We've been comparing top-load washing machines for four years, spending more than 100 hours researching the features of this type of appliance.
We've looked at machines from major manufacturers and selected the 10 we think would work best for most people.
In partnership with Sears
This large-capacity washer can help you tackle even the largest piles of laundry, and its touchscreen control panel and other modern features make it feel like a true upgrade.VIEW DEAL ON Sears
The machine that stood out above the others was the LG WT7200CV. This unit offers energy efficiency at a reasonable price to help tame any household's laundry situation.
How much does a top-load washing machine cost?
We compared top-load washing machines that ranged in price from $400 to $1,000, but there are machines that fall outside of that price range, too. At the upper end you have the more modern designs without a central agitator, which allows more room for large loads. They also offer things like digital controls and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Additionally, most units at the more expensive end are more energy efficient than the cheaper units. The lower end of that price range offers machines that look a lot like the ones used in the 80s and 90s, with manual dials and central agitators. They use more power and water than the expensive machines, but they do clean clothes and might work just fine if you are worried about your budget.
We've been comparing top-load washing machines for four years and the machine that stood out was the LG WT7200CV. This unit offers energy efficiency at a reasonable price.
Kenmore Elite 31633
This large-capacity washer can help you tackle even the largest piles of laundry, and its touchscreen control panel and other modern features make it feel like a true upgrade.
A compact unit like the GE GTW330ASKWW is ideal for a smaller budget and smaller laundry room. It lacks fancier features but has plenty of cleaning power.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Energy Cost & Efficiency||Price||Functionality||Warranties & Support||Estimated Annual Energy Cost||Estimated Annual Energy Use (kWh)||Energy Star Certified||Capacity (cubic feet)||Number of Cycles||Number of Options||Number of Soil Levels||Number of Wash Temperatures||Agitator||Parts & Labor Warranty||Motor Warranty||Wash Drum Warranty||Height (inches)||Width (inches)||Depth (inches)|
|LG WT7200CV||View Deal||4/5||5||3||4||5||$16||130||✓||5||8||8||3||5||✖||1 Year||10 Years||Lifetime||44.5||27||28.3|
|Samsung WA54M8750AV||View Deal||4/5||4.5||2.5||5||3.5||$20||165||✓||5.4||15||11||5||6||✖||1 Year||10 Years||3 Years||45.7||29.5||31|
|GE GTW330ASKWW||View Deal||3.5/5||2.5||5||3.5||1||$22||187||✖||3.8||13||6||5||6||✓||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||44||27||27|
|Kenmore 28132||View Deal||3.5/5||3.5||3||4||1||$31||195||✓||5.3||11||6||5||5||✖||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||38||27.9||27.9|
|Amana NTW4516FW||View Deal||3/5||3||5||2.5||1||$19||162||✖||3.5||8||2||3||5||✓||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||42||27||27|
|Frigidaire FFTW4120SW||View Deal||3/5||3.5||3.5||3||1||$14||110||✖||4.1||12||2||5||5||✓||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||43.3||28.1||28.1|
|Hotpoint HTW240ASKWS||View Deal||3/5||2.5||4||3.5||1||$22||187||✖||3.8||10||5||5||6||✓||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||44||27||27|
|Whirlpool WTW7500GW||3/5||4||2||3.5||1||$25||212||✓||4.8||10||5||4||5||✖||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||42||28||28|
|Kenmore Elite 31633||View Deal||2.5/5||2.5||2||4||1||$43||271||✓||6.2||11||6||5||5||✖||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||43.5||30||30|
|Maytag MVWB765FW||View Deal||2/5||0||2||3.5||3.5||$43||356||✖||4.7||11||6||5||5||✓||1 Year||10 Years||10 Years||37.5||27||27|
The LG WT7200CV is a large-capacity, energy-efficient washer with a fair amount of load options. It’s also covered by a long warranty.
The LG WT7200CV was the most efficient machine we compared overall. Its Energy Star designation means that it uses 25 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than average models. There was one competitor that had lower numbers, but it was significantly smaller in terms of capacity. The WT7200CV is still more energy efficient than most smaller machines. The price is also nice; we found it for under $800.
