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Washing Machine Question: Top Load or Front Load?

Go Gingham Reader Question

Here’s a reader question from Annie who writes,

“What should I buy for a new clothes washing machine? Front load? Top load? New or used? My old, basic machine works great but the interior is rusting and starting to make marks on my clothing, sheets, and towels. Rust does not come out as far as I have found. I wish I didn’t have to replace it, but it seems like it is time. Would love your thoughts!”

This is an excellent question and in the world of front loading, hi-tech/electronic washing machines, my answer may surprise you.

Go with the top-loader washing machine and here’s why…

  • According to my local appliance parts store, it is nearly impossible for a homeowner (or a professional for that matter!) to fix an electronic washing machine. Once something goes wrong with the electronic components, the machine is done. The trade-off is that the front loaders are more efficient water-use wise but they don’t last nearly as long. My goal would be to find an energy efficient top loader.
  • The other drawback for me would be that you can’t soak in a front-loader. I’m a big-time soaker of laundry and usually soak whites overnight. Also, because I wash all of our sweaters, hand-washables, and delicates in the washing machine, soaking them first is a part of that process as well.
  • When I really have a lot of heavy blankets or when I wash our down comforters, I go to a laundromat that has high-efficient, eco-washers. It’s easier than me owning one.

As for the “rust” on your clothing, you may want to check the dryer. According to Repair Clinic, those “rust” marks are likely to be from the rubber gasket around the dryer drum. (This is the problem we’re having right now with our dryer – “rust marks” left on clothing.) When the clothing gets caught between the dryer drum and the housing where the rubber gasket has become worn out, that’s when the marks on the clothing occur. The marks, while they look like rust, are more of a “scorch” or burn on the fabric and not actually rust.

Install laundry line with coated wire

The rubber gasket on the dryer drum can be replaced, but my Mr. Fix-It (husband) who has fixed our washing machine several times over the last 18-years of owning it, has yet to tackle the dryer project. Our low-tech solution? We turn our clothing inside out when tossing it into the washing machine and then its inside out when going into the dryer. The dryer gets used very little in our house – only about 10-minutes on clothing – and then gets hung to dry on drying lines in the basement.

Do you have a top-loader or front-loader? Which do you prefer and why?

Go Gingham related links:

Find all the readers’ questions here or ask one yourself here
Once-a-month garbage collection
The sweet spot: frugal and green living
Why I use an inside laundry line and not an outside laundry line
How to install an inside your home laundry line my son helped me install ours

Looking for more readers’ questions? Check HERE. The answers are there, too. Do you want to ask a question? Check HERE.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post and have no material connection to either brand or company listed above. This is being disclosed in accordance with the FTC’s guidelines.

20 thoughts on “Washing Machine Question: Top Load or Front Load?

  1. I’ve got a front loading Maytag, ten years old, with a bearing going out. It sounds like an airplane on spin cycle.

    I’m not a fan. My sense is that the extra cycles on the selector burned the bearing because it wasn’t upgraded with the additional use.

    The advice I’ve had so far is find a low tech used top loader. The word is they never fail. I like the sound of that.


  2. We bought a new Whirlpool set when we bought our house 2 years ago. They are stacked, saving space. The front loading washer is on the bottom. We got a superb deal at Lowe’s ($899 for BOTH). I really like the low water usage and have had no problems or issues with them. I also use the dryer for about 10 minutes and hang the wash on drying racks on our screened porch.


    1. Mandy, I hope it stays that way – problem free. Those sound like a good deal and space savers, too. Great job letting your clothes dry on racks! So good for the environment and saves your clothes. 🙂


  3. Top Load without the agitator, and stainless steel drum!

    Forget all those fancy, schmancy washing machines that everyone “has to have”! They are a pain in the neck. First of all, if you don’t buy the extra drawer for them to sit on (an extra $189+), the door is too low to the ground. You will be bending over to put your clothes in the wash, remove from the wash, to throw in the dryer, and remove from the dryer. You will be wanting the extra stands (remember, they are at least an extra $189 or more)!

    Secondly, you have to purchase special “HE” laundry detergent. Guess it is more concentrated than regular laundry detergent, so you will use less.

    Thirdly, when you are done with washing your clothes at the end of the day, you have to leave the door slightly ajar. Otherwise, your washer will get a musty, moldy scent, and your clothes will start smelling like this after washing. Who wants to leave the door open all the time?

    Fourthly, the rubber gasket around the door needs to be wiped down periodically with a lysol wipe. It gets scummy and starts to smell as well.

    My whole point is, why would anyone want a Front Loader? I am the type of person who likes my laundryroom to be neat and tidy. It would drive me nuts having that darn door open, and goodness knows…if it started smelling like mold? Ugh, I can only imagine the frustration!

    These days, they sell beautiful top-loaders. You can buy them without the agitator, which gives you tons more room. The stainless steel drum helps keep the washer cleaner. You can leave the lid open, and it looks perfectly normal. As you can see, I recommend a top-loading washer. As for new? Well, I am guilty as charged. I always want “new”, but when it comes down to it, I search Craigslist and buy them from someone nearby. Typically my washer & dryers last 5+ years. I seem to move a lot, and always have to switch from gas to electric, or electric to gas. I have only bought new once.


