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What You Need to Know About Top-Load Washers

The great debate about whether to get a top-load or front-load washer can seem a little complicated. We’re here to put your mind at ease.

How does a top-load washer work?

Good question; simply put, top-loaders use the forces of gravity and centripetal force to power your clothes clean. Less simply put, top-load washers use agitators with propeller-like paddles situated to move your laundry from the top of the machine to the bottom. This forces the water and detergent to go through your clothes and loosens up dirt and stains. Agitator models can be either single-action, with paddles on the top and bottom, or dual-action, with paddles and spirals that force laundry down.

Some top-loaders, like high-efficiency models, will use impellers instead of agitators and are made of connected disks at the bottom. This spins your laundry around the drum, which is usually easier on clothes.

Which is better, top-load washers with an agitator or an impeller?

Better is always in the eye of the beholder; agitators are known for being tougher on clothes and use a lot more water. If you’re looking for a more energy- and water-efficient solution for your laundry, then consider washers with impellers instead.

Impeller washers are easier on clothes since there aren’t any paddles to force your clothes through a given cycle. And they can use more of the machine’s available capacity as there isn’t an agitator to take up valuable laundry space.

How much water does a top-loading machine use?

Wondering about the extra strain on your water bill? On average, newer top-loaders use about 25-26 gallons of water per cycle, which is an improvement on old-school models that used to use 40 gallons per cycle (yikes).

However, if water usage is a main concern, consider a high-efficiency model that only uses about 12-17 gallons per cycle.

Can top-load washers be energy efficient?

Yup; High-efficiency top-load washers are very energy efficient in that they use less water to get your clothes clean without the use of agitators (much like a front-load washer). Typically, these models use smaller impellers to spin clothes through water currents and can even spin faster than an agitator model.

Keep in mind that unlike the standard top-loaders, high-efficiency models can have longer cycle times.

Have more questions we didn’t cover? Please contact us for more information; we’re happy to hear from you! Or you can check out our complete household appliance buying guide for more information on all your appliance needs.