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Impeller vs. Agitator Washer: Which to Buy?

Learn what both agitators and impellers are in washing machines. Get pros and cons to each to help you buy the right washer for you.
Impellers and agitators are both present in top loading washing machines, but how they work and move the clothes differs greatly.
An impeller washer has a low-profile cone that spins or rotates, rubbing clothes against each other to get them clean. On the other hand, an agitator washer has a tall finned or vaned spindle in the middle of the washtub that agitates or twists against clothes, to help to break down stains and loosen soils.
So, which is better for you, agitator or impeller washers? Learn about the differences between these two types of washers to help you decide which machine is best for your needs.

Top Load Washing Machine With an Agitator

Agitator washing machines are the more familiar version of a top loader, having been in the market for many years. This washer uses a spindle to agitate clothes and twist them back and forth against it, delivering a good cleaning action.
These washers typically provide:
  • Agitating – Rubs against clothes to help break down and remove stains and soils.
  • Spraying – Reuses water from the wash/rinse cycle to soak garments.
  • Wash Basket Rotation – Rotates for a thorough clean.

Top Load Washing Machine With an Impeller

Impeller washing machines use a different motion than agitator washing machines.

The impeller moves clothes from the tub’s outer rim to the centre, using water to optimize friction to gently rub clothes against each other and deliver a thorough yet gentle clean.

These washers feature:
  • Impeller Rotation – Low-profile cones, fins, discs, or wheels that mildly rub clothes against each other for gentler cleaning action.
  • Spraying – Reuses water from the wash/rinse cycle to soak garments.
  • Wash Basket Rotation – Rotates for a deep clean.

Find What’s Right For You

So which washer should you get for your home?
Whether you’re removing stains from your favourite t-shirt, making sure your child’s school clothes are spotless or sanitizing your infant’s new clothes, both agitator and impeller washers are ideal.
Both machines have high-efficiency cleaning and performance, energy efficiency, convenience, capacity, and innovation. However, impellers use slightly less water due to their function and high spinning speeds, yielding laundry loads that need less drying.
It all comes down to your personal preference when choosing which washer you’d like to purchase for your home. If you can’t decide, why not get the best of both worlds? Consider a model with our all-new Whirlpool 2-in-1 agitator, which allows you to remove the agitator and run the unit in impeller mode for large bulky items.
Check out our Appliance Finder tool here to help you make the right choice. Be sure to also check out Swash™ Laundry Detergent for all washers, including HE models. It comes with an 8x concentrated formula that boosts cleaning capacity and reduces the white residue on clothes.
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