Front Load vs Top Load Washers: 8 Key Differences

Front Load vs Top Load Washers:  8 Key Differences

When front load washers debuted in the late 1990s, they literally shifted the appliance world. Compared with traditional top load washing machines, front load washing machines handled clothes completely differently, and required different maintenance steps between loads. Anyone needing to buy a new washing machine faced a confusing decision: stick with the top load washer they knew well, or try their luck with a new front load washer.

Since then, however, the technology and design gaps between front load and top load washing machines has closed. You can get a high efficiency (HE) top load washer, and all credible top loaders have a deep fill feature to let you add extra water for a load that’s especially dirty or needs a more thorough rinse.

Now it’s really just a question of whether the extra maintenance a front load washer takes is worth it to you for the space you can save. You can stack front loading machines, but you still have to wipe down the door gasket and detergent dispenser to keep them bacteria- and mildew-free in spite of the measures manufacturers have taken to address this issue. If you’re short on space, it’s a no brainer. If you’re not, it’s really all about the features you love and the layout you prefer.

Most of us only use one or two basic cycles for everyday clothes and linens. However, there are times we need to run a delicate or sanitize cycle, or launder a bulky down comforter. Will a front load or top load perform better?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the key differences that still exist between top-load and front-load washers. Whether you need a compact washer or a full-sized washer and dryer set, we’ll explore ease-of-use and price points associated with certain features.

Front Load vs Top Load Washers
Watch our exclusive video review – front load vs top load washers

Top Load vs Front Load Washer, 8 Key Differences

Choosing between a top load and front load washer can be a very personal choice. We think you should make your selection based on the following performance factors. Meanwhile, if you want to get a head start in your research, we’ve compiled a number of resources on washers and dryers.

1) Which is easier to use?



Top-loading washers are normally more convenient since you don’t have to bend over to load and unload clothes. For older buyers or people who have joint issues, top-loading washers typically stand at an ideal height to save the trouble of bending down. To mitigate this issue with front loaders we recommend installing the units on laundry pedestals that raise the units about 12 to 15 inches.

Top loaders also have other convenient qualities, such as the ability to add clothes midcycle or even right after starting the cycle. Top-loading washers also collect lint and distribute fabric softener better than front-loading washing machines do.

  • Product Suggestion: The LG WT7800CW is a good example of an easy to use top loader. It is highly rated by leading consumer organizations and comes with a “Slam Proof” lid that closes gently.

  • Winner: Top-Load Washers

2) How quickly do they wash?

Top-loading washers with an agitator tend to wash clothes faster than front-loading washing machines since the clothes are immersed in water for the length of the wash cycle.

The exception to the rule: Agitator vs. Impeller


Speed Queen TC5000WN

Note that not all top loaders are same. Today, there are two main types of top-loading washing machines: one that has an agitator and one that does not. An agitator is the post at the center of the washer that creates motion by shaking and forcing water around the drum. Top loading washing machines with agitators typically wash faster, but top loading washing machines without agitators, known as high efficiency (HE) or impeller top load washing machines, clean better, hold more per load, and use less water. As such, impeller top load washing machines cost more.

We covered the differences between the agitator top load washers and impeller top loaders in our in-depth review.

  • Product Suggestion: Speed Queen got its mojo back with the release of the TC5000WN (aka TC5) traditional agitator washer that’s able to complete a cycle in under 28 minutes.

  • Winner: Top-Load Washers

3) Front Load vs Top Load Washer: Which cleans better?


Electrolux EFLS627UTT

Despite being easier on your back, top-loading washers can also be rougher on clothes, especially if the machine is overloaded. Front loaders are much gentler on clothes. Top loaders also have a difficult time washing larger items, such as pillows or comforters, as they won’t fully immerse in the water.

  • Product Suggeestion: Electrolux makes top notch washers that are gentle on fabrics yet effective with tough tasks such as stain removal. The EFLS627UTT is a great front-load washer worth considering.

  • Winner: Front-Load Washers

4) Front load or top load washer, which saves you more money?


Front-loading washers are typically more expensive, but justifiably so. They give a more quality clean and tend to be more energy and water efficient than top loaders.

In addition, front load washers pack more wash features to accommodate all fabric types and soil levels. They’re also much quieter than top loaders thanks to their more advanced motors and suspension systems.

Although the upfront cost of a front loader is generally more, we think that over the long run your total expenses will even out.

  • Product Suggestion: The LG WT7100CW is a budget friendly and reliable top-load washer.

  • Winner: Draw

5) Which uses less water?


Samsung WF45R6100AW

Front-loading washing machines use less water and electricity than the average top-loading washing machine.

According to the EPA “an average family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day”. Clothes washing accounts for 17 percent of the total tab. Therefore, an efficient front-loading washer can help better sustain our environment. Consumers Reports also consistently rates front-loading washers “excellent” and “very good” compared with top-loaders, which it normally rates “poor” or “fair.”

