Pros: Super-Clean laundry, efficient to operate and very environmentally friendly
Cons: The detergent dispenser hides a heartbreaking secret
One of the best parts of vacationing at my Aunt Florence?s cottage on Fire Island was getting to use her washing machine.
[You can?t fool me. I know what you?re thinking: The fact that she can sit here with a straight face and write that she has chosen clean socks and towels over lazy days of sun, surf and sand is just one more example of the pitiful state of this poor woman?s life?but if you knew how badly my old top loader back home cleaned clothes you would understand the attraction.]
I secretly coveted her ancient Kenmore front-loader: it was probably state-of-the art when it was first sold 30 years ago. And today, 10 years after I first set eyes on it, it continues to cheerily tumble along.
This machine was, and is, nothing short of amazing: Quiet, energy efficient, capable of washing voluminous loads in its space-saving cabinet, and (best of all) the purveyor of the cleanest, softest laundry on the Village Boardwalk?which never failed to surprise me, especially when I considered what was placed in the wash basket on a daily basis?we?re talking 40 lbs of gritty beach towels, never mind the normal wash that a family of 4 can crank out during a two-week vacation.
It?s amazing that it didn?t strangle itself to death on the sand alone.
So for 50 weeks out of the year, every year, for 10 years, I pined for ?The Little Machine That Could?: and I was determined to get one of my own someday, even if it killed me.
Lucky for me my top-loader was in the chronic throes of a final ?death-spin??because I now knew my chance had come to make my [pathetic] little dream a reality.
I was painfully aware that I would most likely be unable to get my loving (but frugal) spouse to swallow the $1000 cost for a top-of-the-line Maytag Neptune?I?ve lived with him long enough to know that if it would save him a few bucks he?d happily continue to wear his socks until such time as they picked themselves up off the floor, sprinted to the laundry room and feverishly flung themselves at the nearest source of soapy water.
I knew Kenmore and Frigidaire had some great models on sale for around $650?a little more realistic in terms of my budget, but still a tad out of reach.
So in the end, after much comparison, I chose a distinguished member of the GE Profile line of major appliances?the GE Spacesaver High Efficiency Front Loading Washer.
Well, golly gosh I?m glad you asked: if you didn?t I?d have to end my review here?and, as always, I have so much more to tell you.
This manufacturer is the ?meat and potatoes? maker of major appliances. The GE line is just about in the middle of the pack in terms of costs. Admittedly there are some real stinkers in the GE line (I will never buy a GE Top loader again?EVER) but for the most part I have been quite pleased with the other GE appliances I have purchased.
The company also maintains an excellent customer support network; its products have a decent lifespan; and a consumer can enjoy some of the more fun ?bells and whistles? found on high end appliance brands?without committing armed robbery to get them.
The company also regularly offers numerous rebates and incentives to those purchasing their line of major appliances, which can make the GE line even more affordable.
For these reasons alone, GE?s front loaders are worth more than a passing glance.
So, why buy a Front Loader? Or: You can pay me now or you can pay me later
Yes, front loaders are more expensive in terms of up front costs than their top loader peers, but for most users, the higher initial costs will more than offset operating costs over the long term.
According to the EPA?s EnergyStar website?s nifty ?energy savings calculator? for front loaders it tells me that if I switch to a front loader:
I will use about 1/3 of the water I?d use in a top loader to wash a load of laundry.
As a resident of an area with one of the highest water usage costs in the nation, this will result in a respectable drop in my water consumption, and of course, my costs.
I will see a reduction in my electricity bill.
Not only is less water being heated for a load of wash, front loaders spin more water out of a freshly-washed load, so my clothes take less time to dry. (I would also guess this will extend the life of my dryer because it doesn?t have to work as hard to dry them.)
I will use less detergent
After a little experimentation I discovered I needed to use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of soap, bleach and fabric softener per load. Needless to say I will be spending quite a bit less on laundry detergent over the next few years.
In short, any amount I paid over and above the cost of a top loader will be recovered pretty fast?and I will actually save money (and just as important, conserve water and energy) over the long haul.
