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Top load washers are a popular option for modern laundry rooms, thanks to their easy maintenance and increasingly large capacities. Their drums typically attract less mildew than a front-loading machine, since any excess water can evaporate through the top door, which will also leave your loads smelling super fresh. Each is known for providing a thorough clean, and even conserving water and energy.
Inside, you'll find either an impeller plate, which pushes water outward in order to effectively clean your dirty clothes, or a center agitator, which typically spins your clothes around a central spindle. Most models have a drum capacity of around 3 cubic feet to 4 cubic feet, and additional features like a built-in faucet to treat any tough stains.
We've done the research. The best front load washers for every type of budget or household are below.
Best Overall: Whirlpool WTW7120HW 5.3 cu. ft. Smart White Top Load Washing Machine
Can pre-soak clothes with stains
No steam function
Most people shopping for the best top load washer are looking for an effective, easy-to-operate machine that can handle large and small loads with ease. The Whirlpool WTW7120HW goes above and beyond those expectations, as it has 36 different wash cycles and a 5.3-cubic-foot drum. It can handle comforters or underwear, and heavy-duty sportswear or delicates, thanks to its adaptive and intuitive load-sensing technology.
Not to mention, this pick also features sanitize and self-cleaning settings that'll leave both the tub and your clothes cleaner than ever. There's a bulk dispenser that can be filled once and then disperse detergent in up to 20 loads. And if you usually pencil out an hour to treat stains and grime on dirty clothes, you'll adore the pre-soak cycle that works to eliminate stains for up to 120 minutes before an actual cycle.
Notably, this top-loading washer also includes a built-in dual temperature faucet, pre-treat brush, and impeller plate in its drum. At a fairly decent price, it'll make your life easier, and be a true sidekick on laundry day.
Best Budget: Amana NTW4516FW 3.5 cu. ft. White Top Load Washing Machine
Load sensing technology
Weak spin cycle
No fabric softener dispenser
The Amana NTW4516FW is a budget washing machine that won’t shortchange you when it comes to features or performance. This basic model will be loved by your household—due to its reliable operation, effective cleaning, and affordable price tag.
Inside the 3.5-cubic-foot drum, you’ll see a center agitator and smooth porcelain tub. While stainless steel has become the new standard in washer tub material for its rust-proof nature, porcelain enamel offers many years of use as long as it remains chip-free. The control knobs are simple and guide you to choose from one of eight wash cycles and five water temperatures.
This budget washer includes automatic load sensing technology to use the right amount of water for each load, but you can also opt to use the Deep Fill option to fill the tub. The included auto-cleaning cycle is a rare option for budget washers, and adds value to this model. Although the spin speed of this model can be weak in the face of wet, heavy items, it's certainly a great pick that gives you the basics and a little more.
Best High-Efficiency: Samsung WA50R5400AV 5.0 cu. ft. Top Load Washing Machine
No steam function
Make the most of your laundry day with this high-efficiency washer: the Samsung WA50R5400AV. This top load washer includes a Super Speed setting to get your laundry done quickly, along with other time-saving features that will make laundry day feel less like a chore.
The machine has a capacity of 5.0 cubic feet, which can handle even large loads or bulky items with ease. Loading up your machine and plowing through a pile of dirty clothes is simple, since you can put up to 8 pounds of laundry in for a speed cycle and let the machine clean your clothes in 36 minutes flat. In addition to this setting, this appliance includes an Active WaterJet—Samsung’s name for a built-in faucet to pre-treat stains on the spot. This eliminates shuffling back and forth to a laundry sink with a drippy shirt or pants.
While regular cycles can be slow, the Super Speed cycle gives you the option of a quick wash if you really need it. Plus, no matter what cycle you select, you can feel confident in the fact that this machine cleans efficiently, which eliminates the need to repeat cycles for laundry that isn’t satisfactory.
Best High-Capacity: LG Electronics WT7900HBA 5.5 cu. ft. HE Mega Capacity Smart Top Load Washer
Powerful water jet
Can be hard to unload
Go for a high-capacity top load washer like the LG WT7900HBA, if you need a super-sized solution to your laundry situation. While most top load washers have a capacity of 3.0 to 4.0 cubic feet, this model from LG stretches the interior drum to 5.5 cubic feet. There are models that push this number even higher. However, this model offers more than enough cleaning capacity while retaining a reputation for thorough, effective cleaning.
