Thread Number: 48609
Why did GE abandon the filter flo design?
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Post# 704333   9/20/2013 at 21:45 (3,866 days old) by spinspeed (Far North New South Wales Australia (originally London UK))        

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I have two old GE filter flo washers from the 70s and 80s, they are great washers and I love the filter flo action. Why did the whole recirculating water thru a filter go out of fashion? I have a Maytag Atlantis and it washes really poorly compared to the older filter flo washers. And it is really noisy compared to the old FF washers. Simon

Post# 704335 , Reply# 1   9/20/2013 at 22:06 (3,866 days old) by hydralique (Los Angeles)        

The Filter-Flo (and companion Hotpoint Rim-Flo) works very well but is known for not being economical with water, although this is true of many older designs. With government standards in the last 20 years it has become difficult for anyone to make a traditional style washer. No doubt there are other reasons the design was abandoned, but water usage is surely one.

Post# 704359 , Reply# 2   9/20/2013 at 23:55 (3,866 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

But didn't the Filter Flo machines just recirculate the water through the filter instead of adding new water?

Post# 704364 , Reply# 3   9/21/2013 at 00:08 (3,866 days old) by Kenmore71 (Minneapolis, MN)        

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The water usage issue regarding the Filter-Flo design is that GE never redesigned the outer tub and the balance mechanism when they went from a solid tub to a perforated tub.  With the solid tub the water usage was similar to other solid tub machines of "the day" such as the Speed Queens and the Frigidaires (pre 1-18).  When GE introduced the perforated tub they left it "floating" in the larger outer tub with the same cable suspension system that had been used with the solid tub.  This meant that for a perforated tub that held 12-14 lbs. of dry clothes there would be a fill of upwards of 22 gallons of water.  Contrast that with Frigidaire's 1-18 machine which could genuinely turn over 18 lbs. of clothes with just shy of 20 gallons and the Kenmore & WP large capacity machines that DID use 25 gallons of water but could easily handle 18 lbs of dry clothes.


Also, I think that the filter flow fell victim to cost cutting.  To have a recirculating pump and its attendant plumbing and filter costs money.  Why not just eliminate this and leave the filtering up to the dryer???

Post# 704383 , Reply# 4   9/21/2013 at 04:54 (3,866 days old) by danemodsandy (The Bramford, Apt. 7-E)        
I Thought....

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It was because everyone always lost their Filter-Flo pan when they moved.

* ducks and runs *

Post# 704385 , Reply# 5   9/21/2013 at 05:33 (3,866 days old) by brucelucenta ()        

I think it was because in this age of automatic filtering and such, the filter flow washer seemed ancient by today's standards. It was a good selling point back in the 50's though! I know at least one person who bought it for the very reason of controlling lint even though it controlled it no better than most machines.

Post# 704389 , Reply# 6   9/21/2013 at 06:13 (3,866 days old) by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Ill tell you why..

They found a cheaper way to make a washer that would not last half as long and would need three times the service calls!!!same reason Whirlpool dropped their good belt drive machine and Maytag dropped their old design...a proven design that works does not make sense to big shots concerned with only selling stuff and money!

Post# 704391 , Reply# 7   9/21/2013 at 06:50 (3,866 days old) by ozzie908 (Lincoln UK)        
Its a shame that its not still in use today

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I have a Hotpoint 9404 Twin tub with the filter flo and its the best washing machine ever for washing darks as it removes the dog and cat hairs that blight our clothing. So when its shedding season out it comes to help rid the clothes of hair and dander and as I hang dry in the warmer weather it removes the need to air fluff in the dryer . Thus saving a few pennies.
If anyone could devise such a filter to sit on top of a Servis Twin tub I would have my ideal machine...:o)


Post# 704403 , Reply# 8   9/21/2013 at 08:35 (3,866 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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well the plastic Profile machines were just cheaper to build, and thats all that matters to a company......

makes you wonder though...many TL machines todays could and still do have a filterflo of sorts....

some of the little portable TLers like Avanti have a filterflo, going thru a stocking screen...

and if they put thought to it, the Calypso with its waterfall could have had a filter pan under the waterfall to filter the recirculating water.....of course what makes the filterflo really function is the moving pan, a stationary screen is not quite the same...

same goes for the Cabrios series, with the powerwash spray, it recirculates water over the load......

the big issue for people in general, they want it there, just out of sight, and so they don't have to clean it!....yet they will clean a dryer filter!....

but in the long run, I think its more for our benefit, the drama, and a gimmick, yes, it does trap lint, but how mny times I hve let it out, and didn't notice a long as your sorting properly, watertemps and detergent, and cycles....everything comes out fine..

Post# 704528 , Reply# 9   9/21/2013 at 21:15 (3,865 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
I always thought

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it was because after automatics came out, often times people bought the washer, but still hung things out to dry.
With dryers, the lint gets caught in the lint screen?

Post# 704539 , Reply# 10   9/21/2013 at 22:44 (3,865 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
One Assumes To Many A Housewife

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Automatic or even semi was higher up on the list than a dryer, especially during the days when most laundry was going to be ironed anyway. Tumble dryers require some sort of heating source (electric, gas or LP) which not all homes could swing. Well some older one's could if they used the "Green Acres" school of electric appliances.

