High-efficiency washers typically combine a front-load design with different washing technology, which allows them to consume less energy and require less detergent to keep clothing just as clean. However, there are several potential problems in the design and operation of the washing machines. Before buying a unit of your own, determine whether any of the disadvantages would affect your own laundering needs.
Mold and Mildew
High-efficiency washing machines use different technology than regular washers, requiring slightly lower temperatures to clean laundry. The benefits to the arrangement are two-fold; it reduces the wear on clothing while consuming less energy. However, because even the "hot" setting on a high-efficiency machine is not quite as hot as that of a traditional machine, mold and mildew can survive on the interior of the unit. Compounding the problem, because high efficiency washers typically have a front-loading design, they use rubber gaskets to create a watertight seal whenever the door is closed. The space within the rubber gaskets is an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew, typically moist and dark. To combat mold and mildew problems, run a wash cycle on the hottest setting, adding liquid bleach to the water.
The large majority of high-efficiency washing machines have a front-loading design. As a result, if you have your washer mounted at floor level, you'll need to bend over or stoop down every time you load and unload the machine. For the elderly or for those with a limited range of movement, this design may pose additional inconvenience. If you have young children in the home, know that the front-loading design will put the heavy swinging door mechanism within easy reach. You may wish to keep the laundry room off limits to avoid any injuries caused by the front-load door. Alternately, you could set the machine on a pedestal or mount it from the wall using heavy-duty brackets capable of supporting its massive weight.
High-efficiency washing machines require a special type of detergent to operate properly. Because of the different washing operation of the high efficiency model, using regular detergent can create far too much soap suds within the machine. Instead you need to use specially-formulated detergents and typically need to apply a smaller amount of detergent per load. While there is no inherent problem in using the different detergents, if you're living in a remote area with a limited number of supermarkets, you should confirm that you can easily procure the special detergent before investing in the appliance.
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