Washing Machines - Top Loader vs Front Loader

Washing Machines – Top Loader vs Front Loader


There is no avoiding dirty laundry, but a reliable washing machine that gently cleans clothes for years to come eases your load.

So, you’re on the hunt for a new washing machine. Once you’ve established your budget, it’s down to the big question: front loader vs top loader. Opinion is pretty divided between the two models, as both have their pros and cons, so it is likely to come down to your personal preferences. In South Africa, the most popular brands are LG, Samsung and Defy. This is not to say one of these should be your choice, it comes down to budget and there are other reliable and good brands available.

To help make your decision, here’s our breakdown of the key differences to look out for before you buy.

Top loader vs front loader: knowing the difference

Before you can choose the best washing machine for you and your family, you need to understand how the main models differ. The main choice you’ll have over your washer is where and how the clothes are loader – or top loader vs front loader.  

So, what is a washing machine front loader?

Put simply, this is a washing machine where you load clothes through an openable door at the front of the machine. The door usually has a glass panel and there is a separate detergent drawer for you to load washing powder. The capacity of these machines can be a little smaller than their rivals – top loaders – but they can be more convenient and compact, which is perfect for smaller homes.  

What about a washing machine top loader?

These machines have clothes loaded into the top through an openable door. There is not always a glass door on this type of machine, meaning you can’t keep an eye on your laundry as it washes. Detergent is often poured directly in with the clothes instead of being added through a separate drawer. Although these machines tend to be a little bulkier, they can often accommodate more clothes.  

Front loader vs top loader: making your decision

Both front loader and top loader machines can be suitable for your home. To decide which you want to buy, you need to consider the pros and cons of each one and see which model suits your needs and preferences best.

Features of a front load washing machine

The main features of a front load washing machine include:

  • Good water and electricity efficiency which could save you money on your bills as well as helping to protect the environment
  • Assist with the drying process thanks to effective spin cycles and speeds that mean excess water is removed from clothes at the end of a wash
  • Convenient for smaller spaces as they can be slotted under work surfaces in the kitchen

When shopping for a washing machine, front loaders can cost a little more to buy outright so it is worth keeping this in mind. You may find that the initial cost is recouped over time with a front loader that offers high economy so don’t forget to factor that into your calculations.

Features of a top load washing machine

The main features of a top load washing machine include:

  • Affordability – in the grand top loader vs front loader debate, basic model top loaders tend to be lower in price
  • Easier to use for those who struggle to bend down
  • Additional functionality provided by pre-soak option which can be useful at removing stains
  • Easier to add clothes last minute or once a wash has started due to access being at the top

If you decide a top load washing machine is for you then it’s important that you consider the space it will take up in your home and ensure it will fit. Before buying a washing machine – top loader or front loader – measure the space you have available carefully. It is also worth noting that the agitators used in many top loaders can be tough on delicate fabrics so you might need to take extra care when washing fine materials.

Looking after your new washing machine

So, there you have it – all the information you’ll need to take a side in the great front loader vs top loader washing machine debate! Whatever you decide, remember that all washing machines need to be cared for and maintained to continue to work at their best. This means regularly cleaning the machine by running it with an empty load and perhaps a little white vinegar. With front loader washing machines, special attention also needs to be paid to the door of the machine which can develop grime over time.

It is a good idea to book your machine in with a reputable Appliance Repairer for a service, say once a year. Particularly top loaders as mould and grime build up in between the inner and outer drum. This is very difficult to clean properly unless the drums are removed and separated.

PS. If you’re based in Randburg or Sandton, please don’t hesitate to contact Bergens Randburg for further advice or assistance.