How we picked
If you're deciding between a front-loader and a top-loader, here's the takeaway: Both can work, but front-loaders have the edge on performance and efficiency. So our search for the best overall washer boiled down to finding a front-loader with strong cleaning performance, useful features, and a reasonable expectation for reliability. If your heart is set on a top-loader, see our full guide.
For price, the sweet spot is $800 to $900 (for the washer alone). Cheaper models can work great, too, but the washers in our target price range come with life-improving features like extra-hot wash options and faster wash cycles. Higher-end models usually don't offer any practical advantages, unless you're willing to spend about twice our target range.
The defining features we looked for in our washer picks are quiet operation, reliability, a built-in water heater, and accelerated wash options. See our full guide for more on our testing criteria.
After sifting through roughly 65 different front-load washers, we settled on a handful of finalists. They include the LG WM3770HWA (and other models in the 3000 series), the Electrolux EFLS617SIW, the Whirlpool Duet WFW90HEFW, the Maytag MHW5500FW, and the Samsung WF45K6500AW.
| ||LG WM3770HWA ||Electrolux EFLS617SIW ||Samsung WF42H5000AW ||Maytag MVWB755D |
|Rank ||Our pick ||Runner-up ||Budget ||Decent top-loader |
|Load location ||Front-load ||Front-load ||Front-load ||Top-load |
|Efficiency ||CEE Tier 2, very efficient ||CEE Tier 3, the most efficient ||CEE Tier 3, the most efficient ||Energy Star, sort of efficient |
|Capacity ||Seriously, they're all big enough ||Seriously, they're all big enough ||Seriously, they're all big enough ||Seriously, they're all big enough |
|Best feature ||Built-in water heater, accelerated wash mode, SmartDiagnosis ||Built-in water heater, SmartBoost detergent system ||Effective and efficient for a low price ||Less maintenance required |
|Reversible door ||No ||Yes ||No ||No |
|Warranty ||One-year full, 10-year motor, lifetime drum ||One-year full, 10-year motor ||One-year full, three-year drum, 10-year motor ||One-year full, 10-year motor and basket |
Most dryers are similar to each other, and our picks in this guide are simply the matching companions to our favorite washers. But matched pairs don't magically work any better together, so don't feel pressured to buy both machines. You can often save money by stacking a lower-end dryer on top of a nicer washer, as long as they're from the same brand at the same width.
The LG WM3770HWA is the washer that we'd buy—it's full-featured, efficient, effective, quiet, reliable, and affordable. A handful of other front-loaders at this price are great machines, too, but we like the WM3770 a little bit more for a few reasons.
Reliability is a major factor that sets apart LG washing machines. That gets a little tricky with the WM3770, because it's a new washer. But it's so similar to our previous recommendation, the WM3570, that we're comfortable sliding it into the top spot (and we still think the WM3570 is a great buy if you find it in stock). A couple years' worth of user reviews and reader feedback on the older models suggest that apart from a couple of known issues, LG makes a reliable product. Treated properly, these should last eight to 12 years, or about as long as similar models from most other brands. Several Sweethome and Wirecutter staff members bought the older WM3570 after we recommended it, and are still happy with it more than a year later.
As a brand, LG is ranked by Consumer Reports's reader survey (subscription required) as the least likely to need a repair in a five-year period, and J.D. Power ranks LG as the second-most reliable brand. Most (but not all) of the technicians we spoke with think LG makes good machines, and one even said he thinks it's the best brand of washers overall. If a problem arises, LG has a feature called SmartDiagnosis that can read out an error code over the phone so a repair technician can plan to bring the right replacement parts. The warranty is a little better than most, with the typical one-year full coverage, and 10-year coverage on the direct-drive motor.
As a clothes cleaner, the WM3770 can thoroughly wash pretty much any load of laundry. One of the things we like the most about the WM3770, and that helps it stand out from some of its close competitors, is that it can wash with really, really hot water. Plenty of modern washers have built-in water heaters, but only a few can crank up the heat like this one, hitting wash temps as high as 158 °F according to LG (some competitors top out at 120 °F). That's hot enough to meet the chemical-free sanitization standards set by the NSF and the anti-allergen standards set by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). For more on our pick, check out the full guide.
If you're looking for the matching dryer, you'll be happy to know that the DLEX3370W electric dryer (or DLGX3371W gas dryer) is better than the average dryer. It's an Energy Star–qualified model, which actually means something—most dryers do not qualify for that badge, and because most dryers suck up a ton of energy, you might actually notice some savings.
A promising new front-loader
Photo: Michael Hession. Location courtesy of Food52.
If the prices shift or availability is limited, or if something about our main pick doesn't sit right with you, we think the next-best washing machine is the Electrolux EFLS617SIW.
The EFLS617SIW has the best set of features and cleaning options you'll find in a washing machine right now, hands down. Tests have shown that compared with other full-size front-loaders, it's the single best clothes cleaner available. It's also one of the most efficient washers you can buy.
However, Consumer Reports raised a concern that it's rougher on fabrics than many other washers. Also, Electrolux's reputation isn't as solid as LG's for laundry, and this particular model has been out for only a couple of months (at the time of this writing), so we don't have as much information about defects, performance problems, and general owner satisfaction.
By all accounts, the EFLS617SIW is a fantastic cleaner. The people at Reviewed.com ran tests and declared that the EFLS617SIW was the best stain remover they'd ever seen. In CNET's tests, the washer removed 60 percent of stains on the test strip, "a huge leap" over competing models. Consumer Reports also rated the machine's wash performance as Excellent.
If you need a matching dryer, grab the electric EFME617Sxx or the gas-powered EFMG617Sxx (identical except for the power source and price).
A more affordable basic front-loader
With a cheaper front-loader, you'll miss out on a few useful cycles, options, and features that help remove stains, care for garments, cut down wash times, and maybe even prevent mold and mildew growth. Otherwise, you'll still get a pretty excellent washing machine, and with fewer parts that can break compared with higher-end washers.
If you're sold on the advantages of a front-loader but can't quite afford our main pick or runner-up, check out the Samsung WF42H5000AW. It's usually the cheapest stackable, full-size washer available. It's exceptionally efficient. Consumer Reports rates its wash performance as Excellent. User reviews are strong compared with other front-load washers.
Downsides: It doesn't have an internal water heater, so it can't reach very hot wash temperatures. It also runs a little slower than our main pick, with no option for an accelerated normal cycle. As a company, Samsung has a strong reputation for reliability, but a poor reputation for customer service on home appliances and most other product categories. For such an affordable front-loader, you might be willing to take the risk. If you're looking for the matching dryer for stacking, it's the DV42H5000EW electric dryer (or the DV42H5000GW for gas).
If you're really looking for a top-loading machine, we have recommendations in our full guide, as well as a guide about the differences between top-loading and front-loading machines.
This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.