Front load vs. top load washers comparison image

Front load vs. top load washers: which type is better?

There are several factors to consider when choosing which type of washer is best for you–including space, home layout, and your own preferences and laundry habits. If water usage is important to you, a front load washer may be best, but a top load washer may be better suited for your needs if you prefer potentially shorter cycle times.  

Read on to learn more about the differences between top load and front load washing machines.


What are the differences between front load and top load washers?

While the way you load and unload clothes is the main difference between front load and top load washers, front load models generally use less water and take a little longer than top load washers to complete a cycle. They also tumble clothes to clean them rather than using an impeller or agitator to move clothes in a wash basket.

What are the pros and cons of front load vs. top load washers?

Both front and top load washers come with advantages. Here are some top qualities to consider when shopping.

Pros: Front load washers

  • Use less water per load
  • Higher spin speeds force more water out of clothing for shorter drying times
  • Can stack and save space
  • Tumbling motion is gentle on clothes

Cons: Front load washers

  • Can be uncomfortable to load and unload without a washer pedestal
  • Generally more expensive

Pros: Top load washers

  • Generally faster cycle times on select models
  • Choose between agitator or impeller wash action
  • Deep water wash options on some models

Cons: Top load washers

  • Generally uses more water 
  • May be difficult to reach the bottom of washer for those with shorter stature
  • Not stackable
Washing view of  front vs. top load washer

How do front load vs. top load washers clean clothes?

Front load washers tumble laundry loads to create friction that cleans your clothes. Top load washers use an impeller or agitator to clean your clothes. An agitator, which is a tall spindle in the middle of the wash basket, twists back and forth to wash a load, while an impeller is a disc or low-profile cone that spins so clothes rub against each other. 

Front load washers typically use less water to clean clothes and provide a gentle washing action on clothing items. They also have faster spinning speeds that expel more water from clothing, so drying times tend to be shorter.


Comparison view of clothes in a front load washer vs top load washer

Do front load or top load washers have a larger capacity?

If your family does a good job at piling up dirty laundry, top load washing machines tend to have a slightly larger capacity–generally around a little over 5 cu. ft. for impeller models and slightly less than 5 cu. ft. for agitator models. Front load washers usually don’t go above 5.0 cu. ft., although some higher capacity models may be available.


Whirlpool® front load washing machines:

Up to 5.0 ft. capacity and up to 3 baskets of laundry per load.

Whirlpool® top load washing machines:

Impeller models have up to 5.3 cu. ft. capacity and agitator models hold about 4.7 cu. ft. 


Woman placing laundry detergent in pedestal compartment

Are front loading or top loading washers more comfortable to use?

Top load washing machines typically reach waist height, so they could be easier to load depending on your height. Front load washing machines may require some bending to load and unload but the addition of pedestals can raise the washer to make it easier. Washer pedestals with a storage drawer can also help you stay organized. Whirlpool offers washer pedestals that will add height to your washer as well as giving you additional storage space for your detergent and laundry instruments.


Close up of hand pressing washer digital control panel

Are front load or top load washing machines more efficient?

Front load washers are generally more efficient, since they’re designed to use less water even if they have slightly longer cycle times. Top load washers use more water even if their cycles can be faster than that of a front load washer.


If you have a top load washer and are looking to save money and energy, washing your clothes with cold water can make your top load washer more energy efficient.

Close up of hand twisting washer control dial

Do front loaders or top loaders wash laundry faster?


Top load washing machines usually have shorter wash cycle times than front load models. However, several factors can affect the overall washing and drying times for both types. For example, front load washers can take a longer time during the spin phase, but this generally then reduces drying times. 

Learn more about how long different washer cycles take.

Are there front load and top load dryers?

While you may see certain models called “top load” dryers, they don't actually load from the top. They are meant to pair with a top load washing machine for a matching aesthetic. Both top load and front load dryers load in the front. Browse top load matching dryers from Whirlpool.

Recommended Whirlpool® front load and top load washers

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