Washers, agitator vs. HE

naplisAugust 25, 2008

Can anyone explain exactly why washers with agitators have become "undesirable". I got caught up in the front loader craze, originally on the hope that I could wash my bulky comforter. I've had the Bosch Nexxt 500 for almost a year and have been miserable with it. Since I'm really not here to complain, I want and need advice, I'll try to make the long story short: My clothes were not getting clean. Soil would not come out. Towels smelled moldy after the most vigorous wash. Bosch sent an independent Serviceman who determined that the washer wasn't filling up with an adequate amount of water, even for an HE. He replaced the water valves and the pressure switch per Bosch's instructions. Nothing changed. Bosch customer service gave us their rehearsed runaround so we went back to Lowe's who took it back, no problem, even after 11 months. Kudos to Lowe's. They offered us our money back but since I need a washer, I decided to give them the sale. The serviceman Bosch sent to our house said in his experience, people with soft water were never happy with the HE washers. He recommended the Fisher-Paykel AquaSmart because it is a top loading HE (no agitator) with override for a traditional (water) wash. We do have soft well water. I wish I had seen that warning in the Bosch literature or on the forum. What I have seen here, is the best reviews seem to come from owners of the Fisher-Paykel washers with the agitator. I think they're called EcoSmart and they are a couple hundred dollars less than the AquaSmart.

So, why shouldn't I get that, instead of the HE? I've forgotten why I wanted an HE in the first place...my comforter never saw the inside of the Bosch. I'm starting to think the HE craze was created by Ad Men and I've been following like a lemming. Anyone? Thanks.

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There was never anything wrong with washers that use agitators. They have been around for a very long time and still make up the bulk of washing machines around the globe - outside of Europe that is. They are a tried and proven technology that has been popular with consumers for almost 100 years.

Front loaders suit some people and not others. The same applies to the new HE top loaders. Not eveyone is happy with them either, but many consumers do like them. It all comes down to what suits your circumstances and what you actually look for in a washer.

Now my recommendation is the F&P Intuitive Eco. It has a regular agitator, but allows consumers to either use the pre-set programs and auto-sense fill feature (uses less water), or select everything manually. I've had the opportunity to use them and was really impressed by their performance and options. The other is Speed Queen - which is what I've got at home. My SQ is a traditional top loader that doesn't rate highly with water consumption, but it washes and rinses extremely well, is simple and convenient to use and built like a tank, with a warranty to match.

I've always chosen my washing machines on the basis of wash and rinse performance, quality, simplicity, convenience and durability. The environmental benefits of HE machines over regular top loaders are grossly overstated anyway, as many, who have made the switch, are now finding out.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 9:43PM
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Well let's face it, when someone spends $2,000.00 on a machine and someone else spends $200.00, all too often the former has to rationalize it somehow. I'm totally entertained by this myth of how agitators destroy clothing and FLs don't do any damage. I've had a TL for nearly 30 years and some clothes the same amount of time. They're wearing out, not damaged. But look around the forum and see the numbers with braided clothing coming out of the "gentle" front loaders.

Fact is, both do a good job. Each has its benefits. But the hoaxes go on just like the $200 cookie recipe and the Nigerian General scams.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 1:41AM
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Thanks for the advice and the chuckle.
I'm waiting for the FP AquaSmart to be delivered by Lowe's, probably after Labor Day. The Intuitive Eco is no longer available in my area. :(
Now that I've calmed down, I feel more optimistic that the agitator-less AquaSmart will help me clean my clothes without cracking a Chemistry or Physics book. ;)

I am so tired of babysitting my Bosch, which in all fairness to Bosch-lovers, is a lemon.
Bosch's repairman confirmed this.
No one would love THIS machine if they had to use it.

I installed a brass splitter and attached a short garden hose to both the hot and cold water intakes. I manually add more water at the beginning of the wash cycle and the rinse cycles. (Yes, I actually have to stand there with the garden hose stuffed down the proverbial "throat" of the washing machine).
The laundry comes out nice and clean though.
This makes me fairly confident that the problem is in fact, the amount of water the machine's "brain" is telling it to put in the tub.
Bosch will not address this with any "customer service". They would rather stall and dodge.
Hopefully Lowe's will back-charge them for the return. I understand these big box stores have a lot of leverage over vendors.

