Helpful Tips for Front LoadersOct 31, 2009 (Updated Dec 26, 2009) Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Washing MachinesThe Bottom Line Despite negative publicity, front loaders offer many benefits including reduced energy and water consumption. Consider a new washer purchase carefully and choose a machine that fits your needs.
I have recently been helping a lot of friends with purchasing a new washer. It seems that there are still many people who are confused about how to go about choosing an energy-efficient machine. My friends have found my advice helpful, so I thought I would share it.
I have been steering them toward front loaders, as I have been using one rather successfully for seven years. Of course, there have been bumps along the way. But, overall, I would not go back to a conventional top loader after having used a front loader. In addition, the machines have become much more advanced and better designed from the one I purchased back then. In fact, I really only had two basic designs from which to choose. The options have grown exponentially since then.
Another reason for my recommendation to look at the front loaders is that I am not too crazy about the wash action of the high-efficiency top loaders that use a "wash plate" at the bottom of the tub, as opposed to a full-sized agitator. Just take a look on YouTube, and you may agree that the wash action of a front loader is much more thorough than these high-efficiency top loaders. Nothing compares to the entire load being circulated as the drum turns on a front loader, moving all the clothing at once.
That being said, there are also many cautionary words I give my friends. There seems to be a lack of understanding about the necessity to change one's washday behavior in order to successfully use one of the newer, high-efficiency front loading washers. Below I will provide what I have learned over the years that may help you choose a machine and to use one successfully. Also, my review of my Kenmore front loader has lots of helpful tips in addition to my experiences.
1. Why consider a front loader:
a. Front loaders have become major players in the public’s choices for washing machines as manufacturers strive to meet stricter energy requirements.
b. They use less water than conventional top loaders, as they only fill with a few gallons of water to wet the clothing as opposed to soaking them in a tub full of water. Therefore, less water is used; consequently, you should see a reduction in your water bill.
c. Hot water is a major cost in running a washing machine. Because hot water usage is greatly reduced (often it’s only used on the first fill), energy costs associated with heating water are reduced. Think off the difference of hot water usage between a couple of gallons versus filling the entire tub!
d. They spin at higher speeds, remove more water and are able to reduce drying time, thereby decreasing energy costs of running the dryer.
e. They are, in general, easier on fabrics than a conventional top loader, as evidenced by the greatly reduced amount of lint in the dryer.
f. You will most likely find that you can use a smaller amount of detergent and bleach than recommended, so those costs will go down, as well.
2. READ THE MANUAL. READ THE MANUAL. READ THE MANUAL. (Is that clear?)
3. Always remove clothing ASAP after cycle is finished. You don’t want it to start smelling. Remember that front loaders are air-tight and promote growth of microorganisms rather quickly in the tub’s humid environment.
4. Never use the washer to store dirty clothing.
5. It is best to leave the washer open and aired out when not in operation.
6. Make sure to follow the maintenance schedule to clean the tub. Your washer will most likely have a tub clean cycle. AT A MINIMUM, use it once a month. I do it two times per month, but my machine sits idle for most of the week. They will often recommend bleach or Affresh tablets. Bleach is cheaper and effective. I also use powdered dishwasher detergent with enzymes along with the bleach. A repairman recommended using a cup of the dishwasher detergent, and it seems to work well, when paired with the bleach. (I also add bleach, as I want its disinfectant properties. Make sure to read the detergent box for any adverse reactions with other chemicals such as bleach. My box did not have any such warnings.)
7. If your washer has a filter, clean it according to the manual.
a. Remove residual water and leave open to air out.
b. Remove parts and rinse frequently to avoid buildup, especially any small passages that help siphon the solution out of the compartments .
c. Remove residual water before adding fabric softener or bleach, especially the latter. If you overfill the compartment, the product will be dispensed immediately onto your load. Dumping bleach on dry laundry is not a good thing!
d. Never use powders in the dispenser (even though it may say that powdered detergents/laundry boosters are permissible). I have found that powders tend to accumulate and clog the passages to the tub.
9. At the end of wash day:
a. Wipe gasket thoroughly, including any creases/folds.
b. Remove residual water from dispensers.
c. Wipe inside of door, including part that meets the gasket, and leave the door open.
d. See note above about dispensers.
10. Regarding laundry products:
a. Use a high efficiency (he) detergent. Regular detergents can cause too many suds, which will interfere with wash action AND MAY DAMAGE THE MACHINE.
b. Liquid detergents are best to use in dispenser; powders clog passages over time.
c. Usually the detergent manufacturers recommend too much product. You’ll have to experiment. I use about 1/4 cup of liquid for a full load with very hard water and a 3.1 cubic foot machine.
d. Use high efficiency bleach, which is thicker than regular bleach. My machine takes 1/3 cup, and this is plenty.
e. Dilute fabric softener with water BEFORE putting in dispenser. If you don’t have a sink nearby, keep a bottle of water on hand for this.
f. If you do decide to use a powdered detergent, I have found it good to add it directly to the tub before adding laundry.
