If you asked me even fairly recently who has the best front load washers, I would have immediately said, “Well Mike (assuming your name is Mike), you should buy a Maytag.” And that would have been that. But General Electric has recently updated their front loaders and gone from a unit that could be best described as, “Hey, this is totally fine I guess” to a serious contender for the top spot. Today we’re going to compare the GE GFW850SSNWW to the Maytag MHW8630FW.
Maytag has been making great laundry for many years, constantly spending time at or near the top of the consumer ratings list, so it’s no surprise that they’re still pumping out solid units. Maytag uses commercial-style parts for the drum and motor, which they warranty for 10 years, although you’ll have to pay for the labor after the first year. The control panel consists of a large knob and capacitive touch buttons, making it virtually impossible for any individual button or control to break.
The MHW8630FW is a fully-featured machine. A great 5 cubic foot capacity ensures you can fit even the largest loads and bulky sheets will fit. It has connectivity options so you can check the status of your wash and design custom cycles. It also allows you to fill a reservoir that holds enough detergent for up to eight loads, but you can always override this to use a different soap for specific cycles. One major drawback is that the control panel is tilted up about 45°, which is nice if the units are installed side by side, but makes the dryer virtually unusable if it’s stacked because it’s now facing up and away from the user, six feet in the air.
The biggest feature on the Maytag, in my opinion, is the Fresh Hold feature. Basically, this is a fan in the unit that allows you to leave your clothes in the washer for up to 24 hours while still avoiding any musty odors from forming. It also, and maybe more importantly, works to pull humid air out of the machine after a wash cycle, drying the interior more effectively and reducing bacteria from forming in the gasket, the number one complaint we get about front load washers. The fan also allows for an “Overnight Wash-and-Dry” cycle that enables you to throw a small load in at night and the next morning takes it out totally dry and ready to go without needing to transfer them into the dryer.
General Electric has always had a tumultuous relationship with front load washers, always lagging other brands in features and capacity. I’ve been a longtime advocate of their excellent top load units, so I was happy to see them finally redesign their front loaders to something much more modern. They also warranty the drum and motors for 10 years, and the machine feels heavy duty and well built.
In terms of features, they mirror Maytag’s almost one-for-one, but take many of them to the next level. The capacity is 5 cubic feet as well, although they achieve that by expanding the size of the unit to 28” wide and 34” deep, as opposed to Maytag’s 27” wide and 33” deep. This could pose an issue for some buyers with limited space. GE includes a robust set of connected controls that ties into the connectivity they’ve had in many of their other appliances for years, something Maytag has traditionally lacked. The washer and dryer can actually speak to each other over the connection, so the dryer automatically sets itself based on the size and options of what was in the washer.
GE also has a Smart Dispense system that lets you put up to 50 ounces of detergent into the washer, which comes out to an entire month of laundry. Just like the Maytag, the GE’s have a built-in fan to keep the interior dry and allow an overnight wash-and-dry, which GE calls “1-Step Wash & Dry”, although the GE gives this as an option you can add to any cycle, whereas the Maytag has it as a single cycle. This gives you a little extra versatility when you need it. Related to the fan, the GE’s gasket and soap drawer, which are both a bright blue color, are designed using an antimicrobial material that impedes the growth of mold and mildew, rendering the interior virtually odor-free.
Ultimately the Maytag is probably the better built of the two units, although it’s a pretty close call. The features are similar, but GE provides an extra layer of versatility, although it’s extra bulk also makes it a harder fit in certain places. If you’re stacking or looking for features, go GE. If space is a concern or you want a solid dependable brand more than an extra option, Maytag might be the better option.
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