Washing Machines: Top-Loaders versus Front-Loaders

old washing machine dial settings

Which is the better purchase?

Believe it or not, people are extremely passionate about whether they love their top loader or front loader. And they cannot fathom why someone would choose the opposite of what they love.

So what makes one type of washing machine better than the other? There are definite pros and cons to both styles of washing machine.  Let’s take an in-depth look at both sides of the two main types of washers.

For this analysis, we’re only analyzing regular top-loading washing machines and high-efficiency front-loading machines.  The top-loading agitator-less style is on the market, but we’ll analyze that another day.

Top Loading Washing Machines:


  • Definitely the most economical of the three types.  You can buy a base model washer for as low as $350 in most home improvement stores.
  • You can soak items for a lengthy period of time. This is a huge advantage to top loaders in my opinion.  You can run the tub full of water with your favorite stain remover and let it soak for days if you like.
  • Cloth diapers wash better in a top loader.  Cloth diapers wash better in top loaders due to the large volume of water used.  A large volume of water helps ward off stinky dipes.
  • It’s easy to throw in last minute articles. You can lift the lid on a top loader at any time during the wash cycle.  It may stall the cycle when the lid is raised, but you can throw in those forgotten socks at any point in the wash cycle.
  • You can use any detergent your heart desires. You don’t have to worry if it’s high-efficiency or homemade.  Top loaders take any and all kinds.
  • There are less electronic components. Less electronics = less opportunity to break.
  • Easier to repair. The mechanisms are cheaper and easier to access in a top loader, making it easier to repair.
  • They last forever.  Well, not forever.  But I do run into people all the time who say, “I’ve had my machine for 15 years and it’s still going strong.”  Or “I can’t get my top loader to die and I’ve had it 19 years!”  Top loaders do have the gift of longevity.


  • They use an agitator. Agitators are extremely hard on clothes.  It is a huge contributing factor in making clothes look older at a faster rate.  Even the gentle cycle can’t compare to the gentle washing of an agitator-less washer.
  • Can’t wash bulky items. This is also due to the agitator.  When washing pillows or down-filled comforters or slip covers an agitator will practically ruin the item.  The agitator almost guarantees that the item will not retain its original shape.
  • They use a large amount of water. Top loaders use between 40-44 gallons of  water per cycle.  That’s a huge amount of water per load.
  • They use a huge amount of energy. If the machine uses a ‘warm’ or ‘hot’ wash, the water heater has to heat that 40-44 gallons of water.  That equals a huge increase on your power or gas meter.  Cha-ching.
  • They make the dryer run longer. A top loader just cannot wring out the water in a load of clothes very well, regardless of how efficient its spin cycle.  Because the clothes are hanging on to more water, the dryer runs longer.  And that dryer?  It is the ultimate energy sucking appliance.  You want to run it as little as possible if you’re interested in keeping your power bill down.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of front-loading washers and then draw a few conclusions.


  1. Confession:

    I had a Whirlpool top loader washer and dryer set (that I loved!) for almost ten years before the agitator went out on the washer and the dryer fried at the same time so it was time to shop. Hey, we do a lot of laundry. With each added child I heard it scream… NO MORE!

    I was sold on the look of the front loader. They are so pretty. Friends warned me, I did not listen.

    Doing laundry for seven people, I had this idea that the front load would be so much better.

    I HATE IT!

    It leaks.
    I thought it would hold so much more because there was no agitator.
    It now makes a noise and it is only a year old.
    I cannot toss in the forgotten items like you said.

    But it sure is pretty…. 🙂

    Great post!
    .-= Crystal & Co´s last blog ..So, you’re having twins… (a series is born) =-.

    • mamalaundry says:

      They ARE pretty! Sorry yours leaks. That’s no fun at all.

      There are definitely pros and cons to front loaders too. We’ll tackle those tomorrow. 🙂

  2. bradley says:

    had a side load HE unit for 1 month thank goodness i was able to sell it for what i bought it for!

    i use my clothes hard, especially my jeans as a mechanic/trucker/construction worker my clothes are BLACK 3 days out of the week by the time i come home oil/grease/dirt /whatever!

    less water (yeah it saves what, 15 cents worth of water and maybe 30 cents worth of heat?) means the stains, instead of coming out, smear into the clothes a 1/4″ oil spot turns into a 2″ dark patch

    tried messing with options to the most heavy duty it would do, no luck, plus the whole having to wait 3 minutes to open the door more expensive detergent…etc…etc.. friends often complain about theirs going on the fritz, one needed a new $400 circuit board

    anyhow found myself a cheap $50 dollar used super capacity top load again, always soak everything overnight, clothes are ALMOST new when they come out of a cycle with borax, ammonia & tide sport warm water

    good luck everyone!

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