By Don Lindich
Week 5, 2018
This week I have lots of questions and comments about appliances. Readers love this topic!
Q. What model Speed Queen washer do you have? I am interested in learning more.
-C.O. Boise, ID
Q. We bought a new low-water top loading washing machine after being told that in the state of California, these machines are now law. I washed most things on delicate, but the new machine just ate up the clothes. We gave it away and took my mother-in-law’s 20-year-old Kenmore. It is NOT low-water, and still works like a champ, cleaning things well while handling them delicately. Were we buffaloed that only low-water machines are now being sold in California?
-M.J., Benicia, CA
Q. My wife and I were intrigued by your article about washing machines. She heard on the radio that the government will be tightening water use requirements, and how it is being tried and is failing, with people frequently having to re-wash clothes because they don’t come out clean with one cycle. Our bureaucrats are going to shoot themselves in the foot trying to save water at the expense of cleanliness! We have a 40-year-old Kitchen Aid dishwasher that still works fine, but its days are obviously numbered. Our Whirlpool washer and dryer are both more than ten years old. Do you think we should replace these appliances before the new regulations kick in so we will have appliances that actually get things clean?
-R.K. & J.K., Long Lake, MN
Email comment: My appliance store told me that Speed Queen can no longer manufacture the washers that use lots of water because of federal rules. I must have maximum water to remove all soap because of sensitive skin. I purchased a Speed Queen AWN432 in December for that reason.
-S.H., Minneapolis, MN
A. I have a Speed Queen AWN432 and though it was discontinued, you may still be able to find one in stores. Though new federal rules for water and energy use have ended production of traditional Speed Queen agitator models like the AWN432, it does not mean you are stuck with washing machines that barely get the clothes wet.
The new Speed Queen models TR3, TR5 and TR7 use a spray rinse on the Eco Cycle, but will do a full tub wash and rinse with the other cycles. They will all be sold in California. The new models have an agitator, but the washing action has changed. I’ll be trying one soon, but in the meantime you can see it compared to a low water front loader under the “Washability” section on speedqueen.com.
Some low-cost options are available. The Amana NTW4516FW has a deep water wash option, as does the similar Kenmore 20222. Both list for $499, usually sell for $399 and often go on sale for $299. They look and feel kind of cheap but I’d rather have either one of them than a “high efficiency” top load washer that tries to clean clothes by slapping them around in a puddle of water, barely getting them wet.
My advice to R.K. and J.K. is to keep using their appliances until they cannot be economically repaired. The Whirlpool washer and dryer came from a time before appliance quality went completely downhill, and both could be good for another 10 to 15 years. The old Kitchen Aid dishwashers were built like tanks, but even when it needs replaced I would not worry about the cleaning ability of new dishwashers. The vast, overwhelming majority of complaints about low water appliances are about washing machines, not dishwashers.