If you are in the market for a new washer, you are probably trying to learn about every style and option available to you (for more information on buying a new clothes washer, check out our washing machine buying guide). Front load washing machines are certainly worth consideration. If you are used to a traditional top load style, a front loader may offer you a whole new perspective on doing laundry. A front load washing machine can be more expensive than a comparable top load washer, but that gap is closing as washer technology improves.
We'll help you learn about the benefits and features commonly found in front load washing machines to help you decide if this washing machine type is right for your needs. Let's dig in!
Table of Contents
- Front Load Washer Benefits & Downsides
- Should You Buy a Front Load Washer?
- Review: Whirlpool WFW560CHW
Front Load Washer Benefits -
Very large wash tubs: Households of four or more people tend to require a large capacity washing machine, and front load washing machines tend to have more interior space than top load models. You can wash bulky items like comforters more easily.
Energy efficiency: Front load washers use less water, even compared to Energy Star rated top load washers, and their ability to spin at very high speeds helps extract as much water as possible from the clothes, saving on drying time and energy. In most households, the dryer is the second-largest appliance energy hog after the refrigerator - and, unlike a refrigerator, a dryer isn't running 24/7!
Installation flexibility: You can stack a dryer on top of a front load washing machine, so you can save space in your home and fit the laundry pair in a smaller footprint. Check out our overview of a popular Maytag stackable washer dryer to discover one of these stackable pairs! Plus, many front load washers can be installed under counters. Most have front controls, so you can use the top of the washer for storage.
Gentle but effective wash performance: Although high efficiency top load washers are gentler on clothes than old-fashioned agitator models, front loaders still win when it comes to fabric care. They get high marks from product review organizations like Reviewed, Digital Trends, CNET, and Consumer Reports.
Quieter operation: Top load washers can be pretty loud, especially when draining or agitating. Front loaders tend to be quieter, making them a good choice if your laundry room is near a bedroom or other living area.
- ADA Compliant: The low loading height and front controls means that most front load washers are ADA compliant, which can be a benefit for people with physical disabilities.
Front Load Washer Downsides -
Bending over to load clothes: The loading area of a front load washing machine is low to the floor and requires more bending when loading and switching loads to the dryer. Pedestals are available to raise the loading area to a more comfortable height and provide storage for detergents and other cleaning additives, but they cost $250-$300.
Vibration: Front load washers use a special suspension system because the way they spin pulls the wash basket from side to side. Over-loading any type of washing machine can increase vibration and even knock the washer out of balance. Many new front loaders have anti-vibration technology to help deal with this issue, and more expensive machines typically have more advanced vibration reduction systems. Pile the clothes in loosely and don't fill it past about 2/3rds full. This ensures that the clothes have room to tumble.
Must be cleaned regularly: Standing water in the machine can cause odors and even mold in some cases. Leaving the door cracked open after a wash cycle so it can dry out, and wiping down the door gasket periodically, can prevent this. Many front loaders come with a self-cleaning cycle as well to cut through detergent buildup that can cause odors (this is an issue with top loaders as well). GE's Ultra Fresh Vent washers offer a way to dry out the tub without propping the door open, and they also have Microban materials in the gasket and dispenser to prevent odors and mold.
Upfront cost: Although they cost less to operate and will also reduce your electricity bill since your dryer cycles will be shorter, front load washer MSRPs start at around $949. If your budget is under $700, you'll have a hard time finding a front loader even during holiday sales. There isn't really an equivalent to the ultra-basic top load washers from brands like Amana and Hotpoint in the front load style.
External dimensions: All styles of washing machines have gotten larger over the years! However, front load washers tend to be deeper than top loaders even if they fit in a standard 27" wide space. If you're installing in a closet, check the dimensions of the space and compare them to the washer you're considering to make sure it will fit!
A Front Load Washer May Be Right for You If...
Your budget for a new washing machine is at least $900-1,000, as entry-level front loaders start at around $949 before holiday sales and rebate offers.
You're looking for lower water and electricity usage
You want a washer that is gentle on fabrics while offering effective cleaning
You value aesthetic appeal
You want installation options like stacking or under-counter placement
You need an ADA-compliant appliance
- You don't mind light maintenance (wiping down the door gasket, running a tub cleaning cycle) in exchange for these benefits
Review: Whirlpool's Entry-Level Front Load Washer
One example of an affordable front load washer is the Whirlpool WFW560CHW with direct drive technology. This is the upgraded for 2019 version of the popular Whirlpool WFW75HEFW entry level washer. This machine is priced at $1,049 with a 4.3 cubic feet capacity tub and is packed with lots of quality features. This model is Energy Star rated and comes with Whirlpool's intuitive controls: What to Wash and How to Wash buttons simplify the controls for a more streamlined experience while still giving you custom wash options.
Under "What to Wash," you can choose from Regular, Delicates, Bulky Items, Whites, Colors, or Towels. Then under "How to Wash," you can choose from Normal, Wrinkle Control, Heavy Duty, Sanitize with Oxi, Cold Wash, or Quick. Other options include Clean Washer, Drain & Spin, Cycle Signal On/Off, Extra Rinse, and Pre Soak.
Whirlpool's Adaptive Wash Technology senses and adapts wash actions, time, and temperature based on the cycle selection and other factors. The Smooth Wave stainless steel wash basket is durable but gentle on fabrics, designed to get a thorough clean while preventing fabrics from fraying or snagging. A time remaining display makes it easy to check in on the progress of your wash. No basic mechanical dial controls here - this entry level model features smooth touch button electronic controls.
Click here to read over 70 real customer reviews of this product!
This is just one of many front load washing machines to choose from offered by top brands, including but not limited to GE, Maytag, Samsung, LG, and Electrolux (check out our Electrolux front load washer reviews to find out why Electrolux laundry products are so highly rated by consumers). We selected this Whirlpool model because it is one of our most popular products and is available at a great price point, but there are a ton of great options out there! Many brands offer nicely featured entry level models for as low as $949.
If your budget is under $700, you will probably have to stick with top load models. But if you're looking for a mid range or high-end washer, there are plenty of front load washers available that will fit your needs.
We hope you enjoyed this article. What do you like about front load washing machines? Please leave us a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!
Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in February of 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy as of the publication date noted above.