My longtime blog readers know how deeply I despise my current front-loading Kenmore washing machine. During the years we’ve owned this awful machine, I’ve replaced more than $300 worth of parts in it. Its low-water wash cycles fail to get our clothing adequately clean, and I learned to keep a bucket in the laundry tub to pour several gallons of water in with each load to help to get them cleaner.
I fully admit that I bought into the hype that front-loading machines were environmentally friendlier and thus, “better.” However, a washing machine that doesn’t clean clothing is not much of a machine at all.
You may wonder why I didn’t replace this piece of junk sooner. (I wonder that myself, sometimes.) I told myself that if it needed one more pricey repair, it would be time to treat our household to a new machine.
Last year, the front door gasket began to leak. I looked up the gasket online, saw that it was almost $100, and thought, “Hey, the machine is in the basement near the floor drain. I’ll just let it leak.”
And leak it did. Of course, leaking water throughout the wash cycle also meant there was less water inside to wash the clothes with.
Last month, the washer quit working, and an error code appeared on our Kenmore’s screen. I looked the code up online and saw that it meant that the entire motherboard of the washing machine was no longer functioning (about $300.) I rejoiced! I could finally justify replacing this awful machine with something superior.
My original 2015 post on how much I hate our front-loading washing machine has more than 150 comments from readers to date, most of whom also profess to hate their front-loaders as well.
Several years ago, I began researching what kind of machine I would want to replace our Kenmore with. I knew it would be a traditional-style top-loader with an agitator — our previous machine was an old-school model that worked very well. The only reason we replaced it was that it had a small tub capacity, and our family had grown to the point that we wanted something that could wash larger loads. (My father-in-law still has our former now 24-year-old washer, and I’ll admit… there have been days I considered asking for it back..!)
During my research into the best washing machines, one name kept coming up over and over: Speed Queen. Speed Queen doesn’t advertise in traditional media, and they aren’t carried by big-box style appliance stores. They build robust, commercial grade machines both for the consumer market and the commercial market.
After visiting Speed Queen’s website, I complied a list of local appliance stores that carry Speed Queen, and I began calling around for prices and availability. I spoke with one salesman who told me that a Speed Queen is built to last 25 years, while most front-loaders are built to last six years. (Just six?!) Speed Queen makes machines with both digital and analog controls, and again, based on all of the problems I’ve had with our current machine, I decided I wanted an old-school analog dial machine. I happily gave my sales representative my credit card number and delivery information, and I began counting the days until my Speed Queen arrived.
About a week later, a delivery truck brought a big box to our door, and my son called out, “Mom! Your new washer is here!”
I excitedly tore the cardboard box open.
Indeed, my new washer had arrived.
This washboard, and our laundry tub, are what I’ve been using to wash our family’s clothes for the past few weeks. You see, the Speed Queen washer model that I purchased is in such demand that stores are having trouble keeping it in stock. I ended up purchasing mine through Abt in Glenview, Illinois, which had the shortest lead time to get this washer: Four weeks.
The closest laundromat to us is about 20 minutes away, and as I work primarily from home, it just seemed easier to hand-wash the essential laundry we needed done week to week while waiting for the new machine to arrive.
Perhaps its the ages that our boys are now too, but their summertime clothing is often getting really dirty. I hand-washed clothes in the laundry tub for a week before I realized I was not having much success getting the dirt out of socks, shirts, and shorts by hand.
Enter the washboard.
This washboard has totally upped my current laundry game. I am truly impressed by how effective it is. Rubbing dirty socks across its ridges results in rivers of dirty little bubbles being ground out of the fabric, then sliding down the board. It works so much better than agitating by hand!
Our dryer, fortunately, is still working, although it is not easy to wring all of the rinsewater out of the clothes by hand. Drying hand-wrung clothes takes a lot longer than you might expect. On particularly heavy laundry days, I was tying a rope between our fence and the kids’ swingset to drip-dry some of our laundry to a damp state before putting it in the dryer.
Well, you know how sometimes you spot something on clearance at exactly the right time? A few days after my new washboard arrived, look what I found at Meijer…
An outdoor rotary clothesline… for $15! What a steal. It’s exactly what I needed to help drip-dry my hand-wash laundry.
One hole in the ground and one bag of concrete later, I had the clothesline base installed flush with the ground. The line itself opens and closes like an umbrella. The entire clothesline drops neatly into its base whenever we want to use it, and it closes up and gets stored in the garage when we’re not.
When I was growing up, our family hung our laundry on a clothesline every summer, so having one in my backyard has definitely been a nostalgia trip. However, this clothesline has become something of a novelty to my kids, who actually like to hang the laundry on it. My youngest son calls this “laundry, pioneer-style,” and my daughter has quickly learned to appreciate how wonderful the laundry smells after being dried outside in the fresh air all day.
I will be thrilled when my new Speed Queen washer finally arrives (and will, of course, write another update when I’ve used it for a while) but I plan to continue using the clothesline on warm, breezy days. As for the washboard? We’ll continue to spend lots of time together, as my Queen isn’t due to arrive for at least another week…