IMHO yes, tumble dryers do a better job of line removal than many washing machines. I mean you think of currents of air that pass through the washing floating away fluff and what not.

Post# 705681 , Reply# 11   9/27/2013 at 12:27 (3,859 days old) by spinspeed (Far North New South Wales Australia (originally London UK))        

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All very interesting replies. I think cutting cost of manufacture and other options for removing lint lead to the demise of the filter flo. I have two fisher and paykel tl machines with no filtering aside lint getting trapped in the outer tub. They wash really well but not as exciting as the filter flo. My f&p intuative showers hot sudsy water over the load before it fills to agitate. That is pretty cool but no filtration system to speak of.

Post# 708536 , Reply# 12   10/11/2013 at 03:57 (3,846 days old) by BlogShag ()        

I would think it was because most people that saw the lint 'turds' in the filter-flo pan didn't find it too appealing. The Kenmores, etc had a internal hidden filter for years. It wasn't something that consumers wanted to see, but they wanted the feature cause it cleans your clothes better.

However, I really don't know, cause I grew up with Kenmores and Maytags. My parents didn't like the GE models. I don't blame them. Their noises weren't pleasant and their tubs were small, compared to Kenmores,etc, their engineering was quite crude

Also, the filter-flo of the GEs impeded space for loading and observing the laundry

Post# 798481 , Reply# 13   12/10/2014 at 19:47 (3,420 days old) by GELaundry4ever (Nacogdoches, TX, USA)        
Let me tell you why!

I believe the reason that GE quit making the filter-flo washers and dryers is that they expect everybody to just let the dryer do the filtering! Years later they expect everybody to spit on their clothes and scrub them with a toothbrush!

Post# 798518 , Reply# 14   12/11/2014 at 00:40 (3,420 days old) by dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

No, spitting on clothes would waste water... lightly dab them with a wet wipe, then pound them on rocks for exactly three and a half hours. Then, if there is any trace of moisture left, spin them at 3000 rpms for ten minutes, and dry until crisp.

Post# 798524 , Reply# 15   12/11/2014 at 02:29 (3,420 days old) by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        
Ah heck....

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Just pee on them and recycle....they would smell about as good as some that have been dripped on in the new modern washers that don't use water!

Post# 798575 , Reply# 16   12/11/2014 at 10:14 (3,419 days old) by wigwag (San Diego)        
Cost was certainly a factor...

I think it was economics, companies wanted cheaper manufacturing costs, but I also think people were overloading the machines that had long agitation strokes and causing more warrantee issues so whirlpool went to the short-quick agitation and gained cheaper manufacturing costs. Then other manufactures followed suit, and some did a better job at providing a good machine at a good price and some didn't. GE didn't.

Post# 798594 , Reply# 17   12/11/2014 at 12:58 (3,419 days old) by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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filtering is cause and effect.......

a machine that would do a great job at cleaning, was also rough on textiles, causing the very lint that it was to remove...

machines like FLers don't have filters, then again, they don't use rough agitation of clothing to cause linting issues.....

GE filterflos, as much as we like them, also had downfalls as one machine out there is perfect, some do a better job than others, some are more liked or preferred than others as well.....

but its not like their exactly can still find filterflos for sale, and gain parts to keep them going for a while.....I have several matched fact recently found a TOL along side of the road, just needing some attention, and he's coming along nicely...

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Post# 798596 , Reply# 18   12/11/2014 at 13:05 (3,419 days old) by brib68 (Central Connecticut)        
Probably a combination of factors

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As we all know, cost is king in corporate decisions. But probably changing tastes/requirements/fashions in the consumer base played a part as well.

My mom had GE Filter Flo machines in the 70s and 80s. I think she probably left her last GE pair with the house when they moved across town in the early 90s. I was gone by then, so I don't know for sure if she got her Frigidaire FL pair (older style small cubes) when they moved or some time after. The GE's did require an extra step of fitting the filter in place before starting the machine, but it also served as a detergent dispenser, and also had the softener dispenser fitted on top of the filter pan. As a benefit, it was much easier and nicer to clear out the lint balls from the filter pan than to pull soggy lint from the brush on my grandmother's Whirlpool (not sure if that design lasted past the RCA years).

I would guess that the 'extra step' might have felt burdensome to working moms compared to most machines out there, and that letting the dryer take care of the lint was good enough. By the time of the end of the Filter Flo, dryer usage was probably much more consistent than in previous decades. Busy working women didn't have the time or the schedule to hang the wash out to dry, plus a great many snobby towns and Home Owner Associations outright banned the use of clotheslines.

Post# 798626 , Reply# 19   12/11/2014 at 18:02 (3,419 days old) by whirlcool (Just North Of Houston, Texas)        

We had a Filter Flo at home and it always filtered out the dog hair from our clothing. You'd never see any dog hair on the lint filter screen of the dryer. It was fun watching the filter flo run because as the cycle washed away the lint ball would get bigger and bigger!

