Table of Contents
Front-Load Washing Machines: The Pros and Cons
More people seem to be turning to front loaders. Perhaps the need for changing from the traditional ones triggers some people to get them.
To settle the top-loader vs. front-loader debate, these are the pros and cons of this style of washers.
- They are gentler on fabrics
- When tested against top-loaders, they perform better
- Faster spin cycles provide drier clothes
- They often offer a greater capacity
- Water efficiency
- Less noise
- They can be stacked with their corresponding dryer
- More useful life than the TL
- Washing time is longer
- One must bend over to fill and empty the machine
- Some of them pass on vibrations to the floor
- The price tag is usually higher than their TL counterparts
- One can’t add a last-minute garment once the cycle has started as the door needs to be sealed
Top-Load Washing Machines: The Pros and Cons
Perhaps, from a more traditional standpoint, the TL washing machine is an excellent way to go. For years, people have trusted these as they are reliable and, for the most part, durable – the privacy factor of not seeing through might add-in.
But let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this one:
- Easier to use thanks to familiarity – most people grew up with it
- The airtight lid prevents mold from building up
- Its low price provides good value, especially to owners on a budget
- Cycle times are usually shorter
- The high-efficiency (HE) types are very quiet with no vibrations
- Ergonomically, they offer the advantage of merely dumping the clothes without the need for bending over
- Tough on fabrics
- They typically use more water than front-loaders
- Less dry cloth since the tub cannot spin as fast
- The HE models can get picky with the type of fiber they can efficiently wash
Top-Load vs. Front-Load Washer: Which one is Better? A Detailed Comparison
To help make a much more educated decision on the best option for a home, let’s make a more granular description and comparison of each type by feature – a top-load vs. front-load washer clash. It is not only about looks and features, but convenience should play a role too.
The aesthetics are important and must be taken into account. Usually, the looks influence purchase decisions for these types of appliances.
These look cleaner and sleeker than FLs. This in part due to them not having a door in the front. However, if placed next to the dryer, it will contrast as these usually have a front door.
These have a see-through door that users might find either distracting or mesmerizing. But others would not enjoy the lack of privacy on their garments. But more importantly, it is a good way to see how the washing cycle is going.
Also, if there is a matching dryer, both put together side by side, offer a pleasant view.
The top-load looks sleeker, and the FLs are more sophisticated. This one is going to be a tie for appearance.
Assuming the same volume of water for both types, this is how they compare:
The height of a TL tends to be five to six inches more. When it comes to width, they tend to be the same. FLs tend to be four inches deeper than TLs to account for the door and related features and mechanisms.
These dimensions are critical when one must consider the allotted home space for a power washing. Mostly, the space available will determine the front-load vs. top-load in this one.
3. Ease of Use
The most relevant feature regarding ease of use will refer to how easily the process of putting in the loads is. Also, a very important point to consider, especially if there is a physical challenge present.
Dumping the laundry straight from the hamper to the appliance is an activity that many might enjoy. Now, doing laundry this way is how it feels natural and comfortable. These types of washers also have easy to use controls, and it is usually straightforward.
But opening a washer from the top might be an issue if there is not enough space above. When this is the case, the top cover will not hold by itself but will need an extra hand.
Given how new these are, a front-load might have a slightly steeper curve when it comes to technological features. FLs have higher-end technicalities that might take a while to get used to.
As for loading and unloading, a front door eliminates the need to hold it with one hand and dumping with the other. Space for this door will only be an issue if the laundry room is tiny.
The TL takes the loot on this one. The main reason being that this is the one most people are used to. Whatever nuisance its use might pose does not match the complications that new tech might bring.
4. How it Cleans
This is perhaps the first thing that new buyers ask themselves. After all, this is what these devices are bought for.
There are two main types of TL washers: the ones with an agitator with paddles and high-efficiency (HE) ones with no central agitator. The first type is the most common to this day. They clean by beating the cloth against each other with the paddles in the agitator. Hence, more wear and tear.
The HE type, on the other hand, does not have this central agitator. Instead, it uses a plate at the bottom of the tub to move the cloth around against each other. This one is gentler with the clothes.
FLs use the same spinning mechanism but without the agitator. They are a lot gentler to the clothing. One can quickly notice that the vertical round motion causes the pieces to hit against the bottom with greater strength, hence being an essential part of the washing.
This vertical mechanism is still gentle with clothes but provides efficient cleaning. FL washers take the price for a more efficient cleaning cycle.
5. How Quickly do They Wash?
To help decide which one is quicker in this front load vs. top load washer battle, one should only consider that the top-load has the clothes wholly immersed in water during the entire cycle. This means that the cleaning process will take less time.
TL units with agitators are not as good at washing as those that do not. The latter type will then take less time to wash, but it is more efficient at it. Because of this, the price tag will be higher.
