Updated: June 8, 2015
Maytag Neptune Washing Machine ReviewWashing machines were pretty boring appliances until a few years ago. The classic top loading simple white machines had sat in our laundry rooms for decades without much change, faithfully spinning and agitating our clothing clean. But recently, the washing machine has taken on a whole new look with the advent and popularity of consumer front-load washing machines. Looking like cleaned up versions of the old washing machines you saw at laundromats, these new front loaders have computerized digital controls, run in High Efficiency mode using less water and energy, and are easier on your clothes than old churning, agitator style machines, since now your clothes tumble clean. But the road to modern, expensive washing machines has not been without problems - Maytag and other manufacturers have had problems over the years, especially with complaints about mold and mildew and standing water. In this review, we will take a look at some of these problems and see what the current generation of front loading Maytag washing machines look and sound like.
Maytag Front-Load WashersThe major re-design issues with front load washers is the removal of the central agitator that takes up a lot of space and wrings the heck out of your clothing in a traditional top loading machine. When you move to the horizontal design of the front loading model, the agitator is gone and your clothes tumble themselves clean, showered with water and soap. Without the agitator, you can fit king size comforters into these large model machines with all the additional space. And you can fit in loads at least double the size you could before, meaning you do less laundry, and use less water and energy when you do. The Maytag Neptune also has a much faster spin cycle (1200 RPMs), with some people comparing the sound to that of a jet engine. While it is not quite that loud, it is impressive, and all that spinning motion can make the machine shimmy and vibrate. Maytag suggests the Neptune and other front loading washing machines be placed on solid concrete floors on the ground level if possible, or on properly built and reinforced floors on the second level to avoid issues of vibration and the machines moving around when in high speed spin mode. In our use, the Neptune does sometimes shake a bit during the very fastest spin cycle, but you can only hear it if you are within the neighboring room or two (it is in an upstairs laundry room). The motor that drains the water seems to make a louder kind of churning sound, but nothing too out of the ordinary for laundry room sounds that are pretty much unavoidable.
You can indeed stuff alot more clothing, towels, etc. into these front load washers. Our Maytag Neptune can easily swallow the entire house supply of bath towels - no problem. We can also wash all the bedding for 5 beds, all in one load. How do high efficiency washing machines work? With the glass window/door, you can watch it in action. A LOT less water is used - the tub does not fill completely with water like in a top loading machine. Sometimes the load barely even looks wet. And the wash load does not spin and churn continuously like in a top loader. With the front load high efficiency models, the water is added, the load is tumbled in one direction a few times, it stops, more water, it tumbles the other way, stops, tumbles the other way, etc. In this fashion, the water is constantly showered down on the load, and the load essentially washes itself by tumbling and squishing against itself over and over. The actual wash and dry times for these style machines is about the same as with traditional washing machines - it doesn't do it any faster, it just handles more laundry at a time and does it more efficiently.
Problems with Front Loading Washing MachinesOne of the biggest complaints and problems with these new front loading washers comes from water - water that pushes up against the front door of the machine and is left behind in the gaskets and door area even when the machine drains. All the way through 2005 there were complaints of mold and mildew appearing around the door, with clothes sometimes smelling bad. Of course this was only a small fraction of all the people who bought these machines, but it was still a concern - who wants to spend $1000 for a leaky, mildewy machine? Maytag was involved in a lawsuit over the issue and settled it by offering discounts on replacement washers to people who were affected. New rubber seals and gaskets were used, with drain holes along the bottom that guide residual water back out into the main drum where it can drain properly. They also recommend that you leave the washer door open in between loads so it can air out and dry. We've been doing that with no problems thus far. We think they have worked out all the design problems with the Neptune and can recommend it at this point - just be sure to let it air out after use so you dont take any chances with standing water.
Buying a Maytag Neptune WasherUnfortunately, most of these fancy new front loading washers cost 2-3 times the price of the old models. Instead of planning to spend $300 for a washer, starting thinking about more like $900-$1400. That's right, they are expensive. Many times you can get pretty significant rebates from local gas and energy companies when you buy these HE models, so that might save you 10% or more. How much does the Maytag Neptune Front Load Washer cost? Expect to pay about $1000 for the 3.3 cubic foot model, and $1400 for the 3.8 cu ft. model (MAH9700A). Matching dryers run about $800, whether for gas or electric. Sears carries the full line of Maytag appliances, with sales taking place often during the year. We found a recent promotion where you could get 20% off on the purchase of 3 appliances - thats a big savings. Keep in mind that you always see these machines in ads and showrooms standing on "pedestals" -- little foot tall bases that lift them off the ground and bring the doors up to a more usable level. This little marketing ploy hits you at the last second when you are ready to buy and have set your mind on the machine you want -- you then find out the pedestals are an extra $200 -- EACH!! Cha-ching!! $400 more added to your bill at check out, ouch! Once on the pedestals, these machines are very big and very tall. Consider whether you really need them - we could have probably done without with no noticed inconvenience, and have $400 in our pockets for our next washer purchase, hopefully 10+ years from now.
Maytag also makes the Epic line of washers, and a line of Neptunes that look like top loaders but actually have a flip out front door, calling them "front-load washers with rear control". The Whirlpool Duet Front Load washers are in a similar class. If you plan on looking around to compare models, we suggest you also take a look at the Whirlpools.