    1. Oh, I am going check into that – top loader without the agitator. Smart.
      Yes, the additional drawers seems like a big fat add on sale. I’d be making those myself out of plywood.
      And, I’m with you on leaving the door open on the washing machine. I understand why you have to but my tendency is to close doors – all the time. I especially have a hard time when we do a home exchange and they have a front loader. It’s tough for me to leave the door open!
      Thanks, Mars. Great points 🙂


  4. The main reason I purchased a front loader was to save on water usage – for my family and the environment. Front loaders are really gentle on clothes (no agitator) which means they last longer. You can repair your own electronic appliances by ordering parts from on-line parts suppliers. Most even have tutorials that show you how to make the repairs. Easy! Many electronic components(circuit boards, etc) just need to be removed and replaced. We have saved bundles on not having service calls!


    1. Paige,
      I am really intrigued by the idea of fixing the electronic parts. If it’s easy, I would be interested in this because I like the idea of saving the water. My husband isn’t afraid to fix things but I think the electronic components scare him.
      Thanks for the information and I’m with you – better to be gentler on those clothes!! Thanks, Paige.


  5. We own a front loader that I adore. LG TROMM. 7 years, two coast to coast shiftings, and no issues whatsoever. Not even a service. It saves loads on energy, and its drum cleaning cycle takes care of any problems that might arise. While we do have to buy HE, the detergent bottle lasts us 4 months, and we wash a lot of clothes (hairy clothes if I might add) – two growing boys, two big dogs, a clean freak household….you get the picture. But what I love the most is the economy on water usage. And it has treated my garments with care. I rescued a very very expensive cashmere sweater last year using HE Woolite, wool cycle and air drying. I own a lot of delicate fabric, with intricate brocade work which the laundry won’t touch. So I used Febreeze and steam cycle to refresh the clothes until I can get them to India for the special cleaning and polish.

    A very happy front loader camper.


    1. Oh, Minnie, it warms my heart when someone can rescue cashmere. Way to go! 🙂
      I am so happy to hear that you’ve had such good luck with your front loader machine and it sounds like you really give it a workout.
      Thanks for the information, Minnie.


  6. Hey Sara, thanks for answering my question! After we talked about this, I went and bought a top-loader from the brand “Speed Queen” (it is a commercial brand with a goofy name!) because of the rave reviews I read online. I paid a little more than I would have had to pay for a bottom-of-the-line top-loader because this company is still making washers the way they were made about 40 years ago (when things were meant to last!) with metal parts, etc. It isn’t fancy – which means it is simple enough for the kids to operate! I have been really happy with my purchase!


  7. We have a front loader in our kitchen. It’s my first time owning one. I like that it doesn’t take up much space (we have it stacked with the dryer), and the savings on our water bill have been very noticeable. It seems to handle larger loads better, too.

    I think your reasons for NOT getting a front loader are very good, though. So far I love my setup, but it’s definitely food for thought. Soaking laundry is one thing that I wish I could do more easily.


    1. Jen, the soaking! I do like to soak and I’m afraid I’d really miss that with a front loader. Our water bill just came in the mail and we were grumbling around the house about how expensive it has gotten to be. It really is a toss up sometimes – save the water now? save from having to replace an appliance?
      Thanks for writing in, Jen! 🙂


  8. It’s always nice to have choices….. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the same experiences and can’t try all types of washing machines and need to rely on input from others.

    Twelve years ago we debated the issue of top- or front-loading and did a lot of research. After talking to our friendly “mom & pop” distributor about brands, problems, and what machines they see in the repair shop the most, what machines cost the most to repair, etc., they suggested a top-load Fisher & Paykel Ecosmart. At the time it was America’s most energy efficient washer. There are fewer moving parts, which increases the reliability – no belts, pulleys, gears, transmission or clutches. If a person is a do-it-yourselfer, you can fix most machines yourself. I was allowed to take a machine apart myself at the store. I’ve never had a problem with this machine.

    It’s also fast. I can wash and hang 2 loads of laundry in the time it takes to wash a load in most front-loading machines. It has a 2-hour soak cycle, with slight agitation for constant activation of detergent enzymes during the soak.

    The 1,000-rpm spin is great if you dry clothes in the dryer, which cuts drying time down, but I hang ours in the basement and prefer the slow spin. If you use the fast spin it sets wrinkles in the clothes destined for the line. There is a benefit to slightly wetter clothing if you are line-drying – the weight of the fabric is gently pulled by gravity and that helps to naturally smooth wrinkles out of your clothes.

    Today’s front-loaders tend to need extra rinse cycles, which means time and money. Special treatment with expensive add-in ingredients and hot water to clean the drum periodically. Special laundry detergents. Warranties can be voided by using the wrong kind of detergent. They have issues with smells caused by greasy deposits from soap and softener in the drum, which can result in dangerous black mold and bacteria. This results in stinky sour-smelling machines and fabrics, even after they are dry. Some machines need to have the door left open to help keep them dry and hopefully prevent mold. Hoses rot and door gaskets have problems, and even problems blocking the pressure system which causes overfilling or spin failure due to this nasty build-up in washers. My daughter has owned 3 front-loading washing machines in the time I’ve owned my F&P. She recently moved and got a top-loading machine. ~Karen G.


    1. I think it depends on what your needs are. We still have our top loader and hopefully it will keep on working but we’ll see. I like to soak and found a large pot that has items in it right now in my laundry area. This seems like it may be a good alternative if I ever get a front loader. Good luck.


  9. Hi!
    Sara, I have found that top loading washing machines tend to have a smaller space and fewer technical features, but they are also less expensive compare to the front loader. However, I am going to purchase the top loader as it consumes less water and energy.


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