Would you like to save yourself $300 on a new top-loading washing machine?
Thought you might.
That’s one of the key out of the box advantages the Kenmore 26132 brings you. It’s more or less exactly the same as the company’s significantly more expensive variant, the 27132, except for two tiny features.
Those features? The provision of a see-through lid and the addition of a steam function in the pricier version. So, if you want to keep hold of some cash, ask yourself how important those features are to you, decide they’re not that important and go with the 26132.
Wait, what? Jumping the gun, you say?
You’re probably right. But keep the fact in mind. Once we’re done outlining the pros, the cons, the hemming and hawing of your top-loading washing machine choice, it might come in handy as a final deal-making point.
Kenmore 26132 Review
Let’s unbox the Kenmore 26132 and see what you get for your money.
First of all, design. It’s not by any means as Stargate-pretty as some of the more modern front-loading washing machines on the market – no softly-illuminated touch pads, no easy app operation. But within the world of top-loading washing machines, there’s a certain elegance and presence to the Kenmore 26132. It has a height that looks straight-backed and decent, and it eschews some of the clunky retro vibe of some of the company’s cheaper models. It looks almost like the washing machine equivalent of a butler.
It delivers an initial impression of uncomplaining, relentless competence through its design cues. It’s neither fancy nor quirky, but rather plain-spoken and obedient. One should never judge entirely by external appearances of course, but Kenmore has at least got those appearances right in this machine. That inspires confidence before you’ve even run a load through the 26132.
It has a panel of options and a single main dial, keeping the actual operation of the machine discreet. In streamlining the control panel, the sub-$1,000 26132 improves on some of the company’s cheaper models by coming out of Sixties sci-fi and into the 21st century.
So, for a top-loading washing machine, it’s quite the hottie. But does it have what it takes to cope with your family’s laundry needs?
Actually, it may well have. It has a drum of 4.8 cubic feet capacity, which is more than enough to wash a standard 8-pound load in one sitting. In fact, you’ll probably be able to fit a standard load and then a cheeky extra handful of items on top here. Comforters? No problem at all. Every towel you own? Unless you happen to be Martha Stewart, very probably (up to 24 large ones, if you’re actually counting). The 4.8 cubic feet capacity is a feature that follows those design cues – quiet competency all the way along seems to be the hallmark of the Kenmore 26132.
Inside, there’s no space-taking agitator, but a triple action impeller. The triple action involves a motion of the washing basket, nine spray jets and an extra burst of concentrated detergent to more or less kick the stains out of your laundry.
That’s where things start to get really interesting with the Kenmore 26132. The business of stain removal.
What you need from a top-loading washing machine, more than anything else, is hardcore stain removal. If your washer is not going to give you top notch stain removal, you might as well leave it in the store.
The Kenmore 26132 gives you top notch stain removal.
In the sub-$1,000 range, it’s difficult (which is to say, probably impossible) to get a better stain remover than this.
That’s a big claim, backed up by some fairly exhaustive testing.
It’s worth accepting at this point that stain-removal tests are on the whole tougher and more heavy duty than anything you will be able to throw at the machine. That means more of the stains that are artificially added to test-laundry will be retained than will be left after your normal use of the machine.
That said, in testing, the Kenmore 26132 crushed all resistance from similar machines in its price class. Overall, it removed 54% of all stains on a single wash.
It gets a little more useful and creepy when you delve into the actual numbers. On sebum (skin-oil, essentially), it removed 58% of the stain. But more impressive still, on blood, 68% of the stain was removed by the Kenmore 26132. That’s not enough to get you past a CSI, before you start making plans, but it’s certainly enough to refresh and reclaim a sweater after a kitchen nightmare.
Paradoxically, while scoring great numbers on human fluid-stains, beverage-stains proved more troublesome – the 26132 could only remove 47% of a cocoa stain on first wash, and 45% of a wine stain. The moral of which is probably Don’t Waste Good Wine.
