What You Need To Know Before You Buy a Washer and Dryer

Follow these money-saving tips to find the appliances that are right for you

Buying a washer and dryer

Buying a washer and dryer is a big investment, and it can be difficult to make an informed decision when faced with so many options. Figure out which features you really need and which ones you can skip (and save money on!) with these simple tips.

IF YOU'RE BUYING A WASHING MACHINE

Look for:

  • Washers with a water heater. You will save energy if you don’t have to tap your home water heater. A built-in heater also warms the water enough to thoroughly sanitize—great for moms with little ones.
  • A detergent feature. Try to find a machine that can sense the load size and soil level, then automatically add the minimum amount of detergent required to clean the clothes. You’ll save money—plus, overloading on suds can lead to mold and mildew.
  • Water usage. Check labels to see how many gallons of water the machine consumes per cycle. The lower the number, the better.

Skip:

  • Snazzy colors. Unless you’re looking to match the machine to the style of the room, go for basic white—it’s generally $100 cheaper than colors (for both front- and top-loaders).
  • More space. A 4.3-cubic-foot washer can clean 26 standard bath towels at once, while a 4.5-cubic-foot machine can accommodate 28. You choose if it’s worth the price jump.

Cost: Traditional top-loaders that are not Energy Star–approved sell for $329 to $499; Energy Star top-loaders can cost as much as $999. With features similar to top-loaders, front-loaders are $599 and up.

Bonus tip: Keep in mind that front-loading washers generally perform better than top-loaders—even high-efficiency ones—though they can be noisy. Plus, these models have better moisture extraction, saving drying time (and energy).

IF YOU'RE BUYING A CLOTHES DRYER

Look for:

  • Moisture sensor. If the dryer senses your clothes are dry, it will turn off—saving energy and avoiding fabric damage and shrinkage.
  • Steam. This feature offers cycles to eradicate odors, refresh clothes and reduce wrinkles—which means less ironing time.
  • Capacity. Air flow is better in models with larger drums. But if you’re purchasing a new dryer separate from a washer, be sure the machine sizes match.

Skip:

  • Dryer racks. This option is nice for drying items on a flat surface, but it really isn’t necessary if you have another place to dry clothes flat.
  • Stainless-steel tubs. Sure, they look nice, but they don’t enhance overall performance.

Cost: Front-load dryers typically run $599 to $1,599. Top-loaders cost $329 to $999 (for Energy Star–approved models).

Bonus Tip: Narrow your dryer choices by how the machine heats (gas or electric) and by where it will live in your home. If your laundry room is near the kitchen or bedroom, consider spending more for a quieter model.

Get more tips on shopping for appliances, plus can’t-miss savings tips and exclusive coupon codes, in ALL YOU’s Smart Shopping special issue. On newsstands at Walmart starting September 16th!