There are two main types of washing machines: front load and top load. But what’s the difference? Which one should you buy?
If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide comparing a front load vs a top load washer.
We’ll answer all the necessary questions — including which is cheaper and which washes better — so that you can make the best decision for your clothes.
Front Load Vs Top Load Washers
Front load washers use a rotating drum and gravity to wash clothes. They’re pricier machines, but they are more efficient, gentler, and clean clothes better. Top load washers use a central agitator to clean. They’re faster and cheaper, but they aren’t as energy-efficient. Plus, they are more likely to cause wear and tear on your clothes.
Front Load Vs Top Load Washer Comparison Chart (2023)
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’ve put together a handy chart so you can quickly check out the main differences between these two appliance types.
|Features||Front Load||Top Load|
|Price||More expensive, average $800||More budget-friendly, average $600|
|Water-Efficiency||More efficient, using around 13 gallons per load||Less efficient, using around 19 gallons per load|
|Energy-Efficiency||More efficient, many Energy Star rated||Less efficient, often using up to 1300 watts|
|Appearance||Drum is on display, not as aesthetic||Sleeker for some homes|
|Lifespan||11 years||14 years|
|Installation||Stackable, side by side, in closets||Can’t be stacked|
|Ease of Use||Have to bend down to load, lots of features, maybe confusing||Easy to load and choose settings|
|Size||Come in a variety of sizes, usually deeper than top loading||Come in a variety of sizes, usually taller than front loading|
|Capacity||3.2-6.2 cubic feet||2.8-5.5 cubic feet|
What Should I Look for When Buying a Washing Machine?
Buying a washing machine is an exciting time, especially if you’re finally getting rid of an old appliance.
New washing machines have tons of cool features, so it’s important to consider various details when shopping. Here are the main features we think are important.
Front Load Vs Top Loader Washer
These are the two main types of washing machines. A front load washer has the door at the front, whereas a top load washer has the door at the top of the machine.
Front load machines are more accessible, especially for shorter people or people in a wheelchair. They are less likely to leak and are generally better at cleaning your clothes.
Top load machines are quicker and more ergonomic. They also allow you to easily add in clothes during a cycle.
Budget is a significant factor. Washing machines range from around $400 to $1800, with the average price being around $700.
There are more top load machine options around the $600-700 mark. Whereas front load machines tend to average around $800.
Space and Dimensions
How much space do you have in your home? There aren’t standard washing machine sizes. You’ll find small, medium, and large appliances. Be sure to check your space to see what will fit. Measure the depth, width, and height of the machine.
As mentioned, you’ll find small, medium, and large machines.
We recommend a small machine for 1-2 person families, a medium machine for 2-4 person families, and a larger machine for families of five or more.
A small machine is around 3.2 cubic feet and can hold 12-14 pounds of laundry. A medium machine is 4.5 cubic feet, holding 14-16 pounds of laundry. And a large appliance is around 5-6.2 cubic feet and can hold 20-25 pounds of laundry. To learn more about what capacity is right for you, read our article ‘What Size Washer Do I need?’.
It’s important to check what features an appliance has.
For example, how many different cycles does it have? Does it allow for cold water? Is it self-cleaning? Does it have a stain removal cycle?
There are dozens of different features, so be sure to check out the washing machine’s specs.
Pros and Cons of Top Load Vs Front Load Washers
Let’s explore the main advantages and disadvantages of these two kinds of washing machines. This will help you decide which is right for you.
Top Load Washer Pros
- Easy to load: For tall folks, top load washers are easy to load since you don’t need to bend or kneel down.
- Add as you go: While the cycle is going, you can add clothes to the machine simply by opening the door and tossing in the garments.
- Sleek appearance: Many people like the smooth, sleeker design since the door is on the top.
- Easier to repair: The motor on these washers are accessible. If you’re skilled in DIY, you may be able to make repairs yourself.
