8 Top-Loading Washers That Won't Clean Out Your Wallet

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SQUEAKY CLEAN SAVINGS

If what you want is a simple washing machine that will turn out clean clothes -- and you don't want to pay extra for a bunch of bells and whistles, such as steam and sanitize cycles, customizable settings, and a fancy LED display -- there are many inexpensive top-loading washers that get the job done just as well as their upmarket counterparts. And while most cheap washers have traditional agitators, that doesn't mean they're energy hogs -- many are surprisingly efficient. Here are Cheapism.com's top picks among top-loading washing machines under $500, along with a couple of affordable models for shoppers willing to pay a little more for Energy Star certification and higher-capacity cleaning.
Photo credit: Courtesy of homedepot.com

GOOD FOR SMALL HOUSEHOLDS: AMANA NTW4516FW

Price: $300, Buy it at Home Depot

Pros:

  • Good size for small households, with 3.5 cubic feet of capacity.
  • Eight wash cycles, including deep-water wash and self-clean setting; auto-sensing for water level; five water temperatures.
  • Low price for the quality.

Cons:

  • About average for efficiency, noise, and cleaning.
  • Porcelain wash drum instead of tougher, more scratch-resistant stainless steel drum.
  • No fabric-softener dispenser.

Takeaway: Reviewers consider the Amana NTW4516FW a good choice for buyers seeking a hassle-free, inexpensive, no-frills washing machine.

Photo credit: Courtesy of lowes.com

SLIGHTLY MORE SPACIOUS: HOTPOINT HTW200ASKWW

Price: $329, Buy it at Lowe's

Pros:

  • A little roomier than most models at this price, with 3.8 cubic feet of space.
  • Stainless steel drum.
  • 10 wash cycles; three water levels; five temperature settings.
  • More energy efficient than many similar top-loaders.

Cons:

  • No auto-sensing option for water level, which means higher water consumption.
  • A bit noisy and a bit rough on clothes, according to reviews.
  • No fabric-softener dispenser.

Takeaway: A small step up in price from the cheapest top-loading washers, the Hotpoint HTW200ASKWW might suit buyers who need a little more capacity and a few more wash cycles. It scores well for energy efficiency, which helps hold the line on utility bills.

Photo credit: Courtesy of homedepot.com

FASTER WASHING AND EXTENDED WARRANTY: MAYTAG MVWC416FW

Price: $494, Buy it at Home Depot

Pros:

  • Stainless steel drum with 3.6 cubic feet of space.
  • 11 wash cycles, including proprietary "power wash"; five water temperatures; three soil levels.
  • Relatively short "normal" cycle.
  • Auto-sensing for water level; deep-fill and deep-rinse options.
  • 10-year limited parts warranty on wash drum and direct drive motor.

Cons:

  • A bit small for some households.
  • Somewhat noisy, reviewers say.

Takeaway: Speedy and effective, the Maytag MVWC416FW costs a little more than other high-efficiency washers of about the same size. But it's worth checking out for shoppers who miss the old-school machines that were fast and removed stains on the first try.

Photo credit: Courtesy of lowes.com

BEST SMALL-CAPACITY WASHER UNDER $500: GE GTW330ASKWW

Price: $449, Buy it at Lowe's

Pros:

  • Stainless steel drum with 3.8 cubic feet and heavy-duty agitator.
  • Very efficient use of energy.
  • 11 wash cycles, including speed wash and deep rinse; six temperature settings; four water levels.

Cons:

  • No auto-sensing for water level, which means higher water consumption.
  • Good size for smaller families but not suited for very large or bulky loads.
  • Less effective at removing stains and a tad noisier in testing than some other top loaders.

Takeaway: The GE GTW330ASKWW is a nod to buyers who miss the fast, water-filled washers of yesteryear. Water consumption may be higher, but this model uses less energy than many comparable washers.

Photo credit: Courtesy of lowes.com

BEST WASHER WITH AGITATOR UNDER $500: MAYTAG MVWC565FW

Price: $449, Buy it at Lowe's

Pros:

  • Relatively roomy for a budget washer, at 4.2 cubic feet.
  • 11 cycles, including proprietary "power wash" for stains; auto-sensing for water level; five water temperature options; three soil levels.
  • Deep-water wash and deep-rinse options.
  • 10-year limited parts warranty on direct drive motor and stainless steel drum.

Cons:

  • Uses more energy than some comparable washers despite high-efficiency design.
  • Some complaints in reviews about noise and cycles taking too long.

Takeaway: Buyers who want a roomy top-loader but are reticent to give up the cleaning power of an agitator will like the Maytag MVWC565FW. It scores well with users, who salute the size and strong overall performance.

Photo credit: Courtesy of sears.com

BEST BUDGET WASHER WITHOUT AGITATOR: WHIRLPOOL CABRIO WTW5000DW

Price: $585, Buy it at Sears

Pros:

  • Much roomier than most cheap top-loading washers, with 4.3 cubic feet of capacity.
  • Stainless steel drum and low-profile impeller.
  • 12 wash cycles, including deep water and clean washer; auto-sensing for water level; five water temperature options.
  • High-efficiency, agitator-free design.

Cons:

  • Somewhat noisy, reviewers say.
  • Less water- and energy-efficient than comparable models.
  • Longer cycle times than some comparable models.

Takeaway: The Whirlpool Cabrio WTW5000DW wins over users for thorough washing and ease of use. Without an agitator, it's gentle on washables and easy to stuff with bulky items.

Photo credit: Courtesy of homedepot.com

BEST LOW-COST ENERGY STAR WASHER: GE GTW485ASJWS

Price: $589, Buy it at Home Depot

Pros:

  • Stainless steel drum with 4.2 cubic feet of space.
  • 13 wash cycles, including special settings for activewear, jeans, and bulky items; six wash temperatures.
  • Deep-fill and deep-rinse options.
  • Energy Star certification.

Cons:

  • Agitator can be rough on delicate washables, reviews warn.
  • Some griping about noise.

Takeaway: The GE GTW485ASJWS offers the simplicity and stain-fighting power of an old-school top-loader with an agitator but sets a new standard for water and energy savings in the budget realm.

Photo credit: Courtesy of lowes.com

HIGH-CAPACITY ENERGY STAR WASHER WITH LOTS OF EXTRAS: LG WT5270CW

Price: $719, Buy it at Lowe's

Pros:

  • Among the roomiest washers on the market, with 4.9 cubic feet of space.
  • Agitator-free stainless steel drum.
  • Eight wash cycles and 13 options (e.g., extra rinse, soak, delay wash); five temperature settings; three soil levels; auto-sensing for water level.
  • Diagnostic feature that transmits information via phone or app for company support.
  • 10-year limited warranty on direct drive motor; lifetime warranty on drum.
  • Energy Star certification.

Cons:

  • Some reports of off-balance loads, especially with smaller loads or a mix of different types of articles.
  • Long wash times.

Takeaway: Consumers who need a large-capacity washing machine and have extra bucks to spare will be well-served by the LG WT5270CW. It's an uber-efficient and feature-rich washer that aces expert tests.