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When you’re in the market for a new washing machine, your choices may seem completely endless. The washing industry has certainly come a long way from washboards and clothes lines, and it seems every year a new line of washers come out with new features designed to make the chore of doing laundry less and less tedious. So how do you decide on one model of washer when there are so many to choose from?

Before getting distracted by all the new shiny gadgets on washers these days, take a little bit of time to figure out what you actually need from your washer. To start, consider your washing habits carefully. Do you do all the laundry in the house once a week, or do you do small loads throughout the week? Do you tend to forget about your laundry until it’s too late and has to be rewashed, or are you good about keeping things moving along? Do you own a lot of delicates that would require special wash cycles, or can most of your clothes be thrown in together? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down your choices a bit. For instance, if you constantly forget to move your clothes from the washer to the dryer in time, getting a machine that vents your clothes until you put them in the dryer might be a wise investment, but if you’re the type that stands there waiting for the spin cycle to finish so you can transfer them to the dryer, you’d be wasting money on a feature you’ll never actually need or use. While many washing machine features might seem really useful and great, consider whether you’ll actually use them before shelling out extra money. Paying an extra $200 just to have a few more buttons decorate your washer is just silly, after all.

One thing you will definitely want to look for in a new washer is energy efficiency. Getting an Energy Star washer is a good start, but make sure you actually check the specific ratings to get the most energy efficient washer you can. The best washers will not only save on electricity, but also use less water. These machines are usually rated High Efficiency, or HE, on the labels.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices based on your specific washing needs, head to the store and ask questions. With the information you now have, the sales person should have no trouble pointing you to the machine of your dreams, and you’ll find it much easier to resist the “up-sale” to a washer that has a ton of features you’ll never need.

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