back to Logo usat smarthome 3d00d0583dd95af3f7ce8dd6c5b121640f13c9e2513cef3241fb16a5d3f4960d
Tested by experts 06d9a64036647e73500f0390c533b110047acb1d8dfcda07834106364a611f86

Kenmore 23102 Washing Machine Review

Longing for the laundry room you grew up with? Kenmore has the washer.


Don't let the futuristic gadgetry found on the rest of the network fool you: Sometimes, traditional is the way to go, especially when it comes to your home.

Kenmore's 23102 (MSRP $649.99) is an affordable, old-school washer that bucks recent high-efficiency, low-profile trends in favor of simple construction and a Cold War-era mechanical agitator pole. It's technology that will be familiar to those who tally their laundry careers by the decade, and have little desire to fix what ain't broke.

Design & Usability

Old-world charm

Cycle Dial
The main cycle dial is overly confusing, yet lacks modern options like "Whites." View Larger

Of course when we compare this washer to the cutting edge of modern laundry machines, there are going to be some limitations. You don't get niceties like a slam-proof lid, and said lid does have a tendency to come crashing down on the rest of this washer's all-metal frame, loudly and possibly at your fingers' peril. And while it's comforting to know a good old-fashioned pole agitator is really putting your clothes through the rigor, its presence makes loading the machine more difficult. It's impossible to simply dump in an entire basket, for example, each item must be arranged around the column by hand.

Other Dials
Dials on the left control load level, wash temperature, and rinses, all independently from your cycle choice. View Larger

The 23102 is also woefully inefficient compared to other modern washers, since the cleaning drum literally fills with water during each cycle. We estimate the annual operating cost of the 23102 will be nearly $125 in hot and cold water for an average family. It might not sound like much, but consider that after four years of operating this washer at home, you would've been able to afford one that's twice as expensive in the first place, and a lot more efficient, too.


Performance & Features

Making the most of the 23102

We've grown accustomed to preset wash cycles with default settings for each type of laundry load. But while the 23102 does have a cycle dial on the right side of the control panel, the user always retains direct control over load size (how much water fills the drum), wash temperature, and rinse cycles via three dials on the left side.

The "triple action" agitator is a blast from the past. View Larger

All this manual control is welcome, but does invite mistakes. For example, while the Heavy Duty cycles are most powerful, our tests showed they have a unique tendency to redeposit certain stains, like blood. This means you'll actually be better off with other, weaker cycles—like Normal Express—for organic stains.

Certain cycles, especially Delicates, also had a tendency to leave dry, unsoaked detergent on top of clothing even after the cycle was complete. We've found that's a common problem with washers in this price range, and will simply necessitate a second wash, but—as we already know—each of this machine's cycles will be relatively expensive.

It's also quite impossible to wash a load in this machine without wearing down your clothing. Even the Delicates cycle is, well, indelicate compared to modern washing machines, and the remaining cycles are harsh across the board.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Kenmore 23102, take a look at these other washing machines.


A classic, or a relic?

The Kenmore 23102
Full view of the Kenmore 23102 (Kenmore photo) View Larger

Despite the quirks, omissions, and limitations, Kenmore's 23102—in its own way—does get clothing pretty clean. You'll have to know which cycles to avoid for certain stains (and all this is made clear in the manual), but we can't just write off a cheap, approachable washer that gets stains out. Issues with efficiency, usability, and clothing wear mean it's probably not the washer we'd buy for ourselves, but for a staunchly traditional homeowner, the 23102 could work.

For everybody else, well, sometimes you're better off spending a little money up front to save a little money down the road. The "invisible costs" of owning this washer are a higher water bill, laundry that must be washed twice, and clothes that will wear out sooner.

News and Features

Amazon dash washer hero

Your Next Washer Will Order Detergent for You

Pet food dispensers and printers will order refills from Amazon too.

Laundroid hero

Laundroid Is the Laundry-Folding Robot of Our Dreams

This robot can sift through your laundry and fold it by clothing type.

Manufacturer names latest notext

My Way or the Huawei: How to Pronounce Tricky Brand Names

We struggled to say "Miele" so you don't have to.

How to sell clothes hero flickr thebees

How to Sell Used Clothes in the 21st Century

Here's how consignment works in the internet age.

Fluid hero 1

Can App-Enabled Smart Meters Solve the Water Crisis?

A Kickstarter-backed startup wants to help you conserve.

Sensofresh hero

This Washer Uses Oxygen, Not Water, to Freshen Clothes

Bosch claims its washer can kill 99.9 percent of bacteria with ozone.

Laundry pods hero flickr jeepersmedia

Industry Moves to Make Laundry Pods Safer for Kids

But will the changes be enough?

Whirlpool blive smart home ifa 2015 x

Whirlpool Brings Smart Home Tech to Europe

The Bauknecht BLive system is designed to save energy.

Whirlpool indesit ifa 2

Whirlpool Reveals Plans for World Domination

Whirlpool continues to grow, with both international and local brands.