Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Water Waster One Thousand

We are green people. Not green as in St. Patrick's Day, but as in reduce, reuse, recycle. We stopped using chemicals on the lawn years ago. We drive so few miles you wouldn't believe how little gas we use in a year. When we needed new toilets, we did careful research and happily bought the low-flow kind, a choice we've never regretted.

Not so with the "water-efficient" front-loading washing machine we bought two years ago.

Who designed these things? I suppose they meant well, but seriously, low-water-use front-loaders require multiple cycles to get clothes clean and soap-free, and longer dryer cycles to get things dry. Not very energy- or water-efficient. On top of that, the ultra-fast spin cycle presses wrinkles into the clothes--wrinkles that don't relax in the dryer.

Peter hated our machine the first time he used it. He told Abby that whenever her washer gave up the ghost, she could have our front-loader. When that happened, he said, he'd go out and by a "Water Waster One Thousand." Whatever it took to get the laundry done both quickly and well.

We got the call a week ago; her machine had died in the middle of a load. Within hours our machine was in her basement finishing up that load.

I went online to research water-efficient top-loaders. Consumer Reports gave several of them high ratings (as it had the front-loaders two years ago). But the consumer comments presented a very different picture. Average satisfaction was two stars out of five, and quite a few people were pretty heated in their criticisms.

They cited the same complaints we had: wrinkles, clothes not getting clean or rinsed thoroughly, extra cycles costing time, money, and resources.

On top of that, it seems that the new "green" top-loaders don't have agitators. Instead they use a new type of action that rolls the clothes every few minutes and bounces them hard against the bottom of the machine in minimal water. Users reported that their clothes and linens were developing holes and wearing out faster than ever before. Water levels are determined by the machine based on the weight of the load, and you can't override the setting. 

When we went to two different appliance stores and told them what we wanted, they gave us the "well, some people just don't want to adjust to new things" line. Fortunately, our egos don't depend on the approval of sales people.

It took us no time at all to pick out a new top-loading washer from the back of the store--that's where they keep the ones with agitators and manual water-level settings. These tend to cost more, and in fact we bought one of the better models--all stainless steel, a great warranty, made right here in the Midwestern US of A.

Peter used it for the first time this afternoon. He just came up from the basement smiling. "I can watch the clothes swishing around in plenty of water, knowing they are getting clean," he said.

"I am a happy man."


25 comments:

Ms Sparrow said...

I love it! "Our egos don't depend on the approval of sales people", way to go! The sellers no doubt try to push the trendy new stuff off on unsuspecting newbies, but it sounds like you have "been through the wringer" (pun intended). Enjoy your new washer!

Red said...

We have one of those front loads that takes very little water and has a high speed spin. we like it. You've researched like we did. sorry you didn't like the front loads. We bought the whirl pool. I don't know if you have those there.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I have a top loading Maytag..love it..and I can adjust everything temp and load size. Nothing worse that having an appliance that you don't like. Sounds like Peter is a happy guy! :)

Jeanie said...

We have been expecting our washer and/or dryer to go at any time. I'll be referring back to this post when that happens.
Whether we are good at adjusting to new things or not I think we all still want our clothes to get clean when we wash them.

Retired English Teacher said...

We just bought the front loader washer and dryer this fall. I can't say I'm happy with either one. I wish I would have been able to read your post before I bought mine.

DJan said...

Looks like a spam comment got through (the one above me that will probably be removed as soon as you see it). This was very interesting to me, as a green person too. We don't actually own a washer and dryer as we use coin operated ones in the basement of our apartment complex, but they are all top loaders and some work much better than others, I've noticed. :-)

Linda Myers said...

When we were in Ecuador our washing machine was very expensive, very complicated, with instructions all in Spanish. I used the simplest settings, and cold water, and that was fine.

Bells and whistles, oh my!

Terra said...

Bless your heart for buying a washer made in the USA and helping provide jobs here. We love our front loading washer and have had it for quite a few years. It's a Kenmore and saves money on water and heating the water. Sounds like you now have the right machine for you.

Mandy_Fish said...

I have a low-water top-loading washer like you've described and I love it. I've never seen my whites so white ... and without bleach or non-chlorine bleach. It's crazy!

I did the research too and saw all of the complaints about wasting water and the smell of mildew with front loaders and said no thank you.

WhisperingWriter said...

Ha, nice!

We just have a basic washer and it works great.

The Loerzels said...

I love your take on green for St. Patty's day. And I was totally convinced I needed a new "green" front loader washer,but now I'm not sure what to do.

troutbirder said...

Substantiating my theory that progress is always progress. At least in the "technological" area...

Allyson said...

Yes, I'm afraid we've fallen into the front loading population. We even have a subscription to Consumer Reports just so we can pick the best of...whatever. And that lead us to a Kenmore. It's...OK. We've learned that you have to leave the door open after the cycle to keep it from mildewing the rubber seals. And it squeaks like crazy in the spin cycle. Plus there is a lot of banging around of clothes. Oh well...when it dies (or oops..falls off the moving truck), we'll probably go back to a top-loader too.

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Oh my- someone who feels the same way I do!

Chantel said...

My "green" addition to the planet is making good use of Craig's list. That's recycling, isn't it? (we just picked up a nearly new gallon gusher washer for only $100!)

injaynesworld said...

Do you know how good of a writer one has to be to make washing machines interesting? Especially, to someone like me who would put the task off it the machine was next to my bed. This was very clever, funny AND informative, my friend. That "lonely Maytag guy" knew his stuff.

P.S. How long do you think it will be before Abby is bring her clothes over to wash at your house? ;)

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Nancy! I also have an "efficient" combined washer/dryer, and it drives me nuts. Not as bad as the electric cooker hob, but hey. I'd never buy either myself; yes, this is the curse of living in rented/furnished! I am delighted you're both happier, and more than a little envious ;> Indigo x

Jennifer McLean said...

this post made me smile. I can just see Peter coming up the stairs with that smile. We have an efficient front loader and find we have to rinse an extra time and use very, very little soap. If we use just a tiny bit too much we end up with itchy skin ostensibly because the machine hasn't rinsed out the clothes enough.
Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting, it was so nice to see you. Talk to you again soon!
Best,
Jenn of www.JustAddWaterSilly.com

Red Shoes said...

My family was green long before 'green' was cool... my Dad owned a scrap metal recycling business where I started working after college.

The savings from recycling metal and paper are unbelievable...

I don't buy into Government-sponsored 'Green'... I can't believe the monies that have been wasted on 'green' technology here lately...

I am on your wave-length of being 'green'...

:o)

~shoes~

lesinfin said...

There are so many reasons to smile every time I visit your blog. We are green people, too (and we have a crappy washing machine, too). But it belongs to the building so I guess we're stuck with it for a while. I love green appliances, but some of these claim "efficiency" when in fact they are not efficient at all. We’re not saving water if getting our clothes clean requires a few cycles. I keep thinking they will improve though, and one of these days my clothes will be sparkly after just one wash, lol. :)

Jeanie said...

I'm with you on the washing machine. Some things are worth it. I'm glad you got the new one -- top loaders are truly the best!

Green Monkey said...

Jayne took the words out of mouth... you made washing machines interesting!

Nezzy said...

Yep, give me a great top loader that I can control the water level and I'm a happy camper! Mine's a Whirlpool Heavy Duty.

God bless ya and ya'll enjoy that new old fangled machine!!!

Deb Shucka said...

Progress isn't always a step in the right direction. I wonder how long it will be before all those older machines will be considered extremely valuable.

carrington said...

Amen sister! I am looking for the old traditional top loader. Can you tell me what brand you bought?

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