Exploring the Fronts and the Tops

This morning I walked into the kitchen and was presented with a flyer from Sears. (Please know that this post was not sponsored by Sears.)

Jeff: This weekend is the weekend I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.

Me: I don’t understand what’s happening right now.

Jeff: Huge appliance sale. Washers and dryers. I’m thinking these might be good.

He then pointed to a front loading washer and its dryer partner, so I threw the flyer down and kissed Jeff in a way that only a woman with hopes of a new washer and dryer would understand. (Our current washer and dryer are 12 years old, and their most recent performance evaluations were not very positive.)

It has occurred to me that many people have very strong feelings when it comes to front loaders vs. top loaders, and one should probably be familiar and comfortable with oneself before making such a crucial decision.

Because I’m still waiting to hear if I’m able to continue doing freelance work, I have a little bit of time to explore my identity before deciding my washer style.

According to the Buzzfeed quizzes:
I’m attracted to boys who eat Froot Loops in the bathtub.
I am not a stoner.
I am Chow Mein.

You helped me with the slip cover. Do you have any words of wisdom regarding washers? (I know you do.) Wait. Before you tell me what we should choose, please know that I prefer lasagna to spaghetti, and my spirit Beanie Baby is Patti the Platypus. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

36 thoughts on “Exploring the Fronts and the Tops”

  1. We have an LG front loading washer/dryer set which is currently 8 years old and going strong. I love it for many reasons. The top 3: 1) the wash and dry cycles are the same length. This has improved my life in so.many.ways. 2) The washer has a gentle cycle that allows me to wash knitwear safely. 3) They use a lot less water.

    The drawback to #2 is that felting is more of a crapshoot than it should be, but I don’t make a lot of felted goods, so overall it’s not a big deal. Oh! If several days go between wash loads and you keep the door shut, it can get musty … that is rarely a problem in our house, but I simply leave the door ajar.

  2. 1. I am always worried that front-loading washers will have gasket issues and then water will go everywhere.

    2. I am spoiled rotten and my husband does all of the laundry at our house. (He earns my undying love every day. He doesn’t scrub bathrooms, so I feel like I do my part, too.)

    Good luck!

  3. Advantage of a front loader:
    1. The kids can load and unload easily. Even the 4 year old can now do laundry nearly un-assisted.
    2. The top surface serves as a sorting, folding, ironing, junk collection area. (this may also be a con if you’re prone to clutter accumulation)

    1. can’t soak things in the washing machine
    2. Does get musty; hard to clean

  4. I have a LG front loader that’s about 6 years old. It’s great, never has had any issues, but does get that funky smell occasionally. I think it’s called the “rubber boot” that seals the door – but gunk builds up inside there. I attempt to clean it out here and there and have also used the Afresh (cleaning tablets) in the past. It’s not a horrible situation but next time I might check out the top loader. I do set stuff on top of the washer, so that’s nice. I guess I feel I can shove more in the front loader too, because it’s all open vs. having the middle arm thing that comes up in the center of top loaders. Good luck on your search!

  5. We have a front loading washer and dryer, stacked. I suggest searching online for information about some of the technical problems with front loading washer draining, some that have resulted in class action lawsuits. We are constantly fighting mold and mildew, and we cannot leave washed clothes in the washer at all or they will smell bad. We have to time laundry so we are right by the wash when it ends.
    I think the technology is now better than that in our 14-year-old washer, but it’s worth comparison shopping models.
    And I will always wish I could have two dryers.

  6. Even if my knitting specialty involved felting on a regular basis, I’d still go for the front loader for the simple reason that it uses a lot less water (and apparently you don’t really need bleach with a front-loader). Save the planet while doing your laundry!

    For felting, I’d hit amazon for a counter-top washing machine so I could keep churning out felted clogs.

  7. I am on my second whirlpool top loader, I LOVED my first one. Thought second one would be the same — it is a normal washer but I just hate this one, my clothes come out so wrinkled and twisted, even on the gentle cycle. Read reviews as much as possible!

  8. I just wrote a lengthy reply and I got an “easy partner error”.

    I have a top loader that is about 5 years old. The things that I do not like are that I can’t interrupt the cycle. It does not have an agitator bar in the middle and I thought that would be a good thing for washing things like rugs or comforters. It doesn’t seem to agitate as much as I would like.

