Are front-loader washing machines better than top loaders?
Which type of washing machine is best? Do they both get clothes as clean? Help!
Top loaders typically do a better job because front loaders try to minimize the water used, sometimes not getting clothes in the middle clean and not using enough water to rinse out hair or heavy stains.
I think it is a matter of personal preference, but I also think it depends on the brand. We bought LG front loaders a couple of years ago, and we've never had such clean clothes before. I also like them because the washer doesn't beat my clothes to death. My old set was top of the line, but it was Harvest Gold if that tells you anything. It could be the improvement in technology and detergents are what are making us so happy. I also think it depends on the features you get on the machines. I like the sanitize and heavy load cycle on the washer and on the dryer, we like the towel cycle because we run so many towels, and the steam cycle to remove wrinkles from dry clothes. I don't know if these cycles are available on top loaders.
I bought front loaders because I'm short and had to use a reach stick to get clothes out of my old washer. I nixed the expensive unneeded platforms, too. Hubby doesn't mind bending over.
I've used both. I grew up in NZ where you could only get top loaders. After finishing Uni I moved to Australia which also commonly used top loaders, however several years into a 5 year drought, the government began offering (cash back) incentives to purchase water efficient appliances, so front loaders became really popular. I still remember running the first wash and thinking that the machine was faulty because the cycle took sooo long! And this became a common story/joke amongst everyone that made the switch.
So for that matter, front loaders are often more water efficient, but take much longer to wash. However, you can work around the long wash problem as most machines have timers, so I set it up before going to bed so the cycle is finished by the time I wake up in the morning. Also, most new front loaders also come with a 'quick wash' function, which actually works fine for your day to day lightly soiled clothing.
I actually prefer the front loader because its much more gentle on clothing and they have a really good 'hand wash' cycle which I have successfully used for really delicate materials like raw silk.
Regardless of which machine you use, don't overload it as this affects the efficacy of the wash.
With front loaders you also need to ensure you use the correct low suds detergent and also, after washing you need to leave the door open so it dries out otherwise you end up with mould in the rubber gasket around the door and in the drum. If you want to know more, I've written an article about it called '5 ways to clean and sanitise your washing machine.'
Despite my ranty answer, I want to comment that I do love front-loaders' gentleness. If you are washing mainly nice, more expensive "adult" clothes (no kids in sports or spilling spaghetti on their shirts) a front-loader may be the better option.
I stand by my answer about the front loader getting the dirt out. My husband gets gritty grimy jeans and shirts, and his clothes have never been this clean. I did buy the one recommended by Consumer Reports, though.
I completely agree with Tamara Wilhite. (I was going to leave a comment on her answer but it only allowed me 250 characters, so I'm writing an answer instead)
I have used both; I replaced my old top-loader with a fancy "must-have" front-loader, and the front-loader just tosses the clothes around in a bit of water. I miss being able to fully submerge clothes when they are washing. The front loader doesn't get clothes as clean, and I have had trouble getting BO smells out of my teen son's sports uniforms.
I really miss being able to fill the top-loader's tub with hot water to soak stained or smelly clothes in hot soapy water with bleach (whites) or OxyClean (colors), which I found very effective in getting clothes really clean. Now to do this I have to fill my laundry room sink instead, which doesn't hold nearly as much water, the water cools off much more quickly, and it is inconvenient to remove the heavy, dripping wet clothes compared to my old top loader, which, if I just turned the knob, would finishing washing and spinning the clothes without me having to touch them. It is basically trouble I am not usually willing to go through unless it is a special item of clothing with a particularly stubborn stain.
I like that I'm saving water, I like that the new set looks nice in my home and is quiet compared to my old one, but It is definitely more work to get stains and smells out, and it seems like this is often a losing battle now unless I go to lots of inconvenience and mess using the sink. (It does help at least some when I wash just about every load on the "heavy dirt" setting, which tosses them around in the washer for a longer period of time.) I hate to have perfectly good clothes ruined by a stain.
Another source of irritation is that the inside of the washer starts smelling musty if I close the door immediately after using it. I have to leave it open for at least several hours to dry out, and because I do laundry almost every day, the door to the washer is open almost all the time, which bugs me. It kind of ruins the clean, sleek look this set was supposed to give me.
Sorry for the long, ranty, rambling answer but as you can probably tell, this is a sore subject with me! I paid more money for a product that looks pretty but does not work as well as the less expensive model.
I can totally understand your response. I don't have kids and am mainly washing lightly soiled clothing & a lot of them are 'good' delicate materials. I can see in your situation the top loader is a better choice.
CL Mitchell, and I can see that someone washing mainly adult clothes could save a bundle on dry cleaning with a front loader. I do agree that front loaders are much more gentle and could safely clean silks and other dry-clean-only items.
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