Top-Load vs. Front-Load Washers: Which Are Better?
We are blessed to live in an era where technology can make many household chores a lot easier. Washing machines, in particular, are one of the most important household appliances, but choosing which style to purchase can be confusing. We’ve broken down the differences between top-load and front-load washers to help you decide which is better for you.
Top-Load vs Front-Load Washing Machines at a Glance
Here’s a breakdown of the differences between these two washer styles:
- Front-loaders are more expensive, but better at cleaning
- Front-load washers use less water and energy
- Top-loading washers are easier for back pain
- Front-loading washers attract mold and mildew more easily
- Top-loading washers are safer for people with small children
- Front-loading washers are more sensitive to overloading
The first difference you’ll notice between the two styles of washers is that of price. Top-loaders tend to be a bit less expensive than their front-loading counterparts. The reason, as we discuss below, is that front-loading washers have a better overall performance. So with washing machines, you really do get what you pay for.
The reason that front-loading washers are more expensive is that they do a better job at removing tough stains from clothing. The gravity-powered motion of tumbling clothes is more effective because it causes clothes to rub against each other, helping to remove stains.
Top-load washers don’t have this capability. Instead, they use central paddles to move clothes around in a horizontal circle. These paddles can contribute to wear and tear on your clothes over time.
It’s no secret that washing machines and dryers are some of the most energy-intense appliances in the modern home. However, you can choose machines that are more friendly to the environment in order to lessen your household’s carbon footprint.
For environmental friendliness, we definitely recommend front-loading washers. Because of their spin direction, they don’t need to fully submerge all of the clothes at once. This cleaning method means they don’t use as much water as top-loading machines.
Another feature that makes a difference between the two styles of washers is how much water they’re able to squeeze out of clothes at the end of a cycle. Here, front-loading washers win again. Clothes that are less wet at the end of a cycle won’t take as long in the dryer, saving energy there as well.
Because they are high-efficiency models, front-loading washers will last longer when you use detergent marked with the high-efficiency label. Using other types of detergents may result in too many suds, making it harder for the machine to do its job properly. This can also increase your chances of clogs, soap scum, and maintenance issues.
Ergonomics and Accessibility
Is a top-loading or front-loading washing machine better for you? The answer partly depends on how comfortable you are using each machine.
Since top-loading washers take so much water, they tend to be much deeper on the inside. The depth can make it hard for short-statured people to reach all the way to the bottom of the machine. However, if you don’t mind having a step stool handy, it might not be that much of a problem for you.
Front-loading washers are not always comfortable for people with back problems, since you have to bend down to load and unload them. Most companies that make front-loading washers also make pedestals that raise them up a little higher. They’re pricey, but they’re a good option if you don’t like bending down so far.
If you’re someone who needs to sit while doing laundry, then front-loading washers are the better option. They’re also better for people who live in small spaces and need to stack their washer and dryer to conserve floor space. Just know that you may have to unstack them for certain repair jobs, which can be inconvenient.
Are Front-Loading Washers Dangerous?
While it’s not that common, sometimes accidents do happen with small children and front-loading washers. The best thing you can do is communicate to your kids that laundry machines are not for play, and lock the door to your laundry room when you’re not using it. If you can’t lock the door, see if your machine has a child-lock feature to keep curious kiddos from opening things they shouldn’t.
Lifespan and Maintenance
As long as you properly care for your laundry machines, most models should last you at least 10 years or so before they need replacing. To help extend the life of your washer, be careful not to overload it or use too much detergent and fabric softener.
With a front-load washer, it’s especially important that you don’t overload it. The bearings holding up the cleaning chamber are more sensitive in a front-loading washer than in a top-loading one. This means that overloading a front-load washer can do more damage, causing more maintenance problems and shortening the lifespan.
Top-loading washers, on the other hand, can take a little more overloading without wearing down the machine. However, overloading will still cause problems because it prevents water from circulating in the basin. So overloading your top-load washer may not break it faster, but it will render it ineffective at cleaning.
The other major difference between top-load and front-load washers when it comes to lifespan is mold and mildew. Because of their design, it’s harder for moisture to evaporate from a front-loading washer. As long as you don’t have small children in your home, it’s best to leave the washer door ajar after you’re done to let the machine air out.
If your machine does begin to smell musty, run a self-cleaning cycle using bleach or a store-bought cleaner. And if it’s not safe for you to leave the door open after you’re done, just remember to wipe down the gasket to help prevent mold build-up.
Which Washer Style Is Best for You?
If you’re looking to buy a washing machine online, you’ve come to the right place. Town Appliance has been helping people find the perfect home appliances for over half a century—that’s some serious expertise! We carry all of the top brands like Whirlpool, Samsung, GE, and LG, plus many others. Call or email us today with any questions you have.