Washer Buying Guide

Looking for the best washer on the market? CNET editors help you choose between pressure washers, washer dryer combos, and other washing machines to meet your needs.

What types of washing machines are available?

The washing machine that used to rattle around in the basement and seemed to have a life of its own may now double as a high-tech appliance that is on display in many homes. They can be energy efficient and can practically dry clothes, too. Sensors in new machines also conserve water and offer settings other than whites and colors. Here are the types of washing machines you'll find on the market:

Types: Front-loading washers | Top-loading washers | Laundry center | Compact | Washer-dryer combination

Front-loading washers

These are the most popular option for higher-end shoppers. Some of the benefits of front-loading washers are that clothes tend to come out cleaner and the machines typically use less water, detergent, and energy. They can also be quieter than top-loading machines. Many front-loaders come in a set with a dryer and are calibrated to work together--those with faster spin cycles turn out dryer clothes (which mean they need less time in their companion clothes dryer). Some models are stackable with a dryer. Front-loading washers often cost more up front, but can save you money in the long run. You have to use high-efficiency detergent with these machines since regular clothes soap creates too many suds. The one downside for some people: you have to stoop down to load and unload.

Price: $700-$2,700

Average dimensions: Width: 27 inches; depth: 27 inches; height: 36 inches

Who it's best for: People with larger budgets and those who appreciate high performance and energy efficiency.

Top-loading washers

The traditional top-loading washer can consume more energy, water, and be noisier--and they tend to have less capacity. With this model, loads can become unbalanced and stop the wash cycle. The good news is that for the trade-offs they are less expensive than most front-loaders and wash clothes faster. High-efficiency top-loading machines are available and with larger-than-average washtubs and no agitator, but they come with a higher price tag.

Price: $300-$650; high-efficiency top-loading machines $600-$1,600

Average dimensions: Width: 27 inches; depth: 25.5 inches; height: up to 42 inches

Who it's best for: Budget shoppers who need to wash loads quickly and who don't want to stoop to load the washtub.

Laundry center

This washer-dryer duo comes in a set and might be stacked in a closet to take up less space. The washer may come as a top or front loader depending your style and budget.

Price: $900-$1,900

Average dimensions: Width: 27 inches; height: 75 inches; depth: 31 inches

Who it's best for: Those who want to save space.


Some compact washers can be stored and pulled out when needed.

Price: $450-$1,700

Average dimensions: Width: 24 inches or less; depth: 22 inches; height: 33 inches

Who it's best for: Those who live in small spaces.

Washer-dryer combination

These front-loading and compact washers are popular in Europe, and combine the washer and dryer into one machine--once you stick your clothes in they will be both washed and dried. This can be an option for an RV, for example, too. Because these aren't as common in the United States, repair people might be less knowledgeable about them. Also, the cycles take longer while the loads are often smaller than a standard washer. Sometimes clothes can still be slightly damp even after being "dried."

Price: $800-$1,800

Average dimensions: Width: 23 inches; depth: 22 inches; height: 33 inches

Who it's best for: Minimalists who want a compact unit and who don't need their laundry done in a hurry.

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