Laundry

Kenmore 25132 Washing Machine Review

Confidence from simplicity

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By the Numbers

When we rate washing machines, cleaning performance and efficiency are the two most important factors. In order to gather empirical data on the Kenmore 25132, we took it for a test drive in our appliance lab. Here the air temperature, humidity, and water temperatures are all controlled to ensure each washer gets a fair chance.

If you just need clean clothes, you're reading the right review. You won't find many baubles or unnecessary features on the Kenmore 25132 (MSRP $549.99). It's just a 4.3-cu-ft. box that fills up with water and spins, and you can find it at Sears on sale for as low as $449.

Of course, that's just the beginning of what you'll pay. While cleaning, it does use quite a bit of water–roughly double that of an efficient front loader—but at least that water is put to good use. The 25132 removes stains as well as much more expensive washers, and its uncomplicated controls will make anyone an expert come laundry day.

To read our full review of this washer's matching dryer, the Kenmore 65132, click here.

Cleaning Performance

Cleaning performance is synonymous with stain removal. To test this, we use mechanically coated stain strips, which are divided into swatches covered in representative substances like cocoa and red wine. We place these strips in either eight or four-pound test loads made of towels, bedsheets, and pillowcases. After a cycle is finished, we analyze each strip with a photospectrometer. The stain's color (versus its "before" color) tells us how much of that stain has been lifted.

Stains

Before and after test stain results using the Normal cycle. From left to right: control, sweat, dirt, blood, cocoa, and red wine.

This machine's Whites cycle, on the hottest setting with two extra rinses, performed the best. It required an hour and a half to finish, but all that time allowed this cycle to remove 6% more stains than the next highest performing cycle, Heavy Duty. The Normal cycle finished third, removing 2% less of our stains than Heavy Duty did, but in just one hour.

The 25132 excelled at removing cocoa and blood stains across all cycles. But thanks to extra water use, it also had a good showing against sweat and oil stains compared to other washers in the same price range.

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And even though this is a fairly traditional top-loader, clothing wear and tear wasn't as bad as a truly old-school pole agitator model. Our mechanical action strips registered 59 frayed threads on average per Normal cycle and 78 per Heavy Duty cycle—both pretty average for an impeller washing machine.

Design & Usability

Fit for any basement

There are washing machines designed to beautify your kitchen, with nice edges and aesthetics that match your decor. Then there are washers meant to sit in your basement. The Kenmore 25132 is one of these. At least you know the money you're shelling out for this washer goes directly into its ability to wash your clothes, not into the design.

The machine looks rather old-school: the metal lid slams closed, and the controls are all knobs. These knobs make it very clear which features you're turning on or off, and the cycle selection is broad yet easily deciphered. Those who've washed clothes in the last fifty years will know exactly what to do.

Performance & Features

Wet work

Controls
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

A clean control panel

Family
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

Kenmores are designed and built by other companies. The 25132 has familial resemblance to some Whirlpool washers.

Many consumers will be attracted to the Kenmore 25132's low upfront cost, but its higher long-term cost is also worth considering. The 25132 uses a lot of water, about twice as much as the average front loader. To put that into context, you'll be spending close to $550 in water and electricity to run the 25132 over its minimum expected lifetime–doubling its overall cost.

At least all that water is justified by strong stain removal. The Whites cycle (hottest setting, plus two rinses) rocketed to the top of our tests. It took an hour and a half and 32 gallons of water, but the end result was a clean comparable to washers that cost twice as much. Heavy Duty is a slightly quicker option, and the penalty to stain removal is marginal.

If you need clean laundry in less than an hour, your options are limited. The Express cycle completed in forty-four minutes, but the results were less than stellar. Stick with the longer, more effective cycles.

Stain Boost
Credit: Reviewed.com / Jonathan Chan

Stain Boost allows you to prolong selected cycles.

The 25132 also has a solid repertoire against many different types of stains. Some washers tend to struggle against oil and sweat stains because they depend on hot water. Since the 25132 didn't spare a single drop, it got the job done.

From the outside, the Kenmore 25132 looks just like your mother's washer. However, there are two internal features on the newer side. First is the impeller. Almost gone are the days of pole agitators sticking up through the drum and occupying valuable real estate. Now we have impellers that more efficiently transfer motion through water.

The second feature worth writing about is the Stain Boost option, which simply extends any cycle. Stubborn stain on a delicate item? Extend the length of the Delicates cycle. On the 25132, it's as simple as that.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Efficiency

Efficiency is what a washer will cost you to run. We used water and electricity meters to measure how much of each resource the Kenmore 25132 consumed for each cycle. Assuming average national costs and use patterns, we expect this washer will cost users around $55 a year in utilities.

For most Americans, laundry continues in the dryer after the wash cycle. The more wet laundry is coming out of the washer, the more work your dryer will have to do to get your clothes into a wearable state. On average, the 25132 spun out about 37% of excess water, a relatively poor result that will mean additional electricity costs from your dryer.

Warranty

For one year after the date of purchase, the Kenmore 25132 is covered for any defects of material or workmanship. With proof of purchase, free repair or replacement may be granted at Sears' discretion.

Conclusion

Tried and true

Washing machine design, aesthetics, and efficiency have all come a long way. This top loader willfully disregards such evolution but, as a consumer, it's hard to ignore clean clothing at so low a price. Formulas like this worked well in the past, and they still do today. The ability to extend any cycle with Stain Boost is a welcome extra. ...Even though it's the only extra.

Unfortunately, this machine uses tons of water which is something you should keep in mind. In addition to environmental concerns, using an inefficient washer can double the impact of its purchase price on your checkbook.

Anyone in the market for a washer with a low up-front cost that cleans clothes the old fashioned way should take a hard look at the Kenmore 25132. A sale price of just $449 makes it a great deal, but make sure to factor high operating costs into your budget.

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