The Best Cheap Washing Machines
It's easy to spend $1,000 or more for a top-of-the-line washing machine. But if all you want is a washer that will turn out clean clothes — without all the bells, whistles, and specialized cycles — there are many inexpensive models that get the job done just as well as their upmarket counterparts. We cycled through expert and user reviews of dozens of washers to identify top choices that regularly sell for $700 or less, including some available for under $500. Many of these washing machines pair with matching dryers, some of which are reviewed in our roundup of the best cheap dryers.
Washing machines fall into two broad categories: top-loaders and front-loaders. Front-loading washers have become popular due to their efficiency: They use less water and leave clothes less damp at the end of the final spin cycle, which saves time and energy on drying. Some also can be stacked with a matching dryer, saving space. But they tend to cost more up front, can be difficult to load, and may be prone to mildew. Top-loading washers include traditional agitator machines and newer, high-efficiency impeller models that don't have the old-school center post. Instead they rely on longer wash times, higher speeds, and more powerful water currents to lift dirt from fabric. Some users still favor the traditional models, which generally cost less and power through stains more effectively, with the trade-off of a slightly rougher cycle.
Whichever type you prefer, you need to take size into account. While our picks do include one small, portable washer for tight spaces, we focused primarily on models with at least 3.5 cubic feet of capacity, enough for a small household. That said, the general recommendation is to buy the largest washer your space and budget will accommodate. While it may seem counterintuitive, larger models can actually save water and energy, because the more laundry per load, the fewer washes needed. Large-capacity machines also handle oversize items, like comforters, more easily.
There is no shortage of reliable sources that conduct rigorous, hands-on tests of washing machines, among them Consumer Reports, CNET, Wirecutter, and Top Ten Reviews. In general, these experts say, Whirlpool, Maytag, Amana, LG, Samsung, and GE are the most reliable brands. But don't pay too much attention to the labels. GE owns budget brand Hotpoint, while Whirlpool owns Maytag, Amana, and Roper and also makes most Kenmore top-loading washers. Manufacturers tell experts that washers should last about 10 years with normal residential usage, but warranties on washing machines tend to be relatively short, and most carry coverage of only one year.
Editor's Note: Listed prices were accurate at the time of writing and represent the best deals at major retailers. But sales are frequent on washing machines and prices can fluctuate from one week to the next, sometimes by more than $100. It often pays to track prices and check multiple retailers before making a purchase.
Our Top Pick
- Very low price for a full-size washer.
- 5 temperatures and 8 wash cycles, including deep-water wash and self-clean settings, cover the essentials; auto-sensing for water level.
- Relatively durable, according to owner feedback.
- Porcelain wash drum instead of more scratch-resistant stainless steel.
- No fabric-softener dispenser.
- Louder than expected, some owners say.
Takeaway: With far fewer features than pricier models, "no frills" and "basic" are how many owners describe this Amana washer. But most don't see this as a drawback. This straightforward machine is one of the cheapest top-loading washers available, and its old-school agitator will "thwack" and "whap" clothes clean — without doing damage to your laundry, users say. While some are not entirely thrilled with the Amana NTW4516W's "auto-sensing" feature and wish water levels could be adjusted manually, the ability to opt for deep-water washes and extra rinses is considered a real boon (despite the fact that overall efficiency will suffer for it). One other small gripe: The locking lid does not allow fabric softener to be added after the rinse cycle has begun, so timing things just right can take a bit of finesse. With a capacity of 3.5 cubic feet, this washer is on the smaller side for a full family, but it should be plenty big for singles or couples.
See our dryers report for our review of the matching Amana NED4655EW.
- With 4.3 cubic feet of capacity, it's roomier than many cheap top-loading washers. -12 wash cycles, including deep water and clean washer; auto-sensing for water level; 5 water temperature options and 4 soil levels.
- High-efficiency, agitator-free design.
- Strong reliability record, with tens of thousands of positive reviews.
- Some owners say it's very noisy.
- Cycle times are longer than some comparable models.
