Everyone needs clean clothes. Washing and drying machines have gone from being convenient to being an absolute necessity over the last centuryThere are two different types of washing machines: front load and top load. Front load describes washers where you load and unload from the top of the machine.

Both of them have distinct advantages, as well as several drawbacks. The machine that works best for you will depend on what criteria you value most.

Below you’ll find a comparison of the two types of washers based on the following criteria.

  • Cleanliness
  • Cost
  • Efficiency
  • Ergonomics
  • Noise
  • Reliability

Cleanliness

One of the most important factors of getting a washing machine is how well it cleans your clothes. The entire point of a washer is to clean your clothes, so it’s important to get one that does its job.

Each of these washers have different capabilities when it comes to cleaning clothes.

Front Load

Front load washers tend to clean better than top load machines. Many of these machines were created with high efficiency in mind to use less water and clean more thoroughly.

They also have a greater load capacity than most top load washers. This means you can wash more clothes in one go, reducing the number of loads typically required.

However, with a greater cleaning ability comes a longer wash time. Many wash times go from 1-2 hours depending on what soil setting you need to use.

One major downside of front loaders is that they are more prone to developing mold than top loaders. This often builds up in the detergent dispensers and the rubber seal around the opening. You will have to go to more effort to keep these machines safe for use.

Top Load

If you’ve spent any time living in an apartment complex, you’ve probably had to use a top load washer before.

While top loading machines are often capable of washing typically soiled clothes, they can often be hard on fabrics. Agitator machines churn the fabrics together, and the friction created in the process can cause them to wear out faster.

Top load machines have a harder time getting tough stains out. If your family tends to put a lot of stains on their clothing, this may not be the best option.

Cost

Cost is another incredibly important factor for those considering buying a front load vs. top load washer. Washing machines are a huge investment, and not everyone can spend as much money as they would like for something that works better. Choosing front load vs. top load washers will depend on if you value paying less upfront or less over time.

Front Load

The cost of front loading washing machines is a big burden. You’ll find that most of them run for twice as much as a top loader. This kind of machine relies on a tumble wash system. They use horizontal tubs to tumble the dirt out of the clothes and wash them at the same time. This technology is more expensive than what is used in a top loading machine.

These machines also tend to be expensive because they are optimized for efficiency. That means manufacturers aren’t worried about cutting costs, but instead are looking for the best way to clean clothes.

Expect to pay around $1,000 for one with all of the fixings. However, these washers tend to last longer than top loaders, so they’ll save you more money in the long run.

Top Load

The most significant benefit of using a top load washer is that they are much more affordable than other options. Because these machines don’t come with as many features, manufacturers can cut costs when putting them together.

There are also several options for high-efficiency top loading machines that are still cheaper than their front-loading equivalents. Many consumers have started going for these machines as a happy medium between the two.

Efficiency

One concern many consumers have is how useful their products are at doing their job. Almost any washer will clean your clothes, but how effectively can it perform?

open front load washing machine

Front Load

One of the biggest strengths of front-loading machines is their efficiency in cleaning your clothing. These machines were made to do the best job possible on as little water as necessary. They’re also gentler on fabrics, so your clothes will stand up to more wash cycles than they would in a top loading machine.

Front load washers also come with wash actions designed to work out tough stains. As your fabrics rub together in the tumbler, the stains experience more friction and get worked out faster.

Since the front-loading machine uses less water, you won't need to put your clothes in the dryer for as long. You can cut down on dryer usage and save on your electric bill in the process.

Top Load

Compared to front loading machines, top loaders are worse when it comes to efficiency. Because they were made to reduce cost, they utilize agitator technology because it’s cheaper to produce.

These machines also tend to use much more water, 30-45 gallons per load compared to the 15-25 most high efficiency machines use.This can cause your water bill to go up dramatically. Because they use more water, the drying time needed to dry your clothes fully is greater than it would be with a front load washer.

Ergonomics

Being able to move around your washer and put laundry in is a big factor. Both washers require you to be able to move around, but each requires different movement. Know what your body can do before you pick front load vs. top load.

Front Load

Front loading washing machines will require a lot of bending over and reaching to get everything out and put things in. If you have any back problems, or pain bending over, this may not be the best option for you.

Some people solve this problem by using pedestals to put their front-loading washer at a level that is easy to reach. This creates space under the washer to put things like detergent, fabric softener, and other laundry supplies.

Top Load

Top loading washing machines are easier to use when it comes to putting clothes in. All you have to do is pour out the detergent, put the clothes in, and then start the cycle. Since most controls are located right above the lid of the tub, most users don’t have to move to reach them.

However, top load washers can be difficult to work around when it comes to getting your clothes out. Reaching all the way to the bottom can be difficult for shorter users, or those who can’t bend over far due to pain.

Reliability

For many consumers, features don’t matter as much as durability. You want a washer that will last for years instead of having to replace it more often. If you tend to overload your machine, it isn’t going to last as long as advertised.

However, research shows that front load vs. top load doesn’t matter when it comes to lifespan

Most washers last an average of 14 years. High end models last longer, no matter what type of washer you buy.

Front Load

Front load washers are considered more reliable for several reasons. They can fit more in each load, are better at cleaning and stain removal, and are built out of more durable materials.

They do require more maintenance, but if you can handle scheduling it for regular repairs, it’s going to last you longer than a typical top loader.

Top Load

Many consumers have the perception that top loaders are more reliable because they don’t require as much maintenance.

While top loaders and front loaders tend to have the same lifespan, top loaders don’t perform as well due to their smaller load capacity.

Size

Living space is a significant factor when it comes to what kind of washing machine works for you. There’s only so much space you can make available to keep your laundry facilities.

overflowing bubbles from frontload washing machine

Front Load

Front loading washer and dryer machines can easily be stacked on top of each other, reducing the amount of floor space necessary to keep them in your home.

Top Load

Top load washers lose when it comes to saving space. Because you have to get in from the top, your washer and dryer must sit side by side.

Some newer models are smaller than machines you might have bought ten or twenty years ago. However, even with the smaller size, they will on average take up more space.

The best washer for your family is the one that meets your needs. Decide what is most important to you and your washing requirements. Can you make do with a washer that does the job? Or do you need something with more power that will get out tough stains? Once you know what you need, you can refer to this article and make your decision from there.