One noticeable feature was the capacity, which was 5 cubic feet. That is a lot of room for clothing, towels and linens. There aren’t as many cycle choices as some of the other machines we tested, but there should be plenty for most laundry situations, including normal, delicate and speed cycles. Additionally, the machine sports a custom button, which can save a cycle that you use often. You put in your ideal water temperature, soil level and spin speed and the machine will call it up when you press the button. You can also select from a range of wash options like delay wash and extra rinse. There are only three soil level choices, which tied for the least in our comparison.
Best for Large Households
This large-capacity washer can do a lot of laundry, and its touchscreen control panel and other modern features make it easy to use.
If you are investing a large amount of money in a new machine, you want it to look, feel and perform much better than your old machine. The Kenmore Elite 31633 is designed to be that ideal upgrade, especially for larger households.
Its 6.2-cubic-foot capacity allows it to handle large amounts of laundry, including bulky comforters. There isn’t a central agitator, which opens up even more room in the wash tub.
The 31633 cleans using an impeller that has four different wash actions, and the touch controls make it easy to choose the right cleaning method for the load you’re doing.
This is not the most energy-efficient model in our comparison, but it still earned an Energy Star from the Environmental Protection Agency. It will use about 290 kilowatt hours of energy each year, which will cost about $43.
The Kenmore Elite also isn’t as budget-friendly as some of the other models we tested. It ties for the most expensive model we compared at around $1,000.
As a compact unit, the GE GTW330ASKWW is ideal for a smaller budget and laundry room. It lacks fancier features but has plenty of cleaning power.
Not everyone wants or needs the fanciest and largest washing machine on the market, especially if you’re living in an apartment or smaller home. At 27 inches wide, the GE GTW330ASKWW is just right for many smaller households, and it costs less than $500.
It has a central agitator and only 3.8 cubic feet of capacity, so it can’t accommodate bulky loads, but the capacity will be just fine for most normal laundry loads, especially if you are only doing laundry for one or two people.
The compact design translates to about $22 annually, in terms of your energy bill. That is low, even when compared to other units that are a similar style.
The GE GTW330ASKWW also has some nice features, such as an automatic detergent dispenser. It also has 13 wash cycles, which is more than all but one other machine we looked at, so the selection is quite large.
The controls will seem old-fashioned compared to the more updated machines – there is just a set of dials, which is far from the digital controls of some competing units – but it will get the job done.
One disappointment is the lackluster warranty. Even on a less expensive machine, it would be nice to get more than one year of coverage.
The Samsung WA54M8750AV had more cycle types than any machine we compared so it can wash a wide variety of items. Cycles include Bedding/Waterproof, Quick Wash, Steam Sanitize and Super Speed. You can also save settings that you use often under the My Cycle button.
The Samsung WA54M8750AV had more cycle types than any other machine in our comparison, so it can wash a wide variety of items. Cycles include bedding/waterproof, quick wash, steam sanitize and super speed. You can also save the settings that you use the most under the “My Cycle” button.
This machine has 5.4 cubic feet of space, which makes it a good fit for families or for bulky loads. One user said that they were able to wash two king-size comforters at the same time. Many machines would struggle with one king-size comforter. Part of the trick is the washers design, since it doesn’t have a central agitator. This machine also offers features like Wi-Fi connectivity and a built-in sink.
The trade-off for all of the drum space is that the washer has large overall dimensions. It’s 32 inches deep, so it might not fit into every closet.
Top-load washing machines generally take up more space than front-loading machines because they cannot be stacked with their dryers. If you prefer a top-loading design but still want to save some space, consider the Hotpoint HTW240ASKWS.
Top-load washing machines generally take up more space than front-loading machines because they cannot be stacked. But if you prefer a top-loading design and still want to save some space, consider the Hotpoint HTW240ASKWS.
It was one of the smallest machines we compared and tied for the smallest in terms of width, which is arguably the most important dimension. It also has some good features, even if it’s not the most innovative.
If you are upgrading from an older top-loading machine you will notice the cycle status lights, which provide an idea of load progress with just a glance. You will also notice the deep rinse option, which will be nice for those that are allergic to detergents. It is pretty basic otherwise, but it has the price to match.
