GE GFW450SPKDG front-load washing machine review
This affordable front-loader has high-end features
If you dream of buying a front-loading washer, but think you can’t afford one, take a look at the GE GFW450SPKDG. You may be surprised by what you find: an attractive modern front-loader with some really nice features, at a great price point (available at Abt for $899.00).
This machine doesn’t appear to share any DNA with GE’s popular line of top-loaders. But all the benefits of front-loaders apply to this model—it’s more efficient with energy and water, and since it doesn’t have an agitator or a wash plate, it’s gentler on clothes.
We spent a week testing the GFW450SPKDG in our laundry labs, and while we find its cleaning ability and its efficiency to be average, we think this washer has features that make it an affordable luxury.
The dark Diamond Gray finish on our test model moves it to the top of the class for looks, and it comes in white (GFW450SSKWW) for about $100 less. The 4.5 cu.-ft. stainless steel drum is nothing short of impressive. The washer’s control panel is a bit cluttered, but the font is large, so it’s easy to read.
Once you get over the fact that the power and start buttons are on the right and the cycle dial is on the left—which requires a zigzag motion to get a load going—you’ll never have to think about it again.
The plastic detergent drawer feels insubstantial. When we first pulled it out, we couldn’t access the liquid fabric softener compartment. That requires an additional button push. Still, it’s no problem if you soften your clothes with dryer sheets.
If the eight regular cycles on the dial don’t cover your laundry needs, you can customize further based on soil level, temperature and spin. Although there’s no Heavy cycle per se, you could do what we did in our tests—run a Normal cycle on the heavy soil setting.
But don’t bother with the Stain Removal Guide. Although it purports to offer better cleaning on common stain types—grass, wine, blood, tomato, and dirt—our tests on similar models show that you’ll generally see better stain removal using the Normal cycle.
High-end features that make this washer notable include Sensor Dry (which increases efficiency by measuring the moisture coming out of the exhaust), an internal water heater, and Steam Sanitize. The latter just about hit the optimal 160° mark, meaning that the washer can act as a powerful germ killer. We wonder why GE didn’t try to get NSF certification for that.
This front-loader will cost you about $37.50 a year to run. That’s slightly above the average of around $35.00 a year for front-loading washing machines we've tested, but the spread is narrow. The yearly run cost is about half that of an inefficient top-loader. If your last washer was a top-loader, you could see lower utility bills in the $300 dollar range over five years.
What we liked
• This washing machine did a nice job spinning out excess water. On Normal, it spun out 53% of excess moisture and got rid of up to 77% on high spin. That’s a big plus because the less water that’s left in the clothes at the end of the cycle, the less time they need to spend in the dryer.
• We appreciate the Time Saver feature on the GE, because its regular cycles are sluggish. Time Saver shaved the washer’s 65-minute Normal cycle down to 37 minutes. The faster spin it uses to wash your clothes might cause additional wear and tear in the long run, so if you just need to do a load of lightly soiled laundry in a hurry, you can use the Quick Wash cycle instead. That will still take 35 minutes to finish, though.
• Tumble Care is a feature we’ve admired in other washers, and GE put it into this machine. Basically, if you’re not going to be available to unload the machine immediately after it completes a cycle, it reduces wrinkles by periodically tumbling the wash for an extended period of time. The eight hours of tumble care this GE provides should be plenty, though we have tested washers like the LG WM3770HWA that could tumble for more than twice as long.
• The Add a Garment button is a small thing, but it’s an easy way to pause the machine. Yes, you could hit Start to do that, but there’s something reassuring about a button that gives you the exact functionality you need.
What users say
Most owners who posted comments on this washing machine said that they are happy with it, citing ease of use, the steam feature, and the amount of water removed during spin cycle. A few people complained about slow cycles and noise. Owners need to know that it’s essential to remove the shipping bolts on the back of the washer to avoid serious damage.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for value in a front-loading washer, you’ll find it in this machine. Its dark gray color is stunning, and you can stack it with its companion dryer. It will clean good-sized loads of clothes adequately, and it can sanitize them if needed.
While we originally assumed this washer would probably be bought in quantity by builders to install in new homes, the machine’s higher-end features at a budget price also make it look like a viable purchase option for homeowners who want the increased efficiency and reduced water usage that a front-loader brings to the table. If that's you, consider this GE.
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