Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW Washing Machine Review

One of the least expensive front loading washers on the market.


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Science Introduction

We were most impressed with this Frigidaire's ability to deal with red wine and cocoa. When we dialed up the temperature settings to hot, this budget front-loader performed as well as its more expensive counterparts.


Editor's Note: March 17, 2020

The Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW has been discontinued.

With an MSRP of just $749, the Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW is one of the least expensive front-loading washers on the market. In addition to its low purchase price and cost of ownership, this washer’s greatest asset is its simplicity. For the most part, it’s a matter of turning the dial to the desired cycle and pushing start. However, this simplicity also brought with it a few issues, notably the lack of a dedicated quick wash or cottons cycle. Still, it’s a good value. Over five years of running this Frigidaire could save you up to $150 in water and energy costs when compared to a traditional top loader.

Design & Usability

The Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW has a very plain design language.

Everything about the Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW is geared towards ease of use.

The Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW’s controls consist of a knob that you turn and buttons that you push. It’s all very simplistic. There isn’t even a power button. Instead, turning the knob activates the machine. Everything about the is geared towards ease of use. All the compartments in the drawer are labeled, so there's no confusion. One small annoyance we did have with the FAFW3801LW's design was that opening the door did not stop the chime. The chime, like the postman, always rang twice.

Cleaning Performance

Getting it done.

In order to determine cleaning performance, we use stain strips. These standardized pieces of cloth have six squares. One is a control patch; the rest are common enemies of clean clothes like cocoa, blood, and red wine. We place these test strips in an eight pound load of test laundry with a pre-measured amount of industry standard detergent and run the cycle. When a cycle is complete we analyze the stains with a light spectrometer to determine how much muck has been lifted. We noticed that the had very strong performance in all categories, with particular success against red wine and cocoa.

Performance & Features

For its price point, this washer had excellent cleaning abilities.

When we dialed up the heat on this machine, it tore through stains.

The Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW proved itself to be a very efficient machine. Based on national average prices for water and electricity, we estimate that the yearly running cost of the machine will be around $28. That sure beats the laundromat. When we dialed up the heat on this machine, it tore through stains. It also frayed our clothing a little, but that's to be expected.


Running against the meter.

Whenever we run a test cycle, we keep a close eye on both water and electric meters. The thirstiest cycle the Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW possessed was the Bulky, which used about 12.97 gallons. Then we asked the Frigidaire Affinity FAFW3801LW, “Watts up, doc?” It didn’t reply because it’s a washing machine, and only talks when alone. Regardless, the most power hungry was the tyrannical Normal cycle coupled with the hottest temperature setting. Those parameters led to a power consumption of about 180 kWh, which translates to about two cents. Overall, based on national averages, we estimate the yearly operating cost to be in the vicinity of $26.58.

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The gets our recommendation for a consumer on a budget.

Frigidaire claims they are the world’s largest producer of front loading washers, which is quite plausible considering the FAFW3801LW’s low purchase price. However, quantity doesn’t always mean quality. Though its wash performance was acceptable, this Affinity lacked some key features, such as a Whites or Quick cycle. Clad completely in plastic, it's also not the most attractive looking washing machine. However, if you value simplicity and prefer a front loading washer, this may be a good choice for you.

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