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GE GFWR4805FMC review: Tough on stains, but that's about it

If you can overcome its cumbersome interface, GE's $1,400 GFWR4805FMC washing machine has what it takes to remove tough stains from your clothes.

Megan Wollerton Former Senior Writer/Editor
5 min read

The GE GFWR4805FMC is a $1,400 front-loading washing machine. Given that you can find other front-loaders for half that price (even on GE's own site), the question becomes, What sets this premium model apart?



The Good

GE's $1,400 GFWR4805FMC washing machine has a large 4.8-cubic-foot capacity and a nice-looking "metallic" finish. Oh, and it's great at removing stains.

The Bad

The controls are somewhat confusing to navigate and it's very difficult to read the time remaining on the digital display at certain angles. And while it is better at removing stains than LG's $1,500 WM5000HVA, it isn't as gentle on clothes.

The Bottom Line

The GE GFWR4805FMC is a very good choice if you prioritize stain removal, but LG's WM5000HVA looks nicer, is easier to use and offers more options for roughly the same price.

Aside from some obvious upgrades -- a stainless-steel drum that's designed to last longer than the cheaper plastic ones, a vaguely sparkly dark gray "metallic" finish rather than your standard white plastic, a larger load capacity, some extra cleaning cycles -- the GFWR4805FMC doesn't seem to offer all that much.

In fact, its control panel is sort of cluttered, the digital display that's supposed to tell you how much time is left on a cycle is impossible to read at certain angles and it doesn't have any particularly new or innovative extras. An app, for example.

But, GE's GFWR4805FMC did excel at stain removal -- easily beating LG's WM5000HVA. If you get the GFWR4805FMC for its performance alone, you won't be sorry; it just seems to be missing some of the premium sheen that you'd expect for the price.

What stains? This GE washer is a cleaning machine (pictures)

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What can this washer do?

The GE GFWR4805FMC is a good-looking washing machine. It has a metallic dark gray finish and some shiny stainless-steel accents, but it definitely doesn't have the same luxury look as LG's WM5000HVA.

The display, while functional enough, looks cluttered and you only get standard mechanical buttons instead of that sleek LG touchscreen.

Still there's a lot to love about this model in terms of features. It comes with Normal, Towels/Sheets, Delicates/Hand Wash, Speed Wash, Single Item (it senses the size of the item and washes accordingly), Rinse+Spin, Basket Clean, Whites, Bulky/Bedding, Active Wear, Power Clean, Sanitize and Allergen settings. All of these are accessible via a large and centrally located turn dial. Simple so far.

There's also a jumble of additional options spread across other sections of the display, including My Cycle (save your favorite custom cycle here; you'll find instructions in the user manual), Overnight Dry (this setting will tumble your clothes along with a stream of air), eWash (energy-saving mode), Pre-Soak, Pre-Wash and Delay Wash. There's also a "Stain Removal Guide" and you can use a button to select from Grass, Wine, Blood, Tomato or Dirt, as well as an "eMonitor" that tells you how well you're doing at saving energy.

You'll also see buttons for adjusting the soil level (from Extra Light to Extra Heavy), the temperature (from Tap Cold to Extra Hot), the spin cycle (from No Spin to Extra High) and the rinse cycle (from Normal to Max).

There's a large power button on the top left for turning on the machine, with a Lock Control button directly underneath -- across the display on the top right is the Start/Pause button and directly below that you'll find an "Add a Garment" function (press this and the door will unlock midcycle), as well as a Light and a Volume control button.

All of this is fine, but it's a bit of a chaotic mess when you're trying to locate a specific option -- and that brings me to my biggest gripe with the control panel: the digital alarm-clock-style display. It is nearly impossible to read it unless you're facing it directly or from the right. You won't be able to read it at all when you're facing it from the left. Not the biggest issue, but a minor annoyance.

Enlarge Image
Chris Monroe/CNET

Everything else is pretty standard here; to the left of the control panel there's a small drawer that you pull open to add detergent, fabric softener and bleach. The washer's 4.8-cubic-foot-capacity can handle a queen or king-sized blanket, and it's just 47 inches tall -- which is nearly 6 inches shorter than LG's massive washer.

Chance Lane, one of our technical editors, installed this unit. It comes with all of the hookups you need to get it up and running, and since it doesn't have that optional second washer like the Sidekick unit we tested alongside LG's WM5000HVA, it took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Ready? Set? Wash!

We judge cleaning performance based on two criteria: how well a washer removes stains and how gentle (or rough) it is on the clothes.

In order to compare washer performance between machines fairly, we follow a very specific test procedure designed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, or AHAM. You can check out my "How we test washing machines" post for all of the specifics. The basic idea is that standardizing the method this way helps ensure that no washer gets an advantage during testing.

To judge stain removal, we use stain strips. Stain strips are covered in five different tough-to-remove soils -- sebum (skin oil), carbon, pig's blood, cocoa and aged red wine. We use the default "normal" cycle during testing and run three identical tests to rule out any unexpected results (when that happens, we run additional cycles).

Enlarge Image

Here's a snapshot of how the GE GFWR4805 performed.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Then we use a gizmo called a colorimeter to measure the color, or saturation of the stain after the cleaning cycle, and compare that with its pre-cleaning numbers. A score of 100 is the benchmark for solid stain removal, but machines can also score over 100, so results aren't judged using a traditional 0-100 scale.

For instance, GE's GFWR4805FMC scored an A-, or a 98.15 for stain removal and LG's WM5000HVA scored a B, or a 93.27 for stain removal. Both good scores, but the GE model did a better job overall. Specifically, it scored an A for removing skin oil, an A+ for carbon, a C- for pig's blood, an B+ for cocoa and an A for red wine.

We also use mechanical action strips during testing to determine the washer's general wear and tear on clothes. These are small square sheets of fabric with five holes arranged like on a five-spot die. After a cleaning cycle, we count the number of attached strings that are at or over 2 millimeters long.

Enlarge Image

A mechanical action strip before and after a cleaning cycle.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The GFWR4805FMC was definitely tougher on the fabric with a total count of 257 attached strings at or over 2mm long. That translates to roughly a C+ for being gentle on clothes. On the other hand, the LG WM5000HVA scored a B+ with a total count of just 229 strings.

Overall, though, we give stain removal more weight than wear and tear because many people use washing machines for the express purpose of removing stains. That gives GE's GFWR4805FMC the edge over LG's WM5000HVA.

The takeaway

If you're looking for a large-capacity machine with solid stain removal capabilities, GE's $1,400 GFWR4805FMC might be right for you. It definitely isn't cheap -- you can find a front-load washers for half the price -- but you're really paying for performance here, as well as its larger capacity and additional cleaning cycles.

Just keep in mind that there are other models out there for roughly the same price that look nicer, offer more features and are easier to use. LG's $1,500 WM5000HVA comes to mind immediately, but there's a downside in that it didn't perform quite as well as the GFWR4805FMC.

Decide what matters most to you and go from there -- but if you happen to prioritize stain removal, GE's GFWR4805FMC won't disappoint.

Interested in a dryer, too? We'll start reviewing those soon, so check here for updates.



Score Breakdown

Design 7Usability 6Features 7Performance 8