laundry

Kenmore 22102 Washing Machine Review

Old school? Should've studied harder.

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Kenmore's 22102 (MSRP $649.99) washing machine looks almost identical to the 23102. The only visual difference is that one has a load size dial while the other has a manual fabric softener switch.

But, when we put the 22102 to the test, we found some noteworthy performance gaps between these two affordable washers. Both machines are throwbacks to an earlier era of top-loaders, but between the two of them we'd recommend the 23102.

To read our review of this washer's matching dryer, Kenmore's 62102, click here.

Design & Usability

A rather humble machine.

Like the 23102, the 22102 bucks recent high-efficiency trends. This is machine for consumers who lack either the desire or the budget for front-loaders and other leading-edge laundry tech.

Agitator Column
The "good ol' fashioned" agitator pole View Larger

Still, even basics like a slam-proof lid are omitted. The lid does tend to come crashing down on the rest of the washer's all-metal frame, and it's loud. And while many consumers are still attracted to good old-fashioned pole agitators, loading the machine is more difficult thanks to this obstruction. You can't simply dump in an entire basket, for example. Instead, each item must be arranged around the pole by hand.

The 22102 is almost as inefficient as the terribly wasteful 23102, but compared to modern washers, both are way behind. We estimate that for the average family, the annual operating cost of the 22102 will be a whopping $101 in hot and cold water alone. It might not sound like much, but remember that after the first four or five years you will have paid out nearly the original cost of the machine. A front loader that costs $1,000 up front will likely only cost around $30 a year to run. I'll do the math for you: Over five years, this machine will have cost you $350 more than a more efficient model.

Performance & Features

It shifts stains around instead of removing them.

Cycle Dial
The main cycle dial, with its many cycles and sub-cycles View Larger

While the average person might assume that the Heavy Duty cycle will remove the most stains, our tests revealed this cycle's unique tendency to redeposit organic stains, like blood, onto previously-clean items. That's what happens when clothes end up floating in too much water. It turns out that Normal is the smarter choice for organic stains.

The Delicates cycle is also much worse about leaving dry, unused detergent all over clothing even after the cycle completed. It's a common problem for washers in this price range, and will simply necessitate a second wash, but each inefficient wash will send a little more cash down the drain.

Clothing Wear
Clothing wear before and after the Normal Regular cycle View Larger

Clothing wear is the final key drawback of the 22012, and no cycle is immune. As was the case for the 23102, even the Delicates cycle is rather indelicate compared to modern washing machines, while other cycles are harsh by any standard.

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

Conclusion

Save your money for a modern machine.

Kenmore 23102 Front View
Full view of the... actually this is the 23102, but the 22102 is practically identical. (Kenmore photo) View Larger

Believe it or not, the Kenmore 22102 uses 20% less water than its closest competitor in the lineup. It also gets clothes roughly 20% less clean. Neither one is a great choice.

Our opinion of the 22102 is almost equivalent to our opinion of the 23102: It's not a washer we'd buy for ourselves, but for the very traditional homeowner who is only comfortable with a 1950's pole agitator and wash drum filled to the brim, it'll clean clothes.

Of course, the purpose of this website is to uncover the best washers, and frankly this model and this series are a far cry from what's possible. This inexpensive machine might save you money up front, but the hidden costs of damaged clothes, wasted water, and repeat loads are enough to justify saving up for a more advanced washer.

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.
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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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