Efficient Washing Machines

A year ago some washers' cleaning ability had slipped as manufacturers struggled to comply with new energy standards.

Consumer Reports' tests show the new load of washing machines have a lot more to offer for your money, whether it's a front-loader or top-loader.

Consumer Reports' Emilio Gonzalez ran multiple trials on washing machines, including this tough stain test for washing capability.

Gonzalez says "This is how the swatch looked before stained with wine, cocoa and blood. This is how the swatch looked after it was washed. And this is an excellent result."

Consumer Reports also tested the machines to see how gentle they are on clothes. Testers washed cloths with precisely cut holes.

"After washing, we then counted the number of loose threads. The higher number of threads, the rougher the machine was on the clothing."

Consumer Reports found most front-loading washers are gentler on your clothes and use less energy and water. While they generally cost over a thousand dollars, consumer reports found this Frigidaire washer that retails for $650 and named it a best buy.

Celia Lehrman, Consumer Reports, says "Top-loaders are usually less expensive and they have shorter cycle times, but they haven't been cleaning as well as front-loaders. This time in our tests, we've found several inexpensive top-loaders that did clean nearly as well."

Consumer Reports also named this GE top-loader a best buy. It retails for $480. Both of the best buy washers have high capacity, meaning fewer loads to do.

Some consumers complain their freshly washed towels stink. It's due to mold and mildew growing inside front loading washing machines.

Pull back the rubber seal on a front load machine and wipe the mold inside with a paper towel.

Some washing machine makers say keeping your washer's door open can keep mold from building up, others recommend running an empty wash using hot water or bleach.

New machines are being made with a cleaning cycle.

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