So, alright already Miss ?Eco-Friendly?: Tell us a little about the GE WSXH208V
This space saving front loader is one half of a stacking washer/dryer pair. However I can recommend it as an excellent standalone machine as well. This squat little fireplug of a machine looks a little strange sitting next to my extra-large capacity dryer?but since no one but me and the dirty laundry observe this odd-couple at work, it isn?t a major concern to me.
And remember what I said about bells and whistles? The GE Spacesaver is packed with lots of neat features? admittedly many that a consumer could probably live without but won?t have to, due to this model?s affordability.
Features with the Spacesaver front loader include:
8 variable speed washing cycles
I never thought this was a necessity but have since happily changed my mind. It?s nice to be able to pick a wash speed specifically tailored to heavily soiled cottons (like my husband?s aforementioned athletic socks) and switch over to a ?knits? cycle for all the winter sweaters. It?s not a must-have but it?s pretty convenient nonetheless.
Automatic water level adjustment
The GE front loader automatically senses how much laundry is in the tub and fills it with just the right amount of water. This feature takes the guesswork out of deciding how much water to use?something I could never get right with my top loader, no matter how hard I tried.
Automatic laundry product dispenser
This feature is admittedly my guilty pleasure. It takes all the guesswork out of exactly when to dispense soap, bleach and most important, fabric softener (and we all know what happens when fabric softener gets dispensed during the wrong part of the wash cycle, don?t we?).
Yes, even a dopey consumer such as myself could do this manually with minimal training; but I like not having to hang around the laundry room waiting and listening for the washer to fill or wait for the cycle to switch from ?wash? to ?rinse?. It?s more convenient to throw everything into the dispenser at the beginning of the wash cycle and wander off to do something more productive with my time?like writing this review.
In addition to the ?fun stuff?, this model also has the regular features found on most washers, including 4 water temperature options, dual spin speeds, shorter washer cycles for lightly soiled loads and the all-important pre-wash cycle designed specifically, I am sure, for families with small, dirty children who prefer using pants as a substitute for dinner napkins and their shirtsleeves as Kleenex.
The Spacemaker?s compact dimensions (36.00 X 24.75 X 26.75) also make it an ideal choice for those looking to place it in a lavatory closet or under a kitchen counter.
But don?t let its small size fool you: In the cabinet of this seemingly diminutive machine beats the heart of a fearless 2.7 cubic foot capacity, extra large stainless steel tub, making it ideal for those families with adolescents who enjoy nothing better than wearing a garment for 10 minutes, deciding they don?t like how it looks and tossing the clean garment into the clothes hamper rather than folding it up and placing it back in his/her drawer.
Where?s the center agitator?
Front loaders like the GE Spacesaver tumble clothes gently through the wash water in its vertical tub rather than forcing the water through the clothing as do top loading horizontal ?agitator-style? washtubs. I am told that this is much easier on the clothes being washed?but since I have only had the machine one month I can?t swear to it.
I can however attest to the fact that I can now put things like children?s tights in with my regular wash and actually have them come out free of twists and knots. Ditto for sheets and comforters. And I am observing far less ?pilling? on knit and fleece fabrics. All of these things lend a lot of credence to the gentler wash claims made by GE.
And with no center agitator, big bulky items, like scatter rugs and throw pillows can be tossed in without having to be on the lookout for the dreaded ?walking top-loader?. The GE tames bulky, potentially out-of-balance loads far better than any top loader ever could.
But how does it clean?
I fell in love with my aunt?s old Kenmore because it cleaned a load of clothes better than any machine I?d ever owned. The affair continues with my new GE.
Perhaps it?s the tumble wash style of cleaning; maybe it?s the fact that the high-speed spin cycle extracts more of the dirty wash and rinse water out of the load; it?s entirely possible that there is a miniature washerwoman in my machine scrubbing the dirt away by hand when I?m not looking; I don?t know nor frankly do I care?because the bottom line is simply this:
My whites are whiter, my coloreds are brighter and, even without fabric softener, the wash comes out softer and cleaner than any load ever produced during my top loader?s best day?and for me, that?s where the rubber hits the road.
