Kenmore Elite 31462 Washing Machine Review
This top loading washer puts its well-designed controls at the front.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
By the Numbers
Science is the most important part of the review process. It informs our opinions and—we think—sets us a head above the rest. For washing machines, it's all about cleaning performance and efficiency.
The Kenmore Elite 31462 (MSPR $899) is a 5.2-cubic foot top loading washer that brings something new to the laundry room. Unlike most top loaders, with their controls located at the back, the 31462 has them right up front, allowing easy access whether the lid is open or not.
The cycle selection process has also been streamlined: The LG that this machine is based on has an annoying two-tier control panel, but the Kenmore version uses an intuitive one-touch circle. It also has a Sanitize cycle, and the superb Accela-Wash system for speeding up laundry day.
Not everything has been improved. Despite all the design refinements, the 31462's cleaning ability is only on par with other top loaders in its price range. The efficiency ratings haven't improved much either. But if you're looking for a well-designed, high-efficiency, top-load washer, the Kenmore Elite 31462 is worth checking out.
To read our full review of this washer's matching dryer, the Kenmore Elite 61422, click here.
Design & Usability
Small, important improvements
Design wise, the Kenmore 31462 is all about refinement. Compared to the control panel of the LG WT1701CV–on which this Kenmore is based–the 31462's is pretty streamlined. In the center you'll find a circular array of cycle selection buttons, divided into finger-sized slices. The circle's placement and the button layout make selecting your cycle a little quicker.
And of course all those options are now at the front of the machine, which makes laundry day a little easier. You can still access the controls while the lid is open, and that's a rarity on front loaders.
Kenmore has also optimized the lid design. The LG WT170CV had a handle that released upward as the lid opened. This allowed a user to open the lid all the way without extending their arm. As well as it worked, it added another moving part to the mix, and took a bit of getting used to. The 31462 avoids this by using a fixed handle. Combine that with the soft-close feature, and you've got one very user-friendly lid.
Our cleaning performance tests depend on eight-pound loads made up of towels, bedsheets, and pillowcases. Imbedded in all this laundry are stain strips: bolts of cloth that are mechanically coated with common household stains like cocoa and red wine.
We put these test loads into each of the Kenmore 31462's core cycles. When they're done, we use a photo spectrometer to determine how much of the stain has been lifted. This time, we determined the 31462 offers the same cleaning performance as the LG WT1701CV–a washer that initially cost around $100 more.
This Kenmore also shares many cycle characteristics with the LG. The Ultra Wash performed best, with 4% more cleaning power than the next strongest cycle–Whitest Whites. If you want to save time, the Express Wash is your best bet. It suffered only a 10% loss in cleaning performance compared to the Normal cycle, but took just a bit more than half the time. The Normal cycle's stain removal proved adequate, and did so in just 42 minutes with Accela Wash activated, earning the bronze medal of this cycle lineup.
Performance & Features
Literally hosing down your dirty laundry
This Kenmore has some of the fastest cycle times we've seen from a top loader. We're talking a 40-minute Normal cycle and a 28-minute Express Wash. These speeds are achieved using a feature called Accela Wash. Normally, water dribbles down into a load like a waterfall–bringing the detergent with it. Accela Wash sprays down your laundry at high pressure, coating it with soap more quickly than spinning or dribbling alone. However, it should be noted that when you fill the 31462 to capacity, cycle speeds slow down considerably. A Normal cycle with a complete load will take about an hour and five minutes and use twice the water.
Speaking of water, this Kenmore shares the inefficient DNA of its predecessors. Based on national average cost and use patterns, we estimate this machine will cost $54 per year in utilities, or about twice as much as the average front loader.
But at least that water is put to pretty good use. The 31462's cleaning performance was on par with other top loaders of its price range in our testing. Across all cycles it fared best against cocoa and blood stains, and also did a decent job against oil stains (thanks to that liberal use of hot water).
The 90 minute Ultra Wash cycle proved the most powerful. It made short work of every stain category from sweat to red wine, and really, you should expect nothing less from a cycle named Ultra Wash, right? In fact, all of this Kenmore's cycles are aptly named. The Delicates cycle was gentle on clothing, the Whitest Whites cycle had the right temperature profile to keep your whites bright (starting off cool, then ramping up the heat), and the Express Wash was as fast as advertised.
The extra features included are all welcome. There are a lot of consumers out there that want their high-efficiency washers to use a little extra water for special occasions. So if you need a little extra performance, open the floodgates by activating Water Plus. Also, the addition of a Sanitize cycle means this washer will be appealing to families with small children.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Efficiency measures two aspects of a washing machine: what goes in and what goes out.
What goes in is exactly what you think it is–water and electricity. The nature of top-loading washers means they use more water than front-loaders, and the Kenmore Elite 31462 uses plenty of water. Based on average national use patters and costs, we estimate the yearly running cost for this Kenmore will be about $54. That's not surprising considering the Whitest Whites cycle alone needed 50 gallons to finish.
What comes out of a washer is a little more complicated. The wetter laundry is when it emerges from your washer, the more work your dryer will have to do. Your dryer is usually the most costly aspect of doing your laundry, so the less moisture left over after a wash, the more you'll save.
The best washers can spin out 50% of the original weight of the laundry, but the Kenmore 31462 earns middling scores by removing just 38%.
For the big family
The Kenmore 31462 might be too much washer for someone who lives alone, and it's definitely not for someone who wants to save water. Instead, this washer is ideal for large families that need some extra "oomph" once in while to get their laundry clean.
The 5.2-cubic-foot drum can easily accommodate a large family's biggest loads, Accela Wash saves time on smaller ones, and the Sanitize cycle is great for anyone with allergies.
As a Sears exclusive, you can own this washer for about $899–making it a fairly affordable option. If you're looking for a new top loader, the Kenmore Elite 31462 is a great choice.