August 20, 2014

Proud Appliance Ownership

Just in time for Mother’s Day- a photo I found recently that I liked for its quaint look back in time. This woman seems so pleased with her new washer and dryer. I imagine that the family had saved for a while to acquire the set and ease her workload. Her daughter writes that it is probably 1953 and this is the family’s first automatic washer and dryer. “Before that she used a wringer washer and we either hung the clothes in the basement, or outside if the weather was good.”

Does Size Really Matter?

Is bigger always better? Maybe not, when you are talking about washing machines.

Just how many clothes can effectively be washed and rinsed in a single load is covered by new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) guidelines—and the answer may surprise you.

“Due to new Department of Energy regulations regarding clothes washer capacity, consumers may hear a lot of conflicting information about whether size really matters when it comes to laundry,” said J.B. Hoyt, director of regulatory affairs for Whirlpool Corporation. “The common belief is that bigger is better, but that is only true if your clothes still get clean.”

The Imperial Valley News writes that as part of the guidelines, manufacturers including Whirlpool, Maytag and Amana will voluntarily report new capacity measurements based on DOE test procedures in order to provide accurate measurement of all clothes washers across all brands.

For those in the market for new laundry appliances, Hoyt shares the dirt on capacity, cleaning and, most importantly, what to look for when shopping for a new washer.

• When making a new purchase, ask about capacity as it relates to cleaning versus just how much the machine will hold. What is the largest maximum capacity that will get your clothes clean?

• No matter how big the machine is, do not overload. Clothes will get cleaner when given room to move freely.

• Thanks to high-efficiency washing machines, you don’t have to stuff everything into one load just to save energy and water. Today’s high-efficiency washing machines use only enough energy and water to properly clean your clothes, which means you can do small loads when you have time, rather than waiting for the basket to fill up.

Whirlpool’s Newest Washers and Dryers

Whirlpool has unveiled their newest laundry pairs, including an updated Duet platform and a new Maxima front-load line for Maytag.

Duet, which helped usher in the front-load washer category within the U.S. nearly a decade ago, has been retooled for even great energy and water efficiency in advance of anticipated higher federal standards.

Designed in conjunction with the Institute of Fabric Science, the revamped washer now uses as little as 11.5 gallons of water per load and exceeds current federal energy standards by more than 160 percent on average, Whirlpool said. The greater efficiency is achieved with an EcoBoost option that reduces water temperature while increasing agitation duration, resulting in the same cleaning effectiveness as previous iterations while using less water and energy.

Whirlpool estimates that the laundry pair can save consumers 12,857 gallons of water a year and as much as $3,300 in lifetime energy costs.

According to Twice.com, Whirlpool is targeting national retail chains for the launch, which is expected to begin in time for the holiday selling season. Suggest retail prices will start at $1,100 for both the washer and dryer.

Meanwhile, Whirlpool’s Maytag brand will roll out an entirely new front-load laundry platform in the Maxima, which offers increased capacity and a power-wash cycle that promises extra cleaning action by loosening stains and ground-in dirt.

The power-wash cycle is complimented by an internal water heater that boosts water temperatures to release difficult stains, and is followed by a thorough rinse to flush out any remaining detergent or lingering soils, Whirlpool said. Together, the functions can remove tough stains that weren’t pre-treated.

The 5-cubic-foot washer, available in two models, also has a 10-year limited parts warranty on the motor and stainless-steel wash basket.

Its companion 7.4-cubic-foot capacity dryer features “Quad” baffles and advanced moisture sensors for consistent load drying, while steam cycles help remove odors and wrinkles.

The Maxima series will carry an opening price point of $1,000 and is slated to ship this fall to retailers nationwide.

Rating the Latest Appliances – JD Powers Results

The 2010 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study and 2010 Kitchen Appliance Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power and Associates found that awareness of Energy Star certified appliances has increased among U.S. owners of new appliances since 2009 and so has the percentage who purchased an Energy Star appliance.

