• Part Old-Style, Part New Technology

  • Design Highlights

  • Features

  • Efficiency

  • The Bottom Line

GE created the GTW685BSLWS (available at AppliancesConnection for $592.00) for the top-loader camp. We’ve seen it priced as low as $499, making it cost effective.

There are washers you can buy for less. And if you want to invest in a washer that's practically indestructible, Speed Queen, an agitator washing machine once found mostly in laundromats, makes residential machines, too. The GTW685BSLWS falls in the middle.

Part Old-Style, Part New Technology

Vanity
Credit: GE

This traditional white washing machine gives a comfort level for those who prefer a less high-tech washer. The glass lid closes softly, and lets you monitor the laundry as it runs.

The sibling to our #1 top loader, this new 4.2 cu.-ft. high efficiency washing machine incorporates similar technology and features, but swishes the wash with a pole agitator.

This old school method has the advantage of better cleaning on really dirty clothes. The downside: agitating to get those stains out causes more wear and tear on clothing.

And, like any washer with an agitator, a load can get unbalanced if you aren't careful about how you put the dirty clothes in. When a load gets out of balance, because something got wrapped around the agitator, you have to manually unwind it. That's no fun.

A pole agitator can give very dirty clothes a better wash and better stain removal. Be careful when you load. All pole agitator models have a tendency to become unbalanced when laundry wraps around the agitator.

We tested the GTW685BSLWS washing machine in our labs to evaluate its effectiveness. Could this combination of modern and traditional elements clean the clothes? We found that it did an okay job of washing, and was easy to use.

Design Highlights

The design is classic. The GTW685BSLWS looks like a familiar white washer at first glance, but GE added a soft-close glass lid, good for monitoring a load in progress. Opening or closing the lid turns the washer on. It'll work to open it while it's filling. There's a pause button you can press if you need to open it in a later cycle, and a light goes on to notify you when the lid is locked.

The controls are clear and straightforward. There's one knob, with 12 wash cycles to choose from, one cycle that cleans the tub, and one that rinses and spins. Choices like Whites, Colors, and Jeans make the cycle decision effortless. To do the wash, pick a cycle, open the lid, add clothes and detergent, lower the lid and tap the Start button. Simple and intuitive.

Cycles-on-control-panel
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

The controls are very clear and straightforward. There is just one knob to turn. Choose from 12 wash cycles, and two special cycles, one to clean the tub, and one that just rinses and spins.

This design required us to bend at the waist to retrieve the laundry at the bottom of the 4.2 cu.-ft. drum. (The agitator takes up some space, so you don't get all 4.5 cu.-ft.) If you’re petite, you may have to keep a stool in the laundry room to give you a boost when you unload the clean clothes.

Features

GE slipped some modern features into this top-loader:

• A water spray is supposed to rinse out the detergent dispenser. It's barely strong enough, and sometimes it left powdered detergent stuck to the tub. It was easy to wipe off, but it shouldn't have happened.

• You can customize a wash load by choosing the soil level, water temperature, spin and rinse. Once you’ve set it, you can save it using the My Cycle feature. That’s a convenience if you wash the same kinds of loads often.

• As for the Stain Guide selector, don't expect much. In our tests, it didn’t do as well as the Normal cycle in removing wine stains, and it took 20 minutes longer.

• The Sanitize cycle kills bacteria, but requires Oxi to do the job, since the washer uses your home's hot water without heating it further.

• The Deep Fill button drops an additional bucket of water into the drum. Each time you press it, you get six more gallons, till the drum is filled up. Adding more water won’t necessarily give you cleaner laundry, since it literally waters down your detergent. But if you want more water, you can have more water.

Adding more water won’t necessarily give you cleaner laundry.

• Deep rinse makes more sense, since it adds the extra water at the end of the cycle, where it can wash out any residue from fabric softener.

• Warm rinse prevents that clammy feeling you get from touching cold, wet clothes. Handling wet laundry that is warm to the touch is more comfortable, especially if you have arthritis in your hands.

Warm_rinse
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

Warm rinse gives you wet clothes that are warm to the touch when you unload them.

Efficiency

As with all high efficiency washers, you need to use HE detergent in this machine. It may look less sudsy than you expect when you peek through the glass lid, but it's working.

In our tests, we found this washer to be something of a water guzzler, using about 8,300 gallons a year. We calculated a total estimated running cost of $62.25. That's about twice what an efficient front-loader would use.

Deep_fill
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

The Deep Fill button puts an additional bucket of water into the drum each time you press the it.

Cycles run rapidly. When we tested, Speed Wash took 19 minutes. The Normal cycle ran in 38 minutes in our labs. We made sure to balance the load to get those times.

The Bottom Line

The American-made GE GTW685BSLWS washer is a good value at the $499 sale price. In our tests, it did an acceptable job on the laundry, though not quite as good a job as this non-agitator machine. GE made this model to combine current technology with a pole agitator that works hard to get dirt and stains out, plus it offers opportunities to customize the water level.

Very few consumer reviews are posted for this brand new washing machine, but the glass lid looks like a winner already.

If you're a top-loader fan who has to have the agitator, and does a careful job distributing the load inside the washer, this washer can strike the right balance of tradition and technology in your laundry room.

Meet the testers

Cindy Bailen

Cindy Bailen

Editor

@orangesandlemon

Cindy Bailen loves writing about major appliances and home design and has spent over 15 years immersed in that. In her spare time, Cindy hosts pledge programs for WGBH-TV in Boston and other public television stations.

See all of Cindy Bailen's reviews
Jonathan Chan

Jonathan Chan

Senior Lab Technician

@ReviewedHome

Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Senior Lab Technician 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.

See all of Jonathan Chan's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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