Saturday, January 29, 2011

Choosing a New Washing Machine

Two weeks ago, we rearranged our house and bought the girls new bunk beds.  For me, that was a major purchase.  Afterwards, I experienced a week of second guessing myself and wondering if I had chosen the right or wrong ones.  Everyone that has come into my home has commented on how nice they are, though, and how much they reflect my girls' personalities.

Still, there is a part of me that struggles.  Part of that struggle comes from the battle I face when making purchases between getting what I really like and being the most frugal I can be.  Another part of the struggle comes from the advent of the internet and the ability to instantly "shop around for the best deal".  If I don't get the best price, part of me feels like I have wasted what we have or that I haven't made the most of what we have or haven't stretched our finances as far as I can.  No matter what way you express it, I find that it's just a big trap.  And I'd even go so far as it is something that can tempt us to dwell on things and can cause us to make money an idol by giving it too much of our thought time and energy.

Not a week later I found myself faced with a similar purchasing struggle.  On Sunday night, my oldest daughter awoke at 2:30 a.m. after throwing up in her bed.  I got her cleaned up and into the shower.  Then, I stripped her bed and proceeded to take the bedding downstairs to the laundry room.  I opened up the washing machine to find it full of water and wet clothes.  Just before bed, I had started a load of laundry like I often do.  After making sure my daughter was settled, I wrang the clothes out and put them in a bucket.  Then, I emptied the washing machine of its water.

I made my way upstairs and began to research online what kind of washer to get and prices so that I could present my husband with the choice for me to either call someone to come fix our washer or to buy a new one.  What I found online was a mixed bag of information.  It was hard to know what to think!

In the end, when faced with the question first of whether to repair or replace, I concluded that we should replace.  This washing machine had already broken before and it was clearly not new when we had moved into our house five years ago.  The issue with my machine was similar to a friend's last year which took 6 weeks to get fixed.  Going to a laundromat would cost probably $30-$45/week with the number of loads I do.  But, aside from that we don't really have enough clothes to wait a whole week between trips to the laundromat.  So, that was my reasoning.

Now to find a new washing machine...

My options:  1) Traditional top loader with an agitator
               2) HE (High Efficiency) Front loader
               3) HE Top Loader

#2 was out for our home because HE Front Loaders have problems with mold and mildew because of how the water drains out of them.  You have to leave the door open and wipe out the gasket every time.  I would never remember to do that.  But, aside from my memory our house has issues with mold and mildew anyways that I continually have to keep on top of.  So, #2 did not seem like a wise choice.

That left me with deciding between a tradition top loader or an HE top loader.  I read a lot of varied reviews and there seemed no clear choice.  I did find the top rated HE top loader which was priced at $900 and was 5.0 cu. ft.  It was one in the Maytag Bravos line.  When I went to the Home Depot website I found the same washer in 4.7 cu. ft. on sale for $630.  I looked around at other brands (whirlpool, GE, and LG) but felt best about the Maytag Bravos.  Because of a $50 rebate, the washer would cost $570 and be energy smart.  The traditional agitators I saw with the features I needed for our family ran about $450 so it seemed much wiser in the long run to get an HE washer.

One of the biggest complaints I read was how the HE top loaders twist and wrinkle everything.  It really concerned me because I do a lot of delicates in our washer.  What I think is that they are comparing is a HE top loader with a HE front loader.

So, after my gang had woken up Monday morning, we headed over to Home Depot.  I intended to go over to Lowe's afterwards to compare and make the best decision I could.  I had already checked online and knew that Lowe's did not have any sales on washers right now and I compared prices as much as I could online before we went.

At Home Depot, I began looking at the small selection of washers.  I ruled out the front loaders which only left a few GE, whirlpool, Maytag, and one LG washer.  The LG was priced at $900 which seemed far beyond what I wanted to pay.  I went back and forth and finally settled on the Maytag Bravos 4.7 cu. ft. I was pleased that they had the one I was looking for.  It was the smaller version of the top rated one I'd found online.  I looked over at Autumn and she was struggling.  I realized that to shop around at that point and go over to Lowe's was going to be very hard on her.  I knew this was the washer I wanted and going to Lowe's was only going to be to satisfy my desire to feel like I'd gotten a good deal.  I realized I had to let go of that so I did.  I purchased the washer and we made one more stop before heading home.   One of the reasons I had gone to Home Depot was the hope that I could have the washer delivered the next day.  I was very glad when that was the case.  I had read online that sometimes Sears takes several days for delivery and I was concerned about Sami and Eli getting sick the next night and needing to do laundry right away.

So, the next day I prepared my laundry room and waited.  Early in the afternoon my new washer arrive and I quickly put it to use by doing five loads of laundry that first day.  I followed by doing two more the next day.  I have been so pleased with how well my new washer does.  I was most concerned about how it would handle delicates and if I would be able to mix sheets and clothes.  I've done both and have had no problems.  I've even washed stuffed animals and have dried them in the dryer.  Perhaps that's not the wisest thing to do, but when those stuffed animals are beloved and a child gets sick something has to be done!

I did learn one important thing.  I really had been stuffing our old washing machine.  No wonder it broke!  I actually fit less in a load in my new washer than I did in the old because you have to lay the clothes in the washer instead of packing them in.  It makes a huge difference in how much you can put in a load.

One thing I thought was interesting was that the salesperson at Home Depot did say that Maytag is going away from both the traditional top loaders and the front loaders and towards primarily HE top loaders.  I think I can see why.  I am really pleased with my new washer and I'm going to start watching for the matching dryer to go on sale!

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