Choosing the right washing machine for your first apartment or your dream home is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Generally, you have two options: a front load washer and a top load washer.
Your final decision will largely depend on your lifestyle, budget, and allocated space. You’ll also need to consider the washer’s efficiency and maintenance, which we’ll tackle to ensure you’re picking the best washer for you.
Grab something to write on and let’s compare front load washers and top load washers with each other before your big move!
What’s the difference between a front load and a top load washer?
The main difference between front load and top load washers is their door placements, which affects their ergonomic capabilities and washing tub rotations.
Moreover, front load machines have more smart features while top loaders have more traditional assets.
Because of their door placement, front load washers are stackable with their corresponding dryers. Some front load units even have built-in stacking trays that allow you to place them above or below other appliances.
This unique stacking ability makes front load washing machines more popular than their top load counterparts.
On the other hand, top load washers are widely known for their huge laundry capacity and ergonomic qualities.
There are two types of top loader washers: the agitator and the impeller. Agitator-style models have a spindle in the middle of their wash bin that paddles through the clothes and effectively removes tougher stains.
The agitator’s counterpart, the impeller, cleans clothes in a much gentler way. It has small fins on the bottom of its tub and lets your clothes tumble on one another to clean themselves.
We’ve compiled a few key differences in the table below to help you compare front load and top load washers.
|Front load washers||Top load washers|
|Water Efficiency||• Front load washers use less water because of their unique tumbling action. |
• They can save up to 2,000 gallons of water annually.
|Top load washers have a deeper wash bin and use more water to soak the clothes.|
|Energy Efficiency||Front load washers have faster spinning speeds, thereby consuming 45% less electricity than top load washers.||• Top load washers have lower revolutions per minute (RPM) and as such consume more power.|
• Top load washing machines can be made energy efficient by using cold water during laundry.
|Duration of Wash Cycle||Front load washers take less than two hours to complete a wash cycle because they utilize a shallow water-detergent solution.||• Agitator-type top load washing machines are the fastest type of washers. They are able to clean clothes in 30 minutes because of their paddles’ rigorous movement.|
• Top load impeller-type washing machines take at least 50 minutes to finish washing clothes.
|Noise||Most front load washers have anti-vibration and sound-dampening features that make less noise during a wash cycle.||• Top load washers are noisier because they have a deeper tub.|
• Some units come with soft-closed lids to lessen the noise during a wash cycle.
|Foul Odor, Mildew, and Mold Problems||• Foul odor, mildew, and molds can develop within a front load washing machine as the rubber gasket can trap water during the wash cycle.|
• This can be a constant problem if the washer is not cleaned properly.
|• Foul odor, mildew, and mold are not problems for top load washing machines. |
• Due to their design, water drips down directly to the drain.
|Space Usage||Front load washers are easier to install and take up less space because of their stackable feature.||Top load washers take up more space because they are not stackable. They can only be installed beside their corresponding dryer.|
|Ergonomics||Due to their height constraints, front load washers need to be placed on a washer pedestal for better and more convenient usage.||• Top load washers have the ideal height for optimal usage.|
• Washer pedestals are optional for top load washers.
|Cost and Maintenance||• Front load washers are more expensive than their top load counterparts because of their more advanced features and machine parts.|
• Maintenance on front load washers is also pricey.
|• Top load washers are much cheaper than their front load counterparts because of their simple design and technology. |
• Machine parts are also cheaper in comparison to the intricate machinery and smart features found in front load washers.
|Effect on Clothes||• Wash cycles on front load units are much gentler on clothes as they only rely on a unique tumble action to clean them.|
• Some front load models also have smart features that customize a wash cycle depending on the type of laundry they’re given.
|• Top loaders are generally harsher on clothes as they’re known to remove stubborn stains and dirt.|
• Agitator-type top loads are the grittiest since they use paddles on clothes.
• Top load impeller types are gentler as they utilize the fins on the bottom of their wash bin to wash clothes.
Front load washers use 40% less water than top load washers because their drum rotations allow them to clean your clothes in shallow water-detergent solution.
In comparison, top load washers have deeper drums that need more water to soak the clothes in.
Front load washers only use 14 gallons of water per rotation while top load washing machines utilize 20 gallons or more for every course.
Because of their water-saving feature, front load washing machines annually save 2,000 gallons more water than top load units.
The average washing machine model for both front load and top load units consumes 400-1,400 watts of electricity. Using the appliance three times a week can total 140.4 kilowatts per hour annually.
But front load models are generally more energy efficient. Front loaders have a spin speed average of 1,500 RPM (Revolution Per Minute), which allows them to utilize the energy they’re consuming per wash cycle better than top loaders at 600 RPM.
In fact, front load machines use about 45% less energy compared to top load agitator-type washers. Moreover, front load washers can accommodate a larger batch of laundry, further helping reduce energy consumption.
While top loaders are less energy efficient, you can optimize your wash cycles to consume less electricity and water by washing your clothes in a cold setting.
It’s also important to note that a front load or a top load washing machine’s energy consumption will largely depend on the brand and how frequently it’s used.
Duration of Wash Cycle
A front load washer’s single wash cycle typically lasts for two hours due to the shallow detergent-water solution it’s utilizing.
Meanwhile, top load washers cut that wash cycle duration by a good portion, depending on the type of top load unit you have. The agitators’ paddle helps with easier and faster stain removal, thereby giving clothes less time in the washer.