- More affordable: Top load machines are more affordable, averaging around $600 but going as low as $400. If you’re on a budget, you may want to opt for one of these machines.
- Longer lifespan: A top load washer typically lasts a bit longer than a front load. The life expectancy of a top loader is around 14 years.
- Clean quickly: If you have lots of laundry loads to do, you’ll like that the top load machines can clean your clothes quicker.
Top Load Washer Cons
- More wear and tear: Because these machines use a central agitator, they’re less gentle on clothes. Your clothes may be subject to some wear and tear during the cycles.
- Not as water-efficient: These machines have higher water usage. A good machine would use around 19 gallons per load, but some appliances use up to 26 (1).
- Not as energy-efficient: Since they use more water, they also use more energy to heat that water. Some older models will use up to 1300 watts (2). To put this into perspective, an Energy Star rated model uses around 500 watts.
- Requires more repair: While a top loading machine generally lasts longer, it will need more repair and maintenance in its life. This can lead to more costs over time.
- Uses more detergent: Since it uses more water, it also needs more detergent. This can ramp up the costs over time.
- Doesn’t fit bulky clothing: Because of the central agitator, bulky items like coats or bedding, don’t always fit well.
- Noisier: These machines tend to be noisier due to the old style and central agitator.
- Not stackable: You’ll need a bit more room to fit a top loading machine since they aren’t stackable.
Front Load Washer Pros
- Best for disabled people: Since the door is low, and at the front, these machines are more suitable for shorter people and disabled people.
- Less likely to leak: The doors lock during the cycle and have anti-leak features. This means you’re less likely to have leaks in your home.
- Gentle on clothes: Since these machines don’t use a central agitator, they are more gentle on clothes. Many have handwashing cycles for wool and delicate items.
- More energy and water-efficient: Many front loading machines have an Energy Star rating. They’re also more water-efficient, with many using around 13 gallons of water (3).
- Stackable: You can save space by stacking it with a dryer.
- Doesn’t need as frequent repairs: While the overall lifespan is shorter than a top loader, these appliances don’t need repairs as often.
- For all clothes types: If you have a variety of clothing types, then this machine is great. It can wash bulky items, including duvets, and delicate items, including shoes. Plus, these machines are more efficient and effective at cleaning clothes.
- Require less detergent: You can save money in the long run since these machines don’t require as much laundry detergent to clean your clothes.
- Higher spin speeds: The high spin speeds on these machines are handy. They wring out your clothes exceptionally well so that they dry in the machine or on a clothesline faster.
- Quiet: If you want less noise from your appliance, then a front loader will be quieter than a top loader.
Front Load Washer Cons
- Can’t add in extra items: During a cycle, the door locks so you can’t add in that sock you left in the hamper. Some newer models have tiny doors so you can pause your appliance and add garments in. But these models come at an extra cost.
- Trained technicians for repairs: We recommend contacting a trained technician for repairing front loading washers rather than doing it yourself.
- More expensive: Front load washers are pricier than top load washers. They average around $800 with many options reaching $1800.
- More prone to mold: The rubber gasket on the door is more prone to mold and mildew build-up since it clings to moisture. This requires more cleaning.
- Longer cycles: A thorough cycle from a front load washer can take a while. For instance, the daily cycle on ours is around 2.5 hours.
Now that you know the main differences, you should be able to make the right decision for yourself.
Which Is Cheaper?
A top load washing machine is cheaper, averaging around $600 with a few options starting at $400.
A front load washing machine averages around $800 but they can span up to $1800.
If you’re on a tight budget, a top load machine might be right for you.
Which Lasts Longer?
A top loading machine has a lifespan of 14 years, versus the front loading machine’s lifespan of 11. However, a front loading machine requires less maintenance over the years.
Which Washes Better?
In our opinion, a front loading machine is more effective at washing clothes.
Firstly, it’s gentler on your clothing.
Secondly, there are often many cycle options, spin speed options, and temperature options.
