Front loading washing machines are very dominant in the UK and with good reason. Historically our kitchens have been small. Sometimes very small. We tend to prefer having our washing machines in the kitchen under a worktop. Things are slowly changing as more modern homes have a separate laundry room, but front loaders are firmly established as the number one choice in the UK.
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 focused manufacturer’s attention in this area.
But if you have only a small space and restricted width requirements then top loaders can be 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 – then in such circumstances a top loader may be the best choice.
Bigger wash capacity
Historically, top loaders have had much larger drums and a bigger wash capacity, which is another reason some might have preferred one. These days though, 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 – washing machine drum sizes – pros & cons.
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).
In the reviews I’ve seen, consumer group Which? don’t appear to be too impressed with top loaders. They said 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.
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 for most people. 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 may well cancel this out.
Top loaders use much more water (which is bad), but a possible advantage to this is that they may rinse more efficiently (Why can’t modern washing machines rinse properly?). 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 because overall a front loadeing washing machine is likely to be best for most people.