Front loading washing machines are very dominant in the UK and with good reason. Historically our kitchens have been small and we tend to prefer having our washing machines in the kitchen under a work top. Things are slowly changing as more modern homes have a separate laundry room but front loaders are firmly established as the number one choice here.
At the time of writing front-loading washing machines use considerably less water (reportedly up to 60% less), they also use less electricity and less detergent. They tend to wash better these days too, especially after the introduction of the eco-label awards for wash efficiency focussed manufacturer’s attention in this area.
A front loader is essential if it’s required to fit under the worktop. However, as top loaders can be made much slimmer than front loaders, as long as you don’t need to fit it under a worktop – or are prepared to drag it out – and you have a small width restriction it may be the best choice.
Top loaders have historically had a bigger wash capacity which is another reason some might have preferred one but these days front loading washing machines are available with extra large drum capacities of 6, 7 or 8Kg and bigger. (Related: Looking at how much laundry will fit into larger drum capacity washing machine – 7Kg v 5Kg washing machine drum pictures | 8Kg drum wash load in wash basket and hanging on line)
One of the most common so-called advantages of a top loader is that you can add an item of laundry after it has commenced washing but I fail to see how this is a serious advantage. The idea of leaving items of laundry out of the wash and then desperately needing to add something later being a common problem just doesn’t wash with me (excuse the pun).
Which? don’t appear to be too impressed with top loaders either saying that none of the ones they tested were good enough to be a Best Buy. However, they don’t qualify this by saying how many they tested. (Reviews of 194 washing machines including 25 top performing Best Buys | Which Best Buy washing machines – 1 month online trial offer available)
At the end of the day some people may just prefer a top loading washing machine but front loading washing machines are likely to remain the number one choice. It’s possible that top loading washing machines may be more reliable in general, they tend to have less electronics and have more basic mechanical parts, but the greater running costs of a top loader are likely to cancel this out.
Finally, as top loaders use much more water (which is bad) a possible advantage to this is that they may rinse more efficiently. If rinsing thoroughly is very important to you (more important than wash efficiency and running costs) then it may be worth looking into a top loader but rinsing would need to be of paramount importance to you ( Why can’t modern washing machines rinse properly? )