According to appliancemagazine.com, 86% of 2010 dishwasher buyers reported buying an Energy Star certified appliance, for an increase of 5% from 2009 and a 9% increase from 2008.

Satisfaction with appliance performance is strongly influenced by the owner’s perception of the appliance’s water and/or energy efficiency, the study found. Customers who report that their appliance is Energy Star certified are more likely to be more satisfied with their appliance than customers who do not indicate that their appliance is certified.

The Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study measured customer satisfaction with clothes washers and dryers based on performance in six factors:


• ease of use
• features (such as the number of settings available and appliance capacity)
• performance and reliability (including energy efficiency, noise level, and how well the appliance functions)
• styling and feel
• warranty
• price

CLOTHES WASHERS: Samsung ranked highest for the second year in a row when it came to satisfying clothes washer owners, with a score of 832 on a 1000-point scale. Samsung performed particularly well in four of six factors:

• performance and reliability
• ease of use
• features
• styling

Other brands that broke the 800-point mark in the clothes washer rankings included:

• Kenmore Elite (817 points)
• Electrolux (816)
• LG (811)
• Maytag Epic (802)

CLOTHES DRYERS: Samsung scored 833 and was No. 1 in the clothes dryer rankings – the third consecutive year it’s been in the top spot. J.D. Power reported that Samsung did particularly well in four of the six factors:

• performance and reliability
• ease of use
• styling
• features

Only two other brands scored more than 800 points in the study:

• LG (814 points)
• Kenmore Elite (809)

Kitchen Appliances Study
Customer satisfaction was measured based on performance in six factors:

• performance and reliability (including how well the appliance functions, noise level, and energy efficiency)
• features (such as the number of settings available and appliance capacity)
• ease of use
• styling and feel
• price
• warranty

REFRIGERATORS: Samsung – for the sixth year in a row – ranked highest in satisfying refrigerator owners with a score of 803. Samsung performed particularly well in:

• ease of use
• performance and reliability
• features.

Samsung was followed by LG (781 points) and Kenmore Elite (776 points).

DISHWASHERS: Miele ranked highest in customer satisfaction in dishwashers with a score of 806 and performed particularly well in four of the six factors:

• performance and reliability
• styling and feel
• features
• warranty

Bosch also cracked the 800-point mark, scoring 801 points.

COOKTOPS/RANGES/OVENS:
Wolf ranked No. 1 in cooking appliances with a score of 812, and performed particularly well in five of six factors:

• ease of use
• performance and reliability
• styling and feel
• features
• warranty

Samsung ran a close second in this category, with a score of 809, and was the only other appliance brand to top the 800-point threshold.

The Studies

The 2010 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study was based on responses from more than 5100 consumers who purchased clothes washers and more than 5100 consumers who purchased clothes dryers from a retail store or received one through other means (such as a new-home builder or a gift) during the past 24 months. The study was fielded between March and April 2010.

Smeg Retro Washer

I love the look of Smeg’s retro refrigerator that we wrote about Here.

Smeg adds to the look with its  free-standing washing machine sink combo.

Washing Machine:

  • 15 washing programs
  • Variable spin speed from 600 up to 1600 rpm
  • Delay timer
  • Max 5 kg of dry laundry
  • steel drum and tank
  • Extra large 300 mm porthole
  • Door safety lock
  • Automatic variable load
  • Self cleaning pump & filter
  • adjustable feet

The washer is available in pink or blue, the only catch is that these are still sold only in Europe!  We’ll have to wait…

A Unique Home Appliance Test Lab

Loading a washing machine may seem like a no-brainer, but the Contra Coasta Times’ Marni Jameson and her family can tell you differently.  Read on:

This week, our home laboratory revealed that a late-model washer would not withstand a cycle of hair-covered saddle pads. Our lab recommends that customers only wash multiple saddle pads — garments that sit between saddle and horse to collect hair — if they want to replace their basements.

