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  • Maytag Maxima Sets New Standard for Wash Speed

    During our annual washing machine review process we uncovered a real diamond in the rough.  For the past few years we haven’t expected much of Maytag machines.  A few years back we saw them plagued with mechanical issues, noisy cycles and dish-rattling vibration.  Thankfully, Maytag has made a huge engineering effort and churned out a really amazing washer dryer pair.

    The new Maytag Maxima XL now sets the standard for how well a front-loading washer can work.  It hits all the key points including excellent cleaning power, energy efficiency, water efficiency and some of the best vibration damping in the industry.  Its cleaning cycle is blazing fast too.  A full load takes only 45 minutes to wash, which is less than half the time of many front-loaders.

    We’re excited to see a front-loader technology moving in this direction.  The Maytag Maxima now offers customers a full package of speed, efficiency, low noise and minimal vibration.  And its average price provides maximum performance.

    White Maytag washing machine Maytag Maxima XL delivers blazing fast wash cycles.
  • A Brief Explanation of Front-Loading Washing Machines

    The modern front-loading washer now accounts for early 35% of all new washing machines sold in the United States.  But it has not always been that way.  When top-loading washing machines first appeared in their modern form in the 1950's, the front-loading washing machine started to take off in Europe.  There were a number of reasons why this occurred.  Front-loading washing machines offered increased efficiency and reduced appliance footprint size (floor space).  These two factors made this style of washer more appealing to the smaller homes in Europe.  Homes in the United States had more space in their laundry rooms to accommodate large capacity top-loading machines.  Low energy and water prices in the United States also contributed to the popularity of top-loading washers.  However, four decades after the modern top-loading washer took off in the United States, the front-loader would return to cater to the new energy and resource conscious culture that was growing nationwide.

    The front-loading washing machine is actually a very simple appliance.  The wash drum in mounted horizontally with a door for loading clothes located on the front face of the machine.  A single drive motor and pulley set drives the drum.  Paddles located on the inside of the drum lift clothes and drop them down into a small amount of water sitting at the bottom of the drum.  This repetitive lifting and dropping combined with the detergent and absorption of water into the fabrics is what cleans the clothing.  The most complex system on the modern front-loading washer is the door seal.  This large gasket is responsible for preventing any water from leaking out of the machine during operation.  Most seals also incorporate a folded baffle design that attaches them to the drum and prevents small articles of clothing from slipping out of the drum and clogging the drain.  Early versions of front-loading washing machines suffered from leak problems but most of those problems have been resolved in the past decade.

    Front-loading washing machines allow for the use of a relatively small amount of water to facilitate cleaning since the entire drum does not need to fill like in a top-loading washer.  Front-loading washers are also capable of spinning the wash drum at much higher RPM (up to 1200 RPM) allowing for more water to be removed from the clothes before drying.  While front-loaders offer many benefits, they are not problem free.  The horizontal alignment of the wash drum does allow for some water to remain between cycles which can allow the growth of mold and mildew in the washer.  This can produce unpleasant colors and scents in clothing.  This can be prevented by following manufacture's recommended cleaning schedules which often include weekly cleaning of the door seal, monthly wash drum cleaning cycles and leaving the washer door open between loads.  If clothes do take on an unpleasant odor, washing them with detergent and 1/2 cup of white vinegar can remove the odor.

    Overall, modern front-loading washing machines now offer an excellent combination of efficiency and reliability.  They still do have some drawbacks such as limited capacity, long cycle times and additional appliance cleaning steps.  Most front-loading washers are also still priced between $300 and $1000 more than their top-loading counterparts.  But the water and energy savings over the lifetime of the washer often offset these costs.  Find out more about how front-loading washing machines work.

  • Not Your Grandparent's Washer Pads

    The technology of washing machines is advancing at a lightning pace.  Just a few years ago a

    Stack of 4 Ant-Walk Silent Feet washer pads

    The competition's cheap Chinese neoprene washer pads just don't stack up against the amazing results of Silent Feet washer pads.

    washing machine was no more than a big metal box with a metal laundry tub and a timer on it (there may have been a few other electronic bits too).  Overall, all the washer did was fill itself with water, spin a bit, drain, rinse and spin dry.  It had little to no care in the world for what you were trying to wash, how balanced your load was or for how you managed to get a spaghetti stain on your sock.  These days your washing machine likely has more computer processing power than the Apollo lunar lander did.  Washers have digital displays that make George Lucas's original Star Wars series look a bit ancient and you washer now knows exactly how heavy, balanced and dirty your clothes are at all times.  Kenmore has even introduced a new feature called Kenmore Connect where their washers can communicate their exact mechanical problems with technicians using your cell phone.

