A washing machine is a major purchase. Choose wisely, and it could last you years—maybe even a decade. But honing in on the right model involves answering a series of questions, and it’s best to start with the biggest and most important of all: whether to buy a front- or top-loading washing machine. Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference, but each type of machine certainly has its pros and cons to consider.
Front-loading washers made a big splash when they were first... introduced, but high cost kept many people from purchasing them. These days, prices have dropped a bit, and the emphasis on high-efficiency (HE) machines has made these styles much more common and desirable. By nature, they’re a bit easier on the environment—and your clothing—because the horizontal tub rotates to propel clothing through the water, meaning items don’t have to be fully submerged (as they typically are in a top-loader) and agitated to get clean. Generally speaking, the ergonomics of loading may be a little tougher on users. Unless you buy a companion pedestal to elevate the tub, you will have to bend over to add garments to and empty the drum. The energy savings may more than make up for this slight inconvenience, however, as the high spin speeds of most front-loaders means less drying time once items come out of the wash.
All that aside, traditional top-loaders still make up a major segment of the market. Many of today’s machines have come a long way from the models of years passed. But there are still some old-school styles that function with a central agitator that churns clothes and water together in a vertical tub, which drains and refills with clean water and churns again before moving onto the rinse and spin cycles. This technology is tough on dirt but also can be rough on your clothes and tends to consume a lot of water in the process. High-efficiency top-loaders are a different story. While they still open from the top and also can be loaded with minimal bending and reaching, they’re larger in size and use central wash plates (as opposed to an agitator) to turn clothing through lower water levels that automatically adjust to match load size. Keep in mind that these newer HE styles are often comparable in price to front-loaders, and generally speaking, higher speeds, more cycles, and smart features, including text alerts at the conclusion of washes, will drive costs of both types of machines into the neighborhood of four figures.
Still need more guidance on the differences between top and front-loading washers? Read on for some recommendations for each type of machine.
For a high-efficiency washing machine with a traditional top-loading design, this Activewash model by Samsung is tough on dirt — and its competition.
This versatile washer features a built-in sink where you can pre-treat and soak clothes prior to washing — eliminating tough stains. It also has 13 different wash cycles (among the most in washers on the market today), and an additional 10 options that can be used to customize the cycle to the needs of the load. One stand-out feature is the steam... wash function, which uses the power of steam to give clothes a deep clean. People also like the Eco Wash mode, which translates into less water consumption and more savings.
With 5.2 cubic feet of space, many users comment on the large capacity that this washer is able to accommodate – while still getting everything clean. One thing to note, however, is that the washer is very deep. For some users, this makes it a little more challenging to reach items deep down in the bottom of the drum. All in all, the Samsung Activewash Top Loading Washer is a great choice for your laundry needs and won’t disappoint with its many features and cycles to choose from.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best top load washers.
This front-loading machine is boldly going where most front-loaders haven’t gone before, into the territory of accommodating last-minute additions to a wash cycle—forgotten socks and T-shirts, anyone? With the inclusion of a small access window on the glass door, now users can throw anything up to the size of a large towel into the wash without disrupting a cycle or having to drain the tub, as is common with most front loaders.
Convenience aside, this appliance also delivers when it comes to... cleaning power and performance. Instead of wasting your time pre-treating stains, use the special steam-releasing setting to attack ground-in dirt and stubborn spots. It’ll also help with removing wrinkles from your clothes.
If time is of the essence, opt for the super speedy cycle that washes a full load in just 36 minutes. There are 14 cleaning programs total to choose from, and 4 1/2 cubic feet of tub space to fill since there’s no space-hogging agitator. Should any issues arise, you can troubleshoot right from select smartphones.
For a super capacity washing machine that seemingly has no end, look to the LG Signature 14-Cycle High-Efficiency Front-Loading Washer with 5.8 cubic feet of space. With a sleek look and easy-to-access digital control panel, this machine will look great in your laundry room while tackling massive loads of laundry.
Front-loading washing machines are known for their expanded capacities, but this machine has the largest volume in its class. Comforters, towels, sheets and more are no match for the LG... Signature. And for extra washing room, you can even add-on a separate TWINWash unit that sits below the washer like a pedestal. With or without the add-on unit, this is the washing machine that will tackle the biggest loads of laundry you can find.
The LG Signature also has TurboWash technology which uses high-pressure nozzles to deliver a stronger stream of water to heavy loads, while reducing washing time. This high-end washer also has many of the features you’d expect for a quality front-loading washer including a steam cleaning mode, variable wash motion technology, and the ability to receive alerts on your smartphone when a wash cycle is complete. We also love that the drum is elevated and tilted by 10 degrees to make access to the washer easier while reducing back strain.
For a top-loading washing machine on a budget, the Whirlpool Cabrio delivers a multi-functional cleaning experience and offers plenty of room for everyday laundry needs.
The Cabrio has 4.3 cubic feet of space, which is on the smaller side compared to some of the higher-end models available on the market. However, it still does an efficient job of cleaning your average laundry load. The washer is equipped with Adaptive Wash technology, which means that sensors determine the optimum motion to use... for agitation.
The options available on this budget washer also include a pre-soaking mode, a self-cleaning mode, and five different water temperature settings. All of these capabilities are available in a washer that is at a competitive price point for the budget washer market.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
You don’t have to break the bank for a reliable front-loading washing machine if you buy this Samsung High Efficiency Front Load Washer. This 4.2 cubic foot washer is Energy-Star rated and has Vibration Reduction Technology for quiet operation.
A feature that earns this budget washing machine a top spot on our list is the direct drive motor that powers the washer. Instead of relying on belts and gears, this direct drive motor offers durable and quiet operation for years of use. Many users praise... this front load washer for its quiet operation and exceptional cleaning power.
Since it is a budget front-loading washer, you will notice that there are no steam washing cycles or a built-in sink. However, there are 4 water temperatures to choose from, and 8 pre-set wash cycles. Additionally, this machine does have a self-cleaning mode to keep your washer as squeaky clean as your clothes!
If you want a top loading washing machine with top protection against common allergens, choose the LG High Efficiency Top Load Washer with Steam and TurboWash.
This machine boasts 4.9 cubic feet of space, so you won’t be lacking in capacity (even in comparison to many front-loading washers). It also features 12 different wash cycles, including the one that lands this machine on our list: the Allergiene cycle. This special cycle is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and... removes up to 95% of the most common allergens.
Boosting the everyday cleaning capabilities of this machine are an Oxi-Sanitize mode, TurboWash capability to save time on wash cycles, and Power Cleanse cycles – along with 9 other specific cycles.
To really eliminate pollen, mold, pet hair and other common allergens, the Maytag High-Efficiency Front Load Washer with Steam is the right front-loading machine for the job.
This model from Maytag offers a special Allergen mode, which promises to eradicate up to 95% of the most common allergy triggers from clothing. Additionally, it has a ‘Fresh Hold’ mode which keeps mold and mildew from setting into a load of laundry if you can’t promptly switch it over to the dryer. This may further benefit... some allergy sufferers who are sensitive to mold — and it’s a real convenience if you’re busy multi-tasking on laundry day and sometimes forget to move a load of laundry over to the dryer right away.
Finally, the washing machine can also sanitize a load of laundry. Using extra hot water and a special setting, you can remove up to 99.9% of bacteria from dirty towels, sheets, clothes, and more. All in all, the peace of mind offered by the various cleaning modes available in this Maytag front-loading washing machine are worth the mid-range price tag for users with allergies – and anyone who likes extra clean clothes.
Disclosure: At The Spruce, our expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.