Level and Temperature
Different water levels also add flexibility by letting you tailor water use to load size. Entry-level washers typically have just one water level, while more expensive machines offer up to four. Temperature settings generally range from two to four that handle a variety of fabrics and stains. You can also opt for in-line heaters that heat water up to 140°F for more thorough cleaning, especially for whites. The more you pay, the more variation you get. For example, the Roper RAB112IEW0 ($229) offers one cycle, one speed, two temperature settings and one water level. The Maytag LAT9806-AAEWW - a top-loader that's priced at $729 - features 14 cycles, four speeds, four temperatures and an infinitely variable water level. Choose these features based on the washing you do. If loads vary by type and size, the added flexibility will come in handy. If you never change temperature or water level, a unit with fewer options will suffice. WHAT IT'S MADE OF
All washers have steel bodies; the difference lies in how they're finished. Entry-level washers are painted, while step-up models feature tougher epoxy coatings. Some higher-end units offer rust-resistant porcelain exteriors, and the costliest use stainless steel. Consider these finishes if you live in a damp or seaside environment. Washer tubs come in different styles, too. Low-end models are equipped with tubs made of speckle-painted steel. Midpriced machines offer plastic tubs, which several manufacturers warranty for life. High-end washers come with porcelain-coated steel and stainless-steel tubs. Here, too, tougher environments or hard use are where premium materials pay off. Some washers also include noise insulation - a feature that's important if the machine is near the kitchen, a bedroom or a phone. Examples include the GE Profile series and some mid- to high-end Whirlpool models, which use rubber bases and dense mastic or foam pads to cut noise. CONTROL ISSUES
High-tech touch pads are one feature manufacturers have all but backed away from. Although the flat electronic pads look sleek and make cleaning easier, they're more delicate than traditional controls, and cost several times more to fix. The controls you'll see most often on washers are dials. Make sure you can easily read the graphics on the control panel. Most are embossed on the panel, but some are less readable than others. Hardest to read are those on stackable units with both washer and dryer directions and dials on a single face plate. Other options do some of the controlling for you. Common ones on midpriced washers are dispensers for automatic detergent, fabric softener and bleach that add premeasured amounts. And if you have a habit of leaving permanent-press clothes in the washer too long, an end-of-cycle signal like those on the GE Profile series and certain Whirlpool models can save you some wrinkles. And a timer or lights showing remaining cycle time can help you plan errands and chores while washing.
Ask TOH users about Appliances

Contribute to This Story Below