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Kenmore 25132 review: A kickass clothes washer hides behind this dull exterior

Kenmore's 25132 surprised us -- it has the best stain removal score of any washer we've tested yet.

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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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I highly recommend Kenmore's $600 25132 high-efficiency top-load washing machine. Not only does it have the best stain-removal score of any washer we've reviewed to date, it's also currently on sale at Sears for just $450. No, you won't find a digital display, a detergent reservoir, a steam setting or any other advanced features here. But if that doesn't bother you, you really can't beat the 25132's value.

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7.8

Kenmore 25132

The Good

Kenmore's $600 25132 has the best stain-removal score of any washer we've tested.

The Bad

The 25132 is tough on clothes; its normal cycle frays delicate items faster than other models.

The Bottom Line

Kenmore's 25132 washing machine is a stellar budget stain remover, but take care with delicate items.

This tough washer tackles stains like no other

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About those specs

With five basic control knobs and no digital display to tell you how much time is left on a cleaning cycle, Kenmore's 25132 looks pretty utilitarian. It also doesn't have a place to add liquid or powder detergent -- just toss your soap into the washer tub before adding your clothes and you're ready to go. This doesn't hurt its overall ease of use, though -- the 25132 is about as simple as it gets (especially for the price).

Here's a comparison chart outlining the 25132's specs versus other models we've tested in the same general price range:

Comparing washing machines

Kenmore 25132Kenmore 26132Kenmore 22352GE GTW485ASJWSGE GTW810SSJWS
Price $600$830$720$650$900
Color finish WhiteWhiteWhiteWhiteWhite, Metallic (for $1,000)
Capacity 4.3 cubic feet4.8 cubic feet4.2 cubic feet4.2 cubic feet5.1 cubic feet
# of cycles 1211121313
Energy consumption 300 kWh/year169 kWh/year238 kWh/year152 kWh/year152 kWh/year
Dimensions (width, height, depth) 27.5 x 36.8 x 27.8 inches27.5 x 37 x 27.9 inches27.5 x 37 x 28 inches27 x 44 x 27 inches28 x 44.5 x 29 inches
Warranty 1 year, limited1 year, limited1 year, limited1 year, limited1 year, limited
Voltage rating 120V; 60Hz120V; 60Hz120V; 60Hz120V; 60Hz120V; 60Hz
App NoNoNoNoYes, Android and iPhone

One main thing stands out in this chart. The 25132 has a smaller internal bin capacity than some of its competition. At just 4.3 cubic feet, it won't be able to hold as much as the $830 4.8-cubic-foot Kenmore 26132 or the $900 5.1-cubic-foot GE GTW810SSJWS.

Less expensive top-loaders often rely on plastic rods called agitators inside the washer bin to help clean your clothes. Since this takes up bin real estate, the cubic-foot capacity suffers. But the 25132 doesn't have an agitator. Instead, it relies on a cylinder that lives at the bottom of the washer bin called an impeller.

Not only do impellers take up less space than agitators, they're also typically gentler on clothes. But even with an impeller, the 25132 is a smaller washer. A typical 8-pound load of laundry should still (mostly) fit inside, though.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Your go-to stain remover

We run our washers through a rigorous set of tests, including how well they remove stains and how gentle they are on clothes. For stain removal testing, we run new fabric strips soiled in individual sections with sebum (skin oil), carbon (mineral oil), blood, cocoa and aged red wine through three identical normal cycles. Then we calculate how much of the original stains are left on each strip post-wash and arrive at an overall average percent stain remaining score. The lower the number, the better.

Many of the washers we test score somewhere in the 45 to 50 percent range with occasional outliers. The 25132 had just 39 percent of its original stains remaining. Here's the overview by stain:

  • Sebum: 34 percent stains remaining
  • Carbon: 41 percent stains remaining
  • Blood: 30 percent stains remaining
  • Cocoa: 43 percent stains remaining
  • Wine: 50 percent stains remaining

Only Electrolux's $1,099 front-load EFLS617S washer has come close to the 25132 with a 40 percent stain removal score.

The 25132 didn't fare as well with its gentleness score, which is a predicatable trade-off. To measure this, we toss delicate fabric squares with five pre-punched holes into the same three normal cycles as the stain strips. These fabric squares begin to fray after a single cleaning cycle; we then count the number of attached, frayed threads that measure at or over 2 millimeters long. The lower the number, the better the washer's normal cycle handles delicate items.

The 25132 didn't do well here, with an average of 293 attached, frayed threads. But it wasn't the worst wear-and-tear performer: the Samsung WF50K7500AV and the Electrolux EFLS617S had 294 and 295 attached, frayed threads. Most of the washers we've reviewed score somewhere in the 250-count range.

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Watch this: Here's how we test washing machines
Here's how we test washing machines
1:42

Final ruling

Kenmore's $600 25132 top-load washing machine is a seriously great stain remover. Yes, its normal cycle is tough on delicates, but you should be using your delicate cycle for those clothes anyway. No, it doesn't have any fancy extras, but considering its price and stain-fighting power, you really can't beat the 25132's value -- especially if you snag it on sale for $450.

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7.8

Kenmore 25132

Score Breakdown

Design 6Usability 7Features 6Performance 10
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