Front load vs top load washing machine – which is better?

A picture of Front load vs Top load washing machines

Front load vs Top load washing machines

In this short washing machine buying guide, we will compare front load vs top load washing machine. Our objective will be to dig a little bit deeper into each technology and find out which one best suits your family.

I promise this won’t take more than 5 minutes. And you won’t need to spend time elsewhere looking for another washing machine comparison guide. This versus guide – as you can call it; will compare both types of washing machines thoroughly.

No time to read for 5 minutes? Jump to the comparison table –  front loading vs top loading washing machine.

Difference between front load vs top load washing machines

Okay – let’s check the basics first, and you will get to know the differences between each type.

The front-loading machine has front side opening to put all of your dirty laundries.

Front-loading washers use tumbler system to wash clothes. More on that in types of washing machines.

Have a look at this picture –

A picture of front-loading washer and dryer combo from LG

A front-loading type of washing machine from LG

And this video –

Cat Scared By Washing Machine

What is a top-loading machine? How does it look?

Again, let me try.

The top-loading machine has top side opening to put all of your dirty clothes in. 

It uses an impeller/ pulsator to wash clothes. Read this article to know how does an impeller work?

A picture of a fully automatic top-loading machine from Whirlpool

A fully automatic top-loading machine from Whirlpool

There is only one primary difference between top-loading and front-loading washing machine. It is merely where the laundry compartment opens – top or front. And that what the name says.

Let’s get to serious differences now. The factors that will matter.

What are the deciding factors that matter while choosing a washing machine?

Most important deciding factors to look at while comparing front load vs top load washing machines are:

Size/ Capacity
Amount of clothes you would wash at a time. If you are lucky to live in a loving and caring joint family which shares one machine, then a larger capacity will serve the purpose.
Water availability
You will need a water-saving washing machine if water supply at your place is scarce. And if the source of supply is boring water (hard water) then that will be a deciding factor too. Water pressure will also play an essential role as few machines won’t operate properly if water pressure is low (if you stay uphill). Consider the environment too and save water wherever possible.
Not the galactical space but space in your home. Where you are going to keep the washing machine will also decide which type is better. If you stay in a crowded, congested city – like me, you will understand the value of space in the house. It is damn expensive! So the lesser the space appliances use, the better it is.
I guess cost will be the ultimate deciding factor (at least for me). Household appliances like washing machines are replaced once every few years, so I would recommend a bit of flexibility when it comes to the budget. But remember – costly is not always better. This blog will help you chose the best which may not still be the most expensive.
Power consumption
Energy cost is rising day by day. Ok, not day by day but at least year over year. Apart from saving on bills, you also need to consider the environment.
Special Functions
If your city/ town faces regular power cuts, then look for “memory function”. If the electricity goes off while washing clothes, you won’t have to restart from the beginning once power is back on. Memory function will remember what was washing machine doing when the power went off and it will continue from that point.

What are the differences between front load vs top load washing machines that matter?

Each type of machine has its pros and cons. The reason both types of washing machines are available in the market is that we can decide which type is more suitable for our family.

It is you who will decide the pros you want and cons you don’t. Worry not – next section will make decision-making super-easy for you.

Have a look at this comparison table of front load vs top load washing machines –

Type ->
CostThey are more expensive upfront (by at least 20%). Top-loading washing machines are definitely cheaper for any given capacity comparatively. Especially, if you go for semi-automatic ones - they are the cheapest.
WaterFront-loaders consume lesser water. So if water supply is an issue, then go with front-loading washing machine.

There are specific models available that convert hard water to soft water.

They require more water pressure to work properly.
Fully automatic top-loading machines use a large quantity of water. Semi-automatic type is more efficient than fully automatic.
For low water pressure - semi-automatic top-loading machines are better.

There are specific models available that convert hard water to soft water and are considerably cheaper than front-loaders with similar feature.

Fully automatic variants require water pressure similar to front-loaders. Semi-automatic machines can work under low water pressure.
Power consumptionThey consume little less energy compared to top-loaders.
Front-loading machines can wash more clothes in one cycle and save some more electricity this way.
They consume slightly more electricity. Really - just a little bit more.
SpaceThis is where front-loading machines win hands down. They can fit under a cabinet, you can stack two of them one above another or you can even fit them under your kitchen platform.
They open from front and this is what makes them fit anywhere. You just need some open space in front of them.
They require more space and you cannot fit them under a cabinet or kitchen platform.
CapacityBoth are available in various capacities. As mentioned earlier, front-loaders take up lesser space for a given capacity.Both are available in various capacities. As mentioned earlier, top-loaders take up more space for a given capacity.

Let’s simplify this further. Check the recommendation based on what is more important to you.