Front-load washers cannot have all the garments immersed in the water all the time as they are submerged into it through the rotation. Hence, the laundry will take more time to wash.
The winner here is easy. The traditional TL washers with agitators are faster at washing. However, this does not make them any more efficient than the high-efficiency top-loaders and the front-load washers.
6. The Smell/Mold Issue
As with most appliances at home that use water, there is always a risk for the formation of mold. But how do these two fare in this department? Let’s take a look.
Mold builds up on surfaces thanks to trapped water. As it turns out, mold cannot build upon a top-loader since gravity ensures no humidity stays inside. So, if you are the owner of one of these washers, you will probably never hear about this issue.
Due to its structure, mold can easily form around the door’s rubber gasket. This characteristic alone makes the FL of higher maintenance than the top-loader.
One way to combat this is to allow air to flow into the tub from time to time.
With nearly zero potential of mold building up, the top-loading washing machine is the winner here. Front-load washer units just need a bit more maintenance to prevent mold from building up.
7. Repair and Maintenance
One of the top questions customers ask about electrical devices is how easy it is to repair and give maintenance. Most of the time, “easy” is a synonym with “how expensive.”
Whenever one of these washers breaks or malfunctions, it is not difficult to find a maintenance specialist to resolve the issue. As a matter of fact, the owner could give some maintenance and even solve minor problems.
Nobody expects the owner to know how to access repair for this one. It is best to leave it to professionals as the tech is more complicated than top washers. As for maintenance, simple tasks such as removing mold or general clean-outs are not challenging to perform.
Due to it being effortless to give maintenance to, the TL washing machine wins again.
8. Saving Water With Every Load
Another important concern, especially in those locations where water is either especially expensive or scarce.
When these washers started to grow popular, people were set off by the amount of water that they use. A typical one can use up from 28 to 40 gallons per load. High-efficiency versions use 12 to 17 gallons, which makes a big difference.
The top-loader washer fills up the tub to make the clothes float in the water. This makes the washing process more effective as there is enough space for clothes to rub against each other.
The FL will use around 13 gallons. They do not require much water since the clothes are not always inside of it. As seen from the figures for HE, the amount used by both is typically the same.
The FL takes the price here since all models use the same amount of water per load. There are also savings in energy since less water takes less time to heat.
9. Saving on Electricity
These electrical devices are usually not too harsh on the electricity bill. However, it does not hurt to try and save some bills, which always wind up adding up after some time.
Thanks to concerns such as global warming, wildfires, and pollution, manufacturers are always seeking ways to make their devices as efficient as possible.
In the case of the TL, being based on old tech, it can hardly come up with better ways to save on electricity.
In numbers, a typical one will spend, on average, 348 kWh per year. Compare that to the 160 kWh used by a front load.
These washers are all about efficiency, which is, doing more with less. When comparing FLs with HE washers, the amount of energy they save is practically the same.
The definite winner in saving on electricity is the FL. They have the edge as being more cost-effective when it pertains to electricity alone. It is important to note, though, that this saving refers only to the power used in running the device.
It can drop depending on the amount of hot water being used in a cycle.
The more that can be added to a tub at once, the more efficient wash one gets. This is why capacity is also an important point to consider. More importantly, how many people will be using this washing machine?
When walking to the store, one will notice that washers are offered in volume or capacity. This number varies and, of course, affects the price tag. Usually, the largest ones belong to this category of a washing machine.
These also come in a variety of capacities. It is a well-known fact that FL washing units of similar size will wash more clothes than top-loaders.
The reason is straightforward – they do not have the middle agitator, which takes a lot of tub space.
The front-load washer takes the lead here again. Thanks to the extra space provided by the lack of a central agitator, laundry’s capacity surpass the traditional top-loader, so they are convenient for a larger home.
There is no difference with the high-efficiency one, though, because this one does not have a middle agitator either.
11. Cleaning Your Washing Machine ane
Everyone wants to be able to easily wash their electrical appliance after several uses. Some of these even have self-washing features. This is not the case here, so it is best to consider which one gets cleaned more easily.
Old washing machines will sometimes grow some mold on the edges of the drum or in the gasket. Thanks to the fact that this one is in a vertical position, getting rid of it are relatively easy.
Over ten years ago, a trend started by Samsung where manufacturers added silver nanoparticle layers to prevent dirt from building up and helping disinfect clothing. The polluting properties of silver-more significant than its disinfecting properties brought down the trend quickly.
A major complaint from owners refers to the buildup of mold. To help with this, they usually leave the door ajar until all humidity has evaporated.
As stated before, the cleaning process for a front-load is more complicated than for a top-loading.
The TL machine wins this one as it does not require too frequent cleaning. Mold buildup and having to clean more often are common complaints within the modern FL owners.
