Front Load vs Top Load Washer: Which One’s Better?

By Lyle Weischwill | Aug. 10, 2023 10:08 am PST

the pros and cons of top- and front-load dryers

Take a look at the pros and cons of each to help decide which is right for you.

The average American family does nearly 400 loads of laundry every year. That’s a lot of dirty socks.

While most families still use traditional top-loading washers to handle all of that laundry, new front-loading models are making serious headway into the market. Both washer styles offer features such as detergent and bleach dispensers, a variety of wash cycles, and both do exactly what you need them to do: clean clothes.

So when it’s time for a new washer, how do you determine which is the best type to use? We take a quick spin through the pros and cons of each.

Top Load Pros and Cons

If you’ve ever found yourself in the never-ending cycle of laundry, chances are you’ve encountered the trusty workhorse of the laundry room: the top load washer. With its familiar design and efficient functionality, the top load washer has become a staple in households across the globe. But as with any appliance, there’s more than meets the eye. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of the top load washer, exploring the convenience it brings to your laundry routine, as well as the potential drawbacks that might have you considering other options.

Top-Loaders: Pros

Familiarity

New appliances can be daunting, especially with all those technical features. Sometimes it can feel like you’re piloting a space shuttle just to do a load of laundry. Not so with most top-loaders. Everyone is familiar with them: the central agitator, the wash cycles. They’re what most people used growing up, and some estimates say 75% of households still do.

Adding clothes mid-cycle

It never fails: You start your load and then notice a sock on the laundry room floor. Not a problem with a top-loader. Just pop it open, drop in the wayward sock and resume the wash cycle. With most front-loaders, you can’t open the door once the cycle has started.

Price

Top-loaders are generally cheaper than their fancy front-loading cousins. You can get a base model for around $300, and the price goes up from there, based on the fancier features.

Comfort

For some people, especially those with back problems, it’s simply more comfortable to load and unload from the top of the washer. No bending required.

Detergent

With top-loaders, you can use the same kind of detergent you’ve been using all your life. Front-loaders require specially made suds.

Top-Loaders: Cons

Energy costs

There’s only one, but it’s a biggie: Most top-load washing machines aren’t energy efficient. Top-loaders use an average of 7,000 more gallons of water than front-load washers per year. One reason is because the tub of a top-load washer fills with water, but it doesn’t in a front-loader. With a top load, you use more water and more energy to heat that water. While there are many more high-efficiency top-loader models on the market today, top-loaders in general are still the bigger energy hog.

Front Load Pros and Cons

Front-load washers have revolutionized the way we tackle laundry, boasting an array of features that promise efficient cleaning and space-saving design. These sleek appliances have quickly gained popularity, offering benefits that range from impressive water and energy efficiency to gentler fabric care. However, as with any innovation, there are trade-offs to consider. Let’s delve into the world of front-load washers, examining their undeniable advantages and the potential drawbacks that might just leave you pondering the right washing machine for your home.

Front-Loaders: Pros

Energy costs

A front load washing machine needs less water per load, and some estimates say they use as much as 50% less energy than their traditional cousins, making them more economical and better for the environment.

Speed

The speed of the spin cycle on front-loaders is much faster than the spin of top-loaders. This high spin speed combined with the lower amount of water means clothes come out drier, resulting in less drying time. So you’ll be saving time and money on that aspect as well.

Space inside the washer

Front-loaders don’t use an agitator or impeller like top-loading machines. Agitators take up a lot of space. Because the basket is empty, you’ve got much more room for larger loads. And larger loads mean less loads.

Bells and whistles

For techies who love the latest and greatest features, front-loaders are generally a better fit. Many have steam cycles for heavy stains, smart features that allow you to start and monitor the laundry when you’re not home and electronic keypads — the whole nine yards.

Space outside the washer

If space is limited, front-load washers can often be combined with a matching dryer to form a stackable unit. This is especially helpful if you have a laundry closet.

Front-Loaders: Cons

Smell

Some people report that their front-loaders can develop a rather unpleasant smell. That’s because water gets trapped in the seals around the door and can lead to mold and mildew. There are ways to prevent this from happening, but as a buyer, you should be aware of this issue.

Comfort

Consider the amount of bending you’ll be doing to take clothes in and out of the washer 400 times a year. If you’ve got a bad back, a top-load washing machine is probably a better choice.

Price

Over time, you’ll see savings on your energy bills, but your front-loading machine will cost you more up-front.

Detergent

You’ll need to use specially formulated detergent for your front-loader.

Key Considerations: Choosing the Right Washer for Your Home

When shopping for a new washer, the pros and cons of front-loaders and top-loaders merit careful assessment. But equally important are factors such as the available space, your laundry habits and your specific comfort and needs.

The Layout of Your Laundry Space

Your home’s layout and the available laundry space is essential when deciding which style washer is best. Front-loading washers are known for their space-efficient design, making them an excellent choice for compact laundry areas. They can be conveniently stacked with a compatible dryer, saving valuable floor space and providing a streamlined look. However, it’s important to note that their door orientation requires additional room in front for loading and unloading.

On the other hand, top-load washers are often preferred when space constraints are less pressing. Their loading mechanism is more ergonomic, as you don’t need to bend down to access the wash basket. Top-loaders can be a better fit for homes with limited vertical clearance, as they don’t require as much overhead space as front-loaders. But it’s crucial to ensure there’s enough room for the top lid to fully open.

How Often You Use Your Washer

When deciding between a front-load washer and a top-load washer, evaluate how frequently you use your washer. Front-load washers, because of their efficiency, are more suitable for households that tend to wash clothes more frequently. Top-load washers offer convenience for occasional users due to easier loading and unloading.

Washer Capacity vs. Family Size

The capacity of the washer style you choose should also be considered. For families with larger households, a front- load washer with its spacious wash tub offers a greater capacity, accommodating bulkier loads and reducing the frequency of laundry loads. However, top-load washers are a viable option for medium- and small-sized families. Striking the right balance between washer type and capacity in accordance with your family’s laundry demands is key to making a wall-informed choice.

Sears Home Services Offers Washer Maintenance and Repairs

No matter which style washer you decide is best for you, Sears Home Services is here to help keep your washer in its best condition. Routine washer maintenance will keep the machine running efficiently and help prevent breakdowns. And if you ever need you washer repaired, our technicians are highly trained and experienced with both front-load and top-load washers. Simply schedule a service call and our experts will get your washer up and running again in no time.

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