From the top or the front?

When you’re busy caring for your family, it’s difficult to find the time to shop for a washer, much less do the research to figure out what’s right for your home. The choices may seem a little dizzying.

We can help. We’ve condensed everything you need to know in a simple guide you can review whether you’re waiting for soccer practice to end or dinner to cook.  

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Top load vs. front load: What’s the difference?

The first — and perhaps most important — consideration is washer type: top load or front load? As the name implies, the chief difference is in the way you load/unload clothes. Top loading washers clean in two ways: with an agitator or an impeller.

An agitator is a tall central post that twists back and forth to break down stains and loosen soils, while an impeller is a low-profile cone or disk that rotates to get clothes clean.

(Learn more about washing machines with agitators vs. washing machines with impellers.) 

Answers at-a-glance

 

Top-Load Washer

Front-Load Washer

Style Trim and traditional, top-load washers bring the style and functionality you might be used to, with loading from the top and a control console in the back. Front-load washers offer a sleek and contemporary look with front controls in easy reach. Washer/dryer pairs are often available in a stacking configuration, which is ideal for small spaces.
Capacity Agitators: The central spindle often takes up room in the wash basket.
Impellers: Offer more space for bulky items and easy loading/unloading.
Without an agitator or even a low-profile impeller, front-load washers often provide greater capacity.  
Cleaning Action Agitators: Rub against clothes for a hard-hitting clean.
Impellers: Rub clothes against each other for a thorough yet gentle clean. (If low water gets you down, add more water on select cycles with our Deep Fill option.) 
Models that use HE detergent are designed specifically to work with low water levels. They use a specialized tumbling action to get clothes clean.
Comfort Top-load washers allow for comfortable loading/unloading, but it might be harder to reach the bottom of the wash basket depending on your height or the height of the washer. With front-load washers, clothes are always within easy reach. If you don’t want to continually bend down, however, consider adding a laundry pedestal for a few extra inches of height. Some pedestals also offer additional storage space so you can tuck away laundry supplies like detergent and fabric softener.
Efficiency Agitators: Many are ENERGY STAR®Certified.
Impellers: All are ENERGY STAR® Certified.
When it comes to high-efficiency, front-load washers paved the way. They save on detergent and water. And although they typically have longer wash times, their high spin speeds wick away more moisture and ensure shorter dry times on average.

Top Load Washer

Style: Trim and traditional, top load washers bring the style and functionality you might be used to, with loading from the top and a control console in the back. 

Capacity: On agitator washers, the central spindle often takes up room in the wash basket. Impeller washers offer more space for bulky items and easy loading/unloading.

Cleaning Action: Agitators rub against clothes for a hard-hitting clean. Impellers rub clothes against each other for a thorough yet gentle clean. (If low water gets you down, add more water on select cycles with our Deep Fill option.) 

Comfort: Top load washers allow for comfortable loading/unloading, but it might be harder to reach the bottom of the wash basket depending on your height or the height of the washer.

Efficiency: Many agitator washers are ENERGY STAR® certified. All impeller washers ENERGY STAR® certified.

Front Load Washer

Style: Front load washers offer a sleek and contemporary look with front controls in easy reach. Washer/dryer pairs are often available in a stacking configuration, which is ideal for small spaces. 

Capacity: Without an agitator or even a low-profile impeller, front load washers often provide greater capacity.

Cleaning Action: Models that use HE detergent are designed specifically to work with low water levels. They use a specialized tumbling action to get clothes clean.

Comfort: With front load washers, clothes are always within easy reach. If you don’t want to continually bend down, however, consider adding a laundry pedestal for a few extra inches of height. Some pedestals also offer additional storage space so you can tuck away laundry supplies like detergent and fabric softener.

Efficiency: When it comes to high-efficiency, front load washers paved the way. They save on detergent and water. And although they typically have longer wash times, their high spin speeds wick away more moisture and ensure shorter dry times on average.

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How will you load?

Care can be messy. So let them play flag football in the mud or wear their favorite superhero shirt for days on end. Whether you decide on a top loading or front loading model, we’ll help you take on the dirt. 

Check out our top picks below. Or shop all top load washers and all front load washers. Consider completing the pair; see our complementary dryers

Top washer picks to care for your mess

More laundry tips and tricks

What capacity is right to keep up with your laundry?

Whirlpool® large capacity washers

The daily mountain of laundry is daunting. We’ll help you find a big washer to take on the big loads — and empty the hamper.

Find the top load washing machine style that’s right for you.

Agitator washers vs. impeller washers: What’s the difference?

Agitators and impellers are both found in top-loading washing machines, but they move, and clean clothes, in two distinct ways.

Find the right washer and dryer fit for your home.

The long and short of it: laundry pair measuring guide

You’ve found your laundry dream team. Here’s how to make sure your new washer and dryer will fit.

Appliance IQ

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