Upgrade your laundry routine with the best front load washers of 2021. In this guide, we’ve included our favorite front load washers from LG, GE, Samsung, and Maytag, with budget washers and high-end smart washing machines for any household.
Even if you opt for a front load washing machine on sale you can still expect to pay around $500 for a new model. The washers in our guide also go up to $1,500 when full-priced, so this is an important investment for you and your family that should last a decade. Up-front cost isn’t the only consideration you need to make when buying a front load washer. Energy Star efficient models can cost significantly less to run than non-qualified washers, so you could find yourself saving money in the long term if you opt for something more efficient now.
A large capacity washing machine is the right choice for most people. These can cut down on the number of washes you need to run every week, saving you time, effort, and energy. However, not everyone has the space to opt for a large-capacity front load washing machine, and if you’re in a small household you may not need something hefty taking up space in your home. The washers in our guide to the best front load washers start at just 2.2 cubic feet in capacity and go through to 5.2 cubic feet for large households. To understand what’s best for you, we’ve written a guide on how to choose the right size washing machine. If you need something really compact, check out the best washer dryer combos to get the best dryers and washers in one. You can also check out our guide to the best top load washing machines for more options.
1. Maytag MHW5630HW: Best front load washer overall
For a relatively low-cost model, the Maytag MHW5630HW crams in a lot of great features. There's 10 wash settings including towel, quick wash, wrinkle free and even steam wash technology. Pair with the extra power button to tackle even the toughest stains.
With 4.5 cu. ft. capacity, the Maytag MHW5630HW is a great family-sized washer which is stackable with the Maytag MED5630HW. With Energy Star certification, annual estimated running costs of only $9 and a stellar 10 year warranty, this is our top pick of front-load washers.
- Read our Maytag MHW5630HW review
2. Samsung WF42H5000AW: Best value front load washer
The Samsung WF42H5000AW is the least expensive washer we evaluated, and has a lot of features. The child lock and large capacity of this washer makes it a great option for a family. At 4.2 cubic feet, this washing machine will fit a king size comforter.
Maintenance of this machine is made easy by the self-cleaning cycle and the phone app diagnostics. The Samsung WF42H5000AW has only eight cycles which is less than most of the washing machines that we compared in this review. It still includes common cycles like normal, heavy duty, bedding, rinse, quick wash and perm press. There is even a cycle specifically for active wear. There's no steam option, which is reasonable given the affordability of this option.
- Read our Samsung WF42H5000AW review
3. Samsung WW22K6800AW: Best small front load washer
Not everyone needs a large-capacity washer. If you're in a smaller household or have less space, it can be better to opt for a smaller model. The Samsung WW22K6800AW has a 2.2 cubic foot capacity, 12 preset cycles and steam washing technology, proving that you don't need a large washer to pack a punch. This washer will do a full load in only 36 minutes, meaning that even if you're doing multiple loads you can have them done in a jiffy.
The average running cost for a year is $11, which isn't bad by any means although it's not the lowest we've seen. At $900 when full-price, this is a mid-priced front-load washer which is justified by the amount of features on offer. There's app compatibility for Smart Care diagnosis and self-cleaning functions to save you time and effort. The Samsung WW22K6800AW is also stackable with a matching dryer, the Samsung DV22K6800EW, making it ideal for smaller spaces. There's the standard Samsung warranty of 10 years on the motor, 3 on the steel drum and 1 on parts and labor.
- Read our Samsung WW22K6800AW review
4. LG WM9000HVA: Best premium front load washer
LG consistently turns out the newest developments in kitchen appliances, which explains why you can usually expect to pay a bit more for these models. The LG WM9000HVA comes with 14 wash cycles including sanitary and allergen settings, and has steam wash capabilities.
There's app compatibility which lets you download new cycles and monitor your machine, even when you're out of the house. You can also pair the LG WM9000HVA with the LG SideKick, which is a smaller 1cu. ft. washer that takes the place of a pedestal letting you run two washes at once or wash a few essentials without turning on the entire 5.2 cu. ft. machine. It's smart innovation like this that won the LG WM9000HVA Energy Star awards in 2018 and 2019 for efficiency and innovation.
- Read our LG WM9000HVA review
5. Samsung WF50K7500AW: Best smart front load washer
With 5cu. ft. capacity, extra-quiet running and a nifty AddWash door, this is a top pick for a big household who have the money to invest. The Samsung WF50K7500AW is above average in front load washer prices but it covers all the bases with a good warranty, ADA and Energy Star compliance and low running costs.
Self Clean+ will ensure that your washer is running efficiently with minimal hassle, cleaning itself every 40 washes so you don't have to. Great for families or those with less time on their hands. Plus, nobody really likes cleaning their washer, do they?
- Read our Samsung WF50K7500AW review
6. GE GFW450SSMWW: Best front load washer for stain removal
The GE GFW450SSMWW offers a bunch of great functions including a tumble care function to keep washing wrinkle-free, and a sanitize setting which claims to remove 99.9% of bacteria. The inbuilt water heater enables high-power steam cleaning and the stain removal guide panel offers a no-nonsense approach to deep-cleaning your clothes.
