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Kenmore Elite 31512 Washing Machine Review

Big but bland, one of Kenmore's largest washers is still a compelling option for families.

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Kenmore’s 31512 (MSRP $1,059.99) may cost more than many top loaders, but the extra cost translates into only a few extra features: My Cycle, for customized wash settings, and Save Energy, which uses less hot water. Otherwise, this is a machine that's purpose-built with one consideration in mind: capacity. At 4.7-cubic-feet, the 31512 has one of the largest wash drums of any top loader, suitable for large families or those who don’t have time for a second batch.

Stay tuned for our review of this washer's matching dryer, the Kemore Elite 61512.

Design & Usability

Other than its size, there’s not much else to distinguish the LG-built 31512 from the competition, both in terms of design and feature set. The control panel is rather bland, and certainly doesn’t appear “elite” to us. At least the button functionality is simple enough. Modifiers for wash temp., spin speed, and soil level reside on the right side of the panel, while other options are off to the left. These halves straddle the central cycle dial, which is used to select among only seven available cycles.

One minor source of confusion may be the options buttons, some of which have secondary functions printed in a smaller font on the same button. But which function actually gets enabled depends on what the washer is doing. For example, to adjust the chime signal’s volume, you’ll need to press the Add a Garment button. Again, both functions are labeled, but it’s easy to miss that secondary function.

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Performance & Features

Solid stain removal for Whites and Delicates

The 31512’s Whites cycle was by far the most rigorous, and spent 80 minutes throughly removing dirt, cocoa, and red wine stains. Unfortunately this cycle, and indeed all of the washer’s cycles, were weak against sweat stains.

After Whites, the slightly faster Heavy Duty cycle is your next best bet for maximum stain removal, followed by Normal at 63 minutes. Heavy Duty uses twice as much hot water as Normal, yet there’s very little difference between the performance of these two. Generally speaking the 31512 is not particularly efficient. We’d estimate an operating cost of over $54 per year. The washer did a bad job spinning out excess water too. That burdens your dryer, which is more costly to run.

Normal vs. Delicates
Left: Red wine stain. Middle: Normal cycle results. Right: Delicates cycle results. View Larger

We do reserve some special praise for the Delicates cycle, which went easy on clothing but still managed to lift stains. Removal of blood and red wine, for example, were each on par with the Normal cycle (which is five times more harsh on clothing).

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

The Verdict

It's big.

The Kenmore 31512 is big and... well that’s about it. This isn’t a bad washing machine, but it doesn’t stand out on the basis of performance either. Were it not for the gigantic 4.7-cubic-foot drum, this washer would’ve been entirely average.

But being average isn't always a bad thing. Compared to that 25-year-old machine in your basement, the average new washing machine is pretty darn good at getting stains out of clothes. But if you were looking for elite design or elite features to match the "Elite" brand name, then you’re looking in the wrong place. If, on the other hand, you’ve got a big family, an occasional load of delicates that need gentle handling, and don’t mind the tradeoff of sub-par efficiency, we think the 31512 is fairly priced.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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