The LG WT7900HBA is more than qualified to wash comforters, king-sized bed sheets, or a week’s worth of laundry. It utilizes an impeller plate, which is part of the secret to maximizing the interior space of this high-capacity, top load washer. If you’re skeptical that an impeller washing machine can clean large loads as well as an agitator-style machine, the brand has designed the tub and motor to rotate independently, to create additional water agitation. A water jet sprays clothes for a powerful and fast rinse.
Best Compact: GE GNW128PSMWW 2.8 cu. ft. 8-Cycle Top-Loading Portable Washer
Great for small living
Doesn't fill all the way
If you’re tight on space for laundry, the GE GNW128SSMWW is one of the best compact top-loading washers on the market. Measuring 2 feet wide, and a little over 3 feet tall, it fits well in small utility closets or limited laundry rooms. Despite its small build, this model has nearly 3.0 cubic feet of interior space and a variety of features, which is quite rare in compact appliances. It’s a good choice if you’re shopping for a condo or apartment washing machine.
The GE GNW128SSMWW offers eight wash cycles and a choice of four different water temperatures. The power of this model resembles a full-size washer, as it's able to tackle blankets or bulky loads with total success. In addition, this compact washing machine includes dispensers for detergent, fabric softener, and bleach.
Best with Steam: Samsung WA54R7600AW 5.4 cu. ft. High-Efficiency White Top Load Washing Machine
Has a stainless steel drum
Can't be controlled remotely
If you’re interested in adding the power of steam to your laundry routine, the Samsung WA54R7600AW is a great choice. This top load washer includes a variety of options to get your laundry extra clean, including a steam cycle that can help eliminate allergens, odors, and stains.
The model generates steam using a built-in heater. In its 5.4-cubic-foot drum, it then uses the steam to sanitize your clothes without creating any extra wear or tear. The use of steam to sanitize laundry and eliminate common allergens (like dust, dander, and mold) can be very beneficial for allergy-sufferers. You can take things to the next level by opting for additional rinse cycles that ensure your dirty laundry comes out without any lingering odors or residue.
Best for Environment: LG Electronics WT7300CV 5.0 cu. ft. Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Top Load Washer
Cold wash setting
Powerful spin cycle
Hard to reach items
No steam function
With an expected annual operating cost of only about $13, it’s hard to beat the energy efficiency of the LG WT7300CV. This roomy model offers 5.0 cubic feet of space, but looks to maximize your utilities through top-notch cleaning cycles and conservative water usage. According to the manufacturer, this model uses about half of the water of a conventional machine, and up to 30 percent less energy. It’s both Energy Star certified and CEE-qualified.
Even better, this energy efficiency doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of clean. This machine performs well on loads of all sizes, and has features such as LG's TurboWash. This feature, in particular, helps to provide extra agitation and cleans clothes more thoroughly than other models on the market as a result. This model also includes ColdWash technology, which combines many washing movements to deliver a deep clean, without incurring additional energy costs from the use of hot water. The spin cycle will leave your clothes with considerably less moisture, which shortens drying time and saves money, too.
Best for Multitaskers: GE GTW840CPNDG 5.2 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Diamond Gray Top Load Washing Machine
Can be controlled via a smartphone
Has a smart dispenser
No steam function
Can have trouble balancing
Whether you’re into smart home technology or just want your appliances to take your chores off your hands, check out the GE GTW840CPNDG. This top-loading washer has built-in WiFi to keep you productive on laundry day, and other smart features like an auto dispenser for detergent. This dispenser ensures you won't need to come back to your machine before a load is done and ready.
This top load washer also has 5.2 cubic feet of room which can fit king size sheet sets or comforters with total ease. You can tackle the piles in your laundry basket much quicker, and feel confident in how those items are shifted around the drum, since you can decide between an impeller plate or agitator when you purchase it. If you want to complete other tasks while a load is finishing, connect the model to a smartphone to check the status of a load, receive an alert when the wash cycle has ended, or even remotely start a cycle via an app. 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.
Now, this machine isn’t too smart for its own good. You can adjust the setting to dispense a little more or a little less detergent as needed. On a similar note, you can modify the fill level to add more water where you see fit.
For an effective, easy-to-operate machine that can handle large and small loads with ease, go with the Whirlpool WTW7120HW (view at Lowe's). 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 Home Depot) 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 ones.
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-loading 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, since it 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. Then, choose the hottest and longest 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?
This article was edited and updated by Marisa Casciano, who is the large appliance expert for The Spruce. Throughout her career, she's researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, cooktops, and more in the home and lifestyle space. She adores her high-efficiency, top-loading washer that's easy to use, and conserves water.