The hangup is that the GE GFW450SSMWW has the worst warranty of the bunch with only a year's coverage. There's also been reports of the buttons wearing off, which can be a bit frustrating.
- Read our GE GFW450SSMWW review
Why trust us about front load washing machines?
We have spent hundreds of hours since 2010 comparing and researching the best front-load washer. We have watched product videos, read manuals and spoken to customer service representatives to determine the best in the industry. We have utilized EPA figures to quantify energy efficiency and spoken with industry experts to gauge what matters for this type of appliance.
How we evaluated front loaded washing machines
We purposely selected a variety of front-load washers from major retailers to compare, taking into account popularity with customers. We made detailed charts comparing features that matter for front-load washing machines, including annual operating costs, total capacity, water used per wash, dimensions, warranty and more. We gave better rankings to the units that have useful features like a wide variety of cycles, soil levels and water temperatures and presets.
Top load vs front-loading washing machines
There is still some debate about whether top load washing machines or front-load machines are the best. While that decision is mostly a matter of personal preference, front-load washers generally save on space because you can stack them with front-load dryers, according to Edward Crump, brand and product marketing manager for Frigidaire.
“Front load units also typically offer better cleaning and handling of clothes, and tend to use energy and detergent more efficiently,” Crump went on to explain in an email.
Top-loading washers have come a long way in both efficiency and cleaning power, but they're just not as good as front-loading machines, said James Peters, product manager at Kenmore. Peters has been involved in lots of testing that proves that point, and most third-party testers come to the same conclusion: front-load machines clean better. However, people still tend to shy away from front-loading machines for many reasons. Part of the issue is some early front-load machines had problems with mildew and vibration.
“It's comparable to a lot of things out there in the world today – people have biases that they lean on,” Peters said.
Since he's been in the business for a long time, people often ask him whether to buy a front- or top-loading machine. And then they ignore his answer. “I'd think people would listen to me, but I find that they don't,” he said.
Peters explained that top-loaders have gotten better, but front-loaders are still better at cleaning and are more efficient. Top-loaders even tend to need more repairs, based on his experience with appliances, which goes back to selling them in college. He's always seen fewer issues with front-loaders over the years.
How much does a front load washer cost?
There is a pretty broad range of prices when it comes to front-load washers – from about $700 to $1,700. You can find a good machine for right around $900 and still get advanced features like steam cleaning. We deliberately included washers for every price point but never compromised on quality when assembling our guide.
How long do front load washers last?
A 2007 National Association of Home Builders/Bank of America Home Equity study concluded that 10 years is a reasonable life expectancy for washers. Frequency of use, quality craftsmanship, maintenance and other factors can impact how long a front load washer lasts. You can safely assume most machines will outlast their warranties but that is not the same as life expectancy.
What to look for when buying a front-load washer
Here are the key features to look for when you're buying a front loading washing machine...
1. Energy Efficiency
All the washing machines we reviewed are Energy Star certified by the U.S. Department of Energy. That means they are at least 20 percent more energy efficient than the minimum required federal standard. Many of these machines go far beyond the Energy Star level. If you want a machine with a low running cost , you should pay attention to other energy stats as well, including the estimated annual operating cost, power cost, water costs and water usage. The DOE also provides information about average water used per wash and the water factor (WF), which is the number of gallons per cycle, per cubic foot. The lower the WF, the better.
A fair amount of energy efficiency is determined by the size of the machine – if the washer has a smaller wash drum, it will use less water and power. As such, it is definitely worth buying the smallest machine that accommodates your needs. However, the correlation is not always exact. We saw many machines of roughly the same capacity that have quite different energy efficiency numbers. See our energy scores for more information, and check out the DOE's site for specifics about energy efficient machines.
2. Wash Cycles & Options
Washing machines with a great amount of cycles are generally better, but look at the types of wash options, too. If you plan to use cloth diapers for your baby, for instance, you will want a sanitize cycle. If you have athletes in your household, you may want a heavy-duty cycle that can power through stains. We gave higher scores to machines that have NSF-certified cycles. This means they can reduce 99.9 percent of microorganisms without carryover to future loads.
3. Design & Dimensions
Before shopping, measure the space you have available for your washer. Even if you have a tiny laundry room, you can find innovative features on a compact unit. The best compact washers offer design features so you won't feel like you have to sacrifice functionality for size.
A washing machine represents a significant investment, so look for one with strong coverage from the manufacturer, especially on the motor. You should be able to count on the most expensive part of the washing machine for years to come.
We compared some great machines that cost right around the average price of the most popular models at Home Depot, Lowe's and Best Buy. However, some of the best rated front-load washers are outside the average shopper's budget. If you have more to spend, you might want to take a look at some of these upscale options. They have impressive, unique upgrades that might be worth it.
What size washer do I need for a king-size comforter?
Maybe your old machine didn't fit your comforter, which meant a trip to the laundromat when it was time to wash it. One of the most common answers we found to this question online is you need about 3.8 cubic feet to fit a king-size comforter, but that might be a little too small, according to our research. Lots of cleaning experts also list 4.5 cubic feet and larger as the proper size for cleaning a king-size comforter. However, even that may be too small.
