At a Glance:
Once it’s time to buy a new washing machine, how do you know which type to choose? You have your choice of a traditional top load washer or a trendy and efficient front load washer. For the longest time, top load washing machines were your only option, but we have now seen a surge of dynamic top load and front load washers from every major appliance manufacturer.
Both top load and front load washers come with their advantages and disadvantages, but which one is better? Our team at Albert Lee decided to compare each product and assess this question in our latest blog.
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The chart below donates key appliance features and which washer type is more competitive for those features.
|Product Attributes||Top Load Washers||Front Load Washers|
✅ Load and unload the appliance with little effort
✅ Can easily add more clothing items mid-cycle
✅ Faster cycles than front load machines
❌ Uses more water and detergent than front load models
❌ Heavier clothing items or bedding can be too bulky to fit properly
❌ Agitators can sometimes produce a lot of noise
❌ Require a larger laundry room or installation space (not stackable)
A tried-and-true top load washer provides a helpful range of wash cycles in a relatively ergonomic fashion. The height of the appliance makes it easier to load and unload the machine, and most top loaders feature a built-in dispenser, a soft-close lid, and mid-cycle access should you find a stray sock or t-shirt left behind in the hamper.
Because top load washers soak your garments for the full duration of the wash cycle, they use a considerable amount of water. A large cylindrical agitator is placed in the center of the wash drum to rotate against your clothes and facilitate the cleaning process, but you also have your choice of a top load impeller washer, which is a low-profile, bottom-mounted disc that spins to rub clothes against each other to get them clean.
Both washer types can clean clothes with shorter cycle times than a front load machine, but they are harsher on your fabrics and require more detergent to remove stains. They can be noisy to operate depending on how they are installed and how you load your washer. If you overload your appliance and try to squeeze a comforter inside, it may be too tight for the agitator fins to spin and operate properly.
And if space is a concern, top loaders are generally not stackable, so they must be installed side-by-side. You may not have the convenience of adding a folding surface in your laundry room, but a matching washer and dryer set will still create a clean and cohesive element in your home.
➝ Learn More: 5 Best Top Load Washers
✅ Ideal for washing any type of material, from delicates to bulky items
✅ Energy-efficient, uses less water than a top loader
✅ Can be stacked or installed side-by-side
❌ Gaskets or door seals require routine cleaning
❌ Can’t always stop or add an extra item mid-cycle
❌ Loading and unloading requires more hunching or bending (unless you add a pedestal to your purchase)
Front load washers offer a variety of cleaning functions and capacity levels. The wash drums are larger than those of a top load machine, often able to fit up to 20 pounds of laundry. Instead of taking up space with an agitator or impeller, a front load machine rotates your clothes in different directions through a minimal amount of water instead of fully submerging your fabrics. Each garment is dropped into the water over and over again as the wash drum rotates, which proves to be much gentler on clothes.
Unlike top load washers, front load laundry sets can be stacked to conserve space in your laundry room. There are very few drawbacks to a front load machine, but one issue can be the maintenance that the rubber gasket ring requires on certain washer models. They can be known to trap water droplets inside, which can prevent the seal from fully drying and lead to mold or mildew if not wiped out regularly.
Most front load washers lock the door at the beginning of each cycle to prevent water from spilling out, but this can also prevent the user from adding a last-minute garment to the cycle. However, some newer washer models do have a “pause” feature which would allow you to stop the cycle if need be.
For some, front loaders can be challenging to operate. The act of loading and unloading the machine does require some bending, but the addition of a pedestal can raise your washer unit 12 to 15 inches to ease any potential strain and provide additional storage space.
➝ Learn More: 6 Best Front Load Washers for Easier Laundry Days
Top Load vs. Front Load Washers: A Comparison
Both washer types have their own advantages and considerations to keep in mind. Let's compare these two in various aspects to help you make an informed decision.