If budget is a constraint; but not space –

Go for the semi-automatic top loading washing machine type. It is the cheapest among all the varieties of washing machines, but takes up a lot of space and is not very convenient to use. But remember, semi-automatic machines are only cheaper when it comes to upfront cost. If you add up 3-4 years of energy and water bills, front loaders may save more money.

This is how it looks –

Picture of a 2 tub semi-automatic washing machine

A semi-automatic washing machines. Noticed the 2 tubs?

Since it has two compartments – a washer and a dryer, you will need to put washed clothes in the dryer by lifting them. Lifting heavy wet clothes can be quite an inconvenience, waste of time and energy.

On the positive side of things – Semi-automatic machines can work with low-pressure water supply and even without a tap connection. Also, they make you work out or exercise your arms without even you realizing the same!

If both – budget and space are constraints –

The fully automatic top-loading washing machine should be your choice. This category of the machine provides a perfect balance between cost and dimensions. They are costlier than the semi-automatic counterpart but takes almost half the space as there is only one compartment which washes as well as dries your clothes. These are more convenient to use for busy office goers as there is no shifting of compartments required. Washing and drying happen in a single compartment without our intervention.

If, space is the only constraint –

A front-loading machine is what you can buy. Considering that you don’t mind spending a bit more money on the washer machine. They take the least amount of space in the same capacity and can fit anywhere. For larger families staying in a small apartment, two of front-loading machines can be stacked to save floor space.

Front-loading washing machine in a kitchen

Front-loading washing machine in a kitchen

Most people prefer putting them under the kitchen platform so that the space above the platform can be utilized for other things.

If water savings is the priority –

I would suggest a fully-automatic front-loading type. They not only save water but are space saving too.

Saving water is important, so stop spending hours under the shower singing the same song again and again and again! And stop washing your car/ bike way too often.

If, energy consumption is an essential factor –

A front-loading type will be more suitable. It can wash clothes in less time. Lower the time the device runs = more the energy savings. Modern top-loading washing machines are also high efficiency when it comes to saving energy, but nothing beats the energy efficiency of a modern front-loading washer.

Oh my god! Did I miss the core requirement?

Which is better for cleaning clothes, which one has better stain removing ability?

Front-loaders are better at cleaning compared to top-loaders and consume lesser detergent too. But the difference is diminishing very fast due to advanced technologies like the use of multiple small impellers. (click here to read what is an impeller/ pulsator)

TIP – Go through the best sellers page on Amazon to check crowd opinion!

What is the difference between top load vs front load detergent washing powder?

The other day, I don’t remember what day it was.

So, the other day I was shopping for detergent on Amazon. Yes, I get it for cheaper through Amazon compared to local grocery shop. I know, I should support local business. I will for sure once I am rich.

Getting back to the point – I was surprised to see two types of detergent powders from a popular detergent brand – Surf Excel. One for top-loading machines and the other for front-loading washing machines.

Initially, I thought it was a marketing gimmick!

To my surprise – there is in-fact a small difference. The foaming or lathering ability. Due to the design of a front-loading washing machine, a low foaming detergent is more suited. Foam – being lighter than water, floats on the top. In a front-loading machine – there is hardly any space on the top where the foam could float. To prevent a possible increase in friction due to the thick foam, a low foaming detergent is more suitable.

Moreover, front-loading machines consume lesser water compared to a top-loading washing machine. So lesser lather is better as it can be rinsed off easily even with lesser water. Who wants that soapy residue on their clothes anyway?

Less lather/ foam does not impact cleaning ability as most of the modern detergents remove stains through other advanced enzymes which do not produce foam.

Can you use a front-loading washing machine detergent in a top-loading machine?

Yes, you can. In fact, few top-loading washing machines have a water saving mode. Low foaming detergent will of course help remove that little foam with a lesser amount of water.

There is one more small but super-important difference between top load vs front load detergent washing powder.

The low foam from a front-loading detergent does not get stuck in the washing machine’s drainage system easily. Bacterias, fungus, and molds grow easily in moist areas. They cause odors and can also spread diseases. No stuck foam means lesser chances of bacterias, fungus, and molds growing inside your machine.

Conclusion –  Which is better front load or top load washing machine?

Front-load. Period.

  • Saves space
  • Conserves energy (less impact on electricity bill)
  • Consumes lesser water
  • Consumes lesser detergent

  • Costlier upfront, once purchased – you save on electricty bill, water and detergent costs
  • Cannot add clothes mid wash (few models allow you to do so early in the wash cycle)


Learned a bit from the buying guide? By now you would know what type of machine is best suitable for your family – front load vs top load washing machines. Read the new Washing Machine Size Guide to know what size machine you should buy.

Want to know which washers & dryers are selling like hot cakes? Check Best Selling Washers & Dryers page.

Comment below to share your thoughts, experiences, and tips with the other readers and me.