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Top Loading vs Front Loading Washing Machine

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If you ever watch a dated sitcom, you will probably notice that a lot of them show housewives using top loading washing machines. These machines have been popular in the USA for a long time because American homes tend to be quite large, so there’s space for a separate laundry room.

In the UK, front-loading washing machines are far more common, and are the natural and obvious choice for almost everyone. Front-loading machines make more sense in smaller homes because they are easier to fit into a smaller home. They can slide under a worktop in the kitchen, allowing you to take advantage of every inch of space.

The Case for Top Loaders

Top loading washing machines, traditionally, had bigger wash capacities, although this tends not to be the case these days as manufacturers are increasingly starting to offer front-loaders with capacities of 8kg or more. 

top loading washing machine

The two main benefits of top loaders are that they are usually narrower (so they can be installed in smaller areas, as long as you don’t need to have worktop space in that room), and it’s possible to add items to the wash cycle after it’s already started, something you can’t do with a front loader because you can’t open the drum without draining the machine first.

The Case for Front Loading Washing Machines

Front loading washing machines are slightly bulkier, but they offer better washing performance using less water. They also use less energy and can achieve a better wash with less detergent.  If energy efficiency is a priority for you, then a front loader is a good choice.

Historically, there were twin-tub offerings that had top loading washing machines and spin dryers. These have fallen out of favour (partly because they were so bulky), and most homeowners either prefer to have separate front-loading washing machines and dryers, or a combination washer dryer.

It’s hard to comment on the reliability of the different designs, because there are so many confounding factors when you test them. If a machine breaks because the thermostat failed or the pump failed, is that a mark against the design, or that specific product? With wash performance, it’s easier to perform tests – and when Which tested a large number of washing machines, they felt that all the best buys were front loading machines.

So Should You Buy a Front Loading or Top Loading Washing Machine?

Both washing machine designs have their benefits. If you are replacing an existing machine then you may not have much choice because you will likely want a like-for-like design to match the layout of your kitchen or laundry room. If you’re buying for the first time and have the flexibility to build whatever layout you want, then you have more options. The narrower, lighter design of top loaders may appeal to you if you are making a specialist laundry room and want the convenience of not needing to kneel down or bend over to load the machine. For most homes, though, front loading washing machines are likely to remain a firm favourite. 

Looking to upgrade your washing machine? View our full range of washing machines here.