Capacity: In terms of capacity, top load washers generally have a larger drum capacity. They are designed to accommodate larger loads and bulky items like comforters or blankets. On the other hand, front load washers usually have a slightly smaller capacity but can still handle a significant amount of laundry.
Cost: Front load washers tend to be more expensive upfront compared to top load washers. The cost difference can be attributed to the advanced features and technologies that front load washers often incorporate. However, it's worth noting that prices can vary depending on the brand, model, and additional features of the washing machine.
Features: Front load washers often come equipped with a range of features and options. They typically offer more advanced washing cycles, such as steam cleaning, allergen removal, and specialized programs for different types of fabrics. Some front load washers also have smart features that allow you to control and monitor the machine remotely through a smartphone app. Top load washers, while generally simpler in design, still offer essential features like various wash cycles and temperature settings.
➝ Learn More: 4 Irreplaceable Smart Washer and Dryer Features
Energy and Water Usage: Front load washers are known for their energy efficiency and water-saving capabilities. They typically use less water and consume less energy per cycle compared to top load washers. Front load washers use a tumbling action and gravity to move clothes through the water, requiring less water to achieve effective cleaning. Additionally, front load washers generally have higher spin speeds, which result in better water extraction, reducing drying time and energy consumption.
Repairs: In terms of repairs, there isn't a significant difference between top load and front load washers. Both types can require repairs or maintenance over time, depending on factors such as usage, brand, and model. However, it's worth noting that front load washers may require additional care to prevent mold or mildew buildup due to their design. Regular cleaning and proper maintenance can help mitigate this issue.
Impact on Clothing
When it comes to wear and tear on clothing, front load washers are generally considered to be better than top load washers. Here's why:
Agitation Method: Top load washers typically use an agitator or impeller mechanism to move clothes around in the water. While effective at removing stains, the agitator can be more aggressive and cause more friction against the fabric. This increased agitation can potentially lead to more wear and tear on clothing, especially delicate or easily damaged fabrics. Front load washers, on the other hand, use a tumbling action to clean clothes. The clothes gently tumble against each other and the drum, resulting in less friction and reduced wear on fabrics. The tumbling action is particularly gentle on delicate garments, making front load washers a preferred choice for those concerned about preserving the quality and longevity of their clothing.
Load Distribution: Front load washers distribute the weight of the laundry more evenly throughout the drum. This balanced distribution reduces the stress and strain on individual garments, further minimizing wear and tear. In contrast, top load washers with agitators may cause clothing to bunch up or become tangled, which can lead to increased friction and potential damage.
Water Level and Soaking: Front load washers typically use less water compared to top load washers. The reduced water level ensures that the clothes are thoroughly saturated without excessive soaking. This gentler washing process helps preserve the integrity of the fabric and reduces the likelihood of clothes becoming stretched or distorted.
While front load washers are generally better for minimizing wear and tear on clothing, it's important to note that the choice of detergent, wash cycle, and proper garment care also play significant roles in maintaining the quality of your clothes. Following fabric care instructions and using appropriate laundry practices can further enhance the lifespan of your garments regardless of the washer type.
When it comes to cleaning performance, both top load and front load washers can effectively clean your clothes. However, there are some differences in the washing mechanisms that may influence the perceived cleaning performance:
Agitation Method: Top load washers typically use an agitator or impeller mechanism to agitate the clothes in the water. The agitator moves the clothes vigorously, creating a scrubbing action to remove stains and dirt. This agitation can be particularly effective for heavily soiled items or stains that require more intensive treatment. Front load washers, on the other hand, rely on the tumbling action of the drum and the gravity-driven movement of clothes through the water. The gentle tumbling action, combined with the use of higher spin speeds, helps to dislodge dirt and stains from the fabric. Front load washers are generally known for their ability to clean clothes effectively while using less water and detergent.
