What Are The Disadvantages Of Front Loading Washing Machines?

If you’re looking to buy a new washing machine and are undecided whether to go for a top loader or a front loader, this article will help you to make the right choice for your home. In all honesty, both types have their good and bad points which is probably why you’re undecided.

Front loaders are known for their superior cleaning ability and efficiency, but they are also well known for their problems too. They are more expensive to buy, more susceptible to mould and mildew and weigh much more than a comparable top loader.

In this article I take a look at the disadvantages of front loading washing machines and compare front loaders and top loaders. Keep reading to find out more.

What Are The Main Pros & Cons Of Front Loading Washing Machines?

Let’s start by listing both the advantages and disadvantages of front loaders which include;

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Better cleaning abilityMore Susceptible to mould & mildew
Better energy efficiencyHigher purchase price
Treat laundry gentlerLess ergonomic design
No Need To Stretch to load the drumMore likely to become damaged
Stylish designWeighs much more than a top loader
Quieter (lower dB)Typically can’t add clothes mid-cycle
More cycles and settingsLonger cycles
Larger drum capacityTakes longer to learn how to operate
Can save space if stacked with a tumble dryer on topNeeds more space to allow the door to open 
Reduced drying time

So front loading washing machines tend to suffer from the following issues;

More Susceptible To Mould & Mildew

mould in washing machine drum

Due to the design of the appliance, the door has to form a watertight and airtight seal when closed. This airtight seal prevents water from leaking during operation which is a good thing as it saves your home from flooding due to water leaking from the drum.

However, it also prevents moisture from evaporating when the washer isn’t in use which creates the perfect conditions for mould and mildew to thrive. Added to which, using too much detergent and failing to clean the washer after use also contribute to this mould and mildew growth.

Of course, this can also be a problem in top loaders if they’re not looked after properly but, they’re less likely to become mould and mildew breeding grounds than front loaders.

Higher Purchase Price

Due to their superior cleaning properties, larger capacity drums and range of programmes and cycles, front loaders tend to be more expensive to purchase than top loaders.

In some cases, the cost of a front loader can be double that of a top loader.

Less Ergonomic Design

Due to the position of the door on a front loader washing machine, you’re more likely to have to bend to load and unload your laundry from the machine. This can cause back problems especially if you’re quite a tall person.

However, if you are a wheelchair user or you get your kids to load and unload the washer for you, they can be ideal. With that said, if you limit your washer use to only once a week, the tension caused in your back has time to settle down before the following weekly session.

More Likely To Become Damaged

Overall, a front loading washing machine is a reliable appliance and if used properly, should run for years without any problems. However, because of the large drum capacity, it can be tempting to overload the machine.

If you regularly overload the drum on a front loader, you’re likely to have the appliance break down on you or suffer some sort of damage. This will lead to expensive repair bills and your appliance will be out of action for some time.

Front loaders also tend to require more in the way of maintenance than top loaders.

Weigh Much More Than A Top Loader

Due to their design, front loaders need to be heavy to prevent them from moving or vibrating too much when in use. This can lead to some front loaders being as much as 50% heavier than a comparable top loader.

If you decide on a front loader, you’ll probably need some help manoeuvring it into position.

You Typically Can’t Add Clothes Mid-Cycle

laundry room with pile of clothes

Front loader washing machines have a safety locking feature that means once the cycle has started, the door cannot be opened. Which is a great safety feature and prevents your home from becoming flooded.

However, if you’ve missed something that needs washing urgently, the only way you can add it to the machine once it has started is to pause the machine and wait for the water to all drain from the drum before the door will open.

Top loaders on the other hand, don’t have the worry of flooding if the lid is open. This allows you the freedom to add items after the wash cycle has already commenced.

Longer Cycles

Overall, front loaders have longer cycles than top loaders. This might surprise you when you consider how much faster the spin speed is on a front loader compared to a top loader.

In a like for like comparison, many top loaders have typical cycles that run for half the amount of time of a front loader.

Takes Longer To Learn How To Operate

Front loaders have many more programmes and cycles compared to top loaders which means there’s more to learn before you can use your front loader efficiently. You will also have to learn the correct quantity of detergent to use for the various cycles.

This means it will take you longer to master the intricacies of a front loader compared to the ease of use of a top loader. 

Needs More Space To Allow The Door To Open 

Unlike a top loader which has a lid on top to allow you to access the drum, a front loader has a door on the front. This means you’ll need to allow enough room for the door to be opened wherever you place the washer.

If you have a narrow space allocated for the washer, this could be problematic.

What Are The Advantages Of A Front Loader Washing Machine?

open washing machine door

Now that we’ve seen all of the disadvantages of a front loader, let’s look at the positive advantages.

