Science & Technology



Sound Advice: Buying a quality, long-lasting washing machine will alleviate headaches later

Don Lindich, Tribune News Service on

Published in Tech Advice

Q. Is it really practical to adopt the attitude you are espousing for washing machines? Having used both types for years, without a doubt I prefer the front loader because in addition to using less water, the tumble action of the front loader avoids the tugging and rubbing of top loader agitator vanes, which damages fabric.

People are being born every day and need the resources of this planet, especially water. Conservation is a way of life for all and many of the updated appliances are superior to the old ones, if only we adjust.

-- S.P., San Leandro, CA

Q. If someone for whatever reasons prefers using much more water, energy and soap, I guess that's their business. But my wife and I have had a front-load Sears washing machine now for more than a dozen years, and have been very happy with it overall. Soon after getting it and having an idea of what the soap use would be, I "did the math" and found that between the lower amount of hot water being used (and the energy to heat it) and much less soap, the additional cost of the machine compared to a run-of-the-mill top-loader would be covered within about three to four years. Since we've now had it over 12 years, we are way into the black, obviously. That's not even counting a lower water usage, since our city doesn't really charge that much for water in terms of volume-based charges.

-- J.W., Falcon Heights, MN

A. Based on my own research and the feedback I received from readers, the reliability and longevity of modern washing machines is the biggest reason I advocate for quality, long-lasting products like Speed Queen. I heard from more than one person who went through 3 washing machines in 10 years because they broke and were too expensive to repair. While it is important to conserve resources, we are not doing the environment any favors when we are shoveling 7,000 major appliances per hour into landfills. If you have not seen one, search the web for images of "appliance landfill." It is ugly!

--Sponsored Video--

Though I don't care for "high efficiency" top loaders, I would love to have a front load washing machine and definitely see the appeal of using less water and energy (though the energy savings are miniscule, a few dollars per year.) But for all the people who are happy like you two, there are others that have mold and smell issues not matter what they do, including being careful with detergent and leaving the door open when not in use. It seems to be a combination of washing machine brand plus detergent brand and amount used plus location of the machine (geographically and in the home itself) that determines if there will be mold or smells, and it is impossible to know ahead of time what combination will be satisfactory. Until I know of a mold and smell-free combination that includes a machine I can trust to last a minimum of 15 years, I will stay with my Speed Queen top loader.

If you own a front load washing machine and do not have mold or smell issues, I would love to hear from you. Please contact me through my website and tell me what brand machine you have, what detergent you use and where you live. I am going to start an online listing of these combinations so others can try and duplicate your positive experiences.

(Contact Don Lindich at and use the "submit question" link on that site.)

(c)2018 Don Lindich

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