Water Usage: Front load washers typically use less water compared to top load washers. The reduced water level ensures that the detergent is properly concentrated and can effectively penetrate the fabric, resulting in thorough cleaning. The use of less water also contributes to the machine's energy efficiency.
Detergent Distribution: Front load washers have a distinct advantage when it comes to distributing detergent throughout the load. The design of the drum and the way clothes tumble helps to evenly distribute the detergent, ensuring that all garments receive adequate cleaning power. This can result in more consistent cleaning performance across the entire load. It's important to note that the effectiveness of the cleaning performance also depends on factors such as the detergent used, water temperature, wash cycle selection, and the specific features and technologies incorporated into the washer. Both top load and front load washers have evolved to include various wash cycles, temperature settings, and additional features to enhance their cleaning capabilities.
Ultimately, the cleaning performance of a washing machine depends on various factors, and both top load and front load washers can provide satisfactory results. Choosing the right washer type for your needs should consider other factors such as capacity, energy efficiency, features, and personal preferences.
Now that we’ve highlighted some of the pros and cons, let’s look at some of our favorite top load washers:
Best Overall Washer: LG White Top Load Washer (WT7300CW)
This LG top load washer allows you to expand the limits of your laundry room thanks to the LG SmartThinQ app. Select a cycle, start or stop the wash, and receive notifications about the progress of your cycle, all from your smartphone. It even works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so you can manage your laundry with simple voice commands.
Unlike most top load washers, this LG model doesn’t include an agitator. Powerful jet spray, plus the tub and motor, rotate independently in opposite directions to create a powerful water flow for enhanced washing performance.
6Motion Technology uses up to six different wash motions to provide a smart cleaning experience that is gentle on clothes, but most importantly, this washer model uses about 30 percent less energy and half the amount of water used by regular top load machines.
Click here for best price: LG White Top Load Washer (WT7300CW)
➝ Learn More: LG Washers and Dryers Reviewed
Best Budget-Friendly Washer: Amana White Top Load Washer (NTW4516FW)
Achieve a finish that leaves your clothes bright and clean with this top-load Amana washer for only $449.99. This washer model delivers a thorough clean with a Dual Action Agitator, which rolls clothes through the bottom of the wash basket. Its durable Porcelain Tub helps protect favorites from snags, while the Deep Water Wash Option adds the maximum amount of water for your laundry load so you can clean with confidence.
The Late Lid Lock gives you extra time to throw in any missed items before the Spin Cycle starts so no socks are left behind. The Delicates Cycle uses a slower spin speed and a gentle wash motion to clean delicate items, and eight wash cycles including the Extra Rinse Option adds improved rinse action to most wash cycles to help remove extra detergent.
Click here for best price: Amana White Top Load Washer (NTW4516FW)
➝ Learn More: The Best Top Load Washers that Rise to the Top
Best Luxury Washer: LG Black Steel Top Load Washer (WT7900HBA)
This LG washer model includes many of the same features as the best overall model, but with a smooth and elegant black stainless-steel finish.
Once again, TurboWash 3D creates a powerful water flow for a deep, thorough clean without the excessive churning you would get from a typical agitator. ColdWash technology uses cold water and enhanced wash motions to penetrate deep into fabrics, giving you cold water savings with warm water performance.
Powerful steam technology gently cleans fabrics to eliminate dirt, odors, and wrinkles, and you’ll enjoy getting your laundry done in less time with a spacious 5.0 cubic feet capacity.
Click here for best price: LG Black Steel Top Load Washer (WT7900HBA)
➝ Learn More: 5 Best Top Load Washers with Top Marks
Now, let’s check out our favorite front load washing machines:
Best Overall Washer: Samsung White Front Load Washer (WF45T6200AW)
With this Samsung front load washer, Self Clean+ keeps your washer drum fresh and clean by eliminating 99 percent of bacteria, and your appliance will also send a reminder to clean the drum every forty wash cycles.