    It is an “he” machine and has a load sensing setting. I thought that would be a great feature, but it’s not. I’m not able to let the water start running before I add the laundry. I worked at a dry cleaners in high school and learned that you can add bleach to any type of clothing as long as your water starts agitating before you add anything. I would do it with darks.

    If I were buying a new machine, it would have to have the bar in the middle, have many settings and have the feature that does not sense the load. I know the sensor is to save water, but it’s a huge drawback for me.

    Let me know what you get.

  9. In Germany you’ll hardly find any toploaders at all. It’s probably just a matter of what you are used to.
    My dryer is standing on top of my washing machine, which takes less space and is easy to put the laundry from one to the other.

  10. I love my front-loading washer, BUT! Here is the thing: in our utility closet, the dryer hookup is on the left and the washer hookup is on the right. However, the front-load washer door thingie opens to the left. Meaning the hinge is on the left side, so when you open it, it swings left. But MY DRYER IS ON THE LEFT ALSO which means that whenever I transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer, the washer door is in the way and I have to work around it. This is 17% of the reason why I’m in therapy. So my advice would be to make sure your hookups and doors are all kosher before you leap into front-loading land, because I seriously SERIOUSLY wish we had done that when we got ours.

  11. If you like to felt knitted stuff by machine, which I do, a front loader is the wrong choice.

  12. LG all the way! We have had their front loaders for years and love them. The trick with front loaders is to use only a tiny amount of detergent. Seriously. Modern detergents are extremely concentrated. Using too much causes the mildew problem. I agree with Kathy S. about the door issue. We had that problem in our old house. Now we have them stacked, and it’s a real space saver.

  13. I have a front loader:

    1) LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN WHEN NOT IN USE. This is how to avoid the mildew/musty smell.
    2) because (this is *my* theory) the machine holds some water from the last wash, depending on the detergent you use, you could end up with splotchy-grayish whites
    3) no agitator is a plus, but know that if you use the “heavy” cycle, your clothes will still get tangled and crazy
    4) very happy with the matching dryer

  14. I have a front loader set, just purchased less than a year ago, and I had always had top loaders. After the very first use I realized they had to be up off the ground, so I requested that my husband and dad build a wooden platform for them, which is high enough to slide baskets under. It’s awesome.
    I agree with the tip to keep the washer open when not in use, and I use an Affresh tablet and the Washer Clean cycle once every 5-6 weeks. I have not noticed any smell, and I’m really sensitive to that.
    I do miss being able to soak things, but that was very occasional for me anyway. I really do believe it gets our clothes cleaner (particularly husband’s super grubby work clothes). Mine is GE brand but they are all so similar.

  15. I have an Amana front loader pair. They’re 5 years old and so far, so good. I have them sitting on the pedestal bases which are great for storing cleaning supplies and my rarely used iron. The pedestals were a must for me as I have rheumatoid arthritis and can’t squat to get stuff out of low machines. As far as felting, a pair of hand-knit wool socks accidentally made it in to the washer and came out fully felted.

  16. I’ve owned several front-loading washers and I think they are vastly superior to top-loading machines. I think they get clothes cleaner, and they’re much more water efficient.

  17. Loved my front-loader, miss them still (and they were 10 yrs old when we left them behind in our last move). We had a fairly inexpensive set by Frigidaire — I’ve heard horror stories about Maytag and GE, but my set was rock solid. It’ll be the first thing I buy when we get into a proper house again!

  18. I’ve had both. Loved feeling like I was being good for the world by having a water-efficient front loader. But being able to have all the water I want for soaking and for washing really dirty things (I am doing cloth diapers these days so I do mean really dirty!!) is why I got my current top loader. Either way, I say get as many settings/options/buttons as you can afford so you can make the thing do what you want.

  19. I had a first generation Maytag front loader washer and dryer that I inherited almost new from my MIL. Total crap. There are website devoted solely to how crap they were.

    A couple years ago we replaced them with a Samsung top loader washer (no center post, so easy on the clothes) and dryer. I picked them because they were the top-rated pair in Consumer Reports, and I am very happy with them.

    It is worth it to get the latest Consumer Reports issue that ranks washers and dryer. As nice as word of mouth is, it is anecdotal. Anecdotal does not equal evidence. CR tests a lot of makes and models, evaluates them on their performance on a number of different features, and gives solid evidence.