11. How much can I put in my machine:
a. In general, the tub can be filled, but don’t jam it in. The door should close easily. They will definitely hold more than what you are used to in a conventional top loader, as they don’t have the agitator to take up space, and the whole tub circulates the clothing. Some materials will compress more than others when wet. It will take some experimentation to see what your machine can handle. Just a word of caution: too-full loads can damage the machine over time, and laundry will not get cleaned. There has to be some room to tumble.
b. Front loaders are most effective with full loads, as the wash action depends on clothing rubbing against itself during the tumbling.
c. Your washer needs enough clothing to balance itself for spinning. If you wash too few small items, it will not be able to distribute the clothing to spin. Likewise, sometimes loads with fabrics of very different weights can be difficult to balance. You will need to experiment to see what your machine can handle.
d. Use mesh laundry bags for small items (like children’s socks) that can get stuck in the gasket, or, on some models, get sucked down into the outer tub and into the washer's internal plumbing and cause damage.
12. Make use of the highest spin speed to remove as much water as possible to shorten drying time and to save energy.
a. Note that some models offer optional ‘sensors’ that can reduce the forces of the spin so that vibrations are reduced. This is particularly helpful on suspended floors (i.e. those above the basement) that have some ‘give’. However, the washer will most likely spin slower and will not remove as much water as the faster spins. Some folks have even successfully used heavy duty rubber mats or hockey pucks to dampen the vibrations!
13. Make use of the automatic temperature control (ATC) to avoid using water that is too cold to be effective in cleaning. Straight cold from the tap is ineffective at dissolving/activating detergents and does not clean well. The ATC will mix in enough hot water to make it effective. This feature also requires both hot and cold water faucets to be turned on to perform its function.
14. Regarding installation:
a. Ensure the floor is sturdy enough to support the greater forces exerted upon it by a front loader compared to a top loader.
b. Make sure the machine is perfectly level.
c. Ensure that all shipping bolts are removed.
d. Ensure that the lock nuts on the legs are tightened securely to the base of the machine.
e. Make sure the hot and cold water hoses are hooked up to the correct inlet ports. Also make sure that both are turned on, when the machine is in use. (See #13 on automatic temperature control.)
15. Regarding putting mixed colors in a load:
a. Because of the low water usage, color transfer between articles of clothing is much more efficient in a front loader. Be careful about mixing items with colors that bleed with those that pick up dyes. You will inadvertently end up creating your own little dye factory.
16. Which one should I buy:
a. You don’t need to spend big bucks to get a very good performing, large capacity machine. Many prices are coming down to the point where they are on par on just slightly higher than a good-performing, conventional top loader. You can get a very large capacity, feature-laden front loader in the $600 to $700 price range, when sales are run.
b. Use an objective consumer research magazine for laboratory tests of washers’ performance in conjunction with online reviews by actual consumers on sites such as Epinions and department store web sites. It's good to see the actual experience of consumers who use the product.
c. Look online for special promotions of washers. Many stores allow you to sort by price, and you can often come across good deals. Many sites will also send alerts when specific models go on sale. If you have time, follow prices over a period of time so you know a good deal when you see it.
d. Make sure it will fit…Front loaders are often bigger in depth than top loaders, so make sure you can fit it through all areas of your house that it will travel to its final destination, as well as where it will be located. Models by Frigidaire have a smaller footprint but reasonably large capacity. It is helpful if there is enough room to allow for leaving the door partially open, so that it can air out.
e. Consider a model with a drain and filter. Front loaders may retain more residual water in the internal plumbing at the end of a cycle compared to a top loader. The drain will allow you to remove this water so that it does not stagnate (over an extended period of nonuse, for example). The filter will also help to trap objects that may, otherwise, go into the pump and cause damage. This is especially true for those with children, who tend to forget things in their pockets. Even though some models don't appear to have a filter, their manuals make no mention of it, and the salespeople are often not aware of their existence, some models do have a filter that is "factory serviceable". However, a Do-It-Yourselfer can remove the service panels necessary for access. A case in point is a coworker of mine, who owns a Whirlpool Duet. He had some odor problems, so we did some online research and found how to access its "nonexistent" filter through the front, lower panel. He found tons of coins, some toothpicks, hair pins and a few other items building up in it. Note that Maytag is now made by Whirpool, so their models probably also have this filter. If there is not external access to a filter, get a schematic (sometimes available online) of the machine and examine the internal plumbing for a trap or filter. If that isn't possible, call the manufacturer and ask.
|Read all comments (6)|Write your own comment|