How Long Do Washing Machines Last on Average?

How long do washing machines last on average? 11-14 years.
Can you trust your washing machine to last longer? Or is it nearing time to buy a new one?

And How Can I Make Mine Last Longer?

In the market for a new washing machine? Considering which to buy, or if it’s better to repair your old machine? Washers are meant to last for a surprisingly long amount of time and can be expensive to replace, so understanding your machine, how long it should last, and what your options are for repair is crucial to getting the most out of your investment.

How Long Do Washing Machines Last?

The lifespan of a washing machine, no matter the brand, is typically 11-14 years. This number is found assuming one load of laundry is done every day. If you are not running the machine every day, or if you do more than one load per day, a more accurate estimation of washing machine lifespan is how many cycles (loads) it can withstand. The average washing machine can handle around 5,100 cycles, with low-end machines running about 4,000 cycles and high-end machines running 8,000 or more.

Standard Washers vs. High-Efficiency Models

When considering which new washer you want to purchase, you have four main options:

  • Standard top-loader
  • Standard front-loader
  • High-efficiency (HE) top-loader
  • High-efficiency (HE) front-loader

The lifespan of a standard top-load washer is 14 years while a high-efficiency washer is only 11 years. But why?

The standard top-load washing machine is typically the least expensive type of washer on the market. Simply leaving the lid open after loads, following proper load sizes and detergent quantities, and running the tub-clean cycle or hot water with a mild bleach every week or so will keep the washer free of mold and working properly. In addition to their easy maintenance, top-loaders also require less expensive repairs. However, these machines use a lot of water and will likely increase your utility bills, and can also be harsh on clothing.

The standard front-load washing machine is slightly more expensive than the standard top-loader. Although a front-load wash cycle tends to take longer than a top-loader cycle, it uses far less water and is more efficient at removing water from the load of laundry. You can extend the life of a front-load washer by airing out the machine after each load and following detergent recommendations, but they require more hands-on cleaning than their top-loader counterparts. In addition to running self-cleaning cycles, the detergent drawer and the rubber door seal need to be cleaned regularly to prevent mold and buildup. If the machine is not cleaned frequently, extra wear and tear will be put on the machine, causing repairs and a shortened lifespan.

High-efficiency top-load and front-load washing machines are usually indicated with an “Energy Star Certified” logo, meaning that they use 25% less energy and 33% less water than a standard model. They work by tumbling clothes through a stream of water rather than filling the entire tub. HE washer models are more expensive than standard washers and require a specific type of detergent and frequent cleaning (although most models have self-clean cycles). But if use and care instructions are followed properly, HE machines are significantly more reliable than the standard models and should require fewer repairs. (Although the repair cost of an HE washer will be more expensive than a standard washer due to the high-tech parts, the benefits of decreased energy and water consumption will outweigh the cost.) In summary, you can balance out the higher price of an HE washer with lower energy and water bills moving forward, but you may end up spending more on repair costs if you don’t maintain your washer properly.

Extending the Life of Your Washer

Despite how many years or cycles your washing machine is expected to last, taking care of your machine is key. Regular maintenance of your washer will help you thoroughly clean your clothes, avoid costly repairs, and prolong the life of your machine.

  1. Keep Your Machine Clean: Although it may seem strange that you need to clean the machine designed to clean things, washing machines can get really gross. Leaving the washer door open after cycles, running hot water cycles more frequently than cold water cycles, and removing wet clothes as soon as the cycle is done are all ways to prevent mold and bacteria build-up. But to keep your washer as clean as possible you also need to clean it – go figure. Running the tub-clean cycle or cleaning the inside of your washer with a specialized disinfectant once a week will help you avoid an expensive tub replacement.
  2. Don’t Overload or Underload Your Washer: It can be tempting to try and fit your entire laundry basket into the washer in one load but doing so puts extra strain on your appliance and doesn’t allow the clothes to clean evenly. On the other hand, underloading your washer wastes water, detergent, and time in addition to putting your washer off-balance during the spin cycle. This can cause a loud thumping noise which is both annoying and bad for the machine. Follow the recommended load size for your washing machine every cycle.
  3. Detergent Matters: Each washing machine comes with a recommended detergent type and information about how much should be used – follow it. Energy-efficient washers, for example, require low-sudsing HE detergents, and using the wrong kind will force your washer to overwork itself and wear out. Using too much detergent can also overwork the machine, as it will leave a residue behind that is hard on the washer parts and will wear them down over time.
  4. Empty Your Pockets: When small items (coins, receipts, hair bands) are left in the pockets of your clothes, they can cause blockages, leading to permanent damage of the tub and water leakage that could damage your floors. Preserve the life of your washer by checking your pockets before running each load.
  5. Check the Hoses: Each washing machine is connected to a hot and cold water hose. They should be checked every couple of months for cracks or bulges and to make sure the fittings are tight. Catching any of these issues immediately could prevent serious damage to your washer or its surrounding area.

Every washing machine, no matter the model, comes with a manual for use and care. Read and follow your machine’s instructions if you want to get the most out of your investment and avoid expensive, inconvenient repairs. After all, it is a lot easier (and cheaper!) to maintain your machine then go through the hassle of replacing it.

Time to Repair or Replace?

The rule of thumb is that if your washer is more than 8 years old and is going to require an expensive repair to keep it running, you might be better off investing in a new washer. As with most things, however, this is a case-by-case scenario. Here are two important things to look out for when your washing machine is on the older side and starting to break down:

  1. Your washer is louder than normal: All washing machines make noise. But if you start hearing loud noises on a regular basis, something is probably wrong. It may be a problem with the motor or drum, and you should have it checked by a professional as soon as possible. Catching this problem quickly could result in a simple repair. The longer you wait, the more likely you will have damage to the machine itself and be in store for a replacement.
  2. Your clothes aren’t getting clean: If you find yourself having to run the same load for multiple cycles, something is wrong. Sometimes the only way to identify the underlying problem in this case is to run the machine for an extended period of time, so calling a technician to take a look at the issue is advised. If you have an older machine and the repair cost is greater than $300, you may be better off buying a new washing machine altogether.

If your washer is several years younger than its expected lifespan (or you do laundry far less often than once per day), the cost of repairing the machine will likely be less than replacing it. However, if your washing machine is on the older side, breaks down frequently, and has needed several repairs in the past few years, buying a new washer is probably the way to go. 

Appliances are Meant to Last

Unlike the expensive smart technology like phones or computers that are designed to break down and force consumers into the latest and greatest models, home appliances are designed to last. Sure, the newer models of washing machines may have 20+ wash cycles, make no more noise than a soft hum, and save a ton of water, but you shouldn’t feel the need to replace your current washing machine until it is really ready to go. When that time comes, you can choose between a less expensive model upfront that may require more money in repairs, energy, and water, or an expensive, high-efficiency model that will require less repairs and save on utilities. Regardless of the model you choose, proper usage and maintenance of your washing machine is the key to making your washer last for 10, 15, or even 20 years.

Not sure if your washing machine has hit the end of its life? If you live in one of our service areas, give us a call or schedule an appointment online and we’ll come take a look to give you a sense of what to expect from your appliance moving forward and the costs associated with any repairs.