Agitator or No Agitator? Choosing the Best Washer for Your Laundry Needs

Best Washer for Laundry Needs

When shopping for new washers, you’ll encounter the classic agitator and more modern non-agitator washing machines.

But what exactly are agitators and how does it affect our washing experience? Let’s discuss everything about them below to help you choose which best fits you.

What is a washing machine agitator?

A washing machine agitator is a pole-like structure found at the center of your washer’s drum. They rotate back and forth during a cycle to help your clothes rub against each other and break down dirt and stains.  

Traditional washing machines commonly have agitators but the more recent models don’t have them anymore. This brings us back to the question: Which is better?

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of agitator and no agitator washers.

Pros and Cons of Washing Machine Agitators

The pros of washing machine agitators are their toughness against stubborn stains, efficient washing, and affordability. 

Meanwhile, the cons of agitators include rough and damaging wash cycles for delicate clothing, too much water and energy consumption, and limited load capacity. 

Breaks down stubborn stainsWashes too roughly for delicate clothing
Washes efficientlyConsumes more water and energy
Comes at affordable pricesOffers lesser load capacity

Agitator Pros

There’s a good reason why many households still stick to the classic agitator washers. Find out why below.

Breaks Down Stubborn Stains

The main purpose of agitators is to break down the tough stains on your clothes. The rotating motion creates friction between the fabrics, helping them rub stubborn dirt off. 

Some examples of tough stains that agitators can remove are ink smears, oil residue, coffee splatters, and sweat marks.

If you’re exposed to these things on a regular basis and are always at risk of spills, consider having an agitator washer at home. 

Washes Efficiently

Thanks to its rotating pole, agitators can clean your clothes faster and more thoroughly. 

You won’t have to worry about multiple and long wash cycles just to get the dirt out. 

Their speed and effectiveness make for more efficient washing. Your clothes are guaranteed to be stain-free in just one wash. 

Comes at Affordable Prices

Agitator washers have a less complex design and technology compared to their non-agitator counterparts. This simplicity translates to lower production costs, resulting in cheaper sale prices. 

The good news is having less advanced technology doesn’t affect an agitator washing machine’s cleaning performance. Don’t forget that agitators are tough on stains!

Agitator Cons

As reliable as they are, agitator washers also have their drawbacks that can make you think twice about getting them. See their cons below before you decide.

Washes Too Roughly for Delicate Clothing

True to their name, agitators remove stains by agitating your clothes. The friction that the rotating pole creates against the fabrics can be too rough for your delicates. 

Examples of delicate clothing are underwear, chiffon blouses, lace tops, and beaded dresses. The aggressive rubbing against each other can result in tears and stretched fabrics.

Consumes More Water and Energy

The agitator requires more water and power to deliver the needed aggressiveness in removing tough stains. 

Washing machines with agitators are also larger in size to accommodate the rotating pole while also leaving enough space for your load. 

Offers Lesser Load Capacity

Agitator washers may be big as a whole but the center pole takes up significant space inside the machine’s drum. This leaves less space for your laundry. 

Having a smaller load capacity may also not be ideal for washing large-sized items like thick blankets and comforters. You can do only one or two blankets at a time per cycle. 

Pros and Cons of Non-Agitator Washing Machines

The pros of non-agitator washers are their gentle and non-damaging wash cycles, energy-efficient washing, and large load capacity. 

On the other hand, their cons are they can’t completely remove stubborn stains, have longer wash cycles, and are more expensive than washers with agitators. 

Gentler wash Less effective against tough stains
Energy-efficientLonger wash cycles
Large load capacityHigher price

No Agitator Pros

Choosing a more modern washing machine obviously has its wins. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Gentler Wash

Without the agitator’s powerful force, you won’t have to worry about your clothes stretching and tearing from too much friction. This is good news for your delicate wear! 

You also don’t have to fret about discoloration. After all, fabrics can lose their pigment and turn dull from too much rubbing and stretching. 

Fading colors are not going to be a problem with the non-agitators’ gentler wash cycles.


The more modern washers are all about saving water and energy. No agitator washing machines thus consume 30% – 50% less resources and power compared to agitators.

Their high efficiency also translates to lower electric and water bills. Not only can you save from preserving your clothes’ longevity, but you can also save more on utilities. 

Large Load Capacity

Having no agitator in the middle of your washer’s drum means more space for your clothes. You can wash more with a non-agitator washing machine’s larger load capacity compared to those with agitators. 

Because it’s more spacious, blankets, comforters, and other big items can also fit inside your washer. 

No Agitator Cons 

The non-agitator washing machines sound like a dream, but alas nothing’s perfect. Consider these cons before making a final decision. 

Less Effective Against Tough Stains 

The non-agitator washer’s gentle cycles are no match for tough stains and stubborn dirt. Don’t be surprised if the persistent pen ink and yellowish sweat patch are still there even after a long wash cycle. 

Two or three more wash cycles might be needed to get rid of those stains. In worse cases, handwashing can remove the dirt better than no-agitator washing machines.

Longer Wash Cycles

A non-agitator wash cycle can take up to 1.5 hours compared to agitator machines, which can finish washing in 45 minutes. 

It’s harder to clean soiled clothes without an agitator. That’s why non-agitator washers need more time to wash and soak the fabric in hopes of removing the stains. 

If you don’t mind long wash cycles, you won’t have a problem with these more modern washing machines. 

Higher Price 

Of course, advanced technology comes at a higher price. Non-agitator washers have more complex parts, functions, and technology running them so expect that they cost more.  

If you have extra savings, investing in hi-tech washers isn’t a bad thing and comes with its own perks. 

You may be paying a lot upfront when buying non-agitator washers, but you’ll also be saving more on water and electricity bills in the long run.

Maintaining resource and energy efficiency does require complex technology and functions. Keep this factor in mind. 

So which is better, agitators or no agitators?

Agitator washers are the better choice for cleaning stubborn cloth stains. On the other hand, non-agitators are better for cleaning delicate wear.

Examples of tough stains that agitators deal with are inks and food sauces, while non-agitators are better for delicate fabrics like wool and lace. 

Remember, choosing the right washing machine makes a world of difference. That’s why we have to make sure that our washer of choice is the best one for the job! 

Evaluate your lifestyle carefully before making a final decision. If you’re having a hard time choosing between agitators and non-agitators, asking industry professionals isn’t a bad idea. 

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