If you’re tired of lugging your laundry to the laundromat (or figuring out makeshift ways to wash your clothes at home), or can no longer stand the loud and constant whine that starts up every time you throw a load of clothes in your old dryer, it may finally be time to buy a washer and dryer.
Your first decision is whether you want a top-loader, where you open a panel on the top of your washer or dryer, or a front-loader, whose doors are on the … you guessed it: front. For Ben Schlichter, owner of Ben’s Appliances in Circleville, Ohio, the real question is space. If you have more room, you can have a top-loader. With limited space, however, a front-loader is the better choice. “You can stack them, which is always great,” he says. “So if you’re in a small apartment, you definitely want to go with a front-loader.”
“There is no perfect washer for everybody; there is just the washer that best suits a customer’s needs,” says Eugene Pallas, owner of Lorain Furniture & Appliance in Cleveland, Ohio. “Do I want a humongous tub? Do I wash 15 bath towels every load?” Then you want a front-loader, he says, which can have a larger capacity. But, he adds, “Most people wash six or seven bath towels, and you can totally do that with a top-loader.” A front-loader is also going to be more efficient. “Gravity is going to work with the washer, running the clothes over each other. And it is going to use maybe half the water of, and less electricity than, an excellent high-efficiency top-loader,” Schlichter says.
The biggest drawback of a front-loader is cleaning power (and needing to dry off the door seal after every load to avoid mildew). “Generally speaking, a top-load washer is going to offer a more aggressive wash action,” Pallas says. “It will have better stain-fighting skills than a front-loader. I always recommend getting a top-load washer with a full-size agitator to beat the dirt out of your pants.”
We asked Pallas, Schlichter, and five other experts for the best washing machines and dryers you can buy right now. Here are their picks.
Best overall washer and dryer
Speed Queen was far and away our most consistently recommended washing-machine brand. “When we talk about Speed Queen, the big thing is reliability, durability, and longevity,” says Robert Maguire, owner of Rutland Appliances in Rutland, Vermont. Christopher Zajic, president of Zajic Appliance in Sacramento, California, agrees. “Speed Queen is head and shoulders the best,” he says. “They are a laundromat company selling to homes. The technology is all very old school, which makes them last.” According to Rob Clark, assistant manager of Jetson TV & Appliance in Stuart, Florida, “Any service tech will always tell people, ‘Go look at a Speed Queen.’” Maguire has a lot of customers who work on farms and slate quarries, and he always directs them to this company. “It’s the hardest-working washing machine to get those stains out of heavily soiled fabrics,” he says. This particular model has a 3.2-gallon washtub, simple and durable knob controls, and six preset wash cycles.
Best washer and dryer for big loads
“If you needed to pick a catchall for 90 percent of Americans, this is a great washing machine. And I highly recommend the dryer,” says Lorain. This set has a steam-cleaning feature that removes 95 percent of household allergens. It has six different washing motions during the wash cycle to agitate and remove ground-in dirt, and it can even connect to your Wi-Fi, alerting you when a cycle is done or letting you start a cycle with your phone or smart assistant. “LG is very good. They have lots of features and are reliable, too,” adds Schlichter.
Best washer and dryer for fast loads
“This washing machine lets you do an 18-minute wash cycle,” Maguire says. “That’s a full-fledged cycle, and it’s the same thing on the dryer side.” The 4.3-cubic-foot washer also has great features like steam cleaning, an Energy Star Most Efficient rating, and a reversible door that can be mounted on either side, depending on your layout. Plus, Electrolux has addressed a common problem with detergent pods, which don’t always distribute detergent throughout the load: “Electrolux came up with a pod dispensary that mixes the pod with water and injects it in the washer as the tub rotates so it is able to get over everything,” Clark says. In his 15 years at Jetson TV & Appliance, people have never complained about the brand, he says.
Best washer and dryer for simultaneous cycles
If you’re tired of having to wait two full cycles to separate your dark clothes and your lights, this Samsung set can do two loads of laundry at once. “Samsung basically has a second washer and dryer connected to the main units,” says Shirley Hood, appliance specialist at Abt electronics and appliances in Glenview, Illinois. “It’s like a drawer that you can run independently of the larger washer and dryer.” This feature is great if you forget to add a few things to your main load or only want to run a small load for delicate items, like lingerie, or really dirty clothes, like kids’ sports uniforms.
Best washer dryer for small spaces
If you’re living in a small apartment, you’re going to need a smaller washer and dryer. “Matchbook apartments in cities like Miami, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago need compact laundry,” says Robert Wolfe of Jetson TV & Appliance’s premium-appliance team. “These units are about half the size of standard units.” This 2.1-cubic-foot washer packs a powerful cleaning punch in a small package, with 15 different wash settings and adjustments that allow you to run a more environmentally friendly or vigorous cleaning cycle.