Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Search for the Best, CHEAPest HE Washer...

...began when my washing machine decided to die two weeks ago.  This was the same washing machine that had flooded our entire downstairs two years ago when it got stuck on "Fill" while my husband was upstairs and I was out of the house.  We kept the machine because we were assured it would never happen again after it received the required maintenance and they were right!  Something completely different went kaput this time and the cost to fix it was going to be about the same as purchasing a new one.  This meant that I was now taxed with researching the best HE washing machine with a price that fit our budget.  As you can imagine, I am always on the hunt for thecheapest item but I didn't think an appliance was where I wanted to skimp considering this would be an investment that I would (hopefully!) have for many years to come andI also didn't want to get dazzled by the sights and sounds of all of the the new hot rod models and make a purchase based on looks and not facts.  I did all of my research online using free sites and here is what I found.
Choosing the Brand
Front-load washing machines tend to do better in reviews and tests than top-load washing machines but they are also more prone to mold and mildew problems and significantly more expensive.  Since I live in southeast Louisiana where we have very high humidity throughout most of the year and since I am One Cheap Mama, I immediately narrowed my search to only top-load washing machines.  However, if I had been in the market for a front-loader it appears that LG products consistently come out on top among the experts.  Plus they come in a lot of great colors and would probably look slick sitting in my laundry room.  But I digress.  After I decided on a top-load washing machine three brands kept coming up as top rated: Maytag, Whirlpool and to a lesser degree GE.  (As full disclosure, I am not affiliated with any of these companies and don't have any friends or family members who are either.)  After reading what the experts had to say I began to read customer reviews.  I find that customer reviews can be extremely helpful when trying to gain information but I have to take each comment with a grain of salt.  A lot of times the people writing the reviews have had a very unique negative experience and are out to vent via a comment and feel vindicated by warning others not to buy the featured item.  Keeping that in mind, I tried to find reviewers who were honest and unbiased in their reviews.  I also talked to friends and family who had just purchased HE washing machines and asked for their input.  Two of these individuals went with the Whirlpool brand and are happy with it.  At the point of purchase I was trying to decide between a Whirlpool model or a Maytag model.  After talking to the salesperson at my home store and decided to go with the Maytag Bravo.  The final decision maker for me was that Maytag offers a 10 year warranty on their motor and basket.  Had I had that warranty on my old washing machine I wouldn't have been in the market for a new washing machine in the first place so that was a big selling point in my book!  I also discovered that Whirlpool purchased Maytag so they are now essentially the same company but sold as two separate brands.
Search For Best Price
Prior to making my purchase at my local home store while I was still trying to decide on which brand to choose, I went online to compare prices.  I looked at Sears.com, Lowes.com, Homedepot.com and Amazon.com.  At the time of my purchase the prices were very similar between all of them so I went with the retailer that was closest to my home and one that would provide installation and haul-away of my old machine.  Some websites will offer online deals that are different than the store price but at the home store that I visited they said that they would match their own online price.  I would check with your chosen retailer to see if they will price match or provide deals online or if they provide ship-to-store to minimize any shipping costs.
Detergent
This is where the Cheap Mama in me had to wrap my head around the fact that I would have to purchase laundry detergent a little more higher priced than what I was used to buying.  Previously, I would buy the cheapest detergent possible knowing that agitation is key when cleaning and a little detergent goes a long way.  However, just when I was feeling bummed about having to purchase more expensive detergent I talked to a friend of mine who assured me that these HE washing machines really require a minimal amount of detergent and using too much is actually detrimental to the machine.  This means that although I won't be able to make my own detergent (something I was looking forward to as a Cheap Mama) I will still be able to stretch my laundry detergent to be as economical as possible while still having clean clothes.
Cheap Mama Conclusion
Although I've had the machine a mere two weeks I've done over a dozen loads of laundry and so far I am very pleased.  I have taken the advice given to me by other HE washing machine owners and the instruction booklet and I use minimal detergent and my clothes are coming out smelling fresher than with my old washing machine!  I leave the lid open when not washing to minimize any mildew problems and so far I have had no problems with mold or mildew.  I place my clothes in "heaps" in a circle around the center of the basket per the instructions, choose my settings carefully and so far have had no problems.  In the spirit of honesty in blogging, though, I promise to update this post should I run into any problems in the future.
I don't wish my experience of a dead washing machine on anyone else but if you, like me, find yourself in need of a new washing machine hopefully my time and effort will help you in your search!

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