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Top-load vs. front-load washing machines. What are the pros and cons of each

Kurtis Avatar By: Kurtis | Last updated May 30, 2019

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The first thing you think about when you have to get a new washer is: do I get a top-load or front-load? This has got to be a universal question and the general opinion is divided when it comes to which one is better.

Top-load washing machines used to be the best-selling ones in the US in the past and it wasn’t until the 2000s that front-load gained popularity and started to take the lead.

Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of both top-load and front-load washers, so you can make an informed decision when buying your next washing machine.

Top-load washers

As the name clearly indicates it, top-load washers let you load your laundry in the machine through the top.

Most of the older models of top-load washers come with agitators, which can be single or dual-action agitators. Newer, more premium top-load washers on the other hand have no agitator. Instead, some of them have an impeller, which resembles an agitator but it is shorter. Some also have a drum, which helps spin the laundry faster than top-load washers with agitators.

Either way, all top-load washers have one great benefit, which is you don’t have to bend to load the laundry in and to unload it after it’s washed. So if you know you have back, joint problems or others that will manifest when you bend, you might one to go with a top-load washer. It is easier to use and more comfortable.

They are also faster in washing your laundry than most front-load washers, so if time is an issue for you, top-load washers are the smartest choice.

Another benefit of these washers is cost. They are usually less expensive than front-load washers.

Top-load washing machines are also space savers. They are smaller than front-load washers, which means you can fit them in dorm rooms, small apartments and so on.

And now on the drawbacks of top-load washers. One disadvantage of top-load washers is the fact that they are not as energy efficient as front-load machines. You have to use more water and more energy with them per washing cycle.

Another drawback is their capacity. Smaller also means less laundry you can fit inside, so if you have a large family and you do daily washes, you might consider going for a front-load washer, as they have larger capacities.

Remember how we mentioned the agitator above? Well, the problem with agitators is they can be rough on your laundry, so if you have a lot of delicates, front-load washers might be a better choice.

Front-load washers

Front-load washers still tend to be more popular nowadays than top-load washing machines, and there are several reasons for that.

They are called ‘front-load’ for a very obvious reason: you load and unload your laundry through the front door.

Front-load machines don’t use an agitator and their tub usually spins in both directions.

This type of washers is usually larger and bulkier than top-load machines, which on one hand, means it will take up more space, but on the other hand, it also means you can fit more laundry in them than in top-load washers. Their capacity varies but you can find models that have a capacity of even 6.0 cubic feet. Just as a tip, in a 4.2 or 4.5 cu. ft. washer you can load up to 20 pounds of laundry.

So, capacity-wise, front-load washers are definitely the winners.

When it comes to energy efficiency, front-load washers are also better. They use significantly less water than top-load washers. As a comparison, Samsung’s top-load washing machines require from 18 to 23 gallons of water/washing cycle, while their front-load models only need around 13 gallons per cycle. Same goes for electricity, with many front-load washers being Energy Star certified.

Front-load washers are also gentler on your laundry, precisely because they don’t use an agitator. They also tend to be more durable and don’t require as many repairs over time.

Front-load machines are also richer in features and less noisy than top-load washers. Depending on the model and brand, they come equipped with many specialized wash cycles and features: pre-wash cycle, sanitize cycle, temperature and soil settings, WiFi and app control, variable timer and more.

In terms of noise, it is indicated by the noise level of the washer (measured in decibels) and you should find it written under ‘specifications’. As a general rule, top-load washers tend to be noisier. If you want a quieter washer, you should go for a machine that has a direct drive motor, as they are more silent.

As for the drawbacks of front-load washers, one of them is their cost. They are usually pricier than top-load washers. It is also more difficult to load and unload the laundry in them than in top-load washers and washing cycles take longer than with top-load washers. Also, if space is limited in your household, front-load washers may not be a good idea, because they are usually larger than top-load washing machines.