But it’s important to recognize that these are numbers which far outstrip any other top-loading washer in the price range. So if you’re getting a top-loading washing machine in this price range, the logical conclusion is that you should get the Kenmore 26132.
Oh yes – remember the slightly more advanced version we mentioned at the top – the 27132? It removed just 50% of stains on its first wash overall. That means you’re paying to have laundry 4% more stained if you get that model. Not saying. Just saying.
StainBoost Wash Function
It’s worth noting on stain removal that the Kenmore 26132 has options including StainBoost, which extends the wash cycle to really get to grips with stubborn stains. It also has a Deep Fill feature which adjusts the water level in the drum so it can properly get to grips with stains on bulkier loads.
You can certainly get better stain removal than the Kenmore 26132. But if you want it, you’ll be dropping more than a thousand dollars for machines that can do it. Best in class honors go to the Kenmore.
Washing Wear and Tear
While stain removal is job #1 of a washing machine, and the most important criterion on which to judge it, there’s more to it than that. There’s also the question of wear and tear. There’s little point in having startlingly clean laundry if it comes out of the washer in tatters.
Naturally enough, there are tests for this too. You test for wear and tear by punching holes in some strips of delicate fabric, then run them through the same three cycles on a range of washers simultaneously. The fewer attached, frayed strands under 2 millimeters remaining after the three cycles, the better the washer’s performance on wear and tear.
It’s fair to say this is an area where the likes of the 27132 did better than the Kenmore 26132.
The 26132 had 197 attached, frayed threads, compared to the 27132's 187. Nevertheless, it’s still ahead of the game in its price bracket, as most sub-$1000 washers rack up over 200 frayed threads. This is where our initial question comes into play. Want to save $300? The consequences of saving that cash include things like a slightly worse result on wear and tear.
See-through Lid and a Steam Cycle
Other things the 27132 will get you which the 26132 can’t deliver include a see-through lid and a steam cycle.
Think about this though – you really need a see-through lid on your washer in the age of Netflix? There are better forms of entertainment than watching your laundry rotate, so while it’s a cute additional feature, it’s not a 21st century necessity.
And as for the steam setting, we’re not going to lie – it’s useful if you have extra-specially dirty items. Or children, as they’re otherwise known. The adventures youngsters have can result in deeper and more stubborn stainage than anything adults can imagine, and in those circumstances, you might make use of a steam setting. If you have particularly adventure-prone children – or especially consequence-averse pets, come to that, the steam function can be really handy. In which case, make up your mind to the truth that you need a washer that’s going to cost you more than $1000. If you don’t foresee yourself needing such deep stain removal, save yourself some money, come down the scale and go with the Kenmore 26132. Also, keep in mind that even with its steam function, the 27132 scored worse than the 26132 on stain removal.
So while there are models out there that will offer you better stain removal, you’re likely to pay at least $300 more for them than you’d pay for the Kenmore 26132. Is there anything specific to the 26132 that counts against it though?
Maybe one thing. You remember that highly discreet control panel we mentioned? The one that stops it looking like a prop from a Sixties sci-fi show? If anything, that control panel’s a little too discrete for comfort – the labelling of programs and buttons is a touch too small to be read at any distance. Granted, why you’d need to read it at a distance is anybody’s guess – after all, you need to get right up close to fill the washer. But still, for those who like their controls easy to read, the Kenmore 26132 is something of a squint-maker.
Overall though, in its price range, the Kenmore 26132 offers unbeatable stain removal and is still reasonably kind to your clothes. It has a large capacity drum, meaning it’ll handle most of what you care to throw into it in one wash. And it has a handful of clever extras that can make your laundry day easier, without blinding you with science or baffling you with endless options.
In the sub-$1000 top-loading washer market, the Kenmore 26132 is hard to beat. You’re welcome to try, of course.
It’ll be waiting for you when you’re done.