Washing Machine - Front or Top Load?

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BrewerGeorge

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I need a new clothes washing machine and I'm struggling with whether to make the switch to a front-loader.

We all know that the front-loaders have had some problems in their first iterations - especially moldy gaskets, smelly clothes and leaking - but a decade after they went mainstream the Web is now saying that most of those problems have been resolved. Review sites unanimously prefer front-loaders for cleaning efficacy and efficiency, but I'm still hesitant. The biggest complaint I seem to find now is front-loaders not using enough water and producing "clean" clothes that are still smelly, with people having to do double washes or rinses with vinegar to get common smells out.

So which do you prefer and why? (For the Europeans who don't have top-loaders available, do you see problems with mold or smells?)

For reference, I do not (yet) make my own laundry soap and have softened water. I do about 8 smallish loads a week for 3 people, plus have a couple of older kids who often come over and do a load or two per week. Efficiency is not a primary concern, as water is not in short supply here and is cheap, and the $20/year difference in electricity between the most profligate and miserly models is just noise.

Thanks for you insights.
 

lsg

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I love my LG front loading machine. It is High Efficiency machine and doesn't take much detergent. It cleans very well.
 

MySoapyHeart

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No, I have never had any problems or issues with my front loaded ones - not with mold, smelly clothes, leaking, insufficient rinsing or whatnot. Mine just gave in recently, after serving me faithfully for 11 years straight without even a small hickup (could be repaired but it would cost too much) So no, have never experienced anything like the things you mention.

Very happy with my new one to, Whirlpool. It is the same style as my old one, just more quiet.
 

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I had a first gen front loader that would go stinky if I didn't leave the door open to let everything dry out. It died a few months ago and wow the new ones are nice. We got one that can spin super fast so that drying is quick quick on the line or in the dryer. And it has a steam option!

I haven't noticed any issues with smelly clothes, or less than clean clothes or anything like that. And I LOVE the huge capacity. The only thing I kind of miss is being able to soak things. But then again I can always pre-wash and pause, or even use the sink right next to the washer.

Only thing we have been using for years now is home-made unscented laundry soap with washing soda and Borax, oxyclean and white vinegar
 

navigator9

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I recently had to buy a new washer, and boy, what an eye opening experience that was. I wanted a simple washing machine. Something to get my clothes clean. It didn't have to fold them, or sanitize them or make me lunch...nothing fancy. Just wash my clothes. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I was looking for a top loader. But with all the new features since the last time I bought a washer, it was no easy feat to find what I was looking for. I read many, many reviews online. Many complaints about the new washers, even top loaders, is that because they use less water, they don't clean as well as the older models. I don't think there's a whole lot that can be done about that, I think they all use less water. I did reach the conclusion, after what I read, that a machine that uses an agitator as opposed to an impeller, was preferred by most reviewers. So I did buy one with an agitator, but let me tell you, the new machines do not agitate anywhere near as aggressively as the old ones. The one thing that the new machine does better than the old one, is it spins a lot faster, and the clothes are barely damp when I take them out. But new a new "safety" feature prevents me from opening the lid to check and see if there's enough detergent, after the cycle has started. Grrrrrrrr!!! It shouldn't be so difficult to find simple, reliable appliances these days, but it is. So, it's not that I prefer a top loader over a front loader, I guess that I'm just a basic appliance kind of gal. But after having to replace my washer, stove and fridge in the past several years, I find that most of what's out there today, is so poorly made, they won't last nearly as long as the ones they replaced.
 

BrewerGeorge

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I recently had to buy a new washer, and boy, what an eye opening experience that was. I wanted a simple washing machine. Something to get my clothes clean. It didn't have to fold them, or sanitize them or make me lunch...nothing fancy. Just wash my clothes. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I was looking for a top loader. But with all the new features since the last time I bought a washer, it was no easy feat to find what I was looking for. I read many, many reviews online. Many complaints about the new washers, even top loaders, is that because they use less water, they don't clean as well as the older models. I don't think there's a whole lot that can be done about that, I think they all use less water. I did reach the conclusion, after what I read, that a machine that uses an agitator as opposed to an impeller, was preferred by most reviewers. So I did buy one with an agitator, but let me tell you, the new machines do not agitate anywhere near as aggressively as the old ones. The one thing that the new machine does better than the old one, is it spins a lot faster, and the clothes are barely damp when I take them out. But new a new "safety" feature prevents me from opening the lid to check and see if there's enough detergent, after the cycle has started. Grrrrrrrr!!! It shouldn't be so difficult to find simple, reliable appliances these days, but it is. So, it's not that I prefer a top loader over a front loader, I guess that I'm just a basic appliance kind of gal. But after having to replace my washer, stove and fridge in the past several years, I find that most of what's out there today, is so poorly made, they won't last nearly as long as the ones they replaced.
I have found that SpeedQueen still makes washers like the one you're looking for (Obviously too late for you, sorry.) Small appliance stores sell them, and you can get them on Amazon.

