The Washing Machine is More Than Spin

If you thought this appliance was indispensable now, features like self-cleaning, an integrated sink, and a mini washer will wash your socks right off

washing machine(Above) A washing machine tucked under the counter in Davison and Bernice’s kitchen.

Doing laundry is unavoidable, but happily, washing machines are doing more of the heavy lifting for you. Digital controls, cycles tailored for everything from delicates to lycra to bath towels, vibration reduction, and childproof locks make wash day safer and less of a chore. While innovation breakthroughs have not gone so far as to make washing machines touchless, like some other appliances, there are more than a few new features that further reduce the time spent while increasing efficiency. Here’s a rundown:

The pros of front-loading

The washing machine with the door that opens from the front, as opposed to the top, is not brand new; Europeans have enjoyed this feature for decades. However, it is becoming more widely available from manufacturers. The advantages: Front-loading machines require less water, can take more clothes, and tend to clean more gently and thoroughly than their top-loading counterparts. Top-loaders wash with the help of an agitator. Versions without the agitator are high-efficiency (HE) washers. Like front-loaders, they use less water, have larger capacities, require more time to wash, and spin faster, too, wringing out more water to save drying time later. They also cost more than the agitator version.

Automatic dispensers

This receptacle releases detergent, bleach, and fabric softener, each at the appropriate time, so you don’t have to hang around waiting for just the right moment. Every minute saved is a minute you get back to do something else.

Self-cleaning and low maintenance

Water will collect in the machine, particularly front-loading models, without evaporating if you wash frequently, creating a risk of mildew and bacteria. New technology now keeps washers fresh, without introducing chemicals, through a combination of soaking, pulsating, and high-speed spinning. And you thought self-clean was just for ovens!

washing machine(Above) Tim and Lindsay’s two-in-one washer and dryer.

Load capacity

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Capacities for front- and top-loading machines can range from about 3.8 cubic feet up to 6 cubic feet. Your habits for doing laundry—weekly loads of towels or sports clothes versus say, small loads separated by color—will guide your decision. Larger capacity machines help cut down the number of washes you run. Expect to pay more for these models.

Steam wash

Released from inside the washer, steam helps remove stains without pretreatment.

Secondary access door

If you have a top loader and you stumble upon that missing dirty sock, no problem. But what if your machine is a front loader? Now you’re in luck: Last year saw the introduction of a front-loading model with a secondary access door that lets you add small items mid-wash from Samsung.

washing machine(Above) A front-loading washer and dryer in Cristiana’s laundry room located in the basement of her home.

Integrated sink

If you’ve ever soaked clothing with a pesky stain, you’ve probably had the experience of rushing with the drippy item from the sink to the washing machine, then going back to wipe up soapy water on the floor. No more. Samsung makes a top-loading machine with a hinged sink on top of the wash drum. A water jet aids the soaking or scrubbing; when the item is ready for the wash, lift the sink to drop the clothing through a slot at the back and into the machine, then begin the cycle.

Two-in-one machine

If you like to wash small loads of a particular color, or can’t wait to launder those sweaty gym clothes; the two-in-one machine is for you. In addition to a central or primary drum, there’s another smaller drum at the base or top of the machine. You can run both washers simultaneously or independently, as needed. LG also offers a compact washer that can be retro-fitted to an existing machine.

Black stainless steel finish

Less industrial looking than its silvery-colored older sibling, black stainless steel makes a stylish statement in the laundry room, joining the ranks of ever-classic white, and some colors, too, which you may find on the market for a few seasons.

Thinking about getting a washing machine for your home but not sure where to put it? These ideas for adding a washer and dryer will help you find the best spot.

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