Features to Look For When Buying Washers and Dryers

Woman comparing washer and dryer features while appliance shopping

Washer and dryer technology has changed a lot in recent years, and now there are more features available in these appliances than ever before. As with every type of appliance, the more features, the higher the cost.

Knowing which features genuinely make a difference and are worth paying a little more for can help you to find the best appliance for your laundry needs. Doing a little research before heading to a showroom will also help shoppers like you save time and money.

Today’s blog post offers our insights on some of the best features you should be on the lookout for as you shop new laundry appliances. We’ll also look at a few that may not be worth the money for most typical users. No matter what, remember that you can save up to 70% off retail pricing every day when you shop our new scratch and dent inventory from the leading washer and dryer brands here at K&A Appliance!

Before You Visit a Showroom

Ultimately, everyone wants a washer that cleans laundry of all stains without using too much energy, water, or detergent. They want a dryer that dries loads without using too much power, too. Fortunately, lots of brands and models can deliver that.

Before visiting any appliance showroom, shoppers should assess their regular laundry volume. They should consider how many adults and children live in the home and whether laundry regularly includes heavily soiled clothes, delicates, or large items such as comforters or pillows.

As we covered in our Ultimate Washer and Dryer Buying Guide, both washers and dryers come in a wide range of sizes, so shoppers should measure the space they have for new appliances before they begin the buying process.

This measurement should include the width, height, and depth of the available space. It should also include the height available above an appliance for a top-loading washer’s lid to open and the distance in front for a front-loading washer or dryer’s door to open. If you want to be able to stack your laundry machines vertically, you also need to consider whether that configuration will work in your home.

Washing Machine Features

Load Capacity

Top load washers with an average drum capacity of 3.5 cubic feet can hold about 12 pounds of laundry per load. Front load washers tend to hold a bit more.

Those with a drum capacity of 4.2 cubic feet can handle 17 pounds of laundry while extra-large drums can handle up to 25 pounds per load. Yes, using a larger capacity machine means doing fewer loads of laundry each week. However, as load size increases, so does the price of the appliance.

Top vs. Front Load

Front load washers can indeed hold more laundry than top load washers. Depending upon what is being washed, top load machines may get clothes a little cleaner.

top loading washer

Many top load models still come with an agitator in the center of the drum. This agitator helps to get clothes cleaner. Machines with agitators are especially helpful when laundry is particularly dirty or smelly. Families with young athletes or teenagers might appreciate the power of the agitator!

Even without an agitator, front load washers clean most types of laundry as well as top-loading machines and do so using less water, making them more efficient. Front load washers can also spin clothes at higher speeds than top load machines, meaning more water is removed during the spin cycle. This increases overall energy efficiency because laundry requires less drying time.

In the end, front-loaders do take more time per wash cycle than top load machines and generally cost more as well. Whether choosing top or front load washers, the following are some newer washing machine features that can make doing laundry more enjoyable.

Washing Machine Features Consider (or Avoid)

Load Sensors

All washing machines come with settings for choosing water temperature, load size, type of laundry (delicate or regular), and extra rinse or spin cycles, to name a few. Now, washing machines have sensors that can automatically determine and select the ideal settings and cycles for each load. Some even automatically dispense detergent.

Many machines have sensors for determining the correct amount of water for each load. When shopping, find out if that water sensor is on a timer or if it actually senses the volume of water in the drum. Sensors that detect the actual volume of water are best, while those that rely on timed water release should be avoided.

Machines using a timing sensor simply keep the water release valve open for a set period of time. In homes where water pressure can be inconsistent—such as homes where flushing a toilet or running a shower reduces water pressure elsewhere—the time sensors can lead to the washing machine’s getting less water than is needed to wash and rinse laundry properly.

One of the worst laundry sounds is that of a washing machine rocking itself across the floor while spinning an unbalanced load. Many newer machines now have balanced load sensors. Some of the newest also have a load-balancing tub that prevents loads from becoming unbalanced.

Self-Cleaning Technology

Front load washers don’t always drain as completely as top load machines. They also have a large rubber seal around the door that can collect water in its folds. These two water issues can lead to mildew. Consequently, front load machines require regular cleaning.

Fortunately, some new models are self-cleaning. The self-cleaning cycle can take a few hours to complete, and getting the folds of the seal clean may still require some manual effort.

Dual Bin

Perhaps the most exciting innovation in washing machines is the dual bin. Select front-loading washer models come with a second bin, either on top or as a bottom drawer, so that two loads of different laundry types can be washed simultaneously.

Be aware that each bin is not the same size. The smaller bin has fewer cycles and setting options than the larger, main washer bin. For those with lots of laundry or those short on time, the dual bin could be a useful feature, but it may not be worth the extra cost.

Second Chance Door

For obvious reasons, once front load washers start filling with water, their door will not open. This means that an errant piece of laundry can’t be added to a load already in progress.

Those shopping for a front load washer may want to make sure they get one with a “second chance” door—a small door at the top of the machine that tilts open, allowing small items to be added even after the washer has started to fill with water.

Dryer Features to Consider (or Avoid)

Though it is common to purchase a washer and dryer as a set, or at least both from the same manufacturer, doing so is not actually necessary. Shoppers just need to make sure the dryer they buy has twice the load capacity of the washing machine because laundry gets larger as it dries.

Dryers don’t seem to have as many new features as washing machines, but the few they have are worth considering.

Dryness Sensors

Most dryers have settings for selecting the type of laundry (delicate, permanent press, or cotton) and drying time. One way to save energy is for the dryer to stop automatically when the clothes are dry, especially if they dry before the timer is done. Newer models with dryness sensors can do just that, saving energy in the process.

Dual Bin

Just as select models of washers now have two bins for washing two different loads simultaneously, those same brands make dryers that can dry two separate loads at once. Drying is the most time-consuming aspect of laundry, so being able to dry two loads at the same time would certainly save some time, but may not be worth the extra cost.

Steam Drying

Steam drying is a newer feature designed to freshen up clothing and remove wrinkles. While steam drying does help freshen clothing and reduce allergens, reviews indicate that some ironing will still be required for clothing. Shoppers looking to save some money may do well to skip this feature.

Automatic Tumble

Another new feature touted to reduce wrinkles is automatic tumble. When laundry sits in the dryer too long after the drying cycle finishes, clothes get wrinkled. Automatic tumble helps to this problem by triggering the dryer to tumble the load without heat periodically until the laundry is removed. Like steam drying, this feature may not be worth the extra cost.

Smart Technology for Washers & Dryers

Nowadays, it seems every appliance includes smart technology. Washers and dryers now have it, too. Certain models have an app for smartphones that lets users see when their washer and dryer cycles are finished.

One new model even has an app that lets technicians diagnose a malfunction remotely. This app helps to ensure the repair technicians know just what parts to bring when coming to do a repair. Be aware that smart technology can significantly increase the cost of the appliance.

Benefits of Buying Local for All Your Appliances

After sorting through all the great features available on washers and dryers, shoppers should also consider the benefits of purchasing their new appliance from a local dealer like K&A Appliance rather than online or from a big box home improvement store.

The most significant benefits of shopping locally are excellent customer service and product knowledge. Local appliance dealers know a lot about the appliances they sell and are happy to help shoppers make the wisest selection for their needs and budgets.

Additionally, when you shop with us here at K&A Appliance, you’ll save up to 70% off MSRP every day! Discover all the secrets of shopping first-quality scratch and dent appliances now!

Have questions? Contact us today, or get pre-approved for financing on your next washer and dryer purchase!