Is a Stainless Steel Drum Best for a Washing Machine?

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At some point, someone got tired of beating clothing on rocks by the river and started looking for ways to make things easier for those tasked with laundry chores. Through the years, all sorts of strange-looking contraptions appeared, leading to the shiny, sophisticated machines you can buy today. Now, the tough part is deciding which washer to buy in the first place, and that includes choosing the type of drum you want. Stainless steel is often cited as the best type of drum for a washing machine, but is that true?

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Types of Washing Machine Drums

The washing machine drums into which you load your dirty clothes today are a far cry from that crude-looking wooden tub your great-great-grandmother used. Today, you can choose from much nicer-looking and more durable plastic, porcelain-coated steel, and stainless steel drums.

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Plastic drums cost less than stainless steel and for that reason are popular, but after exposure to hot water temperatures, they can begin to warp. Plastic tubs can also become stained, develop odors, and form rough spots that snag some fabrics and damage items you're washing.

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Porcelain-coated steel drums are also popular and have been around for a long time. Their heat resistance makes them durable, but that durability holds only as long as the porcelain doesn't get chipped by things like zippers and metal studs and buttons. Once the porcelain coating chips, the exposed steel begins to rust, often transferring rust stains to items you wash.

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Stainless steel washer drums, on the other hand, will not rust, and because they're scratch-resistant, they won't develop rough places that can damage your laundry items. These drums come with a higher price, but they'll last the life of the washing machine. If you can handle investing in a machine with a stainless steel drum, you'll enjoy the best washer drum available.

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Maintaining Your Drum

Household appliances are expensive. Unless you have money to burn, you'll need to do what you can to keep your washing machine in good shape, which includes taking care of the drum.

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You should make sure the drum is balanced to prevent serious damage not just to the drum but to other parts of the machine. If you hear rattling or banging not heard during a normal cycle or if the machine begins to shake, there's an imbalance. This can happen when the machine isn't sitting level, when you overload the washer, when the load becomes lopsided during a spin cycle, or when reinforcing shipping materials aren't removed upon installation.

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Additionally, parts such as bearings, screws, and bolts within the machine can become worn with age. If they malfunction or become dislodged, this can affect the drum's performance. You can readjust the load yourself and readjust the unit's legs for leveling, but the malfunctioning of other parts should be addressed by a repair technician, and it can be expensive. Overloading your machine can wear out your drum bearings, which can cost from $150 to $185 to replace.

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Some machines come with a removable stabilizing insert to be used if the washer is moved to a different location. This prevents damage to the drum, so don't throw it away.

Finally, be sure to clean the drum interior regularly following the directions found in your model's user manual.

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