Why Trust Us
We've been evaluating top-load washing machines since 2013. Over the years, we have invested more than 120 hours weighing the pros and cons of various features. We researched popular manufacturers to find the top 10 top-load washers for making laundry more convenient.
We also interviewed experts to help us understand what makes a good top-load washing machine and whether or not to buy one. Industry experts, and a multitude of testing data, indicate that front-load washers are more efficient and better at cleaning than top-load machines, but people still buy top-loaders.
"It's just hard to change people's minds," said James Peters, Product Manager at Kenmore.
“It comes down to consumer preference,” wrote Edward Crump, Brand & Product Marketing Manager for Frigidaire, in an email response, “even though front-load machines save space and typically offer better cleaning and more energy efficiency.”
“Early bad experiences with front-loaders – with vibration or mildew – gave them a bad reputation, so people shy away from them,” said Peters. Modern designs do a lot to combat those problems, but the bad impression remains for a lot of shoppers. And buying a top-load machine is not a bad thing. They may not be as energy efficient as front-load machines or quite as good at cleaning, but they are getting close, and companies like Kenmore make top- and front-loading machines. "We've improved top-loaders a lot," said Peters.
Most top-loaders no longer have a central agitator, so they offer a lot more capacity, and that is a definite advantage for larger households. Top-loaders also offer more choices in the number of cycles and settings they have now. “That's actually one of the things people get wrong most often,” said Peters. “They use the normal cycle all the time. You're not getting the most out of your machine if you constantly use the normal setting. The preset cycles have been carefully orchestrated by designers to get the best temperature, spin speed, soil level and other settings so that different types of clothing will get as clean as possible. It is worth it to make use of the other cycle types.” That goes for front- and top-load machines.
Proper maintenance, including regular tub cleaning, is also important for getting the most out of both top- and front-loaders.
How We Researched
We researched online stores, as well as brick-and-mortar retailers, to get a feel for the best features for top-load washing machines. We spoke to customer service representatives and scoured product manuals to determine what you can expect from the best top-load washers. We also read customer and professional reviews to suss out the features that matter for these appliances. We looked for products that have a good reputation with professional reviewers and customers to ensure you get what you expect. Additionally, we built detailed charts to document and organize each washer and its features. We check back and update regularly as well, to make sure we have included the best washing machines on the market.
What Size Washer Do I Need for a King-size Comforter?
If you are ready to replace your old washing machine, you may be looking for something large enough to handle bulkier loads. If you buy the right size washer, you can avoid having to take your king-size comforter to the laundromat. However, there is some debate on what the right size is.
Theoretically, any machine over 3.8 cubic feet should be able to handle a king-size comforter, but a few cleaning experts say you should look for a washer with at least 4.5 cubic feet. We think even that is a little low, depending on your comforter. While really bulky comforters may fit in a 4.5-cubic-foot machine, they don't have enough room to move and get clean.
After a lot of testing, Kenmore has established a slightly different standard. According to Peters, any machine over 4.5 cubic feet can clean a queen-size bedding set – comforter, sheets and pillow cases. Any machine over 5.2 cubic feet can handle a king-size bedding set.
This can vary slightly, depending on the type of comforter you have, though. Thinner bedding might be just fine in a smaller machine. However, we recommend you get a machine with at least 4.5 cubic feet if you want to wash king-size bedding and an even bigger machine if you have a bulky comforter.
How Long Do Washers Last?
According to a 2007 National Association of Home Builders/Bank of America Home Equity study, which offered estimates on different appliances' lifespans, you can expect to get about 10 years out of your top-load washer. The way you use your washer, initial craftsmanship and maintenance can all impact whether or not your machine makes it to the 10-year mark.
It’s also important to research your washer thoroughly before you buy it, as some brands are going to be more dependable and last longer than others. Richard Spencer, owner of Utah-based Mark-A-Newt Appliance Specialists, has been repairing appliances for more than 40 years. He highly recommends Speed Queen as a reliable brand because he so rarely works on them. He said Whirlpool and Maytag also are great for dependability.
