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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Top Loading Washing Machine?

Top loading washing machines are typically less expensive than front loaders.
Top loaders use a central agitator to shift clothes back and forth while being washed.
Top loading washing machines use more energy than front loading machines.
Front-load washing machines are more gentle on clothes than top loaders.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2014
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Top loading washing machines has been the washer of choice for homeowners for decades, but that may have been due to lack of other options or a reason to switch to other options. While there are distinct advantages to using a top loading washing machine over a front loading machine, many homeowners are making the switch to front loaders for a variety of reasons, including cost savings, energy savings, and ease of use. Top loaders continue to be a commonly purchased item, however, because the purchase price is generally lower and some people find it easier to access clothing in a top loader.

One of the biggest disadvantages to a top loading washing machine is the method by which the clothing is moved around the barrel. Top loaders use a central agitator, which is a pillar in the center of the barrel that helps turn the clothing when being washed. This ensures the clothing gets thoroughly soaked and exposed to detergents. The problem with the central agitator is its effect on clothing: it can stretch, tear, or otherwise damage clothing. The agitator in a top loading washing machine will also take up space in the barrel, leaving less space for clothing. Front loaders have no agitator and can hold more clothing than a top loader. The motion of a front loader is also gentler on clothing.

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The top loader is easier to use for many people. Reaching down to access clothing in a front loading machine can be difficult for people with back pain, so a top loader allows access to clothing with less bending. The top loader also does not require special detergents, as many front loaders do. A front loader, however, is more energy-efficient in most cases and uses less water than a top loader. A front loader can also be stacked with a dryer to save on space in tight laundry rooms.

Perhaps the most significant advantage of a top loading washing machine is the purchase price. These washers tend to be far less expensive than front loading washers. While the purchase price may be lower, the cost to run the machine may be higher in the long run, which means the cost savings may even out between the two washer designs. If a person is looking for an economical solution to purchasing a washer, however, a top loader is a good choice.

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Discuss this Article

Ruggercat68
Post 3

I disagree, @Phaedrus. I bought a front loading washing machine last year and I think it is the best washing machine I've ever owned. I can put a larger load in it, and I'm not wasting water or detergent. I think it runs quieter than a top loader, and it won't get unbalanced when I wash heavy items like towels.

Phaedrus
Post 2

I've used both top load and front load washing machines, and I still have to give the edge to top loaders. They may require more water and energy to operate, but I think the clothes come out cleaner. Front loaders run all of the clothes through the same water at the bottom, and I think that's not as sanitary as having them float around a large tank of water.

The agitator inside a top loading washing machine does concern me sometimes, but I have rarely found any clothes that were obviously damaged by it. Sometimes delicate items like underwear might get caught on the agitator and torn, but not pants or towels. I think an agitator forces out more dirt than the walls of a front loader.

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