Here’s how the experiment was conducted: One teenage daughter stuffed four quilt saddle

pads into a front-load machine. Soon after, the washer sloshed to a halt. I looked through the fisheye door and saw floating garments. I hit the drain/spin cycle. Nothing. The machine wouldn’t drain.I went in search of a neck to wring. The oblivious culprit was on the lam. I headed back to the laundry room where I was verging on a primal scream, when Dan, my husband, walked in. “Problem?” (He’s so intuitive.)

Our smart kids can discuss “The Odyssey” and replicate DNA in a test tube, I tell him, but don’t know not to cram hair-covered saddle pads in the washer.

He left the test center, moaning something about a repairman and $200.

Because $200 could buy one Stuart Weitzman stiletto, I rolled up my sleeves and pulled

on all the machine’s panels until one opened — a trapdoor. Inside was a gizmo, which I twisted. Water gushed in a promising way. A drain!I packed the area with towels, and yanked out the gizmo, a little cage contraption packed with — you’ll never guess — horse hair. I pulled out a wad the size of a Yorkshire terrier, then twisted the gizmo back in to stem the tide. I pressed spin. The machine whirled into action.

Feeling pretty dang proud (Who needs a repairman, or even a man?), I took the terrier to Dan’s basement office.

“You found the problem,” he said.

I fixed the problem, I said, a little too proudly.

Then we both heard an unusual sound. We rounded the corner of his office. I screamed so they could hear me in Taiwan, where workers are making washing machines this minute. Dan raced for a bucket. Water streamed through the basement ceiling, around the recessed lights.

All hands on deck, I shouted usefully.

My innocent daughter grabbed towels and met me in the laundry room, where water spewed from the trapdoor. I grabbed the gizmo, which apparently I hadn’t tightened all the way, (oops) and twisted. The water stopped, but a pond remained.

Later, Dan and I studied the water damage to the ceiling. Wonder what it’s going to cost to repair that, I said.

“More than a washing machine repair,” he said.

Murderous methods

Here are more ways to kill major home appliances, according to our test center and experts from Whirlpool, the world’s leading manufacturer of home appliances:

To kill your washer or dryer:

  • Pour detergent haphazardly into the washing machine. Don’t bother using those pesky cap lines to measure soap, and don’t put detergent in the right dispenser. Too much or the wrong kind of detergent (regular in an HE machine) makes machines work harder, and results in longer cycle times, poorer rinsing performance, and an odorous residue, says Monica Teague, Whirlpool spokeswoman.
  • Don’t check your machine’s hoses and traps. Let lint, missing socks and horse hair accumulate. The upside of a washer that overflows is a clean floor.
  • Don’t ever clean your machine. Leave the job of cleaning a washing machine (with hot water and specially designed cleansers) to phobics who worry that residue from dirty laundry could gum up their machines.
  • Ignore the dryer sign that reads, “Clean before each use.” Wait until the lint filter is so full you could stuff a pillow. Clogged lint traps can burn out a dryer, and even catch fire.
  • Remove the outdoor screen covering your dryer vent or don’t put one in. This creates a nice place for critters to build homes.To kill your oven or range:
  • Throw away your use and care manual. Or start the oven with the manual still inside. Consumers could avoid or resolve more than 50 percent of all appliance problems by reading the instructions, says Steve Swayne, technology leader for Whirlpool’s Institute of Kitchen Science.
  • Spray oven cleaner all over the outside of the appliance. If you’re after that distressed look, you’ll get it. Oven cleaning acid (intended only for oven interiors) can corrode the finish on knobs, and ruin control panels.
  • Run the self-clean cycle with stuff in the oven. The self-clean cycle heats up to 850 degrees, and can destroy pot handles, and cause greasy outdoor grills to catch fire. This cycle also ruins oven racks, which you’re supposed to remove, and keeps them from sliding smoothly.
  • Keep your oven filthy. This will attract bugs and other critters looking for warmth and food. Swayne once found a roasted snake in a range.
  • Recall: GE Front Load Washers Due to Fire and Shock Hazards

    Name of Product: GE Front-Load Washing Machines

    Units: About 181,000

    Manufacturer: GE Appliances & Lighting, of Louisville, Ky.