    Samsung washers now include their outstanding Vibration Reduction Technology (VRT) where a series of large ball bearings spin counter to the off-balanced load of clothing to reduce vibration.  LG  TrueBalance anti-vibration system takes advantage of direct drive motors and counter balance weights to make their washers suitable for installation anywhere including on the second floor.  GE washers use ultra complex suspension systems that rival the suspension in modern luxury cars.

    Despite the rapid advances in washing machine technology, most washer pads have not kept pace.  Just walk into any Lowe's, Home Depot, Sears or Best Buy and you will find average, hard, neoprene rubber washer pads.  These simple pads are really glorified paper weights.  If you put them under your washing machine chances are that all you will gain is an inch of height on the washer.  Compare any washer pad to Silent Feet anti-vibration pads and the difference is clear.  Instead of cheap Chinese neoprene, Silent Feet use ultra high tech Sorbothane urethane.  Sorbothane's unique carbon urethane properties actually convert vibration energy into heat effectively absorbing it before it can become annoying noise and vibration.  Anti-Walk Silent Feet washer pads use the same Sorbothane rubber but also lock your washer and dryer in place preventing walking and unwanted movement.  Don't settle for cheap off the shelf washer pads, buy high quality, American made, Silent Feet washer pads to compliment your high tech front-loading washing machine.

  • Is Your Washing Machine Doomed to Years of Vibration and Noise?

    Never before have washing machine manufactures been ranked based on the vibration and noise characteristics of their products.  That is until now with the latest release of test results from The Vibration Solution.  Our test engineers have been busy in their lab testing washing machines from every major brand and even a few minor brands.  The results of their tests have finally been compiled.  Below is a ranking of each washing machine brand by the vibration that their family of washing machines generates during operation.  The lower the score, the better.  Higher scores indicate that the washing machine created significant and violent vibration throughout the majority of it's cycles.  Any brand scoring near 100 should be avoided.  The industry average rating for front-loading washing machine vibration was 55.  The average for top-loading washing machine vibration was significantly lower at only 23.  But don't pick your next washing machine based only on its vibration statistics.

    Just because a clothes washing machine doesn't generate as much noise as one of its competitors doesn't mean that it won't keep you up at night.  Noise is another major problem especially with new front-loading washing machines.  That's why we have also included noise ratings as part of our evaluation.  A perfect example of this issue can be seen on the results for front-loading washers.  While Amana, Miele and Electrolux all scored well on vibration none of them were as quiet as Whirlpool machines.  So consumers looking for a good balance of both a quiet and balanced washing machine should strongly consider Whirlpool for their next purchase.  But not all washers are created equal.  While some brands are better than others, consider that there still may be a few black sheep in every brand's family of appliances.  Steer clear of individual models with poor or below average vibration and noise ratings.  These ratings can be found in our 2010 Washer and Dryer Buying Guides.

    Other good front-loading washer brands to consider are Maytag, Kenmore and Samsung.  All three of these brands scored better than the industry average on vibration and also scored well on noise.  Buyers should avoid Speed Queen, Asko, Bosch, GE and Frigidaire washers if possible.  While some washers within each of these brands do offer a good balance of noise and vibration performance, most do not.  Over the past few years we've heard from many very upset Bosch owners who complain of serious vibration and noise.  While Bosch has been slowly improving their appliances, they still have a long way to go before they will be competitive in the laundry appliance industry.

    Ratings of washing machine brand performance for vibration and noise

    For consumers looking to buy a new top-loading washing machine, consider that while most offer the same low level of vibration, LG performed the best in our noise tests.  GE and Fisher & Paykel washing machines also performed well with Kenmore following close behind.  Avoid buying Frigidaire and Roper top-loaders as they suffer from severe noise issues during most of their cycles.  Staber top-loading washing machines performed poorly in vibration tests, but their overall noise rating was on-par with the industry.  Still, Staber should be avoided as a brand until they can resolve their vibration issues.

    Ratings by top-loading washing machine brand for vibration and noise

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