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
  • May develop mold or mildew problems
  • Harder to add clothes mid-cycle
  • Generally more expensive

Pros: Top load washers

  • Requires less maintenance overall 
  • Generally faster cycle times on select models
  • Choose between agitator, impeller or Whirlpool brand’s industry-first 2 in 1 Removable Agitator wash action
  • Deep Water Wash Options on some models

Cons: Top load washers

  • Generally uses more water and energy 
  • May be difficult to reach the bottom of washer for those with shorter stature 
  • Can cause more wear and tear on clothing
  • Not stackable
Washing view of  front vs. top load washer

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. 

With the 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 in 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. Shop Whirlpool® Washers featuring the 2 in 1 Removable Agitator.

Front load washers typically use less water to clean clothes and provide a gentle washing action on clothing items and are more efficient at removing stains. They also have faster spinning speeds that expel more water from clothing, so drying times tend to be shorter. Generally, the tumble motion of a front load washing machine does a better job at cleaning clothes.

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 5.0 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.

Whirlpool® Front Load Washing Machines:
Up to 5.0 Cu. 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.

Top load washing machines can be better for larger capacity loads, since larger loads won’t put as much strain on the washer’s bearings. The continuous pressure of large loads in a front load washer causes wear and tear that may lead to repairs down the road.

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 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.

Woman placing laundry detergent in pedestal compartment

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.

Washing tip:

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

Recommended Whirlpool® Front Load and Top Load Washers

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