There are a couple of factors involved in good cleaning, some that have to do with the washer, and some that have to do with how it's loaded.
For less-water use, select a front-loader. They wash at least as well, with much less water than a top-loading machine, and remove some of the problems with agitators (some don't move the clothes around much).
Other factors you're in control of: make sure the detergent is completely dissovled (front loaders prefer liquids, but powders can be dissolved before pouring in) --in a top loader, this means putting the detergent in first then letting it fill about 1/4 before adding clothes.
For best results in any kind of machine, put a lot less clothes in than 'fit' --the more room they have to splash around, the cleaner they'll get. This helps a lot with very dirty clothes.
A pre-soak will help more than extra detergent.
With hard water, softener helps more than extra soap.
at 10:51 PM on Oct. 24, 2009