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Load Your Laundry From the Top

Buying a new washing machine isn't as easy as it was in the old days. Here's a run-down on what you'll find in appliance stores today.

Top-loading machines come in two types now. Traditional machines have an agitator, the central post that moves clothes around in the drum - and which can cause your clothes to tie themselves into gigantic tangles. This type of washer is the least expensive and the least water- and energy-efficient option.

Bill Baker, who sells appliances at Home Depot, says many shoppers are enthusiastic about the new high efficiency top-loading washers . "They save two-thirds the amount of water and energy," he says. He likes the fact that there is no agitator to cause wear and tear on clothes. These machines have a super-fast spin cycle so clothes spend less time in the dryer - another savings. Baker adds that customers with bad knees prefer top loading machines. "There's no bending," he says.

Front loading washers made a big splash when they came on the market a few years ago, with their sleek styling and round porthole window. Front loaders also use less water and energy and have fast spin cycles, but many owners report moldy odors and uneven spinning, especially when washing several towels. For tips on how to remove mold from your front loader, click here .

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