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There's something wonderfully familiar about a top load washer. The design is very straightforward, and these models are known for making both modern and traditional laundry rooms feel complete. The drums are also very easy to maintain, since they typically attract less mildew than a front-loading machine, and any excess water can evaporate through the top door. Inside, you'll find either an impeller plate, which pushes water out to effectively clean your dirty clothes, or a center agitator, which spins your clothes around a spindle.
While their design is rather predictable, top loaders aren't lacking in features or capacity. Over the years, this style of washing machine has kept up with technology and the latest trends, providing consumers with a built-in faucet for treating stains, bulk dispenser, and even a cycle setting for activewear. Most models have a drum capacity of around five cubic feet, which can fit a king-sized comforter with ease.
We've done the research. Find the best top load washers for every type of budget, household, and laundry room below.
Best Overall: Whirlpool WTW7120HW 5.3 cu. ft. Smart White Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.3 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 36 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Large selection of cycles
Can pre-soak clothes with stains
Hard to reach bottom of the drum
Can be very noisy
Most people shopping for a top load washer are looking for an effective, easy-to-operate machine that'll tackle large and small loads with ease. The Whirlpool WTW7120HW is a jack of all trades, and it goes above and beyond those expectations with its 36 wash cycles and 5.3-cubic-foot drum. This drum is plenty big enough to wash a king-sized comforter or heavy-duty sportswear, and is also equipped with adaptive load-sensing technology for when you need to wash a load of delicates, T-shirts, or underwear.
Not to mention, this top load washer also has sanitize and self-cleaning settings that'll leave the tub and your clothes cleaner than ever. You can fill the bulk dispenser once to disperse detergent in up to 20 loads, and you can pre-soak items with stains for up to 120 minutes before an actual cycle. Other very notable features include a built-in dual temperature faucet, pre-treat brush, and impeller plate. This type of agitator will be gentle on what you wash, while also thoroughly covering your items in suds.
At a fair, decent price, this washer is essentially out to make your life easier and will be a true sidekick on laundry day. The only catch is that it can be noisy, and it might sometimes run unbalanced when washing items like a bathroom rug. If you can't disperse the weight of bulky items evenly in your machine, you may want to take them to the local laundromat. Otherwise, this top load washer has a reliable and useful design.
"How do you actually live a life and use your appliances? What things with your old appliances did you say, 'I wish this was here. It would’ve made my life easier?' Ultimately, you want to make sure your life is easier." — Tiffany Aliche, The Budgetnista and author of "Get Good with Money"
Best Budget: Amana NTW4516FW 3.5 cu. ft. White Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 3.5 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Agitator | Cycles: 8 | Drum Material: Porcelain | Smart Capabilities: No | Energy Star Certified: No
Deep fill setting
Load sensing technology
No stainless steel tub
No fabric softener dispenser
Despite costing significantly less than other top load washers, the Amana NTW4516FW doesn't skimp on useful features or performance. This model has eight wash cycles and five water temperatures to choose from, along with easy-to-use control knobs on its back panel. Inside the 3.5-cubic-foot drum, you’ll see a center agitator and smooth porcelain tub. While a slightly larger drum, impeller plate, and stainless steel drum material may be preferable, this combination will still provide years of reliable service.
Stainless steel has become the new standard of washer tub materials for its rust-proof and bacteria-free nature. However, a porcelain enamel tub will have the same effect as long as it is properly cared for and remains chip-free. Luckily, the auto-cleaning cycle of this washer will help you keep the interior of your machine clean, sparkly, and bacteria-free—and it is also a rare find, given the price tag. The deep fill option will also ensure the tub is filled correctly, so nothing scrapes the sides.
The spin speed of this model can be weak in the face of wet, heavy items. However, it's certainly a great pick otherwise, giving you the basics and a little more.
Best High-Efficiency: Maytag MVW7230HC 5.2 cu. ft. Smart Capable Metallic Slate Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.2 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Agitator | Cycles: 13 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Advanced vibration control
Energy Star certified
Can purchase with impeller plate or agitator
Hard to reach bottom of the drum
No steam function
Make the most of your laundry day with this high-efficiency washer: the Maytag MVW7230HC. It has an above-average 5.2-cubic-foot drum and 13 unique settings to make your experience more streamlined. It's common for high-efficiency models to take longer to complete a load or not drench your clothes in a ton of water. However, this pick has an extra power button and a deep-fill setting to tackle your grime and stains. The deep-fill setting raises the waterline, so you can load up your machine with towels, blankets, or sweatpants and still be treated to a thorough cleaning.
