Split image of Whirlpool® Top Load Washer and Dryer Pair next to a Whirlpool® Front Load Washer and Dryer pair

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. Some floor plans may require a certain washer configuration.

Ultimately, the difference between front and top load washers comes down to appearance, installation and a handful of other features. For instance, if water usage is important to you, a front load washer may be best. Front load washers generally use less water, but a top load washer may be better suited for your needs if you prefer potentially shorter cycle times.

Read on to compare front load and top load washing machines.

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

Top load washers feature a door on the top of the unit that opens upward, while front load washer doors are on the front and swing open to the side, but differences don’t end there. Front loaders tumble clothes to clean them, whereas a top loader uses an impeller or agitator to move clothes in a wash basket. Front load models generally use less water and take a little longer than top load washers to complete a cycle.

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

Both front and top load washers work by using a spinning or twisting motion. 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.

Shop the latest deals on select Whirlpool major appliances   Shop Now

Shop Whirlpool® Washers with the 2 in 1 Removable Agitator

With Whirlpool® brand’s industry-first 2 in 1 Removable Agitator, you don’t have to choose between an agitator and an impeller washer. You can add the 2 in 1 Removable Agitator to help break down stubborn stains on jeans, uniforms and other durable fabrics, or remove it for delicate items like sweaters or to make extra room for bulky items like comforters.

Split image of colorful clothing tumbling in a front load vs. a top load washer Split image of colorful clothing tumbling in a front load vs. a 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, some top load washing machines can offer a larger capacity of a little over 5.0 cu. ft. for impeller models and slightly less than 5.0 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.

Top load washing machines can be better for larger capacity loads, since larger loads don’t generally put as much strain on the washer’s bearings. The continuous pressure of large loads in a front load washer can sometimes cause more wear and tear on the machine.

Shop the latest deals on select Whirlpool major appliances   Shop Now

Shop Whirlpool® Large Capacity Washers

Large capacity washers from Whirlpool brand can help you keep up with your family’s laundry. For instance, you can wash over three baskets of clothing in a single load with a Whirlpool® 5.0 Cu. Ft. Front Load Washer.1

 

Person loading laundry into a white Whirlpool® Front Load Washer Person loading laundry into a white Whirlpool® Front Load Washer

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

Both front load washers and top load washers have their benefits and drawbacks in terms of comfort when loading and unloading. 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 help make it easier.

Washer pedestals with a storage drawer can also help you stay organized. Whirlpool brand offers washer pedestals that will add height to your washer as well as offer you additional storage space for your detergent and laundry accessories.

Colorful laundry load soaking inside of a top load washer with an agitator Colorful laundry load soaking inside of a top load washer with an agitator

Which uses less water, front load or top load washers?

Front load washers are designed to use less water, even though they have slightly longer cycle times. Front loaders also have faster spinning speeds that expel more water from clothing, so drying times tend to be shorter. Top load washers tend to use more water but can have faster cycles than those of a front load washer.

Whether you opt for a top load or front load washer, you may find models with eco-friendly cycles and settings that help you save water. For instance, Whirlpool brand offers ENERGY STAR® Certified washers that exceed government standards to help conserve natural resources and save money on your utility bills.

Washing Tip:

If you have a top load washer and are looking to save money and energy, washing your clothes with cold water can help.  Select Whirlpool brand washers include a Cold Wash Cycle that combines gentle temperatures with adjusted wash actions and time to help protect fabrics and save up to 90% of energy.2

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 often reduces drying times. Select Whirlpool® Top Load and Front Load Washers feature the Quick Wash Cycle that lets you wash small, lightly soiled loads in as little as 30 minutes.

Learn more about how long different washer cycles take.

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

Both front and top load washers come with advantages, and discovering front load vs. top load washer pros and cons can help you find the best fit for your laundry routine. Here are some top qualities to consider when shopping.

Pros: front load washers:

  • Use less water per load

  • Higher spin speeds can result in shorter drying times

  • Can stack and save space

  • Tumbling motion is gentle on clothes

Cons: front load washers:

  • Can be uncomfortable for taller people to load and unload without a washer pedestal

  • Can be hard to add clothes mid-cycle

  • Generally more expensive

Pros: top load washers:

Cons: top load washers:

  • Generally uses more water and energy 

  • May be difficult to reach the bottom of washer for those with shorter stature 

  • Not stackable

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 and are available in a gas or electric option. Browse top load matching electric dryers and top load matching gas dryers from Whirlpool brand.

You can also shop for matching washer and dryer sets from Whirlpool brand to find sets with aesthetics and features that complement each other.

Shop the latest deals on select Whirlpool major appliances   Shop Now

Shop Whirlpool® Front Load and Top Load Washers

Choose between front and top load washers from Whirlpool brand so you can wash clothes the way you want. Find faster cycle times, extra-large capacities or the 2 in 1 Removable Agitator on select top load models, or use less water and incorporate pedestals or stackable options into your laundry routine with select front load options.

Get more with a Whirlpool account

Sign in for special savings

Discover more from Whirlpool brand

Gold home heartbeat logo over image of a tablet with Whirlpool blog page displayed in the background Gold home heartbeat logo over image of a tablet with Whirlpool blog page displayed in the background

home heartbeat

Ready for more tips, home hacks and appliance guides?

1. Based on 7-lb per basket.
2. According to Energy Star, 90% of the energy used to operate a washing machine is spent on heating the water.