The 7 Best High-Efficiency Washing Machines of 2021

Save money, energy, and your clothes

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The Rundown
"A bit less expensive than other similar washers, with very high marks for energy and water efficiency."
"The spacious tub on this top-loader will fit plenty of laundry, and it doesn’t have a clothes-ripping central agitator."
"This machine boasts high energy and water efficiency and a host of washing features."
"This human-powered, low-impact machine works to clean small loads of wash and includes a rinse and spin cycle."
"Small size doesn’t mean fewer options with this Bosch, which has 15 cycles and is known for durability and a quiet wash."
"With five cycles and a signal alert, this one’s a good bet for an RV, tiny home, or small apartment."
"Reviewers love the convenience of putting a dirty load in and coming home from work to clean, dry clothes."

A washing machine is a significant investment for most people, so it’s worth doing the research on the one that is right for you and your home. Once you have decided on the size and features that are right for you (get our guide at the end), energy and water efficiency are next. All the machines included here are Energy Star-rated (see more on that below) except where noted, which will save you money in both energy and water bills.

Note that the least expensive machines you see on offer at any of the appliance sellers online or in-store are usually not Energy Star-rated for a reason—they aren’t as efficient (unless there’s an efficient model on sale from a previous season). That lower price might seem tempting when it’s time to buy, but you will end up paying for the difference in energy and water bills over time—not to mention wasting resources. Ahead, the best (and most energy-efficient) washing machines on the market.

Best Overall: Samsung WF45T6000AW 4.5 cu. ft. Front Load Washer with Vibration Reduction Technology+

Samsung washer

This washer wins this category for using the least amount of energy and water according to the Energy Star list of energy-efficient machines—while still offering the most washing choices (10) and options (six). It also gets very high marks from testers on its ability to get the dirtiest clothes clean while still being very gentle on clothing. It has a self-clean feature that promises to eliminate 99 percent of bacteria that can form in the drum (which is what can lead to a musty odor that’s common in front-loading machines). It’s about $100 to $200 less than other similar machines.

What Does Energy Star Mean?

Energy Star ratings aren’t on a tier or level system like other ratings you might be familiar with. It’s either Energy Star-rated because it meets a standard for energy savings over other similar machines or it doesn’t get to carry the seal. All machines included here are Energy Star-rated except where noted. That means they use about 25 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than non-rated machines. That electricity savings adds up over time to $35 per year on your utility bills and about 2,000 gallons of water per year based on an average of 300 loads a year.

Best Top Loader: LG Electronics WT7300CV 5.0 cu. ft. Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Top Load Washer

LG 5.0

For those who prefer a top-loader for space or mobility reasons, this one is big enough to wash a comforter and a set of king-size sheets. The TurboWash3D design eliminates the agitator, though, so it’s a lot easier on clothes (anyone who’s had clothes ripped apart by a top-loader knows how rough they can be). It is both energy- and water-efficient compared to other top-loaders, and it offers a special cold-wash mode that promises to clean clothes as effectively as warm water (cold water washes use even less energy). It's Energy Star-certified and CEE (Consortium for Energy Efficiency) Tier 1.

Best Front Loader: LG WM3900HWA 4.5 cu.ft. Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Front Load Washer

LG High Efficiency

This machine is highly rated for a reason. It’s highly energy-efficient and water-saving, cleans clothes well, is quiet, and doesn’t vibrate much (important if your washer is located near a living space or upstairs next to a bedroom). It gets high ratings when it comes to owner satisfaction, too. It has a 30-minute-wash option, as well as a self-clean cycle for maintenance. The engine is designed to be more efficient and requires less repair (so it comes with a 10-year warranty on the motor). It also has a first-ever “asthma and allergy-friendly” certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) for its Allergeine cycle, which uses steam to remove common allergens from fabric.

Best Foot-Powered: Yirego Drumi Portable Non-Electric Washing Machine

Drumi washer

The foot-powered Drumi not only cleans clothes via the power of the user’s legs, but it also has a rinse and spin cycle. Other foot-powered washers lack a spin cycle, meaning you have to squeeze water from clothes by hand, which isn’t easy with heavier fabrics like a t-shirt or towel. The Drumi is basically equivalent to a delicate cycle in a machine, which is all many of us need to get our clothes clean—but stains and soiled parts should be pre-treated. This unit comes with a hose so you can drain it away from the unit, into a shower or other type of drain.

Best Compact: Bosch WAT28400UC 300 Series Compact Washer

Bosch washer

All Bosch’s washers are compact—both narrower, less deep, and shorter than other models—so you have more room in your laundry area not taken up by machines. The drum volume is 2.2 cubic feet, about half the size of a regular washer, but many people don’t need to wash 17 towels at once, so a smaller unit makes sense. The smaller size doesn’t mean you get less performance, though; these washers have 15 different cycle options, including a drum clean and an anti-allergen setting. Bosch washers get very good reviews for their small size, their quiet cycles, and their longevity, with reviewers reporting 15 years of use or more.