Takeaway: For a typical family with typical laundering needs, it's tough to find a washing machine that offers better bang for the buck than the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW5000DW. You won't find lots of frills, but the necessities are more than covered, with lots of washing cycles, a durable stainless-steel drum (which is sturdier and more scratch-resistant than the plastic or porcelain-coated drums found in many cheap washers), and a 4.3-cubic-foot capacity that's big enough for a household's worth of dirty clothes. The Cabrio is also impeller-driven, making it more energy-efficient than similarly priced agitator models as well as gentler on clothing. While it can't quite match the speedy cleaning performance of more expensive models — and some experts ding it for using more water than is ideal — the majority of users say the end results are impressive. With a price tag that won't clean out your wallet, reviews suggest this Whirlpool washing machine should certainly be tough enough to tackle all but the grimiest of loads.
If you'd like a dryer that's a similarly great value, pair this with the Whirlpool Cabrio WED5000DW.
GE GTW485ASJWS Review
Est. Price: $620
Buy it from AJ Madison
- One of the few agitator-style washers to meet Energy Star standards.
- 13 wash cycles, with deep fill, auto soak, and multiple rinse options; 6 temperatures; 5 soil levels as well as 4 stain pretreat settings.
- Adjustable load size with automatic water-level adjustments.
- Occasional owner complaints of noise and washer becoming unbalanced.
- Deep-fill option doesn't add enough water for bulky loads, some users say.
- Controls can be confusing.
Takeaway: Top-loading agitator washing machines are usually not known for their energy efficiency, but this GE model is an exception — and a relatively cheap buy to boot. It meets Energy Star standards, its 4.2-cubic-foot capacity is big enough for a family's worth of laundry, and the GE GTW485ASJWS comes with a dizzying array of options and settings that ensure you can wash just about anything from delicate undergarments to bulky quilts. Need to power out stains caused by tomatoes, dirt, grass, or wine? Just click the dial, and it's got you covered. With good marks from expert testers, including an Editors' Choice selection at Reviewed.com, most consumer feedback on this machine is generally positive, too. There is some grumbling about noise, but this is common with most washing machines and highly subjective; we found many comments from happy owners who insist noise complaints are overblown. Some users also say the multiple wash settings take some time to master, but the end result is clothes that come out clean, with less water and energy used to get them that way. While the widely fluctuating price and some mixed reviews concerning long-term reliability kept us from making this machine our "Best Value" pick, if you can find it for around $500 or so, prevailing sentiment and slews of 5-star ratings suggest it's a solid deal.
LG WT7200CW Review
Est. Price: $535
Buy it from Sears
- With a 5-cubic-foot capacity, it's one of the largest top-load washers around.
- 8 wash programs, including tub clean, and multiple spin speeds; 3 soil levels and 4 temperature options.
- Can automatically sense load size to set both water levels and wash time.
- Can be controlled via smartphone app; works with Google Assistant and Alexa.
- Glass lid to keep an eye on your laundry.
- Energy Star certified.
- Extremely high owner satisfaction and excellent ratings for reliability.
- Quiet, with low vibration.
- Some say it's not the gentlest machine on clothes, despite agitator-free design.
- Many complain of exceptionally low water levels, and some users report difficulties getting the "add water" (Water Plus) feature to work properly.
- Programming can be tricky.
Takeaway: For those whose budget will allow it, or who happen to catch this model on sale (we've seen it at prices ranging from just under $700 to more than $800), many say the LG WT7200CW deserves a spot at the top of any top-loader list. It's both energy efficient and a very good performer when it comes to getting clothes clean, according to most reviewers. And while there are only eight main wash cycles, there are enough options for tweaking to handle most laundering needs — and certainly enough space in its huge 5 cubic-foot capacity drum to handle the very largest of loads. Also, built-in smart features allow the washer to be controlled remotely via app or voice, so you can start a load from across the room or on the way home from work and check the status of your washing anytime. LG regularly draws kudos for reliability, and while lemons are not unheard of, owner ratings of the WT7200CW are among the highest of all the washing machines we surveyed. The brand itself has taken top prizes in the top-loading washers segment in the J.D. Power Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study for two years in a row. This LG washer is covered by a limited 1-year warranty on parts and labor, but the motor carries a 10-year guarantee, and the drum is covered for a lifetime.
Fully update your laundry room with LG's matching smart dryer, the LG DLE7200WE.
