Attention shoppers! Store aisles and manufacturer websites are filled with washers and dryers sporting fancy features and the price tags to match. But do you really need dozens and dozens of cycles or fancy digital countdown clocks? Here are three pricey features that our experts say you can skip and pocket the extra money for something you really need.
Digital time displays. Some dryers show an estimate of how long it will take to get the job done. That would come in handy if the displays were reliable, but we found that the dryers underestimated or overestimated drying time by up to 20 to 30 percent. Why? The dryers don't know what type of fabrics you're drying or how wet they are.
Special cycles. Thirty-three cycles and counting; that's how many we've seen on some washers in our labs. Think about the fabrics you wash and the problems you're trying to solve. for example, to kill allergens such as dust mites, the wash water needs to be about 127 degrees F for 12 minutes. So check the manufacturer's claims and keep in mind that the basic cycles and settings can handle most washing needs.
Vent-blockage indicators. Lint-filled dryer ducts increase drying time and energy costs and can cause fires. Indicators are designed to sense when a vent is blocked. but past tests found that they were too inconsistent to rely on. It's better to remove and regularly clean ducts, and to clean the lint filter after each load. Replace flexible foil or plastic ducts with those made of smooth or flexible metal.
Features that are worth getting. Autoload sensing determines the amount of water needed, so it should save water. Automatic temperature control adjusts the hot and cold water to the proper temperature for each cycle; some machines simply mix them in set proportions. A moisture sensor is a must on a dryer because it helps prevent overdrying, which saves energy and is easier on fabric. To find the right washer and dryer for you check our Ratings.