Doing laundry is a chore that few of us enjoy, but it’s much easier to do when you have your own reliable washer. Just imagine – no more dragging heavy loads of laundry to coin-operated washing machines where you have no idea what the people before you just washed.
So, the first thing you need to consider when looking for a new washing machine is whether you want a front load or top load machine. This matters for several reasons – space, performance, and cost.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about each type and let you know which one wins out in the end.
Size and Space
Before you decide on the type of washing machine that you want, you’ll need to consider how much space you have. While both types are available in several different sizes, you’ll still have to factor in the control panel placement and which way the door swings.
Most front load washers are stackable with their dryer counterparts, and they can usually be installed in smaller areas like closets and below counters or shelves.
Conversely, top load washers aren’t stackable, and you’ll need plenty of space on top to open the lid to add and remove laundry. And, while this might not matter in most cases, it can be a deal-breaker.
For this category, front load washers are the top choice because they generally take up less space and provide more versatile stacking options.
The next important thing to consider is how quickly and how well each type of washer cleans.
Surprisingly, there is actually a difference in cleaning performance between top and front load washers. Not only that, there’s also a difference in the speed at which they’ll get the job done.
Top Loading Washers
Top loading washers are available in different formats. The standard top load washing machine has an agitator, which sticks up through the center of the washing drum to create a swishing action.
The other type is a high efficiency washer, which often comes with a small impeller at the bottom of the drum. This acts like a very tiny agitator, but it’s gentler on fabrics.
Both types of top load machines vary in the time they take to complete a cycle, depending on factors like load size and settings. Generally, a standard top loader with an agitator takes about 30 minutes for a normal wash cycle.
By contrast, a high efficiency top loader can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. However, they use less water and spin out more water, which shortens the drying time.
When it comes to cleaning power, high efficiency washers do a slightly better job at cleaning heavily soiled clothes and stains because of the longer soaking time. For standard top load machines, pretreating stains and using the heavy soil settings can help make up for that shortcoming.
Front Loading Washers
Front loading washers typically take a much longer time to complete a full normal cycle than top loaders. In some cases, it can take longer than an hour.
This doesn’t mean they should be overlooked, though. They do provide excellent cleaning performance because of the way they force the fabric through the water and detergent as they spin. They also do the best job of extracting water, so drying time is greatly reduced compared to top loaders.
The cost of washing machines vary widely depending on the brand, capacity, and selection of features that you choose. With that said, there is a clear difference in price between front and top load washers.
Front load washing machines are generally more expensive than top load washers, ranging from $700 at the low end, to more than $1,000 at the higher end of the spectrum. However, they do provide a lot of bang for your buck.
In addition to above-average cleaning performance, they use a lot less water and energy than top load machines. This can save you money in the long run.
On the other hand, if you’re on a budget or simply prefer a top load machine, you can typically find a standard one for less than $500 and a high efficiency for less than $700.
Despite the superior cleaning power, space-saving design, and water-saving capabilities of front load washers, there are some issues that you might want to consider.
They require more frequent maintenance like cleaning and leaving the door open when the machine isn’t in use to prevent mold growth around the gasket. Proper use of high efficiency detergent is also important, since most people tend to use much more than is necessary.
Top load washers do provide good cleaning power, but standard machines are rougher on fabrics than front loaders. This is important if you’re concerned about the longevity of your clothes and linens.
One plus of standard top loaders is that you can easily add that stray sock after you’ve already started the load.
Front load washers are generally your best bet when it comes to performance and space. Overall, they’re more efficient and perform better in cleaning tests than most top loaders on the market.
Furthermore, they use less energy and save water while cutting down on drying time. While they cost more upfront, rest assured that you’ll save money over the long term with this type of machine.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a washing machine, a top load washer is still a decent option. While they don’t have boast all of the same benefits as a front loader, they’re a bit more convenient since they can wash a load of laundry much faster and usually require less maintenance.
Writer and Product Researcher
Spending the last 10 years researching and writing about various home, garden and electronics topics, Shelley is more than qualified to write for Meccano Home. Her work has been featured on eBay, Pottery Barn, SFGate, TheKnot, Williams-Sonoma and various other blogs and websites.