The GE Spacesaver unequivocally delivers?and I am embarrassed to admit that really clean clothes thrill me more than you could ever possibly imagine.
So, ok, nothing?s perfect?what are the disadvantages?
I titled this section as ?disadvantages? and not ?problems? because these are issues that don?t impact washer performance as much as they impact operator satisfaction. You can call it my Wish List.
I wish this washer had a light inside its tub.
Stainless steel vertical tubs are by their very nature dark, small and hard to see into. Someone at GE needs to tack an extra twenty bucks on the price of the machine and put in a small light that will illuminate the wash basket when the machine is opened.
I wish the washer control knobs were easier to turn.
When designing its washer control panels, GE engineers most likely took into consideration concerns about users inadvertently starting or resetting the machine?s controls and made the knobs harder to turn and set.
But I wondered how folks with arthritic fingers or weak hand strength would fare with this model; I wondered so much that I contacted the nice people at the GE Answer Center for insight into why these knobs were so hard to turn and what accommodations, if any have been made for those with a mobility impairment.
I wish I could tell you that alternate controls were available for those with temporary or permanent mobility deficits?but they aren?t. GE does offer Braille pads on some of its other appliances (although not on its laundry appliances, which struck me as kind of odd) but that is the extent of its retrofitting for people with disabilities.
I would respectfully suggest that anyone with any physical condition or injury that reduces hand strength or dexterity ?test drive? the controls of this model before buying. A model with easier to turn knobs might be a better choice.
I wish that my back didn?t hurt so much after unloading this machine.
Getting used to stooping down to load and unload this machine?or any front loader for that matter?takes some getting used to. If you have back problems, consider stacking this model with its paired dryer or raising it off the floor a little.
I wish the tub opening were a little larger.
Pulling out a large load of wet clothes from this machine is a bit trickier than it needs to be. It would be nice if the circumference of the opening could be increased even one inch. It would make a big difference.
I wish this machine wasn?t so good at Hide ?n Seek.
Other than being hard to see inside, this model has a disconcerting habit of concealing small items (such as socks and kids? underwear) within the folds of the large, floppy, door gasket. For a week I played that time honored laundry game called ?Where?s the Mate?? before reading another review (Thanks Dr. Steph!) about a different brand of front loader with the same irritating propensity to grab and stash laundry out of site.
I wish I could tell you, the new user, how much detergent to use when washing a load of laundry.
It?s important to use water and detergent products in proper proportion when using a front loader. Too much soap will produce gray whites and dull colors because the machine won?t fully rinse the soap out of the clothes.
Laundry product makers are now offering low-sudsing detergents for those who don?t want to take the time to experiment with ?regular? laundry soaps?but bear in mind these detergents are more expensive and don?t do anything any more or less miraculous than the stuff you?ve used in your top loader for years. All I can offer for advice is: ?Less is better?.
I wish the soap dispenser was a little less?err?excitable.
My dispenser seems to have a problem with?uh? premature ejaculation. Overfill the dispenser and out the liquid flows. Jiggle or knock a hand against the dispenser and?Oops. Slide the dispensing compartment into the machine too quickly and?well, you get the idea.
The engineers at GE would do well to make the dispenser a little less prone to badly timed detergent emissions.
Again, none of these issues impact negatively on the quality of the wash cycle itself: but a few changes here and there would make an almost perfect washer darn near close to flawless.
So cut to the chase Girlfriend: What do you think of the GE front loader?
I love it?so much so that my spouse has named our front loader ?The Saint??as in ?Cyndi?s Sainted GE Front Loader?. It amuses him to no end to hear me going on and on about what a wonderful, affordable, quiet, efficient, earth friendly, washer we now have?but my effusive praise is well-deserved. This is one GE washer that truly merits all the positive accolades I?ve heaped upon it.
Now if you?ll excuse me, I?m off to the laundry room?
My GE and I want to be alone.