Whirlpool WFW87HEDW review: This simple washing machine nails the basics

Then we use a colorimeter to compare the pre- and post-cycle reflectance of each stain. From there, we calculate the percent of the stain remaining overall and for each individual stain.

The WFW87HEDW did well here, with 47 percent of the stain remaining on average. On a by-stain basis, that translates to 47 percent of the sebum stain remaining, 60 percent of the carbon remaining, 27 percent of the blood remaining, 50 percent of the cocoa remaining, and 52 percent of the wine remaining.

Electrolux's EFLS617S only had 40 percent of its stains left over, though, so it definitely wins when it comes to overall stain-fighting power.

Chris Monroe/CNET

We also add fabric squares to each cycle with precut holes. After running a normal load, we use a ruler to count the number of frayed (but attached) threads at the edge of each hole that measure at or over 2 millimeters. The higher the number, the tougher the machine is on clothes.

There's typically an inverse relationship between the stain remaining score and the wear and tear score. For instance, the Electrolux EFLS617S had an average of 295 attached frayed strings at or over 2 millimeters long -- the worst score yet in terms of wear and tear and yet it also had the best overall stain performance of any washer we've tested to date. Whirlpool's WFW87HEDW had 263 attached strings, so it's still a little tough on clothes, but not quite as tough as the EFLS617S.

The takeaway

Whirlpool's $1,199 WFW87HEDW is a solid midrange washer that I can easily recommend. It looks good, it's easy to use, its steam function gives it an edge over many entry-level models and it performs well. The one issue is that the Electrolux EFLS617S offers the same things, but also manages to score better in terms of stain removal. I'd suggest taking a look at both and deciding if you'd rather have awesome stain removal power or a machine that still performs well, but is a little gentler on clothes. You really can't go wrong either way.

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