Which Clothes Washer Should I Choose: Front Load or Top Load?

If you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, you should seriously consider purchasing a front load washer for important benefits that are good for you, good for your clothes, and good for the environment. 

What’s the Difference Between a Front Load Washer and a Top Load Washer?  

Back in the day, top load washing machines had an agitator, which is a central post that twists back and forth in a full tub of water and rubs against clothes to clean them. In the past decade or so, top load impeller washers, which have a low-profile cone or disc instead of an agitator, have become popular as a more energy- and water-efficient option compared to traditional top load washers.  

But out of all the options, front load washers are the most efficient. These washers have drums with side paddles that lift up the clothes and use tub rotation and gravity to tumble them through a small amount of water. They rinse clothes by repeatedly spraying high-pressure water on the clothes rather than soaking them in a full tub of water.  

ENERGY STAR certified front load washers use about 45% less energy and 50% less water than a top load agitator washer. Compared to a top load impeller washer, front load washers are still 25% more energy and water efficient. Furthermore, front load washers help save on drying time and energy by spinning clothes much faster than top load washers to extract more water out of clothes.  

To put this all into perspective, there are about 59 million top load clothes washers that are in use today in the U.S. If those were replaced with front load washers, we would save about 14.9 billion kWh of energy and 170 billion gallons of water EVERY YEAR. The energy that could be saved is equivalent to the electricity used by approximately 1.3 million homes annually.  

What Are the Benefits of Front Load Washing Machines? 

Front load washers have these other benefits: 

They clean better and are gentler on clothes. The agitator in a top load machine can be harsh on clothes and fabrics, causing more wear and tear and stretching of delicate fabrics. Washing your clothes with a front load washer can help lengthen the life of frequently washed items. Also, many front load washers can safely clean silk, wool, and other fabrics that usually require handwashing.  

They lead to less plastic pollution than top load washers. Microfibers and microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic yarn from synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon, and fleece, for example) that make their way into drinking water systems and oceans as plastic pollution, resulting in increased plastic consumption by humans and marine life. Studies have shown that with their gentler washing action, less microfibers shed from synthetic fabrics, thereby being the more eco-conscious choice.1 

They can clean more clothes at once. Front load washers typically have a larger drum than top load washers, and with no agitator taking up space, they can handle more laundry—between 15-20 pounds of laundry in 4.5 cubic feet of space. That means that more laundry gets cleaned in fewer loads! 

The next time you’re in the market for a new clothes washer, make the smart choice. First, look for the best front load washing machines in sizes that meet the needs of you and your family. Then, look for the blue ENERGY STAR label to get a model that is independently certified to save energy, water, and money!


Author: Ga-Young Park