The Super-Speed setting uses advanced cleaning technologies to wash a full load of laundry in just 30 minutes, and the steam option acts as a powerful yet gentle stain removal treatment.
Additional features include:
- VRT Plus Technology
- Closet-depth fit and stackability
- Internal water heat
- 1200 RPM spin speed
- 10 wash cycles
- 5 temperature levels
- Child Lock
Click here for best price: Samsung White Front Load Washer (WF45T6200AW)
➝ Learn More: Samsung Washers and Dryers Reviewed
Best Budget-Friendly Washer: Whirlpool White Front Load Washer (WFW5620HW)
Whirlpool knows a thing or two about washers, and this Energy Star certified front load model retails for only $809.99. With a 4.5 cubic feet capacity, you can wash over three baskets of clothing in a single load and finish laundry fast. And for added convenience, you can skip the detergent step with the Load & Go dispenser. Simply add detergent once and skip refills for 20 loads.
Your small lightly soiled loads will be clean in as little as 15 minutes with the Quick Wash cycle, and the Cold Wash cycle adjusts wash actions and time to provide optimal fabric care for your bright, vibrant colors.
The Presoak option lets you skip soaking outside of the washer. Extra time is added in the washer before the wash cycle, which starts automatically when the option is complete, and for a seamless look, the space-saving design with a closet-depth fit allows for more flexible installation options in your laundry space.
Click here for best price: Whirlpool White Front Load Washer (WFW5620HW)
➝ Learn More: Whirlpool Washer and Dryer Reviews [+ Our Top Picks]
Best Luxury Washer: LG Signature Black Stainless Steel Front Load Washer (WM9500HKA)
With an ultra-roomy 5.8 cubic feet capacity, you can fit more clothes per cycle and cut your wash time by up to 30 minutes with LG’s enhanced TurboWash technology. You won’t have to sacrifice cleaning performance, and you can bask in the luxury of convenience with LG SmartThinQ technology that provides remote management of key cleaning features.
With its satin-smooth finish, black stainless steel has the classic appeal of traditional stainless, but with a contemporary character that's all its own. This model has also been awarded an Energy Star certification for helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and because the Direct Drive Motor uses fewer moving parts and operates more efficiently, LG confidently backs the motor with a 10-year limited warranty.
Click here for best price: LG Signature Black Stainless Steel Front Load Washer (WM9500HKA)
➝ Learn More: Brand Comparison: Samsung vs LG Laundry Pairs
What’s the Verdict?
Front load washers are considered superior at cleaning clothes with less water and less wear on your fabrics. Top load washers clean faster and are slightly more ergonomic, so it may come down to the monetary value. Front load machines cost more to purchase and maintain, but they provide better cleaning performance than top load washers.
We can’t make up your mind for you, but we can answer any questions you may have and help you find the right washing machine for your home. If you would like more information on any of our laundry appliances, don’t hesitate to visit any one of our six Albert Lee locations throughout the Pacific Northwest, shop our digital catalog online, or give us a call at your store of choice.
Why Trust Albert Lee?
Since 1939, Albert Lee Appliance, a three-generation, family-owned business, continues to grow and serve the greater Seattle area with quality you can count on and service you can trust. We are proud to have served this community for so long and wouldn’t be here without our loyal customers. There is a reason why we are Washington’s largest independent appliance dealer, and it’s not a secret. Simply put: We have the experience. We are the original appliance experts for over eight decades (and counting).
Shop Washing Machines at Albert Lee
At Albert Lee Appliance, we provide quality name-brand appliances for great prices. Shop washers online or visit us today at one of our six locations in Puget Sound, WA. In the meantime, browse our website to shop Albert Lee appliance sales and check out Albert Lee appliance reviews online to ensure every purchase is an informed one. More available than ever, our experts at Albert Lee Appliance are always happy to help you compare top load vs front load washers, whether you call us or use our online chat feature. Contact us today!
Learn More: A Guide to Shopping for Laundry Appliances
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