Kim Kleman with Consumer Reports says the trick is to avoid paying for features you don't need. Take those new dishwasher cycles with names like "turbo zone" and "power scour" that means special nozzles in the back for tough jobs. While they do a good job, they're not essential.
"We find many dishwashers using just the regular setting do a great job cleaning our very tough challenge, baked-on brownie mix," says Kleman.
This is before and this is after. You'll also save money if, instead of a dishwasher with a stainless-steel tub, you get one with a plastic tub. People love the stainless-steel look, but how many people are looking inside your dishwasher. The plastic tub should hold up just fine.
Many of today's washing machines also come loaded with lots of extra features. There are even special cycles for "bedding" and "active wear" and "sanitizing."
Kleman says, "Stick with the regular heavy duty, normal, delicate, and white cycles. That's really all you really need."
And if you're buying a dryer, don't be wowed by capacity claims like "extra large capacity," "super capacity," and "king size capacity." Kleman says, "We find most dryers hold plenty, whether it says super capacity or not."
And while matching washers and dryers can look great, realize that can cost you more, too.
And if you're buying your washer and dryer together, Consumer Reports says to spend your money on the best performing, efficient washer, one that extracts the most water from clothes. Consumer Reports recommends the Frigidaire Gallery gltf2940f, at $650.