    Having said that, you still need to read their evaluations and rankings carefully and consider them in relation to what is important to you. If you plan to have them close to the living area, you want ones that are very quiet. If water and power are very expensive where you are, you want efficiency. And so forth. But you will be making an informed decision.

    Good luck!

  20. Decided not to delve into the front loading world for all the reasons mentioned here already. Did not want to deal with the moldy, musty issues and I often have to presoak my husbands’s gym clothes which come home musty smelling from sitting in a plastic bag for 10 hrs. Also, I’m all for advanced technology , but I’ve found that in some of my appliances, the more bells and whistles there are, the more they breakdown. Like the computer panel in my oven and dishwasher. So I went old school and got a good, reliable extra capacity top loading washing machine and its matching dryer. Speed Queen is the brand. It’s been 2 1/2 yrs and so far so good. It does not have a presoak cycle, but you can fill the washer on any cycle you choose and then just stop the machine when you’re ready to soak. I used to be a big proponent of Sears brand washer / dryers, but when I read all the reviews 2 1/2 yrs ago, they basically said ” they don’t make them like they used to”. Also had a bad experiences with Whirlpool and Maytag. Good luck on your quest!

  21. I like our front loader. We moved into an older home and converted a stall shower into a laundry area with a stacked Kenmore front loader and gas dryer. It’s been great for us, but the kids are not yet tall enough to move the laundry from bottom to top. It can get musty if it’s closed (or forgotten) for too long, but it’s not too bad.

    Used Consumer Reports to help choose — found out that we could browse recent issues online via our local library’s databases! I downloaded all of the Refrigerator reports over the summer and made a spreadsheet of the models that met our needs. Yay, technology!

  22. I have an 11 year old GE front loader that is still going strong. After several years of occasional musty smells, I discovered that using vinegar in the wash eliminates the problem. Generally, I put bleach in with the whites and vinegar in with the colors.

  23. We have three year old front loading Samsungs.
    Pretty – silvery gray and fancy
    Use less water
    Dry clothes faster
    Have steam function for wrinkle removing
    Stand on bases that have drawers for storing laundry detergent and other junk
    Have the funky smell sometimes (we just leave the washer door opener until it’s dry inside)
    Same issue as above with hookups and doors not matching up, so you have to back up and come around the open doors to transfer clothes
    So efficient at spinning the water out of clothes that clothes are much more wrinkled than top loading, even on gentle cycles.
    Nothing. They are shiny and beautiful. I still love the way they look after three years. But I am shallow and like pretty things. For someone who refuses to iron, though, the wrinkle issue is a big deal.

  24. We had a front-loading washing machine and after paying twice for expensive repairs, we ditched it for a top-loader. I miss the sleek look of the front-loader but I don’t miss the musty smell and the fact that you can’t throw in additional items once the load gets started (which I often do, for some reason). Good luck with whatever you choose!

  25. I can’t tell you. I wanted front loaders, but went with the cheapest I could buy from Home Depot. Top loader. It cleans my clothes. I’m happy.

    I complained recently while roasting pans of tomatoes, that I couldn’t fit all the pans in the oven at the same time. Michael looked at me and said “I know babe. I’m going to fix it. You need a bigger oven.” I kissed him like a romance novel kiss.

  26. The new he toploaders with no center agitator are as efficient as front loaders. However, know that all he machines don’t use much water so any felting you do might be difficult. They also get off balance more easily than a traditional top loader. I didn’t get a front loader because I didn’t want to leave it open all the time and my friends that have them have a difficult time with them being noisy. My LG doesn’t wash rugs well, because of using less water, but it is very quiet and otherwise does well.

  27. I have an LG front loader and matching dryer – about 5 years old (maybe more).

    We do have the pedestals so I don’t have to stoop to get in and out of them. Worth the expense.

    To avoid musty smells I clean the gasket on occasion and leave the door to the washer open when not in use. Haven’t had a single problem with smells because of that, but if your laundry is in a high traffic room – like a pass through mudroom situation – that might not work for you. My laundry is in the basement hidden away.

    I felt wool once in awhile. You can do it, but not as fast as with a top loader. I often have to run it through a few short cycles, but it does work eventually.

    I love how much more I can wash in the front loader and how much less water it uses. And you can use about half the detergent that is recommended without a problem. The man installing it told me this. That may also have helped prevent the mildew issues other people talk about.

    Clean your machine based on the manual. That will make a big difference no matter what one you buy.