Top load agitator-type washers can complete a wash cycle in 30 minutes, making it the fastest machine to finish laundry. On the other hand, their impeller-type counterparts can take up to 50 minutes for every wash cycle.
Newer models of both front load and top load washing machines have smart features that allow users to tailor their washer’s cycle durations based on their needs. The laundry size also affects the duration.
The newest models of both front load and top load washers are now much quieter compared to their initial types of machinery.
However, they can still create noises either because of incorrect installation or an overloaded washing tub.
Compared to top load washing machines, front load units are generally quieter and create lesser vibrations while washing clothes. This is possible due to their anti-vibration and sound-dampening qualities.
Top load units, on the contrary, are quite loud — the water in the washing tub can be heard splashing around for the whole wash cycle. However, there are soft-close lids on certain top load machines that lessen these noises.
Foul Odor, Mildew, and Mold Problems
Foul odor, mildew, and mold are common problems with front load washers. These issues appear because of the rubber gasket.
Located between the door and the washing drum, the rubber gasket is notorious for trapping excess water and condensed water. If the rubber gasket isn’t cleaned regularly, the water will develop a foul odor and become a breeding ground for mildew and mold.
However, front load machinery has since adapted, and some of them now have self-cleaning features, specialized ventilation systems, and even special antimicrobial coatings.
Meanwhile, top loaders have little to no odor, mildew, and mold-related problems. They have good ventilation in their lid and their vertical washing tubs utilize gravity, enabling the water to drain instantly.
Front load washers are stackable, making them more space-efficient than top load units. Your dryer can be installed on top or below the washer.
Top loaders, on the other hand, aren’t built to be stackable. They can only be installed side to side with their corresponding dryer, requiring extra space.
Top load washers are also bulkier than front load washing machines because they’re built to accommodate a larger laundry size.
Impeller-type models typically have 5.3 cubic foot tubs while agitator models hold 4.7 cubic feet.
It’s highly advisable to measure the space you have available so you can buy the ideal brand suitable for your home.
Top load washers have ergonomic designs. Because their door is positioned on the appliance’s surface, they don’t require the user to bend over when doing their laundry.
Moreover, top loaders offer built-in dispensers and soft-close lids that don’t require much strength to operate.
Since top loaders typically reach waist height, they can be used without a washer pedestal. On the other hand, front load washers, with their doors positioned lower, need to be raised at least 12 to 15 inches for more ergonomic usage.
Cost and Maintenance
Front load washers are more expensive than top load washers because they’re built with expensive machinery and equipped with more smart features. This also makes their maintenance more expensive.
Because front load washers have more mechanisms that need sealing, they can trap more dirt, lint, and mold that need constant maintenance to avoid buildup and damage to the appliance.
On the other hand, top load washers are generally much cheaper than their front load counterparts because of their upfront design and technology. Maintenance also isn’t an issue as top loaders can be easily cleaned.
The cost of both front load and top load washers heavily depends on their brand and how recent the model is. The size and washing capacity of the machine can also affect the pricing.
Effect on Clothes
Front load washers are generally gentler on clothes because of their tumbling action that relies on friction to wash garments. The washers don’t drown the clothes in deep water – instead, the washing tub rotates in all directions.
Front load models also have features that enable the user to indicate if the particular laundry needs gentle washing.
Conversely, top load washing machines are grittier since they’re built to remove tougher stains. Aggregator-type units make use of paddles and are more likely to tug and twist on the clothes during wash cycles.
Impeller-type washing machines, on the other hand, can be gentler than aggregators since they have small fins to assist the wash cycle.
The Pros and Cons of Getting a Front Load Washer
If you want to save energy and water while having softer clothes, front load washers can be the next big thing in your household. Not only that, but their stackability can help you better optimize the space in your home.
Front load washers scream modernity, with specialized options that let you customize your wash cycle to your preferences. For example, running your undergarments in the washer isn’t a problem as front load units have delicate wash settings.
But due to their extravagant features, front load washers can be expensive. In the same way, maintenance may not be easy as most repairs require professional assistance.
Front load washers also need to be cleaned constantly to prevent them from developing foul odors and mold problems.
The Pros and Cons of Getting a Top Load Washer
Top load washers are straightforward appliances and have not changed much of their design since they were first invented.
Top load washing machines take pride in their vertical tub. Since the tub can be directly accessed through the top of the appliance, users have little to no problem getting laundry done.
Because of their design, users with disabilities and chronic pain, as well as the elderly, can tend to their laundry minus the physical challenge that comes along with it.
Top load washing machines specialize in getting tough stains out of clothes. Their agitator-type units paddle through clothes while their impeller-type models use fins to clean clothes.
The cost and maintenance for top load washers are mostly within budget as the machine parts are cheaper in contrast to front loaders.
On another note, top load models may not be the ideal appliance if you’re looking into energy and water-saving features. They use more water and power due to their large capacities.
They’re also quite noisy during laundry. But the elephant in the room is the top load washer’s inability to be stacked with a dryer because of their door placement, requiring you to allocate more space for your washer and dryer units.
Both front load and top load washers are multifunctional in their own ways. Their unique features give users the accessibility and necessary options they need to finish their laundry.
Overall, your budget and lifestyle can be the deciding factors on whether a top load or a front load washing machine is best for you.