A Different Look at Front Load vs Top Load Washing Machines

May 18, 2020

Howard’s is taking a deeper dive into some often overlooked aspects in front load vs top load washer comparisons. Read on to find out!



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The front load vs top load washer debate has been going on for decades, probably ever since there have been two machines to compare. The topic has been explored because people, understandably, always want to feel like they’re well informed on their options and making the best choice when they buy a brand new appliance. And there is a wealth of information out there, including our very own pros and cons analysis of front load vs top load washer machines, so think of this not as a rehashing but as a supplement and deeper look into some of the often overlooked argument points.

The goal is to arm you with more knowledge and help you decide what type of washer fits you best. Read on and learn a couple of new things in the front load vs top load washer debate.

ECO Impact - Some Money Saving Facts

Most front load vs top load washer guides will tell you that the front load washer is the more eco-friendly choice. But a deeper dive helps you understand why energy efficiency and cutting gallons of water from a wash cycle are vital. Here are some tips to make a more eco-friendly laundry room if you feel like you want to make some changes that can save you big money in the long run. We’ll cover some of the major environmental concerns and reasons you want to pick a machine that’s within your range of desired energy efficiency.

  • The average U.S. household does 8-10 loads of laundry per week which accounts for 21% of their indoor water usage.
  • Dryers eat up an average of 6% of an electric bill yet only 21% of Americans use a clothesline to hang and dry their clothes.
  • A household using traditional laundry detergents releases approximately 10 pounds of carbon into the air per week.

These are just some quick numbers but they do show how your washer and dryer selection can severely affect your electric and water bills, as well as your carbon footprint. Washing your clothes may actually be costing you more than you expect.

In relation to the front load vs top load washer question the best flat answer remains front loaders. The very nature of their design allows them to utilize significantly less water while sucking up less energy. If you’re in the market for a new washer or dryer, always look for units with an Energy Star label. It is a quick reference that your appliance is more efficient than older models.

If you’d rather have a front load washer, newer High Efficiency (HE) top-loaders are the perfect middle ground. HE top loading washers remove the middle agitator and instead rely on a textured base plate in the drum to churn the clothing. This change helps cut down on the use of water and energy. On top of this HE models, regardless of front or top loading, use specialized HE detergents meant to cut back on carbon emissions while providing the same, if not better, cleaning power.

(Eco-tip: Regardless of your preference in the front load vs top load washer race, wash your clothes with cold tap water when you can. This change alone can help you save a ton on electricity as heating water accounts for 90% of a washer’s energy usage.)

Storage

This subject is a major positive selling point for front loaders that can tip the scales of the front load vs top load washer debate. Most laundry rooms require or already have shelving so you can house your detergents, towels, or other assorted odds and ends.

If you opt not to stack your front-loading set, with no top-loading lid to accommodate for, you can install laundry appliances under a countertop, low shelf, or inside of custom cabinetry or cubbies. This extra space is perfect for storage of all your detergents, fabric softeners, wool dryer balls, and anything else you might need or finds its way into your laundry room. Another great thing about closed housing around your laundry units is they cut back on socks and other garments getting lost between the wall and the appliance, and lowering your number of unmatched socks is always a big win.


Safety

It is estimated that since 2014, there have been 3,000 emergency room visits related to washer associated injuries among children 5 and younger. While most of the cases were related to falls, that leaves a fair number of injuries to account for. It is every parent's worst fear that their child climbs into the washer machine, and sadly it has happened as it’s a hidden danger that not many think of when weighing their front load vs top load washer options. But for a family with children or pets, it’s very important to keep in mind.

If you’re thinking about a front load washer ask yourself if you have a lockable door to the laundry room. Are there child safety lock features? Is there a fast way to disengage the lock on the machine door? Knowing about the possible risks is the first step to stopping these accidents that can happen so quickly but are mostly preventable.

Top load washers are relatively safer machines. The washer basin is incredibly difficult for little ones to climb up to and the lid does not automatically lock if it closes. While you still want to exercise caution, the safety concern isn’t as apparent as a front load machine.

The Issue with Mold

According to Wirecutter, every repair technician they spoke to said odor was one of the most common issues they were called for. While it is a preventable issue, it is a concern that is almost exclusive to front load washers.

Luckily with some tips you can keep your washer smelling fresh if you don’t mind doing some extra work and precautionary measures. Wipe down the door gasket between every use and, if it’s safe, keep the door ajar when not in use to let the machine air out. It’s also recommended to run a self-cleaning cycle with bleach or a specialty cleaner like Affresh in order to fight back against odors and mold growth.

Repairs

“They don’t make em like they used to”, is a common sentiment when it comes to washer machines. That mainly has to do with more plastic components and growing technological integration. The more moving parts in a machine, the more likely something is to break, jam, or generally need fixing.

After spending a fair amount of money on a new machine, thinking about repairs is probably the last thing on your mind, but it’s an issue that may be unavoidable if you want to keep the same machine running for 10 years. We compiled some things to keep in mind when weighing repairs for front load vs top load washer machines.

Most people believe that top loaders are more reliable but, depending on the brand, top loaders are just over 2% more reliable. However, the actual repairs are very different. Front loaders are much tougher to repair. If a front loader’s motor begins to seize while under warranty it is often easiest and most cost effective to simply replace the unit instead of repairing the motor.

Standard top loading washers are the easiest and least expensive to repair. Their much simpler design makes it less likely for major components to break. On average high efficiency machines, both top loaders and front loaders have similar maintenance and repair costs because of the complexity of their builds and difficulty of repair. So that extended warranty may really come in handy and land you a brand new unit if the repairs are severe enough.

Final Thoughts

We’re hoping this article added a new wrinkle to your internal front load vs top load washer debate that’s led you to discover a preference between the options. Whether safety is your ultimate concern or future repair costs are what you want to keep in mind, visit your local Howard’s store for even more information on our wide selection of washer machines.

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