Saving in the Laundry Room
Homemade Laundry Detergent
Buying a Washer and Dryer
Our loyal Maytag washing machine is about ready for the great junkyard in the sky. I am leaning towards purchasing a front loading washer and need advice since this is my first large appliance purchase. An average laundry week is about two medium loads, and one to two large loads for our two-person household. Obviously, we don't need a "super capacity" washer. I'm more interested in durability, reliability and a great deal. Thank you very much!
I got my nearly new set of front loaders (W&D) for just $400 for the set. You can get awesome deals on used items if you watch and are patient. But the key secrets are to start searching now and have cash for the deal. When I called about the set I currently have, I was the only person who had cash and could pay the next day. So I walked off with the prize.
I had been watching for over nine months for a set to show up. I looked every day in the local newspaper, the Thrifty Nickel, and the Ad Shopper. I scanned all the bulletin boards at places like Wal-Mart. Plus, I had "put the word out" and had a lot of friends and acquaintances that were aware I was looking for a nice set. I sold my old set for $125. So my final cost for the set was $275. They work great!
We recently replaced our semi-ancient washing machine and dryer with the Kenmore HE3 high-efficiency, front-loading machines. They are wonderful. Top loading washing machines use on the average of 42 gallons of water. My new machine uses 15. In addition to the drastic difference in water usage, I use less detergent and can do much larger loads. As they are more expensive than traditional top-loading machines, shop around before you buy. When we were ready to purchase, Sears was running a sale, offering one year no payments, no interest, and a 10% rebate. Needless to say, they will be paid off before the interest kicks in. If you decide to go with the front-loading machines, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Go to consumerreports.org and do a search on washing machines. You need a subscription to access the Consumer Reports research online, but they do list the month and year the information was published in their magazine. You can then use this information to go to your local library and find the relevant issue(s).
I purchased the Maytag Neptune washer three years ago to help save on constant water usage and I would never buy it again. I am so disappointed because I replaced an old tried-and-true Maytag with this washer. When it spins out, it sounds like a jet is landing in my house. They have already replaced the original motor through a recall. Also, there is a constant problem with scum collecting in the front gasket.
I have had the serviceman here several times, costing me the service calls and there is nothing that can be done about these problems. I have a friend who also was complaining to me about the same problems before she even knew that I had a Neptune. I will buy another front-loading machine, as I like how they clean, but I will not purchase a Neptune again!
Sharon from PA
From my experience, a front loader was a bad choice. I bought it three years ago to save water and detergent, etc. Now, three years later, the bearings are shot and it would require at least $350 to fix. We are also down to a two-person household now, so I went back to a top loader. I'm not sure if our front loader was a lemon or if they just don't make them like they used to, but we definitely didn't get our money's worth
We bought a washing machine in December from a wholesaler that supplies building contractors in our area. They let the public in as well. Most people are not aware of it. We also didn't need anything fancy, as it's just the two of us and we only do four to five loads a week. They only had two options, but they were made by Whirlpool and were much cheaper than retail, as I checked out many options. So see if you have a wholesale supplier in your yellow pages or call a contractor and see where they buy their machines for their new houses.
Maytag made great washers for years. It is not unheard of for a Maytag to last 30+ years. The most important decision is to examine the machine for rust/deterioration of the cabinet and "chassis." That's the strongest point of older Maytags, and they seem to last forever. If there's only surface rust and the chassis is strong (transmission/motor mount) consider rebuilding. Maytag uses an updated transmission as a replacement for the "old style" and an experienced technician should be hired if that's what's needed. Rebuilding the original transmission would probably be cost prohibitive. All other replacement mechanical (functional) parts are readily available at reasonable cost.
If the cabinet/chassis is sound, I would suggest hiring a retired or "old timer" Maytag repairman (one familiar with older machines) to give you an estimate on repairing your existing washer. Ask a local/regional appliance parts distributor (Maytag parts) if they know of a retired Maytag repairman in your area. Local distributors will sell you the parts at retail, or sell those same parts at discount to the repairman. The repairman, in turn, will generally charge you the retail price.
If the chassis/cabinet is unusable, I would suggest purchasing a "loss leader" machine retail. That would be a machine that's priced to get you "in the door." These machines are generally identical mechanically to the higher priced models without all the "bells and whistles." They generally have fewer cycles and other settings available. They are bargains.
Front loaders are much more mechanically complicated than top loaders and the frequency of repair goes up proportionately. They do, however, use substantially less water and detergent than top loaders. They are also gentler on your clothing. If the environmental issues and clothing care are paramount to you, then consider a front loader.
Jim (20 years experience with appliance parts distribution)
I have a Kenmore front loader that I have had for 4 1/2 years and it rocks! I have two young children and I have yet to see a stain stay on the clothes after they have been through the wash. I know that the manufacturers of front loaders recommend a certain soap due to the fact that the machines use much less water. But these soaps are very expensive, so I use regular liquid soap. And I use maybe a quarter of the suggested amount, which is good for your wallet and your clothes! I would guess that I do six to eight loads per week and the laundry soap containers that usually last 25 loads now last me four to five months. I personally think the front loaders are great both environmentally and financially. They cost a bit more, but you get it back in water and electricity savings. Mine also spins the clothes very well, which significantly shortens the drying time.
Anna-Karin in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I recently purchased a Kenmore HE3 front-loading machine. It cleans well, but no better than my old top loader. I have been told its because I won't pay extra for the "special" detergent, but I'm not sure. Also, I can't soak (or dye) my clothing in the front loader. I now have to soak my stained garments in a bucket or the sink or tub. What a hassle and mess! Wish I had bought the top loader instead!
We recently had to buy a new washer after mine died after 20+ years of faithful service. Because I live in a rural area with my own septic system, I really wanted a front loader since they use less water. I also wanted one that spun clothes really dry, so drying time would be reduced. Because of the dimensions of my room and the way my doors were set up, there was no way I could fit a front loader in my space. Believe me, I tried to think of a way.
I figured I would purchase a Maytag Neptune top loader since it still fit all of the above mentioned requirements. We went to the dealership and I asked to see their "top of the line, water-saving top loader that spun clothes very dry." The dealer marched me right past the Maytag Neptune and showed me a model I heard of but didn't know much about. The model was a Fisher & Paykel, which is made in New Zealand. They use only 24% of the energy of a traditional washer. You can complete the laundry in up to half the time of a front loader, because the 1000rpm spin saves up to 30% time and energy in the dryer. The Super Capacity washer with unique brushless DC motor and smart electronics increases reliability with no belts, brakes, pulleys, clutches or gearboxes. Parts that aren't there can't fail. I love it. And the best part is it is about half the price of a Maytag Neptune. For more information, go to usa.fisherpaykel.com.
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