In addition to these specialty modes, this Maytag washer also has a built-in water faucet for pre-treating your clothes. There are dispensers for the fabric softener, bleach, and high-efficiency detergent, and you can pair the washer to your phone using the model's WiFi capabilities. Of course, smart features aren't a must for every household—which is why this washer also thoughtfully provides advanced vibration technology. This technology reduces the amount of noise produced when the washer switches from the rinse to spin cycle.
According to the model's energy guide, you can expect this high-efficiency washer to use $12 of energy per year when used with a natural gas water heater. Just know: There is no steam function, and you will need to splurge on high-efficiency detergent.
"If you can afford to pay more upfront, shelling out more money on a quality appliance may ultimately save you money in the long run, sparing you from the potential headache of repairing or replacing a poorly made appliance." — Brittney Castro, Mint CFP
Best High-Capacity: LG Electronics WT7900HBA 5.5 cu. ft. HE Mega Capacity Smart Top Load Washer
Capacity: 5.5 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 14 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Stainless steel drum
Powerful water jet
Not ideal for smaller families
Smart features can be unreliable
If you need a supersized solution to your laundry situation, go for the LG WT7900HBA. This high-capacity top load washer stretches the interior drum to 5.5 cubic feet, which is .5 cubic feet over the average for most top load machines. There are models that push this number even higher—however, this model offers plenty of capacity and retains a reputation for thorough, effective cleaning. It utilizes an impeller plate and a unique tub design that soaks your clothes in water and suds.
The brand designed the tub and motor to rotate independently to create additional agitation. A water jet sprays clothes for a powerful and fast rinse, while a steam selection goes further to remove wrinkles and allergens. This model was actually certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for its specialty allergen cycle, and it also has a cold water setting that'll help you save money when running oversized loads.
Be warned: Like any other high-capacity model, you may have trouble unloading this washer since it has a large drum. It's also not ideal for small families or couples who don't often wash bulky items like a comforter or blankets. However, other than unloading and loading your laundry, you won't need to get into the nooks and crannies of this top load washer since it has a self-clean mode.
Best Compact: GE GNW128PSMWW 2.8 cu. ft. 8-Cycle Top-Loading Portable Washer
Capacity: 2.8 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 8 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: No
Great for small living
Pricey for a portable model
Doesn't fill all the way
Tight on space for laundry, or simply don't want to give up an entire section of your house to a washing machine? This GE portable washer is the best compact top load model on the market. Measuring just two feet wide and three feet tall, it can easily be stored in a closet or corner of your kitchen when it's not in use. When it is time to do a load of laundry, simply hook this apartment washing machine up to a kitchen or bathroom sink and select one of the eight wash cycles and four water temperature options.
Despite its compact size, this GE washer is just as powerful as a full-size washer. It packs dispensers for detergent, fabric softener, and bleach, along with an impeller plate into its tiny footprint. It can tackle two or three outfits at a time in its 2.8-cubic-foot drum. This capacity is extremely competitive with other units on the market in the same category that do not exceed 1.5 cubic feet of space.
All in all, this portable washer has a rare combination of features, and it costs much less than the standard top load washer. It's worth considering if you have a small household or often vacation in an RV, and it comes with caster wheels so you can move it around your space. (However, purchasing a dolly might make this task easier.)
Best With Steam: Samsung WA54R7600AW 5.4 cu. ft. High-Efficiency White Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.4 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 12 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Stainless steel drum
Customer service is unreliable
Can't be controlled remotely
A steam function gives you the power to sanitize your laundry and helps to eliminate common allergens at the touch of a button. This feature can be very beneficial for those with allergies, asthma, or children, as the steam is also effective at removing tough stains. While washing machines with the power of steam can cost more, this Samsung top load washer is worth the extra pennies. It has a setting for activewear, a stainless steel drum, and the coveted steam cycle.