In many cases, you will want to replace your washer and dryer long before they actually wear out., however There are new technologies and styles being released all of the time.
What To Look For in a Top-Load Washer
Energy Cost & Efficiency
Just about any new top-load washer will be more efficient than the preceding generation of machines, but it is worth researching specifics to get more efficient models. Get the smallest unit that will accommodate your laundry needs, because the smaller units naturally cost less to run. Check for the U.S. Department of Energy's yellow label, which is easy to find online or in the store. That will tell you how much you can expect to pay annually in energy costs for each machine.
Wash Cycles & Options
Generally, the more cycles you have, the better, but it is worth noting the types of available cycles too, to determine if they meet your needs. Look for a sanitize cycle if you know you will be using cloth diapers, for instance.
Design & Dimensions
If you are looking at top-load units, you are probably not terribly worried about space. Top-loading washers and dryers typically take up more space in your laundry room than front-loading units because they can’t be stacked. But it is still worth measuring your space before shopping. You don't want to end up with a washer and dryer that take up so much space that they make your laundry room feel cramped.
How Full Should a Top-Load Washer Be?
Fill the tub no more than about 2/3 of the way up for the best results. It may be tempting to make use of the entire wash tub, but that can strain the motor. Also, if you overfill your machine, your clothes may come out still soiled, because part of what cleans your clothes in a top-load machine is the items colliding with one another and the agitator. If the load is too full, everything will just sit there in one, dense lump.
The manuals for many of the washers we compared aren't very specific in their filling instructions. They mostly just advise against overfilling. For traditional top-load washers, that means you shouldn’t fill it past the agitator, and you don't want to pack the items too tightly either. However, the 2/3 of the way full we recommend is below the top of the agitator. Most modern top-load machines don't have agitators. Instead, they have impellers or wash plates that are much closer to the base of the wash tub, and they work best when filled no more than 2/3 of the way full.
Top-Load Washer Detergent Tips
We compared both modern HE (high efficiency) top-loading machines and more traditional units. If you opt for a high efficiency model, there are a few adaptations you should make in terms of your detergent use:
- Get Rid of Your Old Detergent – Grocery store shelves are now lined with HE detergent, which is a bit of a pain if you are looking for your former favorite. Even older machines can safely operate with HE detergent, so buy the HE version with confidence. It still cleans your clothing; the main difference is that the detergent produces less suds, since suds can interfere with the cleaning and rinsing processes in the new HE machines.
- Reduce Use – The amount of HE detergent needed to run a load is tiny. Depending on whether you have hard or soft water, you just need one or two tablespoons of the liquid version.
- Use Powder and Pods Differently – The pre-measured pods work just fine in the new high-efficiency machines, but they have to go in before the laundry does to ensure they get fully dissolved by the water. Powder should also go in before the clothing is added, or it can also be added to the dispenser in some cases. Follow manufacturer instructions.
Are Top-Load Washing Machines Better Than Front-Load Machines?
It depends what you’re looking for. Top-load washers are less expensive than front loaders, making them good for people on a budget. And they don't require you to bend down as far to reach inside, so they may be better for the elderly or anyone with joint or muscle problems.
A top-load machine will likely be a better choice for a family that is constantly on the go as well, since these appliances typically don’t take as long to clean clothes. Many top-load machines clean using an agitator and keep your clothes immersed in water, whereas front-load units, which use an impeller, do not. However, although front-load washers take longer, they are better at cleaning your clothes and are less likely to damage them in the process.
Another upside of top loaders is that, if, shortly after starting your unit, you realize that there are more clothes you want to wash, you can quickly throw them in without a problem. Front loaders, on the other hand, lock and seal to prevent water from leaking out, so you can’t add clothing after it starts.
Front-load washers are more energy efficient than top loaders. Because front loaders do not submerge your laundry, they use less water overall. In fact, Fox News reports that front loaders typically use less water and electricity than top loaders, saving you money on your utility bills.
While front loaders cost less up front, if your unit requires repairs and maintenance, the costs are typically higher for front loaders, according to that article. On the other hand, Boston Appliance says front loaders are more reliable and less likely to need repairs.
