What are the Advantages of a Front Loading Washing Machine?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

In a country like the United States, where top loading washing machines are popular, most people only encounter a front loading washing machine at the local commercial laundromat. In many other countries, the style is much more likely to found inside private homes. There are a number of advantages inherent in this type of washing machine.

A front-loading machine does not use an agitator, but instead utilizes gravity to wash clothes.
A front-loading machine does not use an agitator, but instead utilizes gravity to wash clothes.

The main difference between a top loading and front loading washing machine is how the clothes are placed inside. A top loading machine has a hinged lid on top, allowing the clothes to be placed inside a horizontally-oriented watertight tub. In the center of this tub is a device called an agitator. The agitator's job is to swirl the clothes through the soapy water. A front loader has no central agitator, but uses gravity and side-mounted paddles to agitate clothes. Once the front door is closed, it remains locked mechanically until the washing cycle is complete.

Front loaders use less water and detergent.
Front loaders use less water and detergent.

One advantage of a front loading washing machine is an increased capacity. Since there is no central agitator, the horizontally-oriented drum can hold at least 20 to 30% more clothing per load. For a large family, this could mean running only three loads compared to five in a top loader. Fewer loads often translates to savings in utility bills and water usage.

A front loading machine can hold 20-30% more clothing per load.
A front loading machine can hold 20-30% more clothing per load.

A front loading washing machine is also gentler on clothes and generally quieter to operate. Instead of a centralized agitator literally grabbing clothes and thrashing them, the blades gently pick up the clothes and allow them to drop into the soapy water. The soil is still removed by an agitating action, but gravity does most of the work. Gentler agitation can extend the lifespan of clothes significantly. As top loading washing machines age, they tend to become noisier and more likely to become unbalanced. A front loading washing machine rarely becomes unbalanced from the weight of heavy items.

Shorter drying times lead to lower electric bills.
Shorter drying times lead to lower electric bills.

Another advantage of a front loader is less water and detergent usage. A top loading washer must use enough water to cover the highest level of the clothes. A front loading machine, on the other hand, only uses enough water to cover approximately the lower third of the tub at most. The clothes are drawn through the water, not the water through the clothes. Detergents designed for this type of machine use a lower sudsing formula, and are meant to release different cleansing agents at different water temperatures. In fact, the machine often contains its own heating element to keep the water at an ideal temperature for washing.

Fronting loading machines use blades to lift the clothes and then drops them into the soapy water.
Fronting loading machines use blades to lift the clothes and then drops them into the soapy water.

Many consumers also find that a front loading washing machine removes more water during the final spin cycle. This often translates into shorter drying times, which equals savings on electricity. In addition, it can work in conjunction with a stackable dryer to save space in the laundry room. A standard top loading washing machine cannot be stacked with a standard electric dryer. Manufacturers' attempts at a stacked top loading combination often limit the washer lid's range of motion. No such design problem exists with a front loader.

Front-loading washing machines tend to be quieter, but more expensive, than other types.
Front-loading washing machines tend to be quieter, but more expensive, than other types.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


Front loaders waste your time because they take about two hours to complete a wash, plus more time to give your cloths an extra rinse if you don't like excess soap left on your clothes.


I have found the front loader does not clean as well as the top loader. If you don't get your clothes dirty, then they are fine. If you happen to sweat, get dirt on your clothes, or have a husband with more oil on his skin and hair than most, then stay far away from the front loaders.

I am sad that I got rid of our top loading washer and purchased a front loader. You also have to clean it and make sure that it airs out or it gets mold and mildew. It looks beautiful, but it is a disappointment.


Our apartment complex has front loading washing machines, and they never do a good job. There is always excess soap left in the clothes (even if you use very little) and many times,if washing towels or a blanket, it doesn't spin dry at all, the items are still soaking wet. Never had that problem with a top loader. They come out to 'fix' the machines, but they are never fixed. Same old problem over and over again.


Major downside of the front loader for me is the door locking mechanism. There is always an errant sock or wash cloth found right after the wash cycle starts. So I'm really thankful I have a forgiving top loader that allows me to open the lid and add more laundry anytime during the cycle.


In India, LG Front Loader Machine is the best option, it has direct drive technology which saves electricity, versus to belt driven. Saves lot of water versus to top loader machine. If cuffs and collars are too dirty just put in hot water with little scrub then rinse it and then wash for excellent result. Otherwise it washes the best.


thanks for the information. --Vinay


Thanks for the article, pointing out the differences in detail. I've always had top load machines, but I'm going to try to a front load now, looks like the front load will pay for itself after a few years of energy/detergent etc., savings.


Main difference for washing shirts in front loaders, is that front loaders tie all the arms into knots. not bad if you are a sailor and know how to untie difficult knots.


I really like my front loader. I sweat a lot and sometimes on a hot day of working outside or being in an office all day, my clothes get really smelly. Plus my front loader is very gentle and it cleans my clothes really well rather than a top loader just using so much water just to wash a couple of shirts and pants. A front loader saves me a lot more money too.


In response to what is the difference between top and front load washers; is either better if neither has an agitator?


For Indian conditions, where there is lot of Sweat, dust, dirt, muddy cuffs and collars and edges of clothes, Front Loading OR Top loading buy is advised?

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