It's a tale as old as time. An epic battle for the ages: the dirty debate between front load vs top load washing machines. If you are in the market for a washing machine, you are inevitably faced with the question of whether you want to buy a front load or top load washer, but how do you choose?

A Brief History

Washing machines have come a long way since the days of scrub buckets and wash boards. Traditional top load washers feature a tower-like agitator that push clothes through a tub full of water. While effective, this method could lead to wear and tear on the laundry and leaves room for improvements in terms of efficiency. Enter the front load machine. The new washers boasted increased efficiency by using less water and energy while also being easier on delicates due to the lack of an agitator. Top load machines were not to be forgotten and have since regained popularity with more energy efficient models that utilize a flat wash plate at the bottom of the tub to more gently circulate laundry throughout the wash.

For Your Consideration

There are many factors to consider when deciding between the two form factors. With a retail price that usually makes a dent in anyone's bank account, the typical consumer wants to make sure that their lofty purchase will last them long enough to pay it off, and also clean their clothes satisfactorily until they do. Here are some of factors to consider before deciding on top load vs front load.

Cost: The average price of top loading wash machines is consistently lower than the front loading washers on the market. This may be due to the simpler technology of top load washers compared to the newer front load technology.

Construction: Top load washers may be easier on your back since you can drop the clothes in instead of bending over to load the machine. There are pedestals available to add height to front load washers to help alleviate this potential pain point, of course increasing the price.

Efficiency: While there are more energy efficient top load models hitting the market, front load machines still tend to be more eco-friendly. Most of the energy used by a washing machine goes towards heating the water, so by using less water per load, front load washers often maintain greater efficiency.

Capacity: According to our data, there are more front load models available with a mid range capacity (4.1’-5.0’), but if you do smaller or larger loads there are more options available in the top load models. If you are super short of space, there are more compact front load models on the market.

Capacity Chart

Time: Top load washers tend to boast shorter wash cycles, but the spin cycle in the front load machine may do a better job removing the water from your laundry, resulting in less time in the dryer.

Who Will Be Victorious?

The real winner is the machine that will best fit your budget and laundry lifestyle. Are you interested in something you can fit into a small space with a smaller electrical footprint? There’s a front load washer out there calling your name! Are you more interested in doing extra large laundry loads? Maybe a top loader is the dream machine for you. Now that you’re armed with some serious washing machine knowledge, don’t forget to check out industry analyst Christine Boersing’s recent post about the best time to buy that appliance you’ve been eyeballing.