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GE GTW685BSLWS review: This affordable GE washing machine cleans well, too

On a budget? GE's $699 GTW685BSLWS top-load washer is highly capable.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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GE's $699 GTW685BSLWS top-load washing machine expertly balances affordability and luxury. It features a traditional agitator inside the cleaning bin, an outdated, but still popular design that typically costs less. It also has a premium-looking transparent lid, a silver display panel and a ton of extras, like 14 cleaning cycles and a "delay wash" setting. 

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8.3

GE GTW685BSLWS

The Good

GE's $699 GTW685BSLWS does a good job removing stubborn stains, it looks nice and has a lot of settings for a budget washer. It also works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and the GE Laundry app (if you spend an extra $49 on GE's ConnectPlus Wi-Fi module).

The Bad

It's loud.

The Bottom Line

The GE GTW685BSLWS washer performs well and looks good doing it -- all for just $699.

And, if you decide to spring for a $49 GE ConnectPlus Wi-Fi module, you can connect your GTW685BSLWS to the GE Laundry app, as well as check on the status of your clothes with your Amazon Alexa and Google Home speakers. This top-loader cleans really well, too.

The main downside? It was noisier than a lot of washers I've reviewed. Even so, its skillful stain removal, long list of features and solid design more than make up for it (assuming you're able to tuck your washer away behind a door to keep the noise down). 

GE's traditional top-load washer is surprisingly smart

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Get to know GE's GTW685BSLWS

Take a look at the GTW685BSLWS's main features compared to other models in its price range: 

Comparing washing machines


GE GTW685BSLWSKenmore 25132GE GTW485ASJWS
Price $699$600$650
Color finish WhiteWhiteWhite
Capacity 4.5 cubic feet4.3 cubic feet4.2 cubic feet
# of cycles 141213
Energy consumption 150 kWh/year300 kWh/year152 kWh/year
Dimensions (width, height, depth) 27 x 46 x 27 inches27.5 x 36.8 x 27.8 inches27 x 44 x 27 inches
Smart integrations GE Laundry app, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant with ConnectPlus Wi-Fi module (sold separately) NoNo

For just $49 more than GE's own $650 GTW485ASJWS, the GTW685BSLWS has a larger capacity, more cleaning cycles, slightly better estimated energy consumption and way more optional smart integrations. 

Note: If you want access to the GE Laundry app or to check in on the status of your washer via Alexa or Google Assistant, you must buy the $49 ConnectPlus accessory.

ConnectPlus is a Wi-Fi module that lets you connect your washer to the GE Laundry app, as well as your Alexa or Google Home smart speaker. Assuming your Wi-Fi connection is strong, this process should be very quick and straightforward. At the same time, the app and the voice control integrations don't actually do much. You can't start, stop or pause a cleaning cycle; instead, you're limited to checking in on your washer remotely to find out its current status and/or how much time is remaining on a cleaning cycle. 

I specifically used the GE Laundry app, as well as an Amazon Echo Show to check in on my GTW685BSLWS cycles. GE's Geneva Alexa skill does require you to say, "Alexa, ask Geneva for the status of my washing machine" rather than just "Alexa, what's the status of my washing machine?" It's slightly clunky, but not a deal breaker. Again, the GTW685BSLWS's overall smart functionality is only somewhat useful, so I'm glad GE lets you decide by making the ConnectPlus an optional purchase.

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Ask your Amazon Echo Show (or any other compatible Alexa or Google Assistant speaker) for your washer's status.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Performance

To score a washer's performance, we test how well it removes stains and how gentle it is on fabric. Specifically, we run three identical "Normal" cleaning cycles with stain strips and mechanical action strips. Stain strips are covered in skin oil (sebum), mineral oil (carbon), pig's blood, cocoa (chocolate and milk) and aged red wine. Mechanical action strips are thin fabric squares with five holes arranged like the 5 face on dice. After running them through a cleaning cycle, we count the number of attached, frayed threads that measure at or over 2 millimeters. The higher the number, the tougher the washer is on fabric. 

The GTW685BSLWS did really well with stain removal. It had just 44 percent of its original stains remaining. The GTW485ASJWS had 48 percent of its original stains remaining and the Kenmore 25132 beat them both with just 39 percent of its original stains remaining. 

Here's how each individual stain run through the GTW685BSLWS washer compares to GE's GTW485ASJWS and Kenmore's 25132. Keep in mind that the graphic below is showing the percentage of the original stains remaining, so the lower the number, the better it did. 

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Here's the percentage of GTW685BSLWS stains remaining compared to the competition.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The GTW685BSLWS's "Normal" cycle was fairly tough on fabric, though. The mechanical action strips had 279 attached, frayed threads measuring at or over 2 millimeters. In contrast, GE's GTW485ASJWS had 266 and Kenmore's 25132 had 293, making it the toughest on stains of the three. 

A better budget washer?

GE's $699 GTW685BSLWS is a solid top-load washing machine. It cleans well, it looks nice and it has a lot of features considering its lower price. But $699 still isn't cheap, so is this washer worth it? If you want a traditional agitator-style top-loader with great cleaning power, the GTW685BSLWS is a great choice (particularly if you can put in a laundry room or closet to keep noise at a minimum). 

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8.3

GE GTW685BSLWS

Score Breakdown

Design 7Usability 8Features 8Performance 9