Top Loaders and Front Loaders
Courtesy of the U.S. EPA's Energy Star program
Washers can either be loaded from the top or loaded from the front, depending on the model you purchase.
The big news in washers in the past few years has been the major introduction of front-load models — typically associated with commercial laundry machines — into the home. Both run on electricity and both will get your clothes clean. Where they differ is in how they get your clothes clean, water and energy usage, and tub capacity and placement.
Why choose a front loader over a top loader, or vice versa? Here's a breakdown:
Homes; United States
Laundromats and other commercial settings; Europe and Asia
Tub is filled with water, then agitator moves clothes (items may get tangled around it). Some top loaders have alternative technologies that are less forceful and use less water. Easy to add clothes mid-cycle.
Use tumbling action instead of agitator; cause less wear and tear on clothing. Water does not completely fill the tub. Higher spin speeds extract more moisture and reduce drying time. Difficult to add clothes mid-cycle..
Most are less expensive, with fewer options. They also are less efficient, with higher utility bills.
Higher price tag and typically come with more options. Greater efficiency means lower utility bills.
More popular, therefore come in a wider range of models, prices and styles
Much more common than even five years ago
The bigger the agitator, the less room for clothing
No agitator taking up space
Children and small adults may have trouble reaching in to remove wash
Require the average adult to bend over to load the machine
Energy and Water Savings
Not as efficient as front loaders, but can still find Energy Star models
Use less water than top loaders and therefore require less energy to heat it
HE (high-efficiency) detergent with fewer suds; slightly more expensive than standard
Range from very basic models to multiple cycles, speeds, temperatures, etc.
Tend to come with more options as standard offerings
No (unless part of a laundry center washer-dryer combo)