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The costs of our new washing machine

August 18, 2018

A few weeks ago, I shared my experiences with my high-efficiency, front-load washing machine. This washer never truly got our laundry clean. It used just seven gallons of water per load, but laundry often came out of the machine almost as dirty as it went in. Our towels developed a musty smell that wouldn’t come out, no matter how many times I washed them. Blankets covered with our dog’s muddy paw prints came out of the machine still adorned with evidence of his romp through the yard. “Clean” children’s shirts had food stains and juice spills still visible in the fabric. I began resorting to pre-washing clothes in the laundry tub or running the same load through multiple times.

I recently replaced this poor-performing machine with a traditional-style, commercial top-load washer. The new washer uses about 26 gallons of water per load, but for the first time in years, our laundry is wonderfully clean again. I believe that this increase in water usage is an acceptable tradeoff – after all, the entire purpose of using a washing machine is to get clothes clean!

After devoting a column to this topic, I received quite a bit of feedback from readers. Here’s a sampling:

“Dear Jill, I recently purchased a new HE large capacity washer to the tune of $1700. I’ve tried everything, and it doesn’t get the clothes clean. I pull them out and you can actually see the dirt line where the water was. I sprayed stains with a pre-treater, and you could still see the soap circle where I sprayed it. It leaves white streaks on my dress slacks or dark clothes, and it takes forever.

I went to a used appliance place and picked up a $150 older washer with an agitator that fills with water. The load is done in 25 minutes, all clean.” — Kathy V.

“Hi Jill, Twenty-six gallons versus seven? You have no concept of water usage. Having lived for 75 years in the country and had a well go dry, the price of water is not the problem. More people using more water is a problem. Saving money is great, but saving water is necessary to save lives!”— Jan C.

While I always try to be environmentally conscious, I firmly believe that it isn’t possible to effectively wash a large load of laundry with the seven gallons our old washer used. Our new washing machine was backordered for five weeks, and during that time, I did all of our family’s laundry by hand in our laundry tub. Seven gallons of water was barely enough water to wet the clothes in our 22-gallon laundry tub, let alone get them clean. When I filled our laundry tub close to its capacity, I saw firsthand how truly dirty our laundry was. Scrubbing the clothes with a washboard drove so much dirt out into the wash water that I began wondering just what, if anything, our old machine had really been doing. Hand-washing the laundry uses almost as much water per load as our new washer does.

I also believe we’re saving energy with the new machine, as this washer completes a load in about 35 minutes. Our front-load

washer took close to two hours to run one wash cycle, and I often had to repeat the cycle multiple times on the same load to get the clothes acceptably clean. When I ran my seven-gallon washer three times on the same load, I was using far more electricity, spending about six hours per load ... and a total of 21 gallons of water.

Ultimately, everyone must decide what his or her priorities are when purchasing any appliance, but I simply wanted a washing machine that does its intended job. While researching this purchase, I also learned that the average life expectancy for a new HE washer is about six years. The manufacturer of our new washer advertises its lifespan at 25 years. It may use more water, but it will also likely not be headed to a landfill anytime soon.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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