“how to find the best cheap products” — kiplinger
In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Washing Machines
  2. Front Loading vs. Top Loading
  3. Washing Machine Features
  4. Washing Machine Reviews
  1. Washer Efficiency and Maintenance
  2. Washing Machine Deals
  3. Discount Washing Machines Features Comparison Table

Cheap Washing Machines Buying Guide

Reliable yet cheap washing machines are hard to come by. Still, we found a few top-loading washing machines for less than $450 and even a couple of front-loading washing machines for less than $650 that get the job done.

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These cheap washers may not boast the features or finesse of their pricier counterparts, but most owners claim they've gotten value for their money. Just remember that if you choose an inexpensive washing machine, you won't get specialty cycles that steam clean your clothes or fight allergens. You'll likely end up with a slightly smaller drum size, which determines load capacity, and fewer RPMs of spin speed. Your low cost washer will probably feature more plastic and fewer metal parts, and upmarket brands like Miele and Bosch will be out of range. These details aside, you can find a well-rated inexpensive washer that's energy efficient and gets clothes, linens, towels, and other washables clean.

Consumers today can choose between two types of washers -- traditional top-loading machines and trendier front-loading models. In general, top-loaders are the cheapest washing machines and less energy efficient, although newer and pricier high-efficiency top-loading units are making strides in energy and water conservation. Standard top-loaders tend to need fewer and less complex repairs than cheap front-loaders, but recent testing suggests these units don't clean clothes as well. Front-loading washers use less water than top-loaders, are gentler on clothing (there's no agitator), and clean more effectively overall. On the downside, front-loaders cost far more than top-loaders, are more prone to "walking," and breed mold when not properly maintained.

When comparing overall costs of ownership for top loaders and front loaders, factors like local utility rates, frequency of use, and usage mode (e.g., cold wash or hot wash, large loads or small) affect the bottom line. The self-described "Mr. Electricity" of the website Saving Electricity says front-loaders consume 40-75% less water and 30-85% less energy than standard top-loading machines. To determine whether or not a pricier front-loader will actually prove cheaper in the long run, you can compare models using the Laundry Costs Calculator found on the site.

Review continues below

Other factors that differentiate cheap washing machines should also figure into your decision making. Where you plan to put the washer, for example, will dictate the size and configuration of the unit. The capacity you need is tied to how much laundry you do and for how many people. You also have to weigh time against energy consumption to determine which is more important -- the longer cycles and lower energy bills of front-loaders, or speedier but less eco-friendly top-loaders. Finally, color is a feature that many consumers couldn't care less about, but if your washer is in a kitchen or bathroom, it might be a concern.

Brands sitting in the budget end of the price category include Whirlpool, Maytag, Admiral, Kenmore, LG, and GE. Whirlpool and Admiral are Maytag-owned names, and some Kenmore models are also manufactured by Maytag and others are built by LG. Multiple discussion board threads and user reviews suggest Maytag and its brands are more highly regarded than GE, but all of these well-known names are considered generally reliable. It's worth noting that washers selling above the $600 price point are ranked by experts and consumers as more dependable than inexpensive washing machines. If you don't like to compromise, check big box stores and appliance warehouses for sales. You should be able to snag a top-performing washer like the front-load Kenmore 40272 (starting at $830) for $100 to $200 below the regular retail price.

We looked at several aspects of cheap washing machines when making our picks. We analyzed cleaning power, dependability, and efficiency to assess overall performance. Are users happy with dirt and stain removal? Do washables emerge in good condition? What kind of repair history does each model have, and how frequent are reports of breakdowns? How long do low priced washers typically last? We considered the reviews of both users and industry experts, and here is where we netted out.

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The top-loading Admiral ATW4475VQ (starting at $298) and front-loading LG WM2101HW (starting at $630) are our picks for best cheap washing machines. The Admiral ATW4475VQ isn't Energy Star-qualified, but it's one of the cheapest models out there and wins praise from users for being a high-performing workhorse. The LG WM210HW, which usually sells for about $700 but sometimes shows up for $630 or so, is quiet, energy efficient, and cleans like a dream, according to users and experts. This budget front-load washer outranks models twice its price for a place high on the honor roll of consumer products review sites, and if you can get it on sale, it's an excellent deal.

The top-loading Maytag Centennial MVWC6ESWW (starting at $444) and front-loading Frigidaire GLTF2940FS (starting at $538) are also good cheap washing machines. The Maytag MVWC6ESWW saves water when compared to older machines (a feature that leaves some users grumbling), and consumers say it performs well for the price but could be gentler on clothes. The Frigidaire GLTF2940FS has most of the features users want -- high-efficiency, adequate cleaning, decent capacity -- for an extremely reasonable price. This model doesn't inspire great enthusiasm, but gets above-average reviews from experts.

You might want to pass on the Frigidaire FTF530FS (starting at $437) front-loading washer. User reviews are a mixed bag, and the frequent occurrence of reported repairs raises questions about its reliability.

by Gina Briles (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Appliance, Bedding, Cleaning,

Best Cheap Washing Machines

Admiral ATW4475VQ
Gold Medal

Admiral ATW4475VQ

Manufactured by Maytag and available only through Home Depot, Admiral is a little-known brand well outside experts' radar. Users of this no-frills, 3.2 cubic-foot capacity top-loading washing machine rave about its dependable performance and thorough cleaning. Critics call it loud and note it lacks a fabric softener dispenser, although most say it's a bargain. The Admiral ATW4475VQ features an enamel wash tub, automatic bleach dispenser, eight cycle options, four water levels, and four water temperatures.

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LG WM2101HW
Gold Medal

LG WM2101HW

An Energy Star-qualified front-loading washing machine with capacity of 4.0 cubic feet, five temperature levels, and a 12-hour delay- wash feature, the LG WM2101HW wins high praise from users for its thorough cleaning, efficiency, and quiet operation; some gripe that the door won't sit ajar to let the drum dry out. This model replaces the discontinued LG WM2050CW and receives the same impressive ratings from consumer review sites. A good value at its normal retail price of $700, but a steal when purchased on sale.

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Good Cheap Washing Machines

Maytag Centennial MVWC6ESWW
Gold Medal

Maytag Centennial MVWC6ESWW

A 4.0 cubic-foot top-loading washing machine with four temperature settings, two speed settings, and a stainless steel wash basket, the Maytag Centennial MVWC6ESWW is ignored by experts but users say it does a good job for the price. It's not Energy Start-qualified, although many consumers appreciate its water savings over older machines; the auto-fill feature gets mixed reviews.

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Frigidaire GLTF2940FS
Gold Medal

Frigidaire GLTF2940FS

This front-loading washing machine boasts a 3.5 cubic-foot capacity, stainless steel wash basket, automatic dispense, and "estimated time remaining" indicator. With three wash/four spin speed combinations, as well as four temperature combinations, this unit scores points with users for getting clothes clean while conserving water and energy; experts like its performance for the price but some owners report problems with the circuit board.

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Don't Bother

Frigidaire FTF530FS

Another model absent from industry experts' lists, this 3.1 cubic-foot front-loader has a spotty track record with users. Most consumers like the energy efficiency and cleaning power this machine offers, and happy owners note it comes with knobs instead of an electronic control board, which is pricey to repair. However, complaints pop up frequently about bearings giving out, drum supports breaking, and door latches failing.

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