Maytag Bravos XL MEDB880BW Dryer Review
Gets the job done, and adds some specialty cycles
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The Maytag Bravos XL MEDB880BW (MSRP $899.99) is a stalwart dryer. In fact, it performs exactly like its little brother, the Maytag Bravos XL MEDB725BW. The difference? Its MSRP is $100 higher, and it has dedicated Sanitize and Towels cycles. The extra money may be worth it if you have kids and a pool.
By the Numbers
Science is the basis of our testing. It should then come as no surprise that we judge dryers by their ability to dry laundry. To maintain consistency, we run tests on the core cycles: Normal, Delicates, Quick Dry, and Bulky. Each of these cycles gets a specific, standard, weighted load that's wetted to 1.7 times its weight. Then, we measure how dry it ends up, how long it takes, and how hot it gets.
Design & Usability
Simple for a reason
There's a reason why appliances are called "white goods," and the Maytag Bravos XL MEDB880BW makes it plain: It's white inside and out, with a little silver plastic trim on top. My colleague thought the MEDB725BW fell somewhere between purely functional and attractive, while I had issues with the tiny text on the control panel.
If your dryer is hidden in a laundry room, function matters more than looks, and the Maytag wins with simplicity. The door is easy to open. The lit interior is a bonus, perfect if that laundry room is in a dark basement.
Normal & Delicates
The Normal cycle managed to get eight pound test loads completely dry. However, all that drying came at the price of high temperatures. Our sensors recorded a peak of temperature of 150.5ºF. At those temperatures, overdrying and clothes wear may occur over time. The Normal cycle lasted, on average, one hour and twelve minutes.
The Delicates cycles took a similar time, averaging around one hour and fifteen minutes. During that time, it managed to get test loads 99 percent dry. Again, like the Normal cycle, the Delicates got a little too hot. The temperature peaked out around 138ºF. Depending on the fabric you've got, your delicates may not be able to handle that kind of punishment after repeated drying.
Performance & Features
A hot bed of hot activity
The Maytag MEDB880BW showed itself to be a competent dryer. The Normal and Delicates cycles both managed to get clothes into a wearable state in about an hour and twenty minutes. The Normal cycle achieved this by hitting temperatures north of 150 degrees, which may prematurely wear some fragile fabrics. The Delicates cycle also managed to get test loads into a wearable state, but only needed to reach 138 degrees. That's still a little on the high side for a cycle that is supposed to be as gentle as possible.
The Bulky cycle managed to get our test comforter 85 percent dry, which is pretty impressive, especially since we didn't take comforter out and flip it halfway through (the instruction manual says to do that, but most consumers don't). The Quick Dry cycle was the most disappointing. Though it lived up to its name with an 18 minute duration, it only got our small test load 66 percent dry.
On the features front, the most notable option is steam refresh. If you hook the dryer up to a water supply—easy to do with a hose splitter—it adds steam to help get wrinkles out of clothing. A Sanitize cycle gets hot enough to kill bacteria, which may be helpful for families with young children.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Quick Dry & Bulky
The Quick Dry cycle disappointed us a little. In eighteen minutes it only got test loads 66 percent dry with a smaller, four pound load. That's not bad, but not great either. Use it for only a few items at a time.
The Bulky cycle managed to get our test comforter 85 percent dry. That's quite a feat considering it only took about an hour. Most people are forced to run a bulky cycle twice. At least with the MEDB880BW, it'll probably be completely dry when the second buzzer sounds.
A Bravos with more features
All of our testing shows that the Maytag Bravos MEDB880BW performs exactly like the Maytag Bravos MEDB725BW. That's to be expected, as they're similar machines. An MSRP that's $100 higher for the 880 gets you a Sanitize and Towels cycle. The Sanitize comes in handy if you're using cloth diapers, have allergies, or just have a vendetta against microbes. If you've got a beach or pool nearby, the Towels cycle may help make life easier.
Despite the extra features, overall, the MEDB880BW is a dryer that sticks to business. No need to worry about your clothes not getting dry with this machine. However, if you have no use for a Sanitize or Towels cycle, the cheaper Maytag Bravos XL MEDB725BW may be a better choice.