Thirdly, you don’t need as much detergent to wash the clothes effectively.
Last but not least, front loading machines use a handwashing kind of technique which is more effective than the top loading machine’s central agitator.
Do Front Load Washers Have Mold Problems?
This is a drawback to these machines. Yes, they are more likely to fester mold due to the rubber gasket on the sealed door. Mold and mildew love to harbor here.
But with regular cleaning and airing out the machine between cycles, mold and mildew will be no issue for you!
Do Front Loaders Leak?
When comparing a front loader vs a top loader washer, leaking is an important factor to consider.
Front loaders are much less likely to leak due to the sealed door and rubber gasket.
The only time our front loading machine has ever leaked was when the rubber gasket ripped. And it only ripped because my husband left screws in his work pockets when he was washing his clothes!
Which Cleans Faster?
Top loading machines do clean clothes quicker. Some top loading machines can do a regular load in one hour, whereas front load machines sometimes take over two hours.
Which Is More Efficient?
Front loading machines are more water-efficient, using around 13 gallons per load versus 26 gallons per load for top loading machines. Therefore, they also use less energy to heat the smaller amount of water.
If you’re looking to save money on your water and electricity bills, you may want to opt for a front load machine.
Best Top Load Washers
So you’re in the market for a quick-acting top load washer that allows you to add in garments as you go? Here are our top recommendations:
- Samsung High-Efficiency Top Load Washer With ActiveWave Agitator: We love Samsung appliances. This one comes with an ActiveWave agitator, which is quieter, uses less vibration, and reduces the tangling of your clothes.
- Maytag Smart Top Load Washer: This machine comes with a button so you can equip extra power. This is great for stain-fighting and heavy-duty cleaning. It also has smart features so you can set wash cycles remotely.
- Whirlpool Smart Top Load Washer With Load & Go: This one saves you from adding detergent to every load. Fill it up once, and it automatically releases detergent for the subsequent 20 loads.
- LG High-Efficiency TurboWash3D Washer: This uses incredible technology to clean your clothes gently. Remember how we talked about wear and tear from the agitator? This one prevents that.
- GE 4.2 Cubic Feet Top Load Washer: This is a pretty traditional top load washer. It uses a heavy-duty agitator deep cleaning. It has 11 cycles for different fabrics and six water temperature options. It’s also quite budget-friendly!
Best Front Load Washers
If you’re looking for a front load washer, we have some great recommendations to share with you:
- Samsung High-Efficiency Front Load Washer With Steam: This is similar to the one we have, and we love it. It has an AddWash feature so you can add in items you forgot during the wash! It’s also gentle on clothes while still effectively cleaning dirt and stains.
- LG Front Load Washer With 6Motion Technology: This machine uses six different wash motions to increase its effectiveness while ensuring to be gentle on clothes. It also has ColdWash technology so that you can effectively use cold water on your clothes. This saves you money on your energy bills!
- GE Washer With UltraFresh Vent System: The UltraFresh Vent System removes excess moisture, preventing foul odors. You’ll have fresher clothes with this machine. It also has anti-microbial technology, which protects your clothes load after load.
- Maytag Front Load Washer With Steam: This provides extra power with just the press of a button. It gives you extra stain-fighting power using a dual-temperature wash. It also has a quick cycle, cleaning light loads in only 15 minutes.
- Whirlpool Front Load Washer With Load & Go: Load detergent once, and it lasts for 20 loads, automatically adding the correct amount. You can also create customized cycles with this machine. Plus, it’s Energy Star certified.
Which Will It Be?
Now that you know how a top load vs front load washer competes, it’s time to decide.
We recommend going for a top loading washer if you want to save money, add clothes during a cycle, and need to get through laundry loads quicker.
But we recommend a front loading washer for most families and homes. These machines may be pricier, but they are gentler on your clothes, less likely to leak, and more energy-efficient.