The model also has 5.4 cubic feet of interior space, putting it almost in the same category as many high-capacity washers on the market. An impeller plate shifts your clothes around the drum, while Samsung's swirl technology helps to soak your items and extract water. A built-in pulsator also ensures the drum is not scratched by zippers, and you can run a self-clean cycle occasionally to rid the drum of any lingering odors or allergens.
Since this is a high-efficiency top load washer, you can also make use of a deep fill setting. While the usual settings try to limit the amount of water and energy they use, the deep fill setting will increase the water level in the tub. It's most commonly used when washing bulky items like a comforter, while a super speed setting is used when you're in a rush and want your clothes clean in 36 minutes flat.
Best for the Environment: LG Electronics WT7300CV 5.0 cu. ft. Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Top Load Washer
Capacity: 5.0 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 8 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Energy Star certified
Cold wash setting
Powerful spin cycle
Hard to reach bottom of the drum
No steam function
Are you designing your laundry room with the environment in mind? Thanks to the increasing popularity of eco-friendly detergents and high-efficiency washers, it's actually easy to have a "green" laundry room and routine. This LG model is a great place to start when it comes to your laundry room's appliances, as it uses half of the water of a traditional machine and up to 30 percent less energy. It's Energy Star certified and CEE-qualified, and has an expected annual operating cost of about $13—which is quite low.
In the process of being eco-friendly, however, this machine doesn't sacrifice a quality clean. It has a 5.0-cubic-foot drum that's outfitted with the brand's TurboWash technology. Once a cycle is started, the tub and motor begin to rotate separately to thoroughly soak your clothes. Powerful jets rinse out suds, while an impeller plate remains gentle on your clothes. This top load washer also has ColdWash technology for when you really want to cut costs and save energy.
Most notably, the spin cycle will leave your clothes with considerably less moisture. This shortens drying times, and even gives you the option to hang your clothes outside for a quick, eco-friendly dry cycle. You will miss out on a steam function, but will gain smart features like being able to control your washer from your smartphone.
"The washer has a sensor that runs each time before a load begins. This feature weighs the load and determines the right amount of water to use. Even after 21 loads, we didn’t have a single negative experience with any of the programs or features. Every item came out clean with no soapy residue. And although the spin cycle is strong, we never found that our clothes were wrung out too much or overly wrinkly." — Shannon Wells, Product Tester
Best for Multitaskers: GE GTW840CPNDG 5.2 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Diamond Gray Top Load Washing Machine
Capacity: 5.2 cubic feet | Washing Mechanism: Impeller | Cycles: 10 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Smart Capabilities: Yes | Energy Star Certified: Yes
Can be controlled via a smartphone
Has a smart dispenser
Lots of specialty wash cycles
Can leave residue on clothes
Can have trouble balancing
Anyone with a jam-packed calendar needs their appliances to work for them as much as possible. Enter this GE top load washer that's outfitted with smart features. It has built-in WiFi that'll make for a hands-free routine and keep you productive while doing the laundry. Simply link the washer to your smartphone so you can check the status of your load, receive alerts when the cycle has ended, and remotely start a cycle all via an app.
Once your dirty clothes are loaded into the spacious 5.2-cubic-foot drum, you don't have to worry about a thing. The model will take care of everything, including sensing the weight and fabric type of each load and adding the right amount of detergent, thanks to the SmartDispense function. You can modify the fill level and detergent level as you see fit, or if you're washing a bulky item like a comforter or backpack. More often than not, you can select one of the 10 wash cycles and sit back.
Special wash cycles include activewear, pre-wash, sanitize, and speed wash. All of these cycles, and typical options like delicates and whites, will be conscious of how much water and energy they use. Just be sure to use high-efficiency detergent with this GE washer and make sure it's balanced at loading time. You may find that it has trouble staying balanced at times, and requires a very flat surface.
"Choose temperature, time, agitation, rinse, and spin cycles that respect your fabric strength and durability. For example, if you have delicate fabrics, make sure you wash on the delicate, cold, and short settings." — Marilee Nelson, certified building biologist, environmental consultant, and co-founder of Branch Basics
For an effective, easy-to-operate machine that can handle large and small loads with ease, go with the Whirlpool WTW7120HW (view at Home Depot). It has 36 different wash cycles and uses an impeller plate to efficiently clean dirty clothes. A less expensive option is the Amana NTW4516FW (view at Lowe's), which has a smaller drum, but is still reliable and has a rare auto-cleaning cycle.