Better Cleaning Ability

Due to their design, front loaders use a tumbling action to get clothes clean. This works far better than the agitator or impeller system used in a top loader.

Which means your laundry will come out of a front loader far cleaner than it would from a top loader.

Better Energy Efficiency

As well as washing clothes better, front loaders use far less energy, up to 60% less water and need less detergent than top loaders.

This means that owning a front loader washing machine will save you money as well as lower your utility bills.

Treat Laundry Gentler

The agitator action of a top loader can be rough on your clothes. Whereas the tumbling action of a front loader is kinder on the fabrics.

This means your clothes will last longer and be less likely to become damaged in a front loader compared to a top loader.

No Need To Stretch To Load The Drum

Two people putting clothes in a laundry basket from the washer

Whilst tall people might find using a front loader uncomfortable, the majority of regular height people and those in wheelchairs will find accessing a front loader’s drum easier than accessing the drum on a top loader.

Plus when it comes to removing the laundry from the drum, front loaders are easier to reach. Whereas a top loader can be difficult to reach the bottom of the drum.

This also becomes prevalent when trying to clean the drum as part of your regular maintenance schedule.

Stylish Design

Top loaders all look pretty much the same. Whereas front loaders have a more stylish, current design. In many cases, front loader washing machines enhance the look of a kitchen simply by their design.

Quieter (Lower Db)

Let’s face it, all washing machines are relatively loud. However, many front loader manufacturers are striving to reduce the noise levels of their appliances.

Even though they are prone to vibrate, they are not as loud as their top loading counterparts.

More Cycles And Settings

Front loaders typically have more programmes and cycles than top loaders. Which allows you to select a cycle specifically designed for washing the clothes or fabrics of your wash load.

There are also various energy saving cycles designed to run using less energy or preprogrammed to run when the power is cheaper.

Larger Drum Capacity

washing machine drum

You can get front loader washing machines with drum capacities ranging from 5 kg to 12 kg. Allowing you to fit more items into each wash load. 

The top end of this range is far more than the capacity of a top loader (which is typically around 8 kg).

Can Save Space If Stacked With A Tumble Dryer On Top

If space is at a premium in your home, a front loader washing machine can be adapted to stack a tumble dryer on top. All it takes is a stacking kit which can be purchased from any good retailer.

Of course, this is only possible because the door is on the front of the washer. You could never stack a tumble dryer on top of a top loader because you wouldn’t be able to open the lid or access the drum.

This means that for the smaller home, a front loader is more appropriate to save space.

Reduced Drying Time

Front loading washing machines have a much faster spin speed which means clothes leave the appliance containing less water than they would from a top loader.

This can be the difference between getting your laundry dry or leaving damp clothes around the home.

Top Tips For Achieving The Best Performance From Your Washer

A person putting laundry detergent into a washing machine

Whether you buy a top loader or a front loader there are a few tips that can help to keep it running at its optimum best. These include;

  • Never overload the machine, this will cause clothes to remain dirty, puts a strain on the washer and wastes energy.
  • Always ensure that you use the correct type of detergent in the correct quantity. Don’t forget if your appliance needs HE (High Efficiency) detergent this is the only detergent that should be used.
  • Ensure the door (or lid) is left open after the cycle has finished to allow the drum to dry out and help to prevent mould and mildew from forming.

So, What’s Better: A Front Loader Or A Top Loader?

It can be a difficult choice because both types of appliance have their pros & cons. We’ve just seen that front loaders are more energy efficient, use less water and less detergent, clean laundry better and are less likely to damage your clothes.

However, they cost more to buy, are more difficult to load and unload and are far more susceptible to mould and mildew.

On the other hand, top loaders are cheaper to purchase, wash clothes faster, easier to load and you can add clothes after the cycle has begun.

However, they use more water, more energy and more detergent and take up more space because the dryer can’t be stacked on top.

Ultimately the choice is yours and you’ll need to weigh up the pros & cons and decide which will suit your home and lifestyle better.

SEE ALSO: Top Loading Vs Front Loading Washing Machine – which is better?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common problem with front-load washers?

One of the most common problems with front loader washing machines is they are prone to mould and mildew. This is because they are tightly sealed to prevent water leaks and this also prevents sufficient air to allow the drum to dry out between washes. The mould and mildew spores are ever present in our water supply and breed in dark damp environments.

Why do people like front load washers?

People tend to like front loader washing machines because they use less energy, less water and less detergent as well as getting more water from the washed clothes due to their high spin speeds.

Why are front-load washers so slow?

Front loaders are so slow compared to top loaders because top loaders have more of the laundry immersed in the water. Whereas front loaders are designed to allow the clothes to tumble in and out of the water. Which means it takes longer for a front loader to wash all of the clothes in the drum.

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