Best Portable: Magic Chef MCSTCW09W1 Compact 0.9 cu. ft. Portable Top Load Washer

Magic Chef Compact 0.9 cu ft. Portable Top Load Washer in White

Sometimes, there’s no space for a dedicated laundry area, and so a portable washer is ideal—just pull it out from a closet or under a counter and attach it to a kitchen or bathroom faucet. There are non-electric options, but for those that need to plug in, the Magic Chef is a good choice. It has a non-sticking stainless steel drum, five options for wash cycles, and signal alerts for when the wash cycle is done, just like a big washer. This machine is not Energy Star-rated (none of the portable washers are), but this one has the lowest energy cost estimates among those available, according to the U.S. government Energy Guide stats.

Best Washer/Dryer Combo: LG Electronics WM3488HW 2.3 cu. ft. Compact All-in-One Washer and Dryer Combo

LG Electronics 2.3 cu. ft. All-in-one Front Load Washer and Electric Ventless Dryer in White

Washer/dryer combos aren’t for everyone—reviews for any of these units find plenty of people unhappy with their performance. Because washing and drying both happen in one unit, it’s a pretty long process (how long depends on the items being washed and the cycles chosen). But there are some who think these units are great, and owners of this LG model love the convenience of putting a dirty load in and getting home from work to clean, dry clothes. This unit has an average-size drum for wash sizes equivalent to non-combo units, and it can be set up to dry without a vent—great for installing in an apartment without altering the wall for a vent. Because it’s a combo unit, this isn’t Energy Star-rated, but it is CEE Tier 1-rated, which is the same standard as Energy Star.

What to Consider When Buying a Washing Machine

Size: First, think about the size of the machine you need: If you have plenty of space for a washing machine, you will have the most options since washers can be bulky. However, there are also plenty of solid options for those who live in apartments, tiny homes, or cabins, called compact washers. These are about a third of the size of a traditional machine and usually offer similar cycle variety and rinse options. There are even portable washer options—they roll on wheels, so they can be put away in a closet or under a counter when not in use and hook up to a sink faucet and drain that way, too.

Laundry volume: What size you need or want also depends on the volume of laundry you’ll be doing. If you are a single or couple and don’t need to do large amounts of laundry, a smaller washer may be ideal. If you have multiple people in your household and/or change your sheets, blankets, and towels very frequently, you’ll likely be frustrated by a smaller drum (which is the inside of a washing machine’s cleaning area). The drum can vary a lot, from less than 1 cubic meter on a portable machine to 4.5 cubic meters on the larger capacity ones. The latter can wash 17 towels at once or a large comforter plus a set of king-size sheets, to get an idea of how much they can hold.  

Features: If you have any special laundry needs in mind (if you have a lot of delicate or wool clothing you don’t want to wash in your sink, or need heavy-duty cleaning options), keep an eye out for that feature—some of the units on this list have 15 cycle options with very specific wash lengths and spins for various fabrics, some have fewer options. Some also have more options for water temperatures, which is useful if you have clothing or linens with specific temperature needs, like “tap cold” versus “cold” for woolens. Whether you need this level of detail for your washing needs depends on your clothing, but if you spend more on your clothes and like to keep them around, a washer with the exact cycles you need can save you time and money (when your clothes don’t get destroyed by the wrong wash cycle). 

Front loader or top loader: Top-loading vs. front-loading really comes down to preference—would you rather reach down and across (or squat and reach forward) to pull wet laundry from the wash, or reach down and into the machine? Depending on your mobility, one set of motions might be easier than the other, or you might just prefer one or the other. That’s the bulk of the calculus here. 

Generally front-loaders clean a bit more efficiently, using less power and somewhat less water, so most of the models on this list reflect that advantage. Top-loaders tend to be a bit less expensive. Top-loading washing machines often have an agitating arm that can be very hard on clothes, however, reducing the number of wears they will provide, since they physically agitate the clothing against hard plastic or metal. However, not all top-loaders have this clothes-destroying system—our top-loader recommendation doesn’t have this, which does push the price up, but over the machine’s lifetime, you’ll save money on clothes and sheets that don’t get ripped up when they get twisted into your washing machine’s central agitator arm.

Price: As with anything, cost plays a huge role in the ultimate purchasing decision. Though budget picks on other lists may be tempting, we skipped the category for a reason: Price differences between the least-expensive models of various similar brands are small enough to be inconsequential. If you are on a budget or just like to save money, it pays to surf the sites and plan for sales. You’ll find year-old or previous models of machines discounted by half as stores look to move inventory, meaning you could find a higher-end machine than you think you can afford.

Also, look for “open box” discounts—these are machines whose boxes have been opened but were never used. Calling your local store and asking about these machines might be worth the 15 minutes it takes to pick up the phone and try a few, as sometimes they are not advertised online.