After many many years of faithful service it's about time for my old washing machine to be retired. It washes clothes perfectly in a very short amount of time but lately it's been getting stuck now and then and when I go to throw things in the dryer, the machine is still full of water. It takes a little nudge before the machine will go into the spin cycle and empty out. It's a small irritation, but it's prompted me to look for a new machine.
I loathe front loading machines. I'm tall enough that I don't have a problem reaching down into a top loading machine and I've always considered front loading machines stupid. It makes no logical sense to me to have a door where the water is. In my opinion it's an accident looking for a place to happen. IF there's a leak in the door seal, there will be water all over the floor, which is never an issue with a top loading machine.
A couple of years ago one of my sisters, (I have 5 of them) replaced her old machine with a front loading model because she's short and another of my sisters recommended it. Ever since I've been listening to her complain about how inferior her new machine is, how it doesn't get the clothes clean, and it takes so much longer to do a load of laundry.
Knowing that I might have some issues, I started doing some research. I discovered that in addition to being a dumb idea, 20% of front loading machines develop issues with mold, mildew, bad smells and clothes coming out of the washer dirtier than when they went in. That stupid front door seal needs to be carefully and thoroughly dried after each use, or the build up of stagnant water just stinks and gets dumped into your next load of laundry. Really impressive. Front loaders were never on my shopping list, but finding out about that little problem would have permanently removed them from my wish list if I had been looking at them. I know another alternative is to just leave the door open and let it air dry, but that means the door is permanently open where you can trip over it and if you do frequent washes, the fold over gasket that's used on some machines can still trap water that doesn't fully dry out.
Another thing I discovered is that most top loading "high efficiency" machines don't have an agitator, even when agitators clean better. One of the reasons I was given for not having an agitator is that it wears clothes out. Nonsense. I've always used a machine with an agitator and I have clothes that are older than my machine that are still going strong after hundreds of washings. I've seen dozens of reviews where people have complained that there clothes end up in a tight ball, and badly wrinkled due to the constant spinning of the non agitator machines.
It was at that point that I discovered the new "high efficiency" machines take about 50 minutes to go through a normal cycle. Really? 50 minutes?!?!! My old machine takes about 20 minutes to wash a load of bedding. The delicate cycle takes about 7 minutes. The dryer takes about 30 minutes to dry a load of bedding, maybe 40 minutes if it's flannel sheets. Which means I can wash and dry a load in less than an hour.
The comes the kicker. The longer 50 minute cycle, because it doesn't use enough water will probably not actually get really dirty clothes clean. They'll probably have to go through a second cycle if they're really dirty. So, my old machine can take badly soiled clothes, like the things hubby wears to work on the car and have them clean and fresh smelling in 20 minutes, but a new "high efficiency" machine will take 50 minutes to go through a cycle, but probably it will take 2 cycles to actually get the clothes clean, or nearly 2 hours.
I asked the sales people to explain to me how that was more efficient. Nobody had an answer, so I went back and did some research. It turns out that what the new machines are more efficient at is using less water and less detergent. They're not really more efficient at all, when efficient is measured in terms of cleaner clothes, less use of electricity, or more important to me, less use of my time. In a small household, we still have a couple of loads of bedding, a couple of loads of towels and 3 or 4 loads of clothes every week. I can't imagine how a large family copes with the issue. Especially when you're trying to fit that in around the less expensive hours of electricity consumption.
So, the so called high efficiency washing machines, use less water and less detergent to do a less effective job of cleaning clothes. Some machines reportedly don't use enough water to even get all of the clothes wet. Without an agitator, they ball the clothes up in a knot leaving them badly wrinkled. Supposedly, these high efficiency machines spin the clothes so well that they need less dryer time which is where they save on electricity. Except that the new dryers now have a steam cycle to put moisture back in the clothes to take out the wrinkles that the washing machine put in!!!!!!
I think I'll just get my Mr Fix It to replace the worn parts on my old machine so that I can efficiently enjoy really clean clothes in short amounts of time.
An extra note: I heard several sales people telling me that people are adding a wet towel to their wash which adds the water in the towel as well as increasing the weight of the load to trick the machine into adding more water. Which is probably good for most things, but some items are liable to come out with a lot of extra fuzzy bits from the towel.