We're fans of the nifty gray metallic exterior. If you aren't, buy the otherwise-identical Kenmore 29132—and save about a hundred bucks in exchange for a white exterior. Under the hood, you'll find the same basic design as the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DC but the Kenmore swaps Whirlpool's new control panel for a more traditional look.

If you're looking for an upscale top loader that's a real workhorse, the Kenmore 29133 isn't a bad option. But, for $50 more, you can get Samsung's innovative ActiveWash machine. In this price range, that would be our top pick.

A dash of elegance

The 29133's gray exterior lends it an air of distinction in your laundry room—and on the sales floor. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a top loader as intentionally styled as the 29133. Whirlpool's version of this machine asks users what they want to wash and how they want to wash it, and the Maytag Bravos variant has a very traditional user interface. The Kenmore, on the other hand, blends classic and contemporary.

Starting from the top, the control panel has a slight curve to it, which places the control knob a little closer to you, and gives the whole machine a modern look.

The 29133's lid has soft-close hinges, meaning it won't slam down on your fingers when you're retrieving your laundry. It's a nice touch that also makes it easier to use.

After you get that soft-close lid open, you'll find a shiny drum with a wash plate, which is easier on clothes and requires less water than a traditional pole agitator setup. Unlike other high efficiency (HE) top loaders, which occasionally have difficulty saturating a large load with water, this one uses a unique wash system that Kenmore claims does a better job wetting the top of the load.

The drum is deep—you'll need to reach 32-inches to grab that one sock that's stuck at the bottom of the washer. That's a stretch, but the trade-off is that 5.3-cu.-ft. drum. With so much capacity, you'll be able to handle a family of four's washing needs all at once.
We measure stain removal by washing a series of mechanically coated "stain strips." These strips are covered in common household substances ranging from pig's blood (our lawyers won't let us use human blood for some reason) to a human sweat analog. We place the strips in eight-pound test loads made up of towels, bedsheets, and pillow cases.

After a wash cycle finishes, we take the stain strips and analyze them with a photospectrometer—which analyzes how close to white the stain strips are. That allows us to determine how much of each stain has been lifted.

Stains

An example of a before and after test stain results using the Normal cycle. From left to right: control, sweat, dirt, blood, cocoa, and red wine.

When we followed this procedure for the 29133, we found the Whites cycle was the most powerful. It was 3.5% better at removing stains overall than the Normal cycle.

The Normal cycle was actually about 1% better than the Heavy Duty cycle, which may be better suited for heavier fabrics than heavier stains. When we looked at individual stains, we found the 29133 fared best against cocoa stains. Across all cycles, the 29133 did about 30% better at removing cocoa stains—and 6% better at removing protein stains—than red wine stains. That may be due to cold water rinsing and detergent action.
Efficiency is not just about how much water and electricity a washer uses. It's also about how wet it leaves laundry, and Kenmore 29133 was better at the latter than the former. By hooking this washer up to water and power meters, we tracked the resources it used. Factoring in national average costs and use patterns, we estimate the 29133 will eat up $59 per year in utility costs. That's about average for most top loaders.

On the other side of the efficiency coin, there's water retention. The wetter your laundry is when it leaves the washer, the more work your dryer has to do. On average, the 29133 spun out 54% of excess water. Anything over the 50% mark is fine by us.

Expect the... expected

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If you've owned a Whirlpool Cabrio or Maytag Bravos washing machine, you'll know what to expect. The 29133 is quite similar to the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DC, and our lab tests on both machines returned nearly identical results.

On our stain removal tests, we determined the 29133 fares well against animal and plant proteins like blood and cocoa, but had the hardest time removing sweat and red wine stains. Cool temperatures might account for that: The hottest water this Kenmore used on its Normal cycle topped out around 101°F. Now, cold water washing isn't all bad, but you may need to compensate with extra detergent or a heavier cycle when washing, say, sweaty soccer uniforms.

Our tests concluded the Whites cycle removes stains best. It has a 3.5% edge over the Normal cycle, likely due to an extra 10 minutes and extra 3 gallons of hot water. Surprisingly, the Heavy Duty cycle ranked third in stain removal.

Despite the fact that it has a top spin speed of only 950 RPM—far lower than the 1400 RPM that some similarly priced machines offer—the 29133 had no problem spinning excess water out of loads.

Most of the 29133's noteworthy extra features are ones that you'll never interact with. For example, Accela Soak allows the 29133 to draw water from the bottom of the drum. Detergent tends to sink, so by drawing water from the bottom of the drum and dumping it back on top of your clothes, you're getting the most of your detergent. We found that items we placed at both the bottom and top of the load were evenly cleaned, which shows the system does work.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
As with most Kenmore appliances, the 29133 washer has a one-year warranty. From date of purchase, you'll be covered for parts and labor on manufacturer defects. Like most home appliance warranties, it does not include repairs for wear-and-tear failures.

A solid choice at Sears

If you're looking for a solid top-loading washer and think the latest Maytag is too spartan and the new lineup from Whirlpool is too high-tech, then it's worth checking out the Kenmore 29133. It comes with strong stain removal for its price point and the extra large, 5.3-cu.-ft. drum will serve most families well.

However, don't count out the Samsung WA52J8700AP. It sells for only $50 more than the Kenmore, but features the innovative ActiveWash system—which puts a sink on the top of your washing machine.

Meet the testers

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
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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