Check out this article to learn more about how we test washers. Basically, we run three identical cleaning cycles with stain strips and mechanical action strips. Stain strips are long strips of fabric with individual squares coated in skin oil (sebum), mineral oil (carbon), blood, cocoa and red wine. Mechanical action strips are larger fabric squares with five prepunched holes.
For the fabric strips, we calculate the percentage of the original stains remaining after running through a cleaning cycle. The mechanical action strips run through the same cleaning cycle and tell us how tough or gentle the washer's "normal" cycle is on clothes. The higher the count of loose strands of fabric post-cycle, the tougher the machine.
Whirlpool's Smart Cabrio got the third best stain removal score of any top-loader we've tested so far -- an average of 45 percent of the original stains remained on the test strips after a cleaning cycle. Here's a more detailed look at its stain results:
- Skin oil: 46 percent stain remaining
- Mineral oil: 49 percent stain remaining
- Blood: 24 percent stain remaining
- Cocoa: 54 percent stain remaining
- Red wine: 54 percent stain remaining
Only Kenmore's 29133 and 31633 performed better here, with an average of 44 and 41 percent of their original stains remaining.
When it comes to wear and tear, the Smart Cabrio normal cycle was very gentle on clothes. It averaged just 185 frayed threads, compared to the Kenmore 31633's average of 251 threads per wash cycle, the Kenmore 29133's 239 threads and the LG WT1801HVA's 243 threads.
Whirlpool's $1,399 Smart Cabrio, model number WTW8700EC, is worth strong consideration. Still, is it worth it's high price? That's up to you. You're paying for its modern design and impressive performance, but you're also paying a premium for its smart features. If its Wi-Fi capabilities aren't of interest to you, you'll want to consider Kenmore's 31633 and 29133. Both models performed slightly better than the Cabrio Smart, and you can often find the expensive 31633 heavily discounted at Sears.