Putting up the device in an allotted space goes through several factors, the size of such space being one of them. Also, one needs to consider how easily this appliance can be moved out for maintenance and repair.
When installing, the washer must be placed side by side with the dryer. This is the typical set-up in most homes. However, this could be a problem in very small spaces like apartments or compact homes.
One of the main advantages of FL is that it can be stacked on top of the dryer. This reduces the footprint of the washer and dryer, which is crucial in small spaces.
The FL offers greater flexibility of installation, a great plus when space has to be used more effectively.
13. Smart Features
There are smart features that just make life easier. Those usually small perks work well with these machines as laundry is one activity that people don’t want to have to invest important time on.
When users select a number of garments, the washing machine will fill up the tub with that water amount. More modern washers have a relatively new feature: auto-fill.
In this feature, the unit senses the size of the bundle and fills up the tub accordingly.
Sensing the size of the garments is not something these machines need to do. Since there is no need to detect its size, front-loading will always use the minimum amount of water.
Users of top-loading washers are not necessarily looking to save water. Some of these units even have a feature that allows the user to select adding more water if they feel they need extra.
When it comes to smart features, the front-load washing machine takes the lead.
If money is tight, the price will probably climb to the forefront of choice. There is no mystery to the fact that the investment has to be important and, therefore, well thought.
The price range of these goes as little as $400 and $500. Besides this, they can be used with any type of detergent.
The price tag for this category is higher, but this is justifiable. The main reasons for this are:
- Higher quality clean
- Save more energy
- More water-efficient
- Greater capacity
- Less noise and vibrations
In other words, all the reasons mentioned earlier. Although these are more expensive than top-loaders, in the end, the costs will even out.
Despite the efficiency provided by the FLs, the winner here is the top-loader, considering that even the HE version is less expensive than the front-loader.
Although there may be some cost-effectiveness, it might take years to even out (considering energy and water efficiency), and it might not happen for lower-income families.
After an important investment has been made, a smart decision involves getting a device that stands the test of time. When it comes to these two, there might be an important gap.
The average life expectancy is 14 years. Most of these machines do not have as many features as their counterparts, so there is not much worn with constant repair.
A front-loader is expected to last around 11 years. High-end technology is usually the bane of this machine’s existence. To that, one must add that due to these features, maintenance is more expensive.
This one goes to the TL washer. The constant repair needs of the FL washer tend to reduce its lifespan.
Front-Load Washer vs. Top-Load: A Comparison Table
This is the summary table of all the points mentioned above. An at-a-glance view will help make better decisions on what is more convenient. Focus on the areas of greater interest, dismiss those that are not considered essential, and see what adds up. Here’s how front-load washers vs. top-load compare and contrast:
|3||Ease of use||X|
|4||How it cleans||X|
|5||How quickly do they wash||X|
|6||The smell/mold issue||X|
|7||Repair and maintenance||X|
|8||Saving water with every load||X|
|9||Saving on electricity||X|
|11||Cleaning your washer||X|
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all Front-load Washers Have Mold Problems?
This is indeed a widespread issue with these washers. Unlike their counterparts, FL washing machines have a rubber gasket that closes airtight. To this, add all the detergent and fabric softener residues, and one can quickly see how mold can easily form.
Can I Use Normal Detergent in Front-load Washing Machines?
Front-load washers use little water and are efficient at washing. Therefore, they do not require as much detergent as the typical ones. Users must then use only high-efficiency detergent to make them work properly.
Using regular detergent in HE machines can cause the pump to break or overheat.
Is Liquid or Powder Detergent Better for Front-load Washers?
To get cleaner clothes, liquid and powder detergents make no difference. Liquid detergents are better at removing stains, and powder is best for washing away mud.
Now, considering the type of washer, it is best to stick to liquid. This one dissolves more easily, and it is less likely to build upon the gasket.
Do Top-loaders or Front-loaders Last Longer?
Yes, they do. The life expectancy of a top-loader is 14 years. With proper maintenance, front-loaders will last around 11 years. As explained above, the fact that front-loading washers can take more oversized loads, take longer at washing, and have a higher-end tech, makes them more vulnerable to wear and tear.
So, What’s the Choice for You?
“Front-load or top-load washer?” is the question.
To decide which type of appliance will work best for the home, one must factor in those aspects that are significant vs. those that are not. There is no correct answer as to which is the best since this will depend not only on each washer’s intrinsic characteristics.
What works best is also related to what users consider essential. For instance, a user could not care less about energy efficiency but is interested in the time it takes for the laundry to wash. This makes a choice a lot easier.
If two opposing characteristics fall into being equally important, consider which one will have a more lasting effect on what is needed before buying.
Which one was your choice, and why did you make it? Have you made up your mind yet? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.