Front Load Washer vs Top Load Washer: Which is Better?

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The question of front load vs. top load washer is one we all ask when buying the best washing machines. Both models are widely available and the specs between the two don’t seem to differ much. So, what type of washer would be best for your laundry room?

To help answer that question, we’ve put together this handy guide that will break down all the important differences between top-loading and front-loading washing machines. We’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of each design, as well as which owner each would ultimately suit. So you can rest assured that you made the right decision when purchasing your new washer.

Front Load Washer vs Top Load Washer: The Basics

Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at the basic differences between the two designs. A front-loading washing machine has a round door in the front, through which you add clothes. Once running, it uses a turbine to spin the load and tumble it on itself while it’s being washed. Clothes are picked up by paddles on the side of the drum as it rotates to help move them in and out of the water.

A top-loading machine, on the other hand, has a door on the top of the machine, through which you load the clothes. It is filled with water until the clothes are completely submerged, then uses a paddle stirrer – which stands in the middle of the drum – to spin the load through the water. However, some top-loading designs also exist that use wheels, rather than agitators to spin the load, much like front-loading washers. These designs basically meet in the middle of the two and have many advantages of both.

Front Load Washer: Strengths and Weaknesses

A front-loading washing machine running alongside a laundry basket

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Strengths:

  • Better cleaning results — Front-loading washers are generally considered more efficient for cleaning. The washing technique is more effective in removing stains.
  • More efficient – Using a front-loading washer saves water, energy and detergent. These generally use less water than top-loading machines, which means less energy is needed to heat the water and less detergent is needed to clean your clothes.
  • Stackable — You can stack these appliances with your dryer to save us space in your laundry room.
  • Gentler with clothes — Front-loading machines spin and tumble clothes to clean them, which is gentler than an agitator found in top-loading machines. This makes front-loading washers more ideal for delicate items.
  • Drum Access — Although you have to bend over to access the drum, it’s easy to reach leftover clothes in the back after a wash.
  • Washing progress — You can actually see the progress of the cycle through the drum door, which some prefer.

A front load washer loaded with laundry from a bird's eye view

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Weaknesses:

  • More cleaning — You wonder about how to clean a washing machine? Due to the rubber seal around the door, mold and mildew can build up easily in a front load washer and require more regular cleaning.
  • Difficult to load — You usually have to bend down to reach the drum of a front-loading washer, although you can add a pedestal to increase the height of the appliances.
  • Usually you cannot add to a wash — Once a cycle starts, you usually can’t add clothes during a wash unless you have one of Samsung’s door-to-door designs.
  • Slower cycles — Due to its washing technique, a front-loading design typically has longer cycles than a top-loading model. This means that you could end up depending on the quick wash setting more often.
  • More expensive – It depends on many variables including brand, capacity and features etc. But, in general, if you look at the higher-end models, front-loading machines tend to cost more.
  • Costs more to maintain — Front-loading washers usually require a professional for any repairs. These are difficult to fix yourself.
  • You cannot pre-soak — The front door design makes pre-soaking difficult in this type of washing machine unless there is a setting designed for it.

Our favorite front-loading washing machine, the Electrolux EFLS627UTT, is reasonably priced, has a 4.4 cubic foot drum that can hold a large wash, and offers nine wash cycles, including a 15-minute quick wash. . It also has a dedicated pod detergent dispenser and an adaptive dispenser that premixes detergent with water in the dispenser, helping to ensure it doesn’t clog.


Top Load Washer: Strengths and Weaknesses

A woman loading a top load washer with a red hoodie

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Strengths:

  • Practice – Top-loading washers are more convenient for inserting clothes. You can stand up straight while you do this, so they’re more comfortable to load. Plus, they’re also easier for larger loads because you don’t have to force them down like you do with a front-loading design.
  • You can add to a wash — Missed a sock? No problem. You can easily add clothes during a wash simply by lifting the door.
  • Faster Cycles — An agitator driven wash runs faster than an impeller, so you can expect faster cycles.
  • Easier to maintain — Some repairs on a top-loading washer can be quite simple, and with the motor being easily accessible, much of the maintenance can be done by the average consumer rather than a professional.
  • Cheaper – It depends on the model in question, but in general, top-loading designs are more reasonably priced than front-loading.
  • You can pre-soak — Pre-soaking is easy in a top-loading washer because you just fill it with water, add the soap, close the lid, and leave it.
  • Easier to clean — Without seals and sometimes without a detergent dispenser, they are easier to clean.

MAYTAG MVW6200KW washing machine

(Image credit: Maytag)

Weaknesses:

  • Not as good for cleaning — Similarly, a top-loading washer is generally not as good at moving stains as a front-loading washer. However, this does not take into account the pre-soak factor.
  • Not stackable — Since these machines are not stackable, you might sacrifice free space for other devices.
  • Aggressive for clothes — As designs improve, an agitator will cause friction when washing clothes, leading to more damage. So it’s not the best design if you have a lot of delicates.
  • Hard to reach the bottom — This is not always the case as it depends on the depth of the machine and the height of the user. But, sometimes it can be difficult to reach the bottom of the drum to retrieve the last clothes.
  • Less efficient – This type of washer immerses the clothes in water as part of the washing process. This means it naturally uses more water, energy and detergent to operate, resulting in more expensive bills.
  • You cannot see the washing progress — Without a viewing window, you’ll have to manually peek inside to see the progress.

The Samsung WA52A5500AC is our favorite top-loading washing machine. It offers a host of features, including 12 wash cycles, five temperature options, five spin speeds and five rinse settings. If that’s not enough, you can even download additional cycles using the SmartThings app. It also has a massive 5.2 cubic feet of capacity, enough for a large family.


Front Load Washer vs Top Load Washer: Which Should You Buy?

Overall, each type of washing machine has its benefits, meaning which one is right for you will depend on your specific needs. If you’re short on space, ask yourself if a front-loading stackable design will make a difference. Whereas if you find it difficult to bend over, a top-loading washer will be more comfortable to use.

Weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each, the front-loading design stands out. Although it may cost more upfront, it is the more effective of the two and provides better overall cleaning performance. Plus, it’s gentler on clothes, which means it’ll be a friend in your closet, too. Essentially, this means he will pay the difference in cost over time.

If you want the benefits of a front-loading washer, but don’t like the idea of ​​leaning over to load it, why not opt ​​for a top-loading washer with an impeller? It will cost a bit more than a standard top-loading design, but it will give you the benefits of both types.

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