Front- Loaders vs. Top-Loaders: the Debate Continues

Like Coke vs. Pepsi, boxers vs. briefs, or even the always-controversial “over vs. under” toilet roll debate, the question of whether a top-loading washer is really superior to a front-loader, or vice versa, is a topic with strong opinions from passionate debaters on either side of the issue. While both types of washing machines have their advantages and drawbacks, people seem to have a clear preference for one or the other, and are not likely to waver when it comes to buying a new machine. Here is an outlined pro/con list of both styles of washer; see where you fall in the Great Washer Debate:


Front-Loading Washers:

Pro: Front-loader enthusiasts often tout the eco-friendliness of high-efficiency models, citing the comparatively low amounts of water and energy that it takes to do a load of laundry.  Front-loading washers generally do use less water and spin faster than their top-loading counterparts, making them the greener option.

Con: They stink. Or, at least, they used to stink. Maybe they still do on occasion- the point is, a lot of people will never know because they won’t give the new designs a second chance. Many consumers were turned off by the first generation of front-loaders due to the chronic mildew smell that they reported coming from both the machine itself and the clothes they washed. So serious was this issue that the manufacturers took the complaint all the way to the Supreme Court, and the number of front-loaders sold in the U.S. dropped from 45% in late 2009 to just 29.5% today. The design of front-loaders has improved since the first generation to minimize the risk of stinky laundry, but many people are still wary of the front-loader design as a result.

Pro: According to Consumer Affairs, front-loaders clean better than top-loaders on average, while also using approximately 5 gallons less water per cycle. Also, with the use of an electric hot water heater, front-loading washers can cut electricity use by up to 50%, resulting in cost savings.

Con: Front-loaders are initially more expensive, which means that even though you will ultimately be saving money on your energy and water bills, the savings may not add up to enough to justify the price of the purchase.


Top- Loading Washers:

Pro: You can open the lid and throw in more clothes after the cycle has begun. This is a big deal for anyone who is easily annoyed by finding that missing sock in the hamper moments after starting a load.

Con: While top-loaders have gotten much better at cleaning, they are still about 5% less effective at their job, according to a test performed by

Pro: Top-loaders are initially less expensive than front-loaders, meaning that a family whose washer has just recently conked out can replace it with a new top-loader with a lot less impact to their wallet.

Con: Top-loaders just don’t look as cool as front-loaders. If the aesthetics of an appliance concern you, then a top-loader just isn’t going to make you happy. Sure, they’ve come a long way with their agitator-free barrels and clear lids, but if you want a washing machine that looks like it was designed for the Jetsons’ house and boasts a variety of colors and modern, high-tech features, the top-loader may not cut it.


Where does your loyalty lie? Join the Washer Wars in the comments below.

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