Front-load vs. top-load washers

Top-Load vs. Front-Load Washers:
What’s Right for You?

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 chart you can review whether you’re waiting for soccer practice to end or dinner to cook.  


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.) 

The difference between top-load and front-load.

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.
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.



Find your top-load or front-load washer with Whirlpool.

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


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