  • Product Suggestion: Check out Samsung’s innovative 2-in-1 FlexWash washing machine WV60M9900AV. When paired with the FlexDry dryer you can do 4 loads of laundry simultaneously, saving you valuable time.

  • Winner: Front-Load Washers

6) Which gives you more installation flexibility?


Miele WWB020WCS

Front-loading washing machines have the ability to be stacked with a dryer. When these two appliances are stacked, the space dedicated to laundry is contained to a smaller footprint in your home.

There are two popular reasons why people decide to go with a stacked washer-dryer layout. The first is that they have no other choice. Many homes or rental units have their laundry sets located in small closets where vertical space is the only space available. But even those who have the space are opting to stack their laundry units since it allows them more functional floor space that can be used for additional cabinetry or storage, or even left open.

In many homes, space, among other details, tends to be a major deciding factor when choosing a washer and dryer. If you have limited space or an unusual setup, be sure to refer to our post on compact washers and dryers.

Gone are the days when consumers and homeowners were constricted to the builder-grade laundry centers that are immovable and space-hogging. As vertically stacked arrangements have become more popular, nearly all washers and dryers being manufactured are built to have stacking compatibility. Even the largest units which might seem unstackable are being produced with vertical stacking capability as a key feature.

  • Product Suggestion: The Miele WWB020WCS washer is only 24 inches wide and pairs with a matching stackable dryer. It is an ideal laundry for apartments or tight spaces. The ventless heat-pump dryer uses standard 110 volt electricity, which makes it versatile.

  • Winner: Front-Load Washers

PRO TIP – Make sure to contact our staff at (888) 714-4938 to inquire about washer and dryer savings.

7) Spin speed – How well does it extract water?



During the final spin cycle, front-loading washing machines generally spin about 33 percent faster than typical top loaders, meaning that more water will be removed from the clothes before you transfer them to the dryer.

This means your clothes will dry faster in the dryer and will be less heavy to move between the two units. One drawback, however, is that the spin cycle causes many front-loading washers to vibrate, making noise that many people would rather not hear.

You can find the spin speed of any washer in its specifications document measured by RPMs (revolutions per minute). We expect a good front load washer to have 1,300 RPMs; try to steer clear of any front load models with less than 1,200 RPMs. On the other hand, you can expect to get anywhere between 700 and 900 RPMs from an average top load washer. Recently, LG and Samsung are leading the pack with top loaders that spin faster, at 1,050 RPMs.

  • Product Suggestion: This mega capacity LG WM9000HVA comes with a fast spin cycle.

  • Winner: Front-Load Washers

8) Do both front load and top load washers have smell & mold issue?



One of the biggest complaints about front-loading washers is that over time mold can build up around the door’s rubber gasket. To combat this, front-loading washers require a lot more maintenance than top-loading washers. We recommend placing these washers in an area with good airflow and leaving the washer door slightly ajar between cycles to minimize issues with mold and mildew.

Top-loading washing machines don’t have this issue since they rely on gravity to pull water down, so water doesn’t get trapped in any seals.

  • Product Suggestion: The GE GTW685BSLWS is a budget friendly and realiable top load washer. If you insist on having a front load washer, the GE washers have a unique solution to fight mold. Check out GE Ultrafresh GFW850SPNRS

  • Winner: Top-Load Washers


Summary Of Our Review

Comparison Factor Washer Type
Which is easier to use? Top Load
How quickly do they wash? Top Load
Which cleans better? Front Load
Price Draw
Which uses less water? Front Load
Installation flexibility Front Load
Spin speed – performance on water extraction Front Load
The smell/mold issue Top Load

The feature set found in front-loading washers is generally better than that in top-loading washers. Also, front-loading washers are more energy and water efficient. Overall cleaning performance and stain removing abilities are better in front-loading washers. However, these attractive looking, modern washing machines come at a slightly higher price tag, and the door seals do require regular wiping down to prevent mildew. If you need to fit a washer in a smaller space, compact front-loading washers can be placed under the countertop or stacked in a closet.

Top-loading washers are more convenient to load and unload, offer a tub of water for presoak, and are easier to maintain than front-loading washers.
If you are looking for a quicker and easier wash, top-loading washing machines are probably a better way to go. If your laundry area is in a basement with limited airflow, gravity pulls residual water away from the seals and gaskets so wiping down these parts is not necessary. However, while these washers initially save money, top-loading washers will cost more in water usage over time than a front-loading washing machine will.

Shopping for a front load or top load washer ultimately comes down to what you personally are looking for and where your laundry will be located. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to our sales staff at Designer Appliances for help deciding which is the best fit for you and your household.

Additional Resources

We keep our roundup articles up to date as manufacturers release new products. We also gather real-time customer information and feedback, and update our rankings based on this input.

PRO TIP: Contact our staff at (888) 714-4938 to inquire about washer and dryer savings.

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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on September 26, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.

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