We've been reviewing top-load washing machines since 2013 and have spent more than 120 hours in that time considering what makes a good one. Using the information we found through online manuals, customer service representatives and in-store research, we zeroed in on the most important features for these appliances and found the best ones for specific scenarios that might be valuable for your household.

Best for Big Wash Loads

Best for Big Wash Loads: Maytag

The Maytag MVWB955FC has an enormous 6.2-cubic-foot drum to fit big loads, which reduces the number of cycles you need run, even if you have big piles of soiled clothing and bedding. This model uses more water per wash cycle than many of its Energy Star-certified counterparts, but it’s still a quite efficient machine, especially compared to older-generation top loaders.

Also, there are several features designed to up cleaning capabilities, including an internal heater to get detergent working as hard as it can and specialized dispensers that release soap, fabric softener and other additives at just the right time in the run cycle. The matching dryer, the Maytag MEDB955FC, has a 9.2-cubic-foot capacity, which should make for fewer drying cycles, too.

Best for Energy Efficiency

Best for Energy Efficiency: LG

The LG Mega Capacity WT7700HVA has the lowest estimated yearly energy cost of any top-load washer we reviewed. This is especially impressive considering it has a relatively large 5.7-cubic-foot capacity. While this model costs about $18 annually to run with an electric water heater, the other washer we reviewed with similar cubic footage costs $31.

This washer has other great features too, including steam options for deep cleaning. A gorgeous digital display lets you know what is going on with your laundry and helps you select from the 14 wash cycles and 15 additional wash options. There is also a tub cleaning option to cut down on mold or mildew smells.

Time-Savers for Busy Households

Time-Savers for Busy Households: Kenmore

The Kenmore 28132 has a large capacity and other convenient features that make it a good option for families. The impeller moves in three different ways to ensure that even large loads get clean. It also uses nine spray jets and a burst of concentrated detergent in each cycle to get clothes clean while still being water efficient. In addition, there is a stain boosting option that extends the length of cycles as well as a specialized timed release for oxygenated laundry detergents to get the most cleaning power out of them. This model has an average annual cost of operation compared to others we reviewed, which is good considering its large capacity. It is also much more efficient than older top-load washers.

Best for Compact Spaces & Fixed Budgets

Best for Compact Spaces & Fixed Budgets: GE

Not everyone has the funds to buy the latest, largest, best washing machine or the room to fit it. If you live in an apartment or smaller home, the GE GTW330ASKWW might be just the right match for your needs. This is an update of the older style central-agitator-type of machine that will do just fine for many households. It doesn’t have the capacity of larger, more updated models we reviewed, but it can fit plenty of laundry and has low energy expenses. It costs less to heat water in this GE machine than in older machines or larger new machines, and you don’t need much laundry room space to accommodate it. 

Other Considerations in Choosing a Top-Load Washer

Cost and space are important considerations when deciding on a washer/dryer combination. If space is tight, a front-load washer/dryer combo you can stack is probably your best option. However, there are many advantages to buying a top-load washer if you have the room to place it and your dryer side by side. There are also many high-efficiency top-load washers on the market to choose from.

Conserving Energy & Reducing Costs
If reducing your energy and water consumption is a concern, then you want to find a top-load washing machine that is both Energy Star-certified and proves its savings over time. In addition to looking at each washer’s energy cost, we compared their water factors (WF), or the number of gallons per cycle per cubic foot a washer uses – looking at both numbers provides a more accurate picture of how much money you'll spend each year keeping your clothes and linens clean.

In addition to using less water and energy than traditional agitator machines, high-efficiency top-loaders use less detergent overall. However, you have to buy specialized detergent so you don’t flood the machine and to ensure your clothes rinse completely.

Increasing Efficiency While Reducing Work
Washing machines with larger drums fit more laundry per load, which can save you time. As such, we favored high-capacity models. Typically, high-efficiency machines have more space for laundry because there isn’t an agitator in the way. It’s also much easier to stuff a large comforter into one of these units than a traditional washer.

High-efficiency washers take much longer to wash a load of clothes than traditional agitator models – sometimes twice as long. However, the spin cycle is faster, so the washer extracts more water than units with an agitator, which cuts down on drying time. Traditional machines also use more water, since they don't use water jets and streams to rinse your clothes.

Finding the Cycles You Need

Most washing machines have a regular wash or permanent-press cycle for white or color clothing, but some also offer delicate, heavy duty, eco-friendly and allergen cycles. If your family has specific needs for its clothes, then look for a top-loading washing machine with a lot of cycles.

One nice feature found on the best top-load washers is a steam option, which softens fabric and makes stains easier to remove. It also makes sanitation cycles more effective because washers heat steam to a higher temperature than they can heat water. As such, the steam eliminates more germs and bacteria, which means cleaner clothes for you and your family. This is especially helpful if you have a baby who uses cloth diapers or other youngsters who get messy playing outdoors, spilling food and just being kids.

Options That Suit Your Lifestyle
Some top-load washers have extras such as vibration reduction, which reduces noise, an important consideration if your laundry room is in a central location in your home. Others include child locks for added safety, and still others let you choose spin speed to wring out as much water as possible. A few models have steam, stain and prewash settings; touchscreen controls; and more.

Once you choose a washing machine, you're going to need a dryer, too, so be sure to read our recommendations for the best clothes dryers. If you’re in the market for a combination washer and dryer, we’ve also reviewed some of the best washer and dryer combos. Since many top-load washers have the same features and functionality, differentiating between them can be tricky. Read our individual reviews to narrow your choices and find a machine that is the right size and fits your lifestyle.