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Shopping for a new washing machine can be challenging. Marketing jargon and gimmicks can make the whole experience rather confusing. One question we get often is in regard to high-efficiency washing machines.
Like, what’s the deal with them? How do I know if my washer is high-efficiency? What are the best high-efficiency washers? And, what kinds of detergents work well with them?
We’re going to answer these questions and more. Here’s the skinny on every high-efficiency in your laundry room.
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What is a high-efficiency washer?
Let us rewind time a little bit to the year 1992. Kurt Cobain is still alive and the United States government is starting a program called Energy Star. The program’s aim is to create a rating system to help consumers buy more environmentally friendly products.
For washing machines, this is partially determined by a unit’s Integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF). The IMEF is the ratio between the size of the washer and how much hot water and electricity it uses.
There’s also the IWF or Integrated Water Factor—the ratio of the total water usage and size. In other words, the higher the IMEF and the lower the IWF, the more efficient a washer is.
As of 2023, in order for a washer to be considered high-efficiency, it must have an IMEF greater than or equal to 2.76 and a IWF lower than or equal to 3.2.
At Reviewed, we actually add an additional variable, which is the weight of laundry after washing. Because the more water-logged a load of laundry is, the more energy the dryer needs to expend. A more powerful spin cycle and a large capacity is why front loaders are almost always more efficient than top-load washers
Long story short, if a washer is big, and it conserves water (especially hot water) and electricity, it is considered high-efficiency. Virtually all modern front-loaders and most top-load washing machines are high-efficiency.
What are the best high-efficiency washers?
When shopping for high-efficiency washers or high-efficiency detergents, look for a universal, elliptical-shaped label with an HE on it.
1. Electrolux ELFW7637AT
The Electrolux ELFW7637AT is simply the best front-load washer we’ve ever tested.
It has specialized features that help take the guesswork out of doing laundry. It has a place in the detergent drawer for pods. There’s a stain guide built into the machine to select the correct washers for grass, blood, and chocolate stains.
And best of all, the ELFW7637AT is highly efficient. The Normal cycle uses just 12 gallons of water total per cycle. By our calculations, this Electrolux is 31% more water and energy efficient.
2. Samsung WF50A8600AV
If your current washer feels cramped every laundry day, the WF50A8600AV might be just what you’re looking for. With its 5.0-cubic-foot drum, this Samsung is both spacious and accessible.
People with lower-back problems should also check out Samsung’s ADA-compliant risers. Our lab tests show that the WF50A8600AV is excellent at removing stains while also operating quietly.
On the efficiency front, our water meters calculate that the WF50A8600AV uses 12.45 gallons of water. When analyzing all the cycles, this washer uses about 29% less water and electricity than average.
3. LG WKEX200HBA
The LG WKEX200HBA Wash Tower is a washer and dryer that comes prestacked. It serves as both a way to save space and provide convenience because the control panel for both units is located in between the two.
People with limited space will appreciate the design. And people who find themselves spending all day doing laundry will like the fact that the WKEX200HBA is one of the faster washers on the market. Its Quick Wash cycle takes 16 minutes for a 4-pound load and the Normal cycle is around 30 minutes with an 8-pound load.
On the water usage front, the Wash Tower clocks in at around 11.92 gallons for the Normal cycle. Its overall resource usage is 44% less than the average washer.
4. Maytag MHW8630HC
People who are willing to wait for good things will like the Maytag MHW8630HC. It runs slow, but has one of the most powerful Heavy Duty cycles we’ve ever tested—even if it clocks in at three hours long.
However, that emphasis on slow and steady doesn’t mean this Maytag is a huge resource hog. The Normal cycle on this washer only used 11 gallons of water and that super-long Heavy Duty cleaning cycle used a total of 15 gallons. Overall, the Maytag MHW8630HC used about 44% less water than average.
5. Whirlpool WFW9620HC
The Whirlpool WFW9620HC is the kind of washer that does everything in its power to be easy to use. First it has an intuitive app that gives you all information about your laundry, plus ways to customize cycles to what you want.
Second, this Whirlpool washer has the XL Plus Dispenser that stores up to 40 loads’ worth of detergent and fabric softener and automatically dispenses the correct amounts based on the weight of the laundry.
And the WFW9620HC isn’t bad at conserving water either. When analyzing all its cycles, our calculations show that it uses about 42% less water than the average washer.
What is high-efficiency detergent?
Simply put, high-efficiency detergent (or HE detergent) is designed to work in low water levels.
If you want to know if you can use high-efficiency detergent in a regular washer, then yes, you generally can. Though you’ll have to add about a quarter cup extra because a regular washer will dilute the detergent from its higher water usage. However, the reverse is not true, so don’t use regular detergent in a high-efficiency washer.
Shop the best high-efficiency laundry detergents
We have an in-depth buying guide on all things detergent. However, here are the highlights.
Persil ProClean: When it comes to cleaning clothes, Persil ProClean is the brand to beat. It absolutely aced our stain removal lab test.
Tide Original: Tide is a classic and based on our research and lab tests, it’s the best detergent for the money.
Persil ProClean Sensitive: If you have sensitive skin, but don’t want to sacrifice any cleaning power, we suggest checking this one out.
Tide PurClean: Tide’s attempt at making an eco-friendly laundry is a triumph. Results from our lab show that it has similar stain removal properties as regular Tide. It works well at any water temperature, including cold water.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: 5 best high-efficiency washers to shop now