Over the years at our testing labs, we’ve proven that front-load washers are superior to top-loading washers. They remove stains better, their high-efficiency designs use less water, and are they're gentler on clothes. However, front-load washers are not perfect and one of their major drawbacks is that they’re expensive.
We've spent hundreds of hours testing dozens of front loaders at every price point. After analyzing all the data, we picked out the top budget performers. In this roundup, the top metric was the price-to-performance ratio, or how well the washer moved stains versus how much it cost. The secondary metric revolved around useful features. Expensive washers tend to have a lot of luxury features like automatic detergent-dispensing and super-fast cycles.
The Electrolux EFLS627UTT (available at Best Buy for $799.99) came out on top for its one-of-a-kind features, excellent stain removal, and a 15-minute Fast cycle. Good, fast, and affordable, the EFLS627UTT has it all.
While Electrolux took two of the top spots, Whirlpool, Samsung, and LG also had a good showing.
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The Electrolux EFLS627UTT front-load washer stands as one of the best front-load washers on the market. One reason? It is the world's first washer to have a special place for detergent pods in the drawer, allowing for even distribution of soap. However, this washer also has powerful stain removal and efficient cycles; it managed to do a solid stain-removal job in both the 46-minute-long Normal cycle and the 15-minute-long Quick cycle.
The EFLS627UTT has a stainless steel tub and is chock-full of features and options including Sanitize, Perfect Steam, StainSoak, and Extended Refresh. StainSoak reheats and recirculates the detergent so that it has more time to tackle your really tough stains. Extended Refresh is great for those who can't stick around to immediately get wet laundry into the dryer; it continues to tumble your wet laundry in the washer until you get home. Between the bevy of features and great cleaning performance, it's no surprise that the EFLS627UTT is our favorite washer.
We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we've also used them like normal people would in the course of their daily lives, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features (as opposed to the kitchen-sink approach to features).
With all this in mind, you can feel confident that when we recommend a product, we're giving it our Reviewed stamp of approval, which means two things: firstly, this appliance performs well, and secondly, this appliance is easy to use. We're always reviewing new products, so stay tuned for our reviews and roundups of the latest products in laundry, refrigerators, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners.
Every washing machine that comes into Reviewed’s labs gets put through the same testing regime, which addresses both performance and user-friendliness. Performance tests include:
• Stain removal – Using a strip of AHAM-approved stains (which includes cocoa, sweat, pig’s blood, red wine, and oil), how much of each stain can this washing machine remove?
• Wear and tear – During a given cycle, how hard is the mechanical action of the washing machine on your clothes?
• Water retention – How much water does your washing machine spin out at the end of the cycle?
• Cycle time – How long is each washing machine cycle?
The best washers have solid stain removal abilities, do not damage your clothes, retain little water, and have short cycle times.
Beyond these performance tests, we also assess the usability of each washing machine, based on our experience, both during testing and during more casual use (one perk of working at Reviewed is that there are plenty of laundry machines on premises!). Our main goal is to get the answer to one question: How easy is it to actually use this washing machine? This involves cumulatively assessing the control panel, the door, the detergent dispenser, and any smart features that are included.
By combining the performance data with our own observations, we can make solid recommendations for someone looking for any type of washing machine at any price point.
What You Should Know About Front-Load Washers
Front-loading washers are a relatively new addition to the laundry pantheon. While previously found only in laundromats, residential front-loader popularity is on the rise. Front-load washers are exactly what they sound like—instead of lifting up your washer’s lid and arranging your clothes in a circle around a pole agitator or impeller, the door opens from the front, and you put your laundry in from the side of the machine.
We love LG front loader washing machines, and the LG WM3700HWA is one of the reasons why. In addition to its stellar cleaning performance, it's also one of the most water- and energy-efficient washers we've tested. With a dizzying array of features, including an Allergiene cycle that combats pet dander, to the Add Garments button, which allows you to easily pause the cycle and throw in more laundry, it's not surprising that we found this washer to be a people-pleaser.
Even better, the WM3700HWA has a door stop that props the door open after a cycle finishes to help the door gasket dry. This feature may seem minor, but allowing the gasket proper time to dry can prevent mold growth that results in terrible smells. One thing to consider is that the control panel isn't backlit, so to prevent eyestrain, we recommend this washer for well-lit laundry rooms, rather than sparsely-lit basements. That shouldn't be a problem though, since this washer's performance and energy savings mean you'll be dying to show it off to anyone who drops by.
If you want a lot of bang for your buck, then the 4.5-cubic-foot LG WM3500CW is the front-load washer for you. Like most LG washers, you can customize each part of the cycle, from the timing, to the amount of spin, to the level of soil on your clothes. This washer did stellar in our lab tests; its stain-removal capabilities has it cleaning as well as or better than more expensive washers.
The Cold Wash feature makes it easy for you to save money on your utility bills, and if you're going to be away from home for a while, the Fresh Care feature continues to tumble your clean laundry so that it doesn't sit and get stale in the washer. Last but not least, this washer works with Google Assistant. You could, in fact, turn your washer on with a voice command. The LG WM3500CW packs great cleaning performance and neat features into a relatively small price tag.
If you want a workhorse front-load washing machine that has fast cycles and is both tough on stains and gentle with delicates, look no further than the Samsung WF45R6300AV. Like most Samsung washing machines, it has a dizzying array of cycles and cycle options, but the ones that stands out the most are the Sanitize cycle, which gets hot enough to kill all sorts of germs and bacteria, and the No Spin option, which is the best and safest choice for delicate clothes like sports gear, lingerie, bathing suits, and blouses.