Ultimately, I'm forced to give the Bosch Nexxt 500 miserable reviews.

I'm looking forward to an end to this annoying preoccupation with my laundry.

Thanks for listening.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 10:31AM
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Sorry for your bad experience. Kudos to Lowes, however.

Just one other comment. Whoever told you "...people with soft water were never happy with the HE washers." doesn't know what they're talking about.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 8:17PM
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It was the appliance serviceman.
In his defense, he did qualify it with, "in his experience".

I guess he's going to add me to that "experience" too, since I have soft water and I HATE my Bosch front loader.

Goes to show, statistics can be manipulated and misunderstood. ;)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 9:29PM
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When I first got my Frigidaire Affinity FL and my water softener 6 months ago, I, too, thought I made a huge expensive mistake. I couldn't get my clothes rinsed of detergent. I hated my washer. But then I discovered this forum and all the intelligent people here and started reading and reading and... Well, what I discovered was that I had so much detergent residue in my clothes from going to a laundry-mat for so many years. I was patient and used very little powder detergent, no liquid, until my rinse water was finally clear. This was after about a month or so. Now I love my FL washer and my water softener. And because of soft water I only need a couple of tablespoons of detergent. It took some time and everything worked out well.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 1:36PM
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Thanks renee_b.

That is encouraging since I went ahead and ordered another HE machine, albeit one that has the option of a traditional full water wash.

Luckily, I really did know that my problems were not caused by soft water. Bosch I think, wanted me to think they were.

I had a Kenmore HE5 front loader before the Bosch but opted to return it because the pull-out soap dispenser didn't work well with my laundry closet doors. The laundry from that front loader came out clean and bright!

Unfortunately, when things keep going wrong, emotions can cloud better judgement.
Everything became suspect when I got mad. ;)

I learned a lot from this site as well, and I'm appreciative of everyone who takes the time to try to help others.

I ordered "Charlie's Soap" to use in my new Fisher-Paykel when it arrives.
I don't care enough about my Bosch-Lemon to go through the process Charlie's recommends of rinsing away the residue from conventional soap. Instead, I fill it up like a traditional full wash machine from the garden hose attachment I described above. :)

By the way, I only use 1 TEASPOON of Tide HE liquid in the Bosch.
Is there some reason to use powder detergent only, with soft water?


    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 1:12PM
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I think the main reason washers w/agitators may be perceived as 'undesirable' (though that may be a slight overstatement) is because they use significantly more water than do washers with agitators. They are also not rated 'Energy Star' washers, whereas I haven't seen any washers w/agitators rated thusly. A lot of people want to save water and energy, want a huge capacity, like the convenience of all the settings, so they buy HE washers, which come in both front- and top-loading models.

I do know of one washer w/agitator which is said to be big enough for washing comforters - the Whirlpool Cabrio. (There is also a Cabrio which does not have an agitator.) The capacity of the Cabrio w/agitator is 3.8 cu ft. Linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Whirlpool Cabrio with agitator

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 1:52PM
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IMO liquids are much more sudsier. I used liquids all these years going to the laundry-mat. It was convenient to carry around, etc. It's also why I had such a big build up of detergent on my clothes. With soft water, I feel that powder detergent rinses out better. Liquids are more sudsier and doesn't rinse well at all. I have really soft water, with a hardness of 1. I feel powders rinse out of the clothes better than liquids, even the HE liquids.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 7:54AM
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The Soft Water issue is a new one to me.. I have a GE (FridGEMore) washer, and soft water I have no issues with it. I have very dirty socks, and they come out clean, and whiter than my old top loader.

I use the Tide HE powder, and I agree that Powder is better on cleaning, and I see the liquid as a "Oil" build up on clothes.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 8:31PM
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