Nearly every day I’m asked to help someone choose between top-load and front-load laundry pairs. While there are a great many differences between the two styles they serve the same purpose: wash and dry clothing. In the US the most common unit sold is the top-load style with an auger-like agitator in the tub; this style uses more water and is the least energy efficient. They are a lower cost option in the short term but the end cost of water and energy over time can easily outstrip the initial savings.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each style.
- They have a lower initial purchase price.
- They require less bending over to load and unload.
- They are not sealed and generally don’t smell musty.
- High water consumption, as much as 27 gallons per load.
- Slow spin speed (500-800 rpm) requiring longer wash/dry times.
- Agitators in the wash tub can damage clothing, especially when clothing wraps itself around the agitator. There are models that do not have the auger-type agitation system, but your clothing in the middle may be surrounded and take longer to dry; agitator-less models are easier on the clothing but do not clean as well.
- Smaller capacities; 2.1-3.5 cubic feet means running more loads per day.
- May not fit comforters, especially king-size.
- Vertical design can make it difficult to reach items at the bottom of the tub.
- Louder spin cycles.
- Higher cost per use.
- Uses only 7-10 gallons per load.
- High speed spin cycle (1000-1400 rpm) for shortened wash/dry times. They use gravity to help them operate, and these faster spin speeds result in lower energy costs each year.
- They have no agitator and are gentler on clothes.
- They have ever increasing numbers of load cycle options, even downloadable custom cycles.
- Very large load capacities, as large as 5+ cubic feet.
- Direct drive systems are quieter to operate.
- Load sensing technology accurately evaluates material type and the amount of water required.
- Versatile: laundry pairs can be stacked to accommodate smaller spaces, and can also be placed on top of pedestals to raise the height of the machines while providing extra space inside the pedestal for products.
- Higher initial purchase price.
- Without proper care they can have a musty smell, but this can be easily managed with cleaning tablets.
- Bending and/or kneeling required, unless you have the option for pedestals.
Considering the pros and cons and the experience I have built up over time with customer feedback, front-loaders win the match-up every time.