What to Look for in a Top Load Washer
Drum size is typically measured in cubic feet. A smaller, portable model may have around 3.0 cubic feet of space, which can comfortably fit a single person's laundry after around three days and is most suitable for an apartment or RV setting. A high-capacity model may have up to 6.0 cubic feet or more. To decide which size fits your needs, consider this: A queen-sized comforter can fit into a 3.5-cubic-foot washer, and a king-sized comforter can fit into a 3.8-cubic-foot washer. An average washer has around 5.0 cubic feet of space, and top-loading models are typically more spacious than front-loading options.
Agitator vs. impeller plate
Top load washers can either have a central agitator or impeller plate. Both work to move your clothes in the drum of the washer, as well as mix them with soap and water. A central agitator is a column in the washer's drum, which may have attached fans for shifting clothes. This type of agitator is more traditional, however, it is known to be rougher on clothes. In comparison, an impeller plate is built into the bottom of the drum and is better for delicates cycles and fabrics. It's typically found in more modern and high-end models.
Cycle options in top load washers include traditional settings for whites, delicates, and a normal load of clothes. However, they also include specialty settings for activewear, bedding, towels, and items that need to be washed in 20 minutes flat. The activewear setting, in particular, ensures that items like leggings and sports bras—which can include delicate fabrics made of spandex or mesh—are treated very lightly. It can mimic the process of hand-washing, while more thoroughly removing sweat and grime. Other key options are allergen and cold wash settings.
If you’re frequently pretreating clothes with stains, a faucet that’s built into the drum of your washer will make your laundry routine more efficient and clean. This feature, seen in top-loading models, eliminates the need to apply stain remover in your bathroom’s sink or carry a wet item across your laundry room. It’s also handy for those living in a small space where a washer may be installed in a closet or mudroom.
Bulk dispensers hold enough detergent and/or fabric softener for 20 to 40 loads. After a cycle is selected and started, they automatically dispense the correct amount based on the size of your load. This feature is particularly handy in households who need to run many loads each week due to infants, multiple children, or athletes.
Are top load washers better than front load washers?
Top load washers are better than front load washers when it comes to upfront cost, maintenance, and lifespan. The familiar design of a top load washer is typically more budget-friendly and doesn't collect mildew and odors as quickly. You can usually do basic repairs, like balancing the drum, on your own by watching an instructional video or following the troubleshooting tips in your manual. On the downside, top load washers can create a good amount of wear and tear on your clothes. For more, check out our comparison guide on top load versus front load washers.
Do top load washers use more water and energy?
Top load washers can use significantly more water and energy compared to other types of machines. On average, they use 40 gallons of water per load. If you're hoping to save money, you'll want to shop for a high-efficiency model that uses about 12 to 17 gallons per load. This is competitive with front load washers, which use an average of 13 gallons per load.
How do you clean a top load washer?
To clean a top load washer, first, empty the drum completely. Next, choose the hottest and longest cycle on your machine and start it. Before your machine begins to agitate, pause the cycle and add four cups of liquid chlorine bleach to the drum. Finish the cycle, and then turn your focus to your dispensers. If there is residue build-up, you can tackle it using distilled white vinegar and an old toothbrush. For the full step-by-step process, check out our guide on how to clean a top load washing machine.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Having tested and researched dozens of laundry machines, we looked at reliability, functionality, and actual usefulness when recommending the best top load washers on the market. We considered the capacity, cycle options, and type of agitator for each model, in addition to dispensers, drum material, and lifespan. For insight, we spoke with: Marilee Nelson, certified building biologist, and environmental consultant, and co-founder of Branch Basics; Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner for Mint; and Tiffany Aliche, The Budgetnista and the author of Get Good with Money.
Marisa Casciano is the large appliance expert for The Spruce and has researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, and more in the home space. She adores her Whirlpool high-efficiency, top-loading model that's easy to use and conserves water, and read through dozens of user manuals and cleaning guides for this piece. She also digested a large selection of product listings, scoured verified customer reviews, and watched many informative videos.