Which is better, a front-load or top-load washer?

There are two main types of washing machines: front-load and top-load washers. Both usually come with the same cycles and settings, but they differ from one another in a few ways. Top-load washers are generally faster at getting clothes clean and can be more ergonomic. Front-load machines, meanwhile, often do a better job at washing clothes while being more energy-efficient.

Front-load washers

Front-load washing machines are common in many parts of the world, but especially in European countries. They are designed so that you put clothes inside the machine’s horizontal-axis drum from the front. Many of them are also larger than their top-load counterparts, meaning they can fit more clothes within.

They are often better at cleaning clothes while using less water and energy than top-load machines. This makes them more energy-efficient, but it also reduces the wear on the clothes.

Most front-load washers come with multiple settings and cycles to clean fabrics. However, they don’t usually include a setting for load size. This is mainly because these appliances are designed with water sensors to use only as much water as is needed. And they can make auto-adjustments to make them more efficient.

Many manufacturers produce high-quality front-load washers, but the most recognized brands are LG, Samsung and GE. These machines usually cost $600-$1,200.

Front-load washer pros

  • These machines can clean any type of clothing and fabric with minimal wear.
  • They’re energy-efficient and don’t waste as much water as other machines.
  • Some models are stackable for a space-saving washer/dryer combo, while others can be positioned side-by-side.
  • They can clean and wring out clothes effectively.
  • Newer models are quiet, making them ideal for smaller homes where noise travels.
  • Most can automatically adjust so cut down on waste and save you money.
  • The larger drum is perfect for big families or those who tend to clean many clothes or blankets at once.

Front-load washer cons

  • They’re more prone to leaking than top-load washers, though this isn’t common.
  • If the drum is too full, clothes can get stuck near the door or even tear.
  • They require more routine maintenance and cleaning than top-load washers, especially near the door.
  • Due to their front-load design, clothes can spill out more easily when overfilled.
  • They require you to crouch or squat to use them, which can be difficult for those with mobility issues.

Best front-load washers

Best Samsung 4.5-Cubic-Foot Large-Capacity Smart Dial Front-Load Washer With Super Speed Wash

Samsung 4.5-Cubic-Foot Large-Capacity Smart Dial Front-Load Washer With Super Speed Wash

Available in white or brushed black, this front-load machine has a 4.5 cubic foot capacity and offers a super speed wash cycle that takes 28 minutes. It comes with MultiControl which lets you operate a compatible stacked dryer from the washing machine. It also connects to Wi-Fi, making it convenient for changing settings, schedule cycles and more.

Sold by Home Depot

Best LG Electronics 27-inch 5-Cubic-Foot Mega-Capacity Smart Front-Load Washer

LG Electronics 27-inch 5-Cubic-Foot Mega-Capacity Smart Front-Load Washer

This large front-load washer is designed for big families or people who prefer to do large loads. It can thoroughly clean clothes within 30 minutes. It has five powerful jets that can spray clothes from all angles and comes with built-in artificial intelligence that can automatically select the optimal settings for the load. It’s also highly efficient and compact.

Sold by Home Depot

Best Maytag 4.5-Cubic-Foot Stackable Front-Load Washing Machine

Maytag 4.5-Cubic-Foot Stackable Front-Load Washing Machine

A powerful appliance designed to combat the toughest of stains and grime, this front-load machine comes with the settings needed to wash clothes effectively and efficiently. With the quick-wash cycle, you can clean clothes in about 15 minutes. It also comes with a 12-Hour Fresh Spin setting that keeps clothes in the drum fresh long after the cycle ends.

Sold by Home Depot

Top-load washers

Popular in America, top-load washers are designed so you can put clothes inside them from the top, making them easy to load. They usually have faster cycles than front-load machines. Plus, the door doesn’t generally lock once the cycle begins, meaning you can start it and still add in new clothes.

These appliances have a cylindrical agitator in the middle of the water drum, which lets the machine wash fabrics vertically. Most models can’t be stacked, but some do come with a combination design.

The main manufacturers of these machines are GE, LG, Samsung and Maytag. They cost $400-$1,000, on average, making them slightly less expensive than their counterparts.

Top-load washer pros

  • Most models are more budget-friendly than front-load washers.
  • Some are energy-efficient.
  • They’re less likely to leak than front-load machines, and they’re easier to maintain.
  • They come with all the standard features and cycles of other washing machines.
  • Since they don’t require much bending, they’re easy for those with mobility issues to load.
  • The cycles are often faster than front-load machines.
  • They come in different sizes, so they’re considered ergonomic.

Top-load washer cons

  • Most aren’t as efficient as front-load machines, especially when it comes to water use.
  • Since they’re harder to stack, they often require more space.
  • Some models are noisier than front-load machines.
  • Certain machines are harsher on clothes or don’t clean as consistently, especially on shorter cycles.
  • It can be difficult to grab small items, such as socks, from the bottom of the machine since doing so requires you to bend over and reach.

Best top-load washers

Best Samsung 5-Cubic-Foot Top-Load Washer With Active WaterJet

Samsung 5-Cubic-Foot Top-Load Washer With Active WaterJet

Available in brushed black or white, this appliance is Energy Star-certified, meaning it’s very efficient. It has a large drum that’s easy to access without needing to bend down. It also comes with a Deep Fill option that lets you add extra water to cover all the fabrics within. The Active WaterJet feature makes it easy to pre-treat heavily soiled or stained clothes for a more thorough clean.

Sold by Home Depot

Best LG Electronics 4.8-Cubic-Foot Ultra-Large-Capacity Top-Load Washer

LG Electronics 4.8-Cubic-Foot Ultra-Large-Capacity Top-Load Washer

With a direct drive motor that turns and rotates separately from the tub mechanism, this machine spins with a strong water flow for a gentle clean. The tub consists of durable stainless steel and can fit a king-size comforter with ease.

Sold by Home Depot

Best GE 4.5-Cubic-Foot High-Efficiency Top-Load Washer With Agitator

GE 4.5-Cubic-Foot High-Efficiency Top-Load Washer With Agitator

This machine is designed with customizable water levels, meaning you can save water or add more as needed. It has all the standard cycles, including a deep clean and a speed wash cycle that lets you wash fabrics as needed. With 700 rotations per minute, this washer can efficiently remove water at the end of the cycle to make it easier to dry clothes.

Sold by Home Depot

Should you get a front-load or a top-load washer?

Front-load and top-load washing machines usually come with similar settings, such as those for cotton, heavy-duty loads, whites and delicates. They can also handle any type of fabric. If you want an appliance that cuts down on space usage and is highly efficient, a front-load machine is best. But if you’d prefer something that’s easy to load and offers faster cycles, a top-load washer could be better.

 

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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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