3 Types of Washing Machines

Washing machines are a big deal in most households, making it easy to wash everyone’s clothes without the hassle of going to the laundromat or dry cleaner. They’re used several times a week, so it’s important to have one that can handle all that use and won’t break down.

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, you’ll run into three main types: top load agitator, front load, and top load impeller (or high efficiency). Each one has different pros and cons, and with the right information, you’ll be able to choose the ideal one for you.



Top Load Agitator

Top load agitator models are traditional and still common even though they’ve been around for sixty years. When you open the lid, you’ll see the long agitator in the middle, which is the main washing power. During a cycle, it swishes against the clothes to get them clean.


• The price points are low. These are the least expensive type of washing machine.
• They get the job done. The clothes will be clean and the cycles aren’t too long.

• They use about three times the water and energy of a front load or high efficiency model. They’re the least environmentally friendly, and will increase your energy and water bills.
• The action of the agitator is harder on your clothes than other options.
• You will struggle to get large single items like comforters or blankets into them.

Our top picks for agitator washers are:
Whirlpool WTW4616FW

Front Load

Front load washers are a great alternative. Instead of using an agitator to wash the clothes, front load washers depend on one article rubbing against another, so the cycle is gentler on clothes. They don’t use much water, only filling to just below the door. Large items will wash better in a front load, and they spin very fast, giving you a head start on the drying process.



• They use about 1/3 the water and energy of an agitator model, making them more environmentally (and utility bill) friendly.
• They can handle large items like blankets, comforters, and sleeping bags.
• They are gentle on your clothes.
• They are the most quiet.
• While they all have sophisticated control panels, don’t be intimidated.   You can always just select the cycle based on what you are putting in and hit start.  The sensor and automation will handle the rest.  You only need to engage the extras that help you.

• Because they use very little water, they will struggle with very dirty or very smelly loads. No matter how sophisticated the automation and programming is, when the water is dirty, it’s dirty.
• Cycle times are long, up to 1.5 to 2 times longer than top loads.

Our top picks for front load washers are:

Top Load Impeller

Top load impeller (or high efficiency) washers are the newest category of appliances. Rather than an agitator, they use an impeller at the bottom to swoosh the clothes back and forth, and the tub itself moves as part of the wash stroke.

They are comparable to a front load, but some models – GE and Maytag included – allow you to fill them to the top with water if needed. Now, when you have large or very dirty items, you can get them cleaner than you can with a front load. Otherwise, you can use the high efficiency cycle for most loads, which uses less water.




• They are priced well.
• They can handle large loads like a front load, but have short cycle times like an agitator.
• Several models offer deep fill options, allowing you to add more water for larger or dirtier items.
• They are gentle on your clothes, similar to a front load.

• They are loud. If you work from home near your laundry room, this is not a good option.
• Not all models can deep fill, so it’s something to pay attention to when shopping.       The most attractive models offer deep fill on all cycles, where others only offer one cycle with deep fill.   Others have no ability to add water, so avoid these.

Our top picks for top load impeller washers are:
Maytag WM3770HWA

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