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How Do Front-Loading Washers Work Differently From Top-Loading?

How are front-loading washing machines better than top-loading washers? They work differently. Read about how and what their benefits are.

Front-Loading Washers: How Do They Work Better?

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, chances are good you’ve been inundated with ads for the various features offered by front loaders, including compatibility with Alexa, steam wash, load sensing, and more. But all those features aside, should you even consider purchasing a front load washer? Do they really offer more benefits than a top-load model to justify their added cost, or is it all just a wash? Read on as we compare the pros and cons of top load and front load washers.

What are the benefits of top-load washers?

Top load washers are simple. You pour in your detergent, toss in your laundry, and when the cycle is complete, you move the load along to the dryer. Wash, rinse, repeat. If simplicity is important to you, you’ll likely gravitate to a top load washer. Besides their ease of use, top load washers are also convenient, especially for older folks or those with joint pain in that you don’t have to stoop to load your laundry into the machine. With top load washers, the washbasin lives at the top, at the typical height that most adults stand, so you don’t have to bend down to fill clothes into the machine.

Another great feature about top-loading models – the machine’s door doesn’t lock, so you can easily sneak in a bit of laundry mid-load. So, if Fluffy has an accident on your kitchen rug after you’ve already started the washer you don’t have to wait till next load to ditch it off.

Not all top load washers today have an agitator- some newer models now come with an impeller to clean the laundry. Impeller models are referred to as High-Efficiency Top Load Washers because they can clean more clothes and use less water than their agitator counterparts. However, top-load models with agitators typically clean clothes more quickly then impeller models.

What are the downsides of top-load washers?

The agitator in a top load washer can be hard on clothes. While it does clean quickly, the agitator works roughly, with all its vibrating and slamming around in the basin, which is why you shouldn’t put delicates into a top load washer.

Besides its hard-knocks cleaning style, a top load washer can’t accept a lot of laundry. That’s because the agitator takes up a great deal of space in the washbasin, leaving less room to fill up with dirty clothes. And forget about trying to wash large items such as pillows or blankets, as these bulky pieces won’t fully immerse in the water of a top load washer.

And while front load washers tend to have a higher purchase price, top load washers cost more to operate due to their heavy water consumption. American’s second greatest expense on their water bill comes from running their washing machine, and a top load washer is a strong contributor to this high number.

Not only do top load washers use more water, but they also cause clothes to come out about 33 percent damper due to a slower final spin speed. This means you’ll end up running top load washed clothes longer in the dryer then laundry washed in a front-load machine.

What are the benefits of Front-Load washers?

Front-load machines are surging in popularity for a reason. They are more energy-efficient, use less water, and have a variety of attractive features such as smart-programming options that make doing laundry a whole lot more exciting. Plus, they just look nicer too, turning your laundry area into a room that would make Rosie Jetson proud.

And although the bending and stooping to fill a front load washer may be a pain, manufacturers sell pedestals that will raise the machine by 12-15”, the natural height of most adults.

Plus, the configuration of front load washers is far more flexible, which allows them to be stacked with a dryer if your laundry space is limited.

And front load washers use 40% less water than the average top load model, making them a more efficient choice and saving you money on your monthly water bill. So, although front load washers cost more initially, in the long run they are a better value then their top load counterparts.

What are the downsides of Front-Load washers?

Besides having a higher purchase price then top load models, front load washers also take more to maintain. The top complaint against front load washers is that over time, water tends to build up along the rubber seal leading to mold in the machine’s gasket. Top load washers, on the other hand don’t have this issue as gravity pulls the water down so there is no moisture buildup in the machine’s seal.

What to consider Overall when choosing front-load or top-load

Whichever type you choose, your best option is to weigh the pros and cons of each, and consider your home’s setup, how much you’re willing to invest in a machine, and the amount of maintenance you'd like put into an appliance. However, if your budget allows for it, we’d definitely recommend going with the front load washer, not only for its looks and features but for its overall efficiency in tackling the chore of laundry.

Resources— Designer Appliances, Digital Trends

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