Top Loading Vs Front Loading Washing Machine – which is better?

In this article we’ll take a look at washing machines, front loaders and top loaders and find out which is better. Go back 50 years and washing machines were only available to the rich or using a washing machine meant going to a laundrette.  Most homes in the UK own a washing machine nowadays which is far more convenient than trudging your laundry all the way to a laundrette and using shared machines.

But before you go out and buy a washing machine, which is better: a top loader or a front loader? Is one better than the other? Let’s find out.

What Is A Top Loading Washing Machine?

A top loading washing machine has a top lid that lifts up to load the laundry into. The detergent is also added through the top, while the washing is agitated by a central agitator that gently washes your clothes. When the machine has finished washing and spinning your clothes you remove them by lifting the lid on the top.

What Is A Front Loading Washing Machine?

A front loading washing machine has a glass door somewhere near the centre of the front of the machine. This door is where you put washing into and remove washing from the machine. As the door is glass it’s possible to see the washing as it is spinning around inside the machine. Detergents are added via a tray located usually above the door and off to one side.

Washing Machine

What Are The Pros And Cons Of A Top Loading Washing Machine?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of a top loader first and compare them with a front loader.

Top Loader ProsTop Loader Cons
Easy to load (no bending)Needs lots of head space (can’t stack a dryer on top)
Agitator is gentle on clothesUses a lot of water (and detergent)
Easy to clean (no gasket on lid)Often very noisy
Not enough room to wash large items (sleeping bags, pet bedding etc)

As the clothes are put into the machine via the top, it is easy to load the machine. The central agitator is gentle on clothes but as the clothes stay soaked in water throughout the whole wash cycle and the area is larger than a front loader, far more water and detergent are needed to facilitate a complete wash cycle.

As they are loaded from the top, it stands to reason that nothing can be placed above the machine, this means there is a lot of wasted space above the top loader (which could house a tumble dryer on top of a front loader). As there is no need for a seal around the lid, top loaders are easier to clean than front loaders. It is also possible to add items to a top loader once it’s operating which is not possible with a front loader.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of A Front Loading Washing Machine?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of a front loader compared to a top loader.

Front Loader ProsFront Loader Cons
Better energy efficiencyOften require more maintenance
Uses less water (and detergent)Can’t add clothing mid-wash
Stackable to save spaceHave to bend to load
Washes BetterHarsher on clothes

Front loading washing machines need no head space and can therefore have a tumble dryer stacked above. They are more energy efficient, use less water and less detergent than top loaders. Due to the amount of programs available on front loading washing machines, there are more ways to improve cleaning performance and save energy using a front loader compared to a top loader.

However, it is almost impossible to add any clothing to the wash once the machine has started, you have to bend down to put the washing into the machine, the motion of the drum is harsher on the clothing compared to a top loader. Also front loaders require more maintenance than top loaders and the seal around the door does collect gunk and is likely to accumulate mould.

What’s Better; Top Loader Or Front Loader?

If space is no object, you have no money worries and you have difficulty bending, a top loader will probably be your best choice. However, if you’re keen on the environment, don’t want to waste energy or water, don’t need to worry about bending and would like to stack a tumble dryer above the washing machine, then a front loader will be better for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better: top load or front load?

All the experts agree, front loaders clean clothes better and use less water and energy than top loaders. However, top loaders clean clothes slightly faster than front loaders. The choice is yours, faster, less clean washing that uses more energy and water or a more economical wash that takes slightly longer.

What lasts longer top load or front load washer?

Top loading washing machines will last longer, but are more likely to need repairing throughout their lifetime than front loaders. Which makes a front loader more reliable than a top loader.

Do all front load washers have mould problems?

According to a recent survey, 17% of front load washing machine owners have reported mould compared to 3% of top loader washing machine owners. Which means there are a higher percentage of front loaders with mould issues compared to top loaders however, it’s less than one in five top loaders that have reported this problem.

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