They have terrific warranties and supposedly use metal where mainstream brands use plastic, and they're not fancy. Plus they're made in the USA. Unfortunately, they're fully twice as much as a unit with comparable features from one of the Big Box manufacturers. Still trying to decide if I want to spend that money for a 25 year machine, or spend half as much now and get a new one in 10-12 years, considering new ones get better all the time. Of course, with all those new features comes more complication and more things to break so...
 

galaxyMLP

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I've moved many times in the last few years as a student and I've used lots of different top and front loaders. I like front loaders muuuch better.

I find they get clothes cleaner and I really love the "sanitary" setting that my moms front loader has. Since front loaders are sealed systems, they can get hotter and they clean clothes (in my opinion) better. I don't like the top loaders as much because they are loud, have more problems with balancing when spinning and don't remove as much water when spinning.

I do like one thing about top loaders though. And that's if you forget 1-2 articles of clothing a few minutes into the run you can still get them in. You'd have to shut the front loader off and wait for it to drain if you wanted to do that in a front loader.
 

IrishLass

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I love my LG front loading machine. It is High Efficiency machine and doesn't take much detergent. It cleans very well.
We have an LG front-load washer (and dryer) too. Ours is about 9 or 10 years old now, and we really love it (and the dryer, too). The washer cleans quite well for us- no need to ever run a load through more than once- and it saves us on water.

Before we decided on the LG, hubby and I went to the library and scoured through all the Consumer Reports magazines having to do with front loaders, and LG kept coming out on top, so that's what we went with.

About 1 year ago or so something broke in the washer's 'guts', but instead of calling a repair man, hubby did some online Googling, found out what the problem was, found the replacement part at a local appliance parts store and fixed it himself easy peasy......and saved ourselves a lot of money in the bargain. It's been working perfectly fine ever since.

Back when we first bought it, we had heard all the stories about the 'stinky' problem with front-load washers, so as a precaution, I have always kept the door to mine open when not in use, and it's just fine- no stinky problem. I'm too chicken to keep it closed in between uses to find out if it causes a stink or not, though, because I've heard from others with the stink problem that it's difficult if not impossible to be rid of it. I figured it's better to be safe than sorry. lol


IrishLass :)
 

amd

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I bought a new Maytag front loader 3 years ago. The only time I have problem with stinky clothes is when they were "extra" stinky when I put them in to start with. (I have a cat who sprays laundry when she goes into heat. She's getting fixed next week, hopefully that fixes the problem! Usually washing once with detergent and borax fixes the problem but sometimes I forget the borax.)

I have only had problems with leaking when I don't pay attention to balancing a load - too many jeans and sweatshirts - which was a problem I have had with top loaders also. You'd think by now I'd learn?

No problems with mold/mildew, although I am very diligent about keeping the door propped open when not in use, as well as the detergent drawer. I also wipe out the liner around the door once a month. It takes a minute and then throw the rag in with the rest of the wash.

I love my front-loader. I would buy it again in a heartbeat. Mine has a delay start on it, which is really nice during busy weeks. I usually have it timed so that it is just finishing a load when I walk in the door (my laundry room is in the entry off the garage so I can't miss it) and then I swap it into the dryer right then and there. Now if I could just get the dryer to fold laundry...

ETA: for my family of three, my water bill dropped 1000 gallons each month since I got the machine.
 

navigator9

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I have found that SpeedQueen still makes washers like the one you're looking for (Obviously too late for you, sorry.) Small appliance stores sell them, and you can get them on Amazon.

They have terrific warranties and supposedly use metal where mainstream brands use plastic, and they're not fancy. Plus they're made in the USA. Unfortunately, they're fully twice as much as a unit with comparable features from one of the Big Box manufacturers. Still trying to decide if I want to spend that money for a 25 year machine, or spend half as much now and get a new one in 10-12 years, considering new ones get better all the time. Of course, with all those new features comes more complication and more things to break so...
Gee, it's too bad I didn't know that, I would have definitely checked them out. (sigh) Is it asking to much that an appliance be built like a tank and last forever like they used to? And I'd have to disagree, I don't think the new ones get better. All the parts are plastic now, and seem to have a drastically short life span. The fridge I bought a few years ago, a Fridgidaire, again, very basic, no ice maker, or side by side thingy, just a fridge, is falling apart already. I'm 65, live alone, and I swear, I don't throw bowling balls into my fridge, and yet, three shelves are cracked, one wire shelf is bowed, (and can't be reversed), and the floor of the freezer compartment is cracked, where I did drop a container of frozen soup, but for crying out loud, it's not like I dropped it from 10 feet, it was a matter of inches, when it fell of the little shelf thing I had to buy for it, because they don't come with shelves any more!!! And yes, you're right, everything's more complicated, and that doesn't mean better, just more things to break, which is why I always go for basic. I'd much prefer to spend more money if I knew it would get me something not made of plastic, and made here in the U.S. Whew! OK, my rant is over now. :D
P.S. I'm going through the same dilemma now, trying to find storm doors!
 

lenarenee

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I'm with galaxy and seawolf in terms of soaking clothes and stopping/pausing cycle to check detergent level or add clothes. I miss having the ability to adjust and manipulate the laundry process and want it back!

We had the first Gen frontloader, and now the recent gen. First one definitely had odor problems.
2nd one....nothing....even if laundry forgotten for a day or two.

