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Ed Grochowski

Maytag MVWC400XW High-Efficiency Washer Review

Ed Grochowski

Posted 8-25-2012
Updated 9-22-2012, 6-23-2013

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Introduction

This is a product review for the Maytag MVWC400XW top-loading high-efficiency washing machine. I wrote this article because, based on Internet product reviews, people are having difficulty with this washer. I wanted to share my experiences.

I bought the Maytag MVWC400XW after my previous washer broke. The previous washer was 19 years old. It was a conventional top-loading machine with an agitator and mechanical timer. This was an old design, essentially unchanged from the washing machine that my parents used.

Enter modern technology. The Maytag MVWC400XW is one of a new generation of high-efficiency washers that use significantly less water and energy. Rather than fully submerging the clothes in water, the Maytag MVWC400XW circulates the clothes through a shallow pool of water and detergent. The high-efficiency washer is distinguished by its use of a short wash plate at the bottom of the drum.

A rebate offered by my utility company offset the extra cost of the high-efficiency washer. After the rebate, this model cost the same to purchase as a conventional washer.


Strengths

Very roomy drum

Without an agitator to get in the way, the washer holds a lot of laundry. The Maytag MVWC400XW can easily fit a queen-size comforter, mattress pad, or a half-dozen pairs of jeans.

Won't snag clothes

My old washer would occasionally snag clothing on the agitator. That doesn't appear to be possible in the Maytag MVWC400XW.

Clothes can sometimes come out wrinkled, but they never appear to be damaged.

Regular settings use much less water

The high-efficiency design works as advertised.

Bulky setting for large items

For large items that won't tumble on the wash plate, the bulky setting fills the drum with enough water to submerge the item. This offers a choice - the washer can be either high-efficiency or water-guzzling.

I use the bulky setting to wash bedding or multiple pairs of jeans.

Very quiet and effective spin cycle

The Maytag MVWC400XW has the quietest spin cycle of any washer that I have ever used. It is remarkably free of vibration (on a concrete slab floor).

The spin cycle extracts water so thoroughly that clothing can be air-dried in not too much time during the summer. Not having to run the clothes dryer is a huge energy savings.

The high-speed (800 rpm) spin cycle is the reason for the door lock.


Weaknesses

Slow

The downside of the high-efficiency washer is that it is slow. A normal, regular cycle with extra rinse takes 50 minutes. Other cycles can take 60-75 minutes. Doing the laundry becomes an all-morning affair.

In this washer, technology is used to save water and energy rather than time.

Spray rinse may not be adequate

I'm a little skeptical about the spray rinse used on the normal cycle. Fortunately, the washer offers the option of an extra rinse.

Essential to set the cycle type correctly

Unlike a conventional washer in which any cycle would work as long as the water level was set adequately, the high-efficiency washer needs to be told what type of clothing is in it. This matters because heavy fabrics won't tumble easily.

The need to set the appropriate cycle type is made up for by the lack of a water level setting. The washer automatically senses the amount of clothing by measuring its rotational inertia (very clever).

No indication of unbalanced load

The washer will sense if the load is unbalanced and will stop spinning. However, the cycle will advance as though the spin had completed. A better design would have signaled an error.


Conclusion

I'm happy to see modern microprocessor technology applied to the very old problem of washing clothes. The Maytag MVWC400XW does a good job of washing, and at the same time, costs very little money to run.

I suspect that the poor product reviews are due to people not selecting the right cycle type or not pre-washing stains by hand. I'm satisfied with my purchase of the Maytag MVWC400XW.


June 2013 Update

Having owned this washer for a year, I now have a better understanding of its quirks. While most loads come out fine, the washer will occasionally encounter the following difficulties.

  • Due to the tumbling action of the wash plate, items such as long-sleeve shirts will sometimes become knotted together. When that happens, the spin cycle will be unbalanced. The washer has to be paused and the clothing manually unknotted.
  • Mixed loads with dramatically different densities will sometimes fail to wash the lighter items. Light items tend to float above the water line, while heavy items remain submerged. If one needs to wash a mixed load, use the bulky setting to fill the drum with enough water to submerge everything.

While the old agitator-style washer was not entirely goof-proof, the new high-efficiency washer is somewhat more susceptable to things going wrong.


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