger tub also allows the same amount of clothing to tumble more freely for better cleaning and fabric protection. Manufacturers describe tub size differently. So ignore pounds or pieces and focus on tub volume. The smallest domestic unit is 1.7 cu. ft. (Whirlpool Thin Twin stackables), the largest 3.3 cu. ft. (Amana Super Capacity Plus top-loaders). For front-loaders, volume runs from 2.7 cu. ft. (Frigidaire Gallery) to 2.9 cu. ft. (Maytag Neptune). If tub volume isn't shown, check product literature or ask a salesperson. Then choose a washer large enough to handle your average load without packing it too tightly. Here are some other size considerations:
  • If you're replacing only your washer, match the capacity to your dryer to keep wet laundry from piling up.
  • How often do you do laundry? Any household where all the laundry is done at once or includes heavy overalls, oversize bath towels or king-size sheets can benefit from a large-capacity model. But if you wash a load or two every day, you can probably get by with less capacity.
  • Today's washers can be expected to last about 12 years. So include any planned increase in family size in your decision. SPEEDS AND CYCLES
    Motor speed determines how quickly the tub or agitator moves and how gently or vigorously the machine washes. Cycles refer to the amount of time the clothes spend agitating. Having more cycles means more flexibility for following washing directions to the letter - a wise idea considering the average load of clothes today is worth $450. Two-speed washers generally provide a permanent-press and a delicate cycle; one-speed models don't. Three-speed machines feature a hand-wash simulation for delicate items. If your wardrobe includes lots of hand-washables, this cycle is probably worthwhile. A few high-end models offer four speeds. All additional cycle selections are variations of regular, gentle and permanent press. For example, the 10-cycle Maytag Performa features 14-, 10-, 6- and 2-minute regular cycles, 10-, 6- and 2-minute permanent-press cycles and 10-, 6- and 2-minute knit/delicate cycles. How many speeds and cycles do you really need? That depends on what you wash. The wider the variety - from delicate silk blouses to heavily soiled jeans, for instance - the more you'll probably want. Families with kids usually require strong scrubbing action for grass and mud stains, while two business-suited professionals require a permanent-press cycle that washes in warm water and rinses in cold water so fibers cool and contract for fewer wrinkles.
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