Top-Loading vs. Front-Loading: How to Decide?

Should you buy a top-loading or front-loading washing machine? We'll help you decide. Read what to consider when buying a new washer.

Top-Loading or Front-Loading Washing Machines: Which Is Best?

Buying a new washing machine is not necessarily a quick and easy purchase. With the range of appliances that exist today, shoppers have to think long and hard about what kind of washing machine will best serve them. While there are seemingly endless numbers of washing machine models out on the market, the first place you’ll want to start is with deciding whether a top-loading washing machine or a front-loading washing machine will better meet your clothes-cleaning needs.

Though both top loading and front loading appliances ultimately serve the same function, there are still a handful of differences that make each machine unique to itself. Learn more about both the pros and cons of these two types of washing machines before going out to make your purchase.

What are the Benefits of Top-Loading Washing Machines?

Top Loading washing machines are by far the most common type of washing machines you’ll run across, and for a simple reason: they’ve been around the longest. And with longevity comes benefits, especially in the world of appliances.

Because top load washing machines have been around for much longer than front load washing machines there are a lot more models on the market, upping competition and lowering the cost. There are many more top load washing machines available on the used market as well, making top load washers a great option for those working with a budget.

In addition to their availability, top load washers have a tendency to breakdown less. This is because their parts are tried and true when it comes to washing machine development. That being said, if a top load washer does break, it will be much easier, and likely much less costly, to have it repaired than a front load washing machine. Most repairmen are much more familiar with top load washing machines than front load washing machines, and top load washing machine mechanisms are more readily available than front-load mechanisms.

Finally, many front load washing machines are labeled as “high efficiency” machines, and because of that, they require a special kind of detergent that is usually pricier than your average clothing detergent. Top load washing machines can take any kind of detergent, leaving you with more options when it comes to choosing a laundry detergent.

What are the Benefits of Front-Loading Washing Machines

One of the biggest benefits of front load washing machines is that they can be stacked, helping to create space in laundry rooms, or, making it possible to keep your washing machine and dryer in a narrow closet space.

In addition to being space savers, front-loading washing machines are much more environmentally-friendly than top-loading washing machines. This is because they use significantly less water per laundry load. While most top load washing machines use close to 40 gallons of water per load, front load washing machines cut that amount back nearly in half, using closer to 20 gallons of water per load. The reason for this is because the drum of front load washing machines only needs to be partially filled to be efficient.

On the same note, front load washing machines are more energy-efficient than top load washing machines. Energy Star qualified front load washing machines can save you up to $150 dollars per year depending on the model of washing machine you purchase and how often you use it. On average, front load Energy Star seal washing machines use close to 11 percent less energy than top load washing machines. They also spin more quickly and help effectively reduce moisture better than their older counterparts. This also helps lower the amount of time clothing needs to spend inside the dryer, again helping you lower your energy bill in the long run.

Finally, front load washing machines are gentler on clothes because they don’t make use of a horizontal axis agitator to rotate the clothing, but rather, function more like a dryer, simply spinning the clothes around the drum to clean them. Because there’s no twisting involved, clothing is kept from being pulled or stretched during the wash cycle.

How to choose the Washing Machine That’s Right for You

As you now know, there are quite a few differences between top load and front load washing machines, and factors such as budget, environmental impact, repair cost, and energy bills all play a vital role in deciding what machine type is ideal for you. When deciding which type of washing machine is best for your lifestyle, make sure you take all of these factors into account.

Resources— How Stuff Works, How Stuff Works, Designer Appliances