- Relatively low price for a front-loader with its feature set.
- 8 wash cycles, including self-cleaning mode; 4 temperature settings and 3 soil levels.
- Can be controlled via smartphone app.
- Reduced-vibration technology to cut down on noise.
- Energy Star certified.
- Some owners complain about durability.
- Water can accumulate in door and drum, a few users say.
Takeaway: Professional reviewer's opinions are somewhat mixed, but in tests this Samsung washing machine always performed reasonably well. Given its very low price relative to similar front-loader models (it can frequently be found for just under $600), that makes it a pretty good deal in their opinion. Most owner feedback is positive as well, although a minority of users say their washers broke after a year or so of use. Several praise the Samsung's ability to clean even deeply soiled work clothing or bulky bedding, and many are fans of its speed-wash setting. Another perk users like is having the ability to pause this model if necessary and add clothes, something not all front loaders can do. You can even connect this washer to your home internet network and monitor your laundry from an app (the app can also help troubleshoot issues with the machine). The capacity is 4.2 cubic feet, sufficient for a family of four to stay freshly laundered. Also, as with many front-loaders, it can be stacked if floor space is limited in your laundry room. Like most brands, Samsung backs this washer with a one-year warranty, but they also guarantee the washer's motor for 10 years and the washer drum for three years. In J.D. Power's annual satisfaction survey, the brand is the frontrunner for customer satisfaction in the front-load washers segment.
- 10 wash cycles, including clean washer, sanitize, and steam; 5 temperatures; 5 soil levels and 5 stain pretreat settings.
- 4.5-cubic-foot capacity can handle a week's worth of work clothes or bulky bedding, users say.
- Energy Star certified.
- Mixed cleaning performance in professional testing.
- End-of-cycle alerts aren't loud enough for some users.
Takeaway: While there are certainly cheaper washing machines, including cheaper front-loaders, what you get for the price of this GE washer is a competent, high-capacity machine that is versatile enough to meet most of the laundry needs of an active family. It's got a "sanitize" cycle that promises to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria adhering to clothes, specific settings to attack common stains (from grass to blood), and a steam option adds a stain-loosening boost. Even more attractive, there's a "Tumble Care" option that will rotate damp laundry periodically, to protect items from "souring" if you're not around to remove them from the machine immediately after washing. Like most front-loaders, this model's normal wash cycles can be a little on the long side (just over one hour, according to one test), but the GE's speed-wash options will cut this time nearly in half, a handy feature when you're in a hurry, owners say. While expert opinion is somewhat mixed, and this machine is cited for its relatively high water and energy consumption despite its Energy Star rating, consumer opinion is quite positive overall. Many praise its particularly quiet operation, and stackability makes it unobtrusive space-wise, as well. If you can pick this GE front-loader up for a price below its typical $800-plus threshold, it's a real deal.
- Compact size is great for apartments, vacation homes, or even RVs.
- Six wash modes, with three water-level options and 3 temperatures.
- See-through lid lets you keep an eye on your wash.
- Easy-to-operate, fully-electronic controls with LED display.
- Better user satisfaction than many portable washing machines.
- 1.6 cubic-foot capacity is half that of full-sized washers.
- Heavy and awkward to move, some owners say.
- No fabric softener dispenser.
Takeaway: Portable washing machines can't match the performance of full-size models, and they rarely are as durable. But they're great when space is at a premium or they're being used only occasionally. Among compact models, this Magic Chef portable washer earns fairly good reviews for performance, quality, and longevity. It's a relatively slim 20 inches square and can be connected to nearly any kind of faucet, no permanent connection needed. There aren't a ton of features, but the stainless steel tub and see-through lid are nice pluses, and the relatively-limited cycles and settings still provide decent flexibility. The low 1.6 cubic-foot capacity means it may take multiple runs to conquer your entire laundry load, but where space is tight, it's a top choice just the same. It comes with two built-in rollers to scoot it around, however several owners say the optional dolly ($18; buy it from Walmart) is a better bet if you plan to regularly stow the washer between uses.
This compact washing machine can be paired with the space-saving, 2.6-cubic-foot-capacity Magic Chef MCSDRY1S dryer.