    Hazard: A wire can break in the machine and make contact with a metal part on the washtub while the machine is operating, posing fire and shock hazards to consumers.

    Incidents/Injuries: GE is aware of seven incidents in which flames escaped the units and caused minor smoke damage. No injuries have been reported.

    Description: This recall involves GE front-load washing machines without auxiliary water heating. Model and serial numbers are listed in the chart below. Recalled washing machines were manufactured between December 2006 and February 2010. The model and serial numbers are located on the bottom right side and on the bottom door frame of the washers.

    Brand Model Number Begins With: Serial Number Begins With:
    GE WBVH5 AM, AR, AS, AT, DM, DR, DS, FM,
    FR, FS, GM, GS, HM, HR, HS, LM,
    LR, LS, MM, MR, MS, RM, RR, RS,
    SM, SR, SS, TM, TR, TS, VM, VR,
    VS, ZL, ZM, ZR, ZS

    Sold at: Department and various retail stores nationwide from December 2006 through May 2010 for about $700.

    Manufactured in: China

    Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled washers, unplug it from the electrical outlet and contact GE for a free repair. Consumers should not operate the washer until it has been repaired.

    Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact GE toll-free at (888) 345-4124 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at www.geappliances.com

    You Can Use Less Laundry Detergent

    Over the next few weeks, Procter & Gamble plans to introduce easier-to-read plastic measuring caps for its liquid detergent brands, including Tide, Gain, Era and Cheer. The new caps will have more-defined measurement lines inside and bigger numbers that are staggered, not stacked, says Dawn French, P&G’s head of laundry research and development for North America.

    Why?  Because, according to the Wall Street Journal, Americans use too much detergent per load.  They have come to think that more soap equals cleaner clothes, which is not the case – rather it causes build-up and dingy colors.  Additionally,  more consumers are buying high-efficiency washers which need even less of today’s concentrated detergents.

    Packaging, in most cases, hasn’t helped. The molded lines and numbers inside detergent caps are hard to read, especially in a dimly lit laundry room. And even though concentrated detergents have been on the market since at least 2007, many caps still hold more than is needed for an average load.

    Method Products Inc. this month launched an ad blitz for a new detergent with a pump dispenser, designed to help curb overdosing. Method found that 53% of people don’t use the recommended amount of detergent per washload, preferring instead to guess or, worse, to simply fill the cap up to the top—a practice that wastes more than half the loads a detergent bottle could wash, Method executives say.

    Through much of Europe, detergent premeasured in tablets and sachets has been popular for years. But in the U.S., pre-dosed products have been largely unsuccessful. Consumers usually pick up their laundry habits during adolescence from their mothers, and changing them is hard, says Bob Deutsch, founder of Brain Sells, a marketing consulting firm.

    American consumers, it seems, also want more control. Many people have their own laundry “recipe,” and each one believes her unique method leads to superior results, industry executives say. P&G, the world’s leading detergent maker, calls such involved laundry doers “master chemists.”

    General Electric Co.’s top-of-the-line Profile frontload washer offers to take on all dosing decisions itself. The SmartDispense feature, adding $600 to the cost of the machine, holds up to six months’ worth of detergent and allocates the right amount for each load, taking the detergent concentration level and the amount of clothes into account.

    Proper dosing is the biggest laundry concern among callers to Seventh Generation Inc.’s help line, says Sue Holden, head of the consumer-insights team at the Burlington, Vt., household-product maker. Two years ago, the company started making its detergent bottle cap with translucent plastic partly to make it easier to read. “We’re trying to train people to do something that doesn’t come naturally,” says Ms. Holden. “Growing up, a lot of us just poured it in.”

    Seventh Generation’s co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender, wonders why more people haven’t stumbled upon laundry’s big, dirty secret: “You don’t even need soap to wash most loads,” he says.  The agitation of washing machines often does the job on its own.