Front-Loader vs. Top-Loader Washing Machines: Which is Best?

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, you’ve probably noticed that there are two main types to choose from: front-loading and top-loading. We decided to replace our 10-year-old washer and dryer during our recent laundry room renovation. After hours of research, debating, and pacing aisles at appliance stores, we learned that front-loader washing machines are objectively better. But it’s essential to understand the differences to find the right choice for you.

This guide will review everything we learned about top-loader and front-loader washing machines. Plus, why did we choose a front-loader, and how did we like it compared to our old top loader after 1 month?

Top-Loader vs. Front-Loader Highlights

  • Front-loading washers are better at cleaning than top-loaders, using less water and energy.
  • Front-loaders can be stacked to save floor space or have a countertop put above them in your laundry room.
  • Top-loaders require less maintenance than front-loaders.
  • Top-loaders generally allow bigger loads of laundry than front-loaders.
Front-Loader Vs. Top Loader Washing Machine Comparison Graphic

Top-Loader vs. Front-Loader Washing Machine Comparison

Water and Energy Usage

Front-loading washers use less water and energy than top-loaders. This is because the clothes are washed in a horizontal position rather than a vertical position, so less water is needed to cover them. They also spin faster, which extracts more water from the clothes. As a result, front-loaders can be stacked to save floor space. For example, you could put a dryer on top of them to avoid the space of both units on the floor.

Top-loading machines are cheaper than front-loading machines, but they use more energy and water. They also tend to break down more often. So if you’re looking for an energy-efficient and durable machine, a front-loader is the way to go.

Cleaning Ability

When it comes to cleaning ability, there’s not much difference between front-loaders and top-loaders. However, front-loaders generally do a slightly better job at removing stains.

This is because they use less water, which means that there’s less opportunity for dirt and stains to be re-deposited onto clean clothes. Front-loaders use less water by design – the clothes are washed in a horizontal position instead of a vertical one, which means that less water is needed to cover them.

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In addition, front-loaders have shorter wash cycles, which means that clothes spend less time in contact with dirty water.

Cycle Times

Since front-loaders are better at cleaning, they also have shorter, more efficient cycles, which means that clothes come out cleaner and drier faster!

In addition, front-loaders are more gentle on clothes, preventing them from being damaged by the washing process.

Stackability

One of the biggest differentiators for front-loaders over top-loaders is the ability to stack units. If you’re tight on square footage, stacking your front-loader washer and dryer is a great way to save some space.

Not only does it free up some floor space, but it also makes it easier to access both appliances. When your washer and dryer are stacked, you also won’t have to bend down as far to transfer laundry from one machine to the other.

If you’re interested in stackable units, you’ll want to confirm when purchasing that your units can safely be stacked. Not every washer and dryer can be stacked, and trying to stack them yourselves can create a hazard.

Load Size

Top-loading machines can actually accommodate larger loads of laundry. This is due to the fact that the drum is oriented vertically rather than horizontally. So if you need to clean a lot of laundry in one go, top-loading machines are the way to go.

However, front-loaders tend to be better at cleaning smaller loads – for example, just a few items that need stain removal. If you don’t have a big family or household and typically do small loads of laundry, a front-loader is the better option.

Water In A Front Loader Washing Machine
Front Loader Washing Machines Accommodate Smaller Loads Of Laundry. This Is Because The Drum Is Horizontal Compared To A Top Loader’S Vertical Drum.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, top-loaders generally require less care than front-loaders. Front-loaders must be sealed tightly in order to prevent water leakage, and the door gasket and drain pump are often major sources of problems.

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In contrast, top-loaders are more forgiving when it comes to leaks, and they do not have any moving parts that can become jammed or worn out. As a result, top-loaders typically require less frequent repairs and maintenance than front-loaders. For households that want to minimize the time and expense of laundry day, a top-loader is usually the best choice.

Price

While front-loaders can be more expensive than top-loaders, we found it very difficult to compare side-by-side. That’s because of the variety of features in washing machines today.

When visiting our local appliance stores, we found about 60% of the machines were front-loaders, while 40% were top-loaders. But the biggest difference was in the design and features. Most of the top-loaders seemed to have more basic designs and features unless we were willing to spend a lot more. In comparison, we were able to find front-loaders that were great looking and had all of the features we wanted (load settings, phone alerts, etc.).

Aesthetic and Laundry Room Design

Finally, if you choosing between a front-loader and a top-loader, you’ll want to consider your laundry room design. While not the highest priority, if your laundry room has a countertop or you’re planning on installing one (like we did), you can only get a front-loader.

After we decided on a front-loader, it was a no-brainer to extend our countertop above the washer and dryer for added functional space. Now, we love it since you can use the countertop to fold clothes straight out of the dryer.

Side-By-Side Front Loading Washing Machines On Risers.
Risers Help Raise Front-Loading Washing Machines, So You Don’T Need To Bend Over As Much.

Why We Chose a Front-Loader

After a lot of research, we eventually chose a front-loader. While we originally were set on a top-loader after researching all of the benefits of front-loaders and considering our laundry room design, we were persuaded in the other direction.

1 Month Later – Our Front-Loader Review

We’ve now had our front-loading washing machine for about a month and overall enjoy it. Let’s start with what washing machine we bought, what we love, and what we don’t.

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After researching online and visiting local appliance stores, we purchased a LG TurboWash 360 Smart Wi-Fi High-Effeciency Washer (linked).

Overall, we love this unit, and while a bit gimmicky, the phone alerts of when loads are done are actually amazing. We always tend to forget about a load here or there, and this has really kept us on top of it.

Comparing our old top-loader against our front-loader, here’s what we like and don’t like:

What We Enjoy:

  • Quality of Clean – Our new front-loader definitely gets clothes cleaner. This could also be from having a newer machine, but overall, clothes come out feeling better and show less wear.
  • Efficiency – The new washer is faster and uses less water. Plus, we even get reports emailed to us tracking the water usage and efficiency of the machine.
  • Countertop – While not machine-specific, having a front-loader allowed us to extend our laundry room countertop over our washer. This has been a game changer and is really useful for folding items.

What We Miss:

  • Load Size – No doubt about it, you fit less in a front-loader than a top-loader. With our new front-loader, we often have to split loads into 2 that we could easily fit into our old machine.
  • Not Bending Over – While we didn’t really consider how much we’d have to bend over to empty our front-loader, it hasn’t bothered us too much. But if you have back issues, you may lean towards a top-loader. The other solution is to buy risers for your front-loader that help brings the machine to chest level.

Bottom Line

Overall, front-loading washing machines are the better option if you’re looking for an energy-efficient and durable machine. They may be slightly more expensive upfront, but they’ll save you money in the long run by using less water and energy and requiring less maintenance. And while both types of machines will get your clothes clean, front-loaders have an advantage when it comes to removing tough stains.

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