Households with a lot of laundry will find that a washer with a big tub reduces the number of loads and therefore the time, water and energy spent washing clothes. It also makes it easier to wash large items such as comforters or blankets that might otherwise require a trip to the Laundromat or dry cleaner. Think about how your family might be changing — the birth of babies, children returning home after college or an elderly parent moving in — when you buy your washer and dryer.
Don't get sold on labels such as "king-size," "super," "plus," or "extra-large" capacity. Manufacturers also might define tub size by the number of jeans that it can wash, or the pounds of laundry it can hold.
To compare apples to apples, look at cubic feet of capacity. Top loaders usually range from 2.5 to 3.8 cubic feet, while front loaders average 3.1 to 3.8 cubic feet. A compact or portable washer usually offers 2.1 cubic feet. At the opposite end, manufacturers are now making top- and front-loading models with 4 or 4.5 cubic feet of capacity.
Like dishwashers, most washing machines use one of three tub materials: plastic, porcelain or stainless steel.
Plastic tubs are long-lasting, lightweight and less expensive. Porcelain-coated tubs are durable and easy to clean, but porcelain can chip. The highest-end models use stainless steel, which is easy to wipe clean and doesn't stain or rust. It also heats up more quickly and retains heat longer.