Cheat Sheet: Shopping for Washers and Dryers

Shopping for washers and dryers Carley Knobloch

Weird confession: I was madly in love with my old washer and dryer. I bought them right when front-load washing machines became the thing, and it completely changed how I felt about laundry. There was no agitator to strangle the life out of my tissue tees, and the matching dryer even had a shelf that I could use to put a cashmere cardi on, allowing the hot air to circulate around it while it suntanned in the middle.

Basically, I thought they were the coolest washer and dryer ever— that is, until it was time to say goodbye and shop for a new pair nearly 10 years later. We recently sold our house, and the new sellers requested that we leave our old units behind. No problem, I said. I’ll just get a new version of the same sort of pair, and we’ll be done with it. Well, the landscape is unrecognizable, in the most exciting way. And if it’s been a while since you’ve shopped the washer/dryer world, you’re in for some nice surprises. Here’s a primer:

LG Smart Thinq

Touchscreens. Your smartphone can do it, so why not your appliances? Touchscreens not only look sleek and are easy to use, but some, like the Samsung WF457 and LG’s Smart ThinQ, will even connect with your smartphone to let you remote-control them, or tell you if the wash is done before you get home. Plus anything with a touchscreen is likely to motivate a kid to operate it— and kids doing their own laundry might just be the eighth wonder of the world. So, awesome.

Detergent for a dozen. No need to constantly refill your detergent (or occasionally forget to do it, ahem). Machines like Whirlpool’s Duet hold enough detergent for a dozen loads, so you can fill it just once in a while.

Remote repairs. Some new LG machines now have remote diagnostic tools, so your washer can communicate directly with a repair team and possibly even get a fix remotely…in some cases, preventing you from having to wait at home all day for a field tech to come. 

Electrolux with Perfect Steam

Steam. Looking for extra cleaning power? A lot of new machines (including mine and Electrolux’s Perfect Steam) offer a steam function: in the washer, it powers up stain removal; in the dryer, it de-wrinkles delicate shirts so you might be able to skip the dry cleaner.

Sensors. Paging Dr. Who! In true futuristic style, many washers and dryers now can sense the size and weight of the clothes you throw in, so they won’t use more or less water or energy than you actually need.

Speed wash. Got clothes that aren’t really dirty, but need a quick pick-me-up? This setting can be finished in as little as 20 minutes, so you and your clothes are ready in a hurry.

Quiet setting. You know that feeling of dread you get when your washer starts to bang like it’s possessed? Well, those ghosts of tech past have been freshly exorcised with a “quiet” setting that keeps the machine balanced so it doesn’t crash and walk. Find it in machines including Miele’s. Go on, launder a duvet…fearlessly.


Space for that big blanket. Speaking of duvets, machines like GE’s feature basins big enough to fit even the king-size duvet that used to require an afternoon at the laundromat. What to do with the time you save? A nap with that clean duvet sounds pretty good…

Antibacterial wash cycle. If the flu has been making itself at home in your place, this temperature setting goes high enough to kill 99.9% of bacteria. It’s in new GE machines, as well as in many others.

Hard water adjustment. In homes with hard water, washes just won’t get clean the way they should. So some new appliances come with a hard water adjustment option, and that means softer clothes.

Time travel. Just kidding. But with all these new features, you may feel like you’ve been taken to the future.

What do you wish your washer or dryer could do? Let me know in the comments!

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