Front-load washers are quieter than top-load washers, because they don’t use as much water and tend to be more technologically advanced. Front-load washers also tend to have a variety of settings, features and cycles – like self-cleaning and steam cleaning – whereas low-end top loaders don't have these bells and whistles.
Laundry Room Organization
Having a few bottles of detergent and fabric softener on top of your dryer or occasionally air-drying a shirt on your bed on a towel is not exactly a crisis but if you were hoping to get more organized this year, we have a few ideas that work in even the smallest laundry room:
- Think Thin – Those over-the-door racks might seem like they are too skinny to hold anything significant but they can be remarkably convenient for storing laundry supplies. If you are extremely short on space it might be worth it to transfer detergent to smaller containers so you can keep it all on one narrow shelf. You can also eke out some storage space behind the door.
- Think Vertical – Wall space is just as valuable as floor space in a smaller laundry room, and the walls can hold a lot. There are some great wall-mounted options for air-drying your clothing, both store-bought and homemade.
Think Hidden Potential – There is a largely-untapped space between washers and dryers that aren’t stacked. Even these thinner spaces can be utilized with a rolling shelf. The thinnest rolling shelf we saw was just over 6 inches wide, but it can still fit a lot of stuff.
Top-Load Washer Maintenance
You may think you are off the hook for maintenance if you buy a top-loading machine instead of a front-loader. After all, front-loaders have the bad reputation of mold and mildew problems. Top-loading machines still need some time and effort if they are to run properly, though. Whether you buy the older style with a central agitator or the newer style with an impeller along the bottom, consider doing these things, at least every three months, to keep your top-load washer in good shape:
- Run a Sanitize Cycle – If your machine has one, use it. If not, you can get the same effect by setting the water temperature to its hottest and adding about a quart of vinegar and 4 ounces of baking soda. You can also use 2 cups of lemon juice instead. Once the baking soda has dissolved, stop the cycle and let it sit for a half hour, at least. Then restart it and let it finish. Running this cycle with bleach can also be helpful.
- Wipe Down Everything – Skin cells, dust mites and dirt can spread onto various surfaces as you toss your clothing into the machine, so it’s important to regularly clean all the surfaces on and in your washer. Pay special attention to the automatic dispensers, which can build up a lot of sticky grime.
What is Laundry Stripping?
The minerals in hard water and certain soaps can leave laundry dingy. Soap flakes in homemade laundry detergent and even some store-bought soaps can cause dust, minerals and bacteria to stick to your clothing rather than rinse away. One way to combat that is by routinely stripping laundry. Laundry stripping usually results in a bathtub or washtub of dark green or brown water, which is gross but means a lot of gunk has been pulled out of your laundry. Here are the basic steps for laundry stripping:
- Fill a bathtub or other large container with hot water.
- Add Grovia pods, RLR or a homemade stripping formula. Stripping formulas can be made with 3 tablespoons each of washing soda, Borax and Calgon.
- Soak the clothing for about four hours, until the water is completely cool.
- Wash your clothes in a water-only cycle, and then dry them as normal.
Washer Dryer Combos: One Option for Saving Space
If you are limited on laundry space, you have a few options to consider. First, even the narrowest top-loading washer cannot save as much space as a front-loading unit because the front loader can be stacked with its dryer. Also, even the shortest front-loading machines can’t save as much space as a washer dryer combination unit, which might be the same width but will be more compact in terms of height because it doesn’t need a second unit stacked on it. However, people generally avoid combo units because of their reputation for doing a poor job of drying clothing. They are known for leaving some wrinkles and for taking a very long time to complete a load. Things are changing, though.
Atul Vir is founder and president of Equator Advanced Appliances, maker of a few washer dryer combo brands, including Deco. He said designers are making great strides in improving washer dryer combos – digitizing controls, expanding capacity and improving drying capabilities. Ideally the combo would know exactly how long each different cycle needs to dry and every load would come out fluffy and dry. "That is what I would call the gold standard," Vir said. "But we are not there yet."
For more information about some of the best options for washer dryer combinations on the market, check out our review.