Buyer's Guide \ Washers \ Front Load vs. Top Load Washing Machines

Front Load vs. Top Load Washing Machines

Finding a suitable washing machine for your home can be difficult, especially with newer front load and top load models on the market. New and improved top and bottom load washers offer bigger capacities, more efficiency, and convenience to ensure that your clothes get washed well.
Though you may understand all there is about washing machines, it’s good to be in the know about new capabilities. Read the differences between top vs. front load washers, such as their convenience, design, controls, capacity, and efficiency, in our guide below.

Comparison of Top vs. Front Load Washers

  • Convenience

    • Top Load Washer: Depending on your height and the height of the washer, it may be harder to reach the bottom with top loaders.

    • Front Load Washer: Front loaders require more bending over, but there is a solution: In many instances, laundry pedestals can be purchased to elevate your appliance, making it easier to load and unload. Pedestals can also provide extra storage for detergent and fabric softener.

  • Design

    • Top Load Washer: Top loaders open from the top. Impellers or an agitator drive the wash action. Matching dryers open from the front, not the top. See top loading washing machines from Maytag®.
    • Front Load Washer: Front loader doors swing open from the front. Matching washers and dryers can stack to save space.
  • Control

    • Top Load Washer: Top loader controls are located on the top back.
    • Front Load Washer: Front loader controls are located on the top front.
  • Capacity

    • While front load washers may seem more spacious due to the absence of an agitator or impeller, both top and front load washers are available in various sizes. Capacities range from around 4 to 6 cubic feet and vary based on price.
  • Efficiency

    • Top Load Washer: Many top loaders tend to use lower amounts of water, to meet standards for efficiency, and use higher detergent concentrations. Some models allow you to use more water, depending on the cycle.

    • Front Load Washer: Front loaders that use HE (high-efficiency) detergent use less water, which means concentrated cleaning. As a result, you generally won’t have to use as much detergent.

Advances in Efficiency with Front Load Washers

Longer wash times and using fewer gallons of water provide front loaders with high efficiency. Unlike the agitators of top loaders, front loader washing machines clean clothing items by moving them against one another, helping to fight stains and soils. You can also save space by stacking a front load washer and dryer: For example, see Maytag® front load washing machines.

Convenience in Design Considerations for Top Loading Models

With high-efficiency top loading washing machines, you have the choice between agitators or impellers. These devices in the bottom of the drum activate the washing motion. Modern advances in technology have designed agitators and impellers to be gentle on your clothes.


This device mounted in the center of the washing machine’s drum stands vertical, acting as a post that moves during a cycle to clean clothing items. It helps rub against the clothes, creating friction to fight stains and soils. Though agitators are typically thought to be aggressive on clothing, new technology has made them more gentle.


These cone-like structures sit in the bottom of the washing machine’s drum. With their short stature, impellers move clothing items to rub against each other while using less water to optimize the clothing’s cleaning friction. Impellers are gentle on your clothes yet clean efficiently. Since they sit lower in the drum, they allow more room for bulkier clothing or bedding items.

Choose What’s Best for You

While top loading agitators and impellers are great at tackling any load, find which one would benefit you most. Check out our Appliance Finder tool to help find the best washing machine for you.
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