Post# 798628 , Reply# 20   12/11/2014 at 18:05 (3,419 days old) by washman (o)        
Mom had a filter flo in the early 80's

however living in a mobile home on concrete blocks meant that when the thing went on spin, look out. Indiana was never known for earthquakes but I swear I felt one with the GE on spin!

Having said that, we had to get rid of it and replace it with a well used Kennmore. That GE was a cleaner let me tell you. No BS about the agitation, the stuff got MOVED around that tub.

The Kennmore eventually gave way to a Whirlpool that lasted 18 years with no repairs at all, washing filthy clothes from 2 men who worked in factories, sawdust from all the wood we cut, plus good old hard Indiana water thrown in for good measure. It just worked and worked and worked.

How sad it is to see the how junky and cheap machines are today compared to what I recall as a child.

Post# 798636 , Reply# 21   12/11/2014 at 18:41 (3,419 days old) by bajaespuma (Connecticut)        
Obsolescence: sad and true.

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IIRC in the early 1990's the new Whirlpool/Kenmore DD designs were scoring higher in CU's ratings consistently enough that GE went the way of the bean-counters and abandoned the FF design as well as the Louisville factory and its community of designers and workers and went with the competitor's lead. CU always maintained that lint removal in a washer was not such a big deal and measured "linting" propensities as well as "lint removal" abilities. No surprises here.


The Filter-Flo design became obsolete (remember who is writing this). When European horizontal axis designs landed on our shores, finally, with augmented capacity, near-ideal water economy and truly automatic dispensing (admit it, you have to look hard to find an American top-loading washing machine (almost always exclusively TOL's) with a synthesis of dispensing and cycles that really allows the user to load and set the machine and never return to it until the load is ready for drying). I know some folks criticize the use of too little water, I haven't noticed that water amount in these machines makes much difference to the final cleanliness of the load. And no vintage machine that I know of can hold a candle to one of the front-loaders that can heat water to any temperature above 150 degrees especially when laundering very dirty white chef uniforms.


I suppose if I had a dog and didn't own a dryer things might be different although these days I'd probably use a Filter-Flo just to wash the stuff the dog uses. Ticks are hardy little monsters and it wouldn't surprise me if they are able to survive a complete cycle. They would, most likely, end up in the filter pan.


I'll never forget how shocked I was the day I figure out how to lift the cabinet top off of our Filter-Flo to watch it while it agitated. I couldn't believe how much water was just sitting there in that outer tub, just for the ride.


You all know how much I love most vintage machines, especially FF's, but daily driving is daily driving.

Post# 798642 , Reply# 22   12/11/2014 at 19:32 (3,419 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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I agree 100%

For Whites ... And for the most part.. Only Whites... My Miele is Superb.

If I use the Pre-wash, Extra White, Water Plus and Extra Rinse, That program will take almost any stain out.

I used the Sanitize Temperature once. And it destroyed the elastics in my socks.

But did make everything extra Clean.

My Mom bought a 1962 I think was the first V-12. It had the big V-12 Decal on the front right top corner of the Washer. That washer was under my bedroom. It kept me awake for years with the "KaChunk, Ka Chunck " of the activator and the Loud Thunder Spin. It didn't take much for that machine to catch a slightly off balance load. But when it was perfect, the machine was nearly silent.

Post# 798653 , Reply# 23   12/11/2014 at 20:31 (3,419 days old) by jamiel (Detroit, Michigan and Palm Springs, CA)        

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GE re-thought the dishwasher in the 1977-78 timeframe (moving to the PermaTuf tub) and needed several years to make sure that the good benefits they were getting were permanent (profitability/volume/winning OEM contracts/...) before taking on laundry. In the mid to late 80s for laundry they had an expensive (double porcelain tubs when Whirlpool moved to direct drive/plastic outer tub), inefficient (space between tubs with as mentioned, lots of lazy water), complicated (Filter-Flo piping and pumping; a separate Hotpoint structure) design. Whirlpool was successful taking cost and complexity out of the mass-market; GM Frigidaire left the market leaving Maytag unchallenged at the top of the market (remember they had not experienced the Neptune or UK debacles at the time; plus had just reduced cost of their design). Their initial plasti-tub design did come from Louisville. I worked for GE from 1989-1992, and they were looking in 1990 for employees to take on one of the new design machines for testing. (In those days we got a discount on any GE appliance--there were huge booklets with the discount amounts for every model). They also at that time moved small-capacity and large-capacity dryer production to Canada (Camco) so they really had only Louisville and Chicago/Milwaukee (former Hotpoint...believe they made the last porcelain dishwashers along with stoves and refrigerators there).

Post# 1199941 , Reply# 24   2/22/2024 at 14:20 by GELaundry4ever (Nacogdoches, TX, USA)        
the answer

It was all about money. That's why GE killed the filter-flo to support their greedy stupid shareholders who know nothing about laundry whatsoever. Things have only gotten worse since then. I am surprised the plastic tubs somehow held up well. Keyword: somehow.

This post was last edited 02/22/2024 at 14:36

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