    The only thing that I’ve found annoying with the front loader is that the loads can become unbalanced and the washer will stop. This only happens when I try to wash one large bulky item like a quilt. I’m not always close enough to hear the sensor go off and wind up running another cycle. Annoying when I go downstairs thinking I’m done with the load and have to rerun it. Lately I’ve just made sure I have 2-3 large or bulky items together and that solves the problem. Quilts and rugs wind up getting washed in multiples because of that even though it feels like I’m putting too much in at once.

    Be warned that the cycles on a front loader are much longer than top loaders – often more than an hour. However, the drying time is much shorter because so much water is removed in the spin cycle. The clothes are dry long before the next load is finished in the washer. As for wrinkles, I shake stuff out before throwing it in the dryer.

    Good luck with your search.

  28. I’ve had a Samsung front loader for about three years and it’s the best washer I’ve ever had. I was a little worried when I saw how little water it uses because my grandson wasn’t quite fully potty trained at the time, but it is miraculous how clean it gets with so little water and detergent. I plunged my face into his underwear that he’d had “accidents” in after washing and they were sweet as a rose and no trace of anything left behind. I don’t know how much better a recommendation I can give than that one. I also love all the options for gentle, heavy duty, sanitizing, etc. Agree with everyone that the spin cycle leaves clothes so dry they take very little time in the dryer. Matching dryer is excellent, too.

    We hesitated getting the elevating units the appliances sit on because they seemed expensive, but are so glad we did. Not only is it easy to reach in and see what’s in there without straining my back, but having drawers for detergent, etc, under the appliances is just handy dandy.

    The salesman at Sears told us to leave the washer door open when not in use to avoid a musty smell, so we always have. We just put a small hand towel near the hinge to keep it from closing completely to let the air in. It would be nicer to look at if they figured out how to ventilate the washer without doing that, but it’s a small thing in the cosmic scheme of things.

  29. I have the Whirlpool Duet (washer and dryer). I haven’t read anyone else’s comments (because I’m lazy) but front load washers require a bit of maintenance in that once a month you need to clean them, and when I say clean, I mean throw a pellet in it on clean cycle and then scrub the bejeezus out of all the little rubber seals inside that harbor mold and smells (especially if you own 3 Siberian Huskies), and you MUST always leave the door open when not in use (leaving it open while in use will be catastrophic). You will also use a tiny, itty bitty amount of HE soap, and you need to dilute your fabric softener like 7 parts water to 1 part fabric softener, but other than that, I really love the front loader. I always felt that top loaders were simply swishing around the stew of ick from the clothes and not really cleaning them.

  30. Being a water conservationist living in Australia (so, so dry here) I should have a front loader. Being very, very forgetful and constantly coming in after starting a load to be reminded of that shirt I have to wash now because I have to wear it tomorrow means I have a top loader. Because you can’t open a front loader to add in that last sock you dropped on the corridor floor on the way to the wash. Plus soaking.

  31. I’m about halfway through a gut/remodel of the hizzy my girlfriend and I bought and moved into and roughly two months away from our choosing kitchen appliances, so here’s what I know for sure:

    1. If a front-loaded washer breaks, the water will spill out of the front and you and your family will be washed out to sea. I am not a fan.

    2. Thinking about choosing appliances with my girlfriend is causing me to make another trip to the liquor cabinet.

    Top loaders, ahoy! That’s my recommendation as an amateur contractor who’s seen water damage up close and personal.

  32. My mother got a front-loader several years ago and then complained that it just doesn’t get her clothes as clean as her trusty (not so trusty at the end) old top loader did. But I did my research and chose the front loader that Consumer Reports guaranteed me was the best at actually cleaning clothes. I wanted the shiny new trendy thing.

    And you know what? My new front loader doesn’t get clothes as clean as my trusty (not so trusty, there are the end) top loader. It’s pretty, though. And I tell myself that I am very happy to be helping the earth by not using a water hog. But truthfully I’d give up all that beautiful self-righteousness to get a load of sweaty summer clothes back that don’t smell like sweaty summer clothes after a regular wash.

  33. I’m a top loader all the way. I have a bad back and bending down for the dryer is terrible so I refuse to do it for both machines. Also, I ALWAYS have to drop in something I forgot, so a locked machine is not going to work for me. Mold risk? No, thanks.

Comments are closed.