The question is not just can you fit it in but also can you clean it properly. The testing that we do is around actually cleaning the comforter in different capacities.
Any machine over 4.5 cubic feet in capacity can properly clean a queen-size bedding set – comforter, sheets and pillow cases. A washing machine over 5.2 cubic feet can clean a king-size set. Machines over 4.5 cubic feet can fit a king-size comforter, but they might not clean it quite as thoroughly.
The answer may depend on the type of comforter you have, too. A really bulky one might not have enough room to get clean in a 4.5-cubic-foot model, but a thinner one might be just fine. Consider what type of bedding you have. We recommend you buy a machine with at least 4.5 cubic feet of space for any king-size comforter, with more space for bulkier comforters.
Proper maintenance for front-load washers
Front-load washers are notorious for smelling like mold and mildew. It may even deter you from buying a front load style of washer. But there are ways to keep the smells in check. It really is as simple as airing things out, maybe more than you are used to with a top-loading machine. Some washers offer self-cleaning functions but you'll still need to manually clean from time to time. There are three things that really need attention between uses.
- The Gasket: The seal around the machine's door has folds in it that need to be cleaned out on a regular basis or gross things will start to grow. Wipe it down with a paper towel or a rag often.
- The Door: Keep it open when you are not using the machine. This allows the tub to air out and helps keep it dry. Less moisture in general is a good thing for these machines.
- The Detergent Tray: Keep the air circulating around the detergent tray, too. Pull it out so air circulates through it, and remove it for a thorough cleaning regularly.
How full should a front-load washer be?
The answer to almost any question you have about your washing machine is to follow manufacturer instructions. However, many of the manuals we looked at don't actually address the overfill question directly – they simply list loading laundry and closing the door as steps in the process. A few of the manuals warn against overfilling your washer but have nothing about how much laundry it would take to do that. We also spoke with several manufacturers' customer service departments to get a feel for the prevailing wisdom. We were told to leave room at the top, though no one got very specific.
Some washers have a fill line, but for those without one, we recommend you fill the drum no more than 80 percent full. There has to be adequate room to move water through the clothing. If you stuff the wash basin too full, there won't be room for proper agitation and clothing will not come clean. Overloading your washer not only leads to rewashing loads that didn’t get clean, but it can also cause undue stress and wear on the motor.
Washer dryer combos save space
The best front load washers are great for saving space because they can be stacked, unlike top-loading machines. That way you have only the footprint of the washer to accommodate. If you want to save even more space there is nothing better than a washer dryer combination.
These are still considered a foreign concept to many people in the U.S., who often have sprawling laundry rooms and are just more used to having a separate washer and dryer. If you live in a smaller dwelling, though, these machines can be a lifesaver. Even if you just want to simplify your life they might be a good idea, especially if you ask Atul Vir, Founder and President of Equator Advanced Appliances, maker of a few washer dryer combo brands, including Deco. He's been wondering why Americans have two separate machines since he moved to the states from Europe decades ago. Stopping your day to move a load from the washer to the dryer strikes him as unnecessary. At least some of the reason people do it is just habit.
He recognizes there are reasons besides habit that washer dryer combos are still somewhat rare in the U.S. Until very recently the capacity of most combos was much smaller than washer and dryer sets. Also, combos are not known for drying as well as they wash, leaving clothing wrinkled. Washer dryer combo technology is improving all the time, and it is a valid option, especially if you are short on space. Check out the Haier HLC1700AXS, our pick for the best overall for more information.
What should & should not go in your washing machine
You can wash just about anything that will fit in your machine, but there are items you should hand-wash instead, even if they fit inside. Here are some good tips we found as we researched the topic:
- Baby Clothes: Anything tiny, including baby socks and similar items, can go into your washing machine if you put them in a mesh bag first. If you don’t, they can migrate into your machine’s hoses and vents and clog things up, causing flooding or other damage.
- Throws and Covers: Pillowcases and couch cushion covers are fine in your washing machine, especially if they are preshrunk. Pay attention to the label, though. You can ruin some couch cushion covers in the washing machine. The same is true of blankets and throws – most are fine, but check the label.
- Rugs: Even those with rubber backing can be washed safely in the machine, though the rubberized portion will wear out after a while.
- Sneakers & Running Shoes – Yes. And No. Sneakers are fine, though it's best if you throw a towel in to act as a buffer. Running shoes really should not go in the washer, though. They are so carefully designed, and a harsh cycle could change some of the features that make them comfortable for running.
- Pillows: Most pillows can be washed in your machine – even down pillows, with a little caution. However, you shouldn't wash memory foam pillows in your machine, since a wash cycle can materially change the feel of memory foam.
- Embellished Items: Backpacks and formalwear with a lot of glitter or glue-ons will not do well in a typical wash cycle. It’s best to hand-wash these items.
- Stuffed Animals: Your child’s treasures are usually fine in the washing machine, but consider hand-washing the really delicate ones. You can also put them in a mesh bag to protect them and to keep track of any buttons or other parts that come off in the wash.