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Top Load vs. Front Load Washing Machines: Which is Right for You?

Front load, Top Load and HE Top Load

Traditional Top Load Washer

For years, the top load washing machine has been the dominant style of washers since its launch in the 1920’s. The drum of a top load washer is filled with water, and the agitator moves the clothes around, cleaning the entire wash load.

Although this style has seen minimal upgrades or improvements since the 1940’s, the top load washing machine has been and remains to be extremely reliable.

To note, top load machines are around 3.5 cubic feet; use around 40 gallons of water, more than twice the electricity, and spin slow for more drying time.

Our Sherman’s Appliance Specialists also mention that the top load washers with an agitator are the smallest of the three types and tend to be the hardest on clothes.

Some advantages of top load washer include:

  • It’s easier to repair versus a front load

  • You don’t have to stoop for your laundry

  • Less expensive to buy

Front-Load Washer

The front-load washer was introduced to address the issues of the traditional top-load washer.

A front-load washing machine assesses the size of the load and adds the necessary amount of water. The wash load tumbles, very much like a dryer, washing the entire load evenly without an agitator.

The front-load washer has a greater capacity – at 4.0 to 5.0 cubic feet – or larger – and uses less water – 11-17 gallons.

It also spins out at a much higher rate so the drying time is less. You may also have better controls and other features like controlling the water, spin speed, detergent dispensing, and water temperature.

One major disadvantage of a front-load is that it is more expensive than a basic top load at $700-$1200 versus $499-$699.

There is also the possibility of mold growth in a front load. Mold is a product of standing water, so you should wipe the gasket and leave the door open to eliminate that problem.

Our Sherman’s Appliance Specialists additionally point out that front load washing machines are the largest and the gentlest on clothes, and have been rated to wash the best.

However, many consumers still prefer the ease of the top load washer. This preference led to the introduction of the hybrid (convenience of top load and efficiency of a front-load) washing machine to offer the best of both worlds.

High Efficiency (HE) Top Load Washer

The high-efficiency top load washers are really similar to a traditional top-load machine except with a very small agitator or none at all.

The high-efficiency top load washers have a number of benefits including large capacities, superb energy efficiency, and superior wash systems.

Capacities in these machines are available in sizes up to 5.2 cubic feet. To put this into perspective, this is larger than any front load washer and is up to 75% larger than super capacity washers of 10 years ago.

The benefits to larger capacity are simple. The bigger the tub, the fewer amount of loads of laundry you will need to complete. Fewer loads mean more time for you and your family as well as less energy and water usage.

Efficiency in these machines is every bit as good as front load washers. High-efficiency top load washers use superior cleaning systems, as well. These systems provide better cleaning results and less wear and tear on clothing.

According to Consumer Reports tester Rich Handel, “High-efficiency top-loaders offer better water and energy efficiency than many agitator machines tested. And, because high-efficiency top-loaders spin faster than agitator machines, they extract more water, shortening dryer time.”

Have any additional questions?

For more information on appliances and FAQs – check the rest of the posts in this category.


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