I do not think clothes are cleaner with front loaders (compared with top loaders from 15 years or so ago)...I sometimes run a "quick" cycle on a load before a regular cycle in oder to get things clean.

Ours also has a "sanitary" cycle which was very handy for potty training years, and now for guinea pig fleeces.

Biggest downside of frontloaders.....huge wear and tear on clothing because of friction while clothes wash, and also speed of spinning cycle. Lots more dryer lint and have to clean the vent to outside more often.

I'm near San Diego where water is scarce so having anything other than a frontloader is irresponsible.

By the way, I do make my own detergent,and have softened water, and it works just fine compared to Tide. I use Biz or oxyclean sometimes but not necessary for average loads.
 

Seawolfe

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My new washer has a pause button so I can add things like clothes or additives mid-cycle. Plus I can stuff two comforters or one really huge old style sleeping bag in it, so that pleases me. I have to admit that Im usually an old-fashioned girl about appliances (dials, no lights, no bells, no whistles), but the water savings on a solid energy star front loader is just too good to pass up. Plus the clothes are spun so dry that line drying is fast and easy now.
 

penelopejane

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FWIW, every top loader I've looked at other than the very cheapest now has a locking lid as well.
My top loader has a locking lid but it only locks on spin cycles. At all other phases it opens normally. You can pause a top loader wait 5 seconds and it unlocks the lid during spin cycle.

Once a front loader starts that's it.

We had a front loader for a while not on a concrete floor and it shook the whole House. No problem with the top loader in same place.
 

lenarenee

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My top loader has a locking lid but it only locks on spin cycles. At all other phases it opens normally. You can pause a top loader wait 5 seconds and it unlocks the lid during spin cycle.

Once a front loader starts that's it.

We had a front loader for a while not on a concrete floor and it shook the whole House. No problem with the top loader in same place.
Lol! Never store anything on the top of it because it won't stay!!!
 

fuzz-juzz

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We've had front loaders for years.
When we first moved in, we had top loader and I hated it. It used up tonnnes of water and in times of water shortage it just wasn't a good option.
It was really rough on the clothes and it didn't wash well. Wash cycle was about 30 mins long.
The whole " I can add clothes after the start thing" was useless to me as I always prepare clothes upfront.
Anyway, we got front loader and I loved it. It used less water and washed clothes really well. However, it did set itself on fire and almost burned down the house. Next one lasted about 5-6 years which in washing machine life is not bad. Especially since it was only 7.5kg machine and there's 5 family members.
This one was great too, it was a bit noisy even with the new direct drive motor. It sits on the wooden floor It often shook the whole house lol.
It was a LG washing machine so we decided to go with it again. European brands lkke Miele were too expensive and LG is still made in Korea. I had a look at some that are produced in China and craftmanship and finish on them is so poor.
It's 10kg one, again with a direct drive. It's got lots of programs and comes with direct drive motor. It's probably more advanced since it's extremely quiet. Doesn't shake the house like the old one. It's just being great. Washes clothes so well and it's really gentle on them. I use 1000 rpm spin and it's just enough.
Mine never get smelly, I use cleaning cycle from time to time. And never close the door completely. Also, clothes are out as soon as they are washed.

Edited to add; I know you OP and lots of people do use homemade washing powder. But for the purposes of the warranty claims, that is one of the first things they will look at. When my previous washing machine set itself on fire, repair man from their company came. As I called and let them know what happened. My warranty expired few months before hand. He asked to have a look at the washing powder I use and it was Ariel. European washing powder, not on the list of approved washing powders for that particular brand here in Oz. In the end, even though it almost burned us down (lucky I was home to cover it with wet towels etc) they did offer to fix it (!) for the price of new washing machine. Because , apparently, it was washing powder's fault. Or, to sell me a new one at half price. When I rejected both offers, they offered me new one for $100. I refused that too... how low one company can get. So yeah, just be aware of that.
 
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lsg

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I keep the door open slightly on my front loader also. I don't have any problem with mold and stinkyness.
 

dibbles

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You have plenty of advice already, but here's my 2 cents. Our faithful 20 something year old Whirlpool washer died about 3-4 years ago. We bought a Maytag top load HE. It doesn't have a center agitator. I have been very happy with it, and it does have a pause button which I like since I always seem to find a sock or hand towel or something that needs to be added. I was doing a fair amount of felted knit items, and needed to be able to open the lid to check the progress. So, FWIW, there are top loaders that can be opened mid cycle.
 

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I have a 4 year old front loader and cannot wait until it dies and I can justify buying a Speed Queen top loader. No Frills for around $800.
 

lenarenee

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I have a 4 year old front loader and cannot wait until it dies and I can justify buying a Speed Queen top loader. No Frills for around $800.
I hear ya. Any appliance that kicks the bucket from now on gets replaced with something simple. The kitchen renovation is 2 years old: new stove, dishwasher, toaster oven, fridge, microwave and a sensor faucet which turns itself on and off whenever it wants. Everything "talks" to you with 30 different beeps, whistles, and numeric codes and we still haven't learned the language!

I want stupid appliances from here on out!
 

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