The WF45R6300AV is no slouch when it comes to stain removal; the Heavy and Normal cycles are among the best cycles we've ever tested in our labs, hands down. The Quick Wash cycle is effective as well, but the best part of the Quick Wash cycle is its short run time of 28 minutes. If you're a big believer in smart home gadgetry and the Internet of Things, this Bixby-enabled washer won't disappoint. You can get alerts on your phone when a cycle finishes, and download a cycle from Samsung's cycle library that matches your exact stain needs. For a washer that gets the job done right the first time and has useful extra features, be sure to check out the Samsung WF45R6300AV.
With its lower upfront cost, it's no surprise that the Samsung WF42H5000AW is pretty bare bones. However, you'll be pleasantly surprised to fine that this washer, which has a fairly average cleaning performance in general, also has an absolutely stellar Heavy Duty cycle that blasted stains away.
There are a number of extra wash and cycle options, but the panel is legible and easy to navigate. The WF42H5000AW isn't a fancy washer by any definition, but it will clean your clothes without a lot of extra fuss, and that's all you need.
Most of the hype surrounding the large capacity, 5.0-cubic-foot Samsung WF50K7500AW front-load washer is focused on its AddWash feature—an extra door on the front that does nothing extra—when it should be focused on its solid stain removal and fast cycles. The Normal cycle is only 30 minutes long, and in that time, it effortlessly deals with stains, even with a large load of laundry. While the Normal cycle is a solid performer all by itself, for really tough stains, the Heavy cycle cleans even better. If you prefer to save money on heating up water, the Eco Cold cycle will make your wallet happy.
Like most high-tech washers, there's plenty of customization options here: You can set the water temperature, soil level, and spin amount in a given cycle, with extra rinses and spin options also available. This is a good washer for large families; it gets through mountains of laundry more efficiently than its competitors.
Long-time fans of Maytag washing machines won’t be disappointed with the Maytag MHW6630HC. In addition to the Normal and Heavy cycles, which both have very strong cleaning performances, this washer also has a speedy, highly effective 13-minute-long Quick cycle.
While our testing indicates that this washer is less gentle with clothes than we’d hoped, we think that the MHW6630HC makes up for it with some neat features. You can’t go wrong with a steam option, an extended tumble cycle to keep post-wash clothes from clumping and wrinkling, and the “Extra Power” button, which can help get tough stains out of family-sized loads of laundry. If you need tough stains removed in a short time span, check out the Maytag MHW6630HC front-load washer.
There’s a lot to like about the Samsung WF45R6100AW washer. Not only does it have an amazing number of cycle options (water temperature, load dirtiness, number of rinses, etc.), but its Heavy cycle is near-perfect, and one of the best stain removing cycles we’ve ever seen during lab testing. While we found that this washer was a little harder, wear-and-tear-wise, on clothes than we usually prefer, we think that the trade-off with its amazing stain removal ability is worth it.
Like all of the more recent Samsung front-load washers, the WF45R6100AW has one additional feature that you’ll really appreciate: instead of having one or two specific steam cycles, this washer uses steam cleaning in half of the available cycles, including Normal, Heavy, and Sanitize. If you need a washer to tackle your toughest, dirtiest laundry, the WF45R6100AW won’t let you down.
The GE GFW850SPNRS is a feature-packed, high-performing washing machine that won’t break the bank. This washer debuts GE’s take on the smelly washing machine problem, which involves a door gasket that incorporates Microban antibacterial materials and a through-door vent system that doubles as a dryer for small laundry loads. With built-in WiFi, a reversible door, a stunning sapphire blue finish, automatic detergent dispensing, and a steam cycle, this washer is really pushing the envelope when it comes to useful features.
While the features are nice, what you really need in a washer is performance, and this washing machine doesn’t disappoint. Its stain removal abilities were strong across the board for the four cycles we tested (Normal, PowerWash, Quick Wash, and Delicates), and it exhibited relatively low wear and tear on our test laundry. Its 21-minute-long Quick Wash cycle will get your laundry clean in the blink of an eye. For a washing machine that’s tough on stains and that you won’t mind showing off to visitors, check out the GE GFW850SPNRS.
If you’re in the market for a closet-depth washer, the Whirlpool WFW6620HW is a great choice. Its cleaning performance is on point, especially when you access the Sanitize and Steam options.
For a washer in its price range, the WFW6620HW is jam packed with special features. It also has unique cycle selection where you choose "what to wash" and "how to wash it," which might be a more intuitive system for some.
Our one caveat: make sure that the machine is perfectly level during installation. Otherwise, the vibrations and noise might sour your experience.
The Maytag MHW5630HW is built for families on the go who are battling busy schedules and an abundance of tough stains. This front-loading washing machine is an above average performer across the board as it tackles normal and delicate cycle settings. Where it really shines is on its Heavy Duty cycle.
A 15-minute quick cycle helps you squeeze in a load when you’re tight on time. The 12-hour Fresh Spin setting helps keep clothing fresh if you wash a load before you leave but don’t come home until hours later. We are disappointed in the Extra Power setting—it doesn’t increase cleaning performance and extends the wash time of the cycle.
The Kenmore 41262 offers more innovation for less. This front-loading washer has plenty of laundry innovations that have come out over the years but at a fraction of the cost. For example, the 41262 has Stay Fresh—a feature that keeps your laundry from getting musty by tumbling after a cycle has finished. It also comes with a magnetic stopper that props the door open after a wash. While this might not seem like a big deal, letting the door gasket dry after a wash helps to prevent mold growth, which could lead to a smelly washer that makes you dread laundry day.
With Heavy Duty and Normal cycles that do a great job on stains, and a 15-minute-long Express cycle, this is a great washer by any measure. If you've been on the fence about switching to a front-loader, the 41262 is a great place to start looking.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.