Best Top-Load Washing Machines of 2019

Angela Parkinson ·
Home & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

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. 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.

Best Overall
LG WT7200CV
The LG WT7200CV offers great energy efficiency, lots of load options and large capacity while being covered with a long and strong warranty.
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Best for Large Households
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.
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Best Value
GE GTW330ASKWW
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.
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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)
$744.8 Appliances Connection
5 3 4 5
$16
130
5
8
8
3
5
1 Year
10 Years
Lifetime
44.5
27
28.3
$799 Sears
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
$359 ABT
2.5 5 3.5 1
$22
187
3.8
13
6
5
6
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
44
27
27
$659.99 Sears
3.5 3 4 1
$31
195
5.3
11
6
5
5
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
38
27.9
27.9
$397.8 Home Depot
3 5 2.5 1
$19
162
3.5
8
2
3
5
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
42
27
27
$543 Sears
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
$566.1 Home Depot
2.5 4 3.5 1
$22
187
3.8
10
5
5
6
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
44
27
27
$597.6 Home Depot
4 2 3.5 1
$25
212
4.8
10
5
4
5
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
42
28
28
$1099.99 Sears
2.5 2 4 1
$43
271
6.2
11
6
5
5
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
43.5
30
30
$597 Discount Bandit
0 2 3.5 3.5
$43
356
4.7
11
6
5
5
1 Year
10 Years
10 Years
37.5
27
27
Best Overall
The LG WT7200CV was the most efficient machine we compared overall. Its Energy Star designation means that it uses at 25% less energy and 33% less water than average models. Beyond that, it has low numbers for estimated annual energy usage.
There was one competitor that had lower numbers, but it was significantly smaller in terms of capacity. This one is even more energy efficient than smaller machines. The price also is nice; we found it for under $800. One noticeable feature is the 5 cubic feet of capacity. That is a lot of room for basically any load type, including large bedding and lots of towels. There aren’t as many cycle choices compared to other machines but there should be plenty for most laundry situations, including normal, delicate and speed cycles. 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. One cool extra is the custom button, which can save a cycle that you use often. You put in your ideal water temperatures, soil levels and spin speed and the machine will call it up at the touch of that button. That essentially gives you more cycle options.
Pros
  • An Energy Star ensures efficiency.
  • A custom button lets you save settings for your favorite cycle.
  • The price is reasonable considering what you get.
Cons
  • There were machines with more cycle types than this one.
  • There are more compact machines.
  • This only has a choice of three soil levels.
$1339Amazon
Read the full review
Best for Large Households
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.
The amount of laundry it handles in each load is astounding compared with most older-generation designs. Its 6.2-cubic-foot capacity will be the end of taking your bulky comforters to the laundromat; this machine will accommodate them. There is no central agitator, which opens up room in the wash tub. The 31633 cleans using an impeller that has four different wash actions. The touch controls make it seem like you are entering commands into your smartphone rather than a large appliance. 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. This also is not budget-friendly. It ties for the most expensive model we compared at right around $1,000.
Pros
  • The touchscreen controls are a modern and convenient upgrade.
  • The large capacity means you can wash even bulky items like comforters.
  • The impeller moves in four different ways to clean efficiently.
Cons
  • Other units are more energy-efficient.
  • Its large size means it will not fit in every laundry room.
  • The price is relatively high.
$1062Sears
Read the full review
Best Value
Not everyone wants or needs the fanciest and largest washing machine, especially 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 the old-style central agitator, so that means it cannot accommodate bulky loads. The 3.8 cubic feet of capacity will be just fine for most laundry loads, though, especially if you are 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 with other units of similar style. The GE also has some nice features, such as an automatic detergent dispenser and a choice of 13 wash cycles. That’s more wash cycles than all but one other machine so the selection is quite nice. The controls will seem old-fashioned compared to the more updated machines – there is just a set of dials, which is far from the lay-flat, digital controls of some competing units. The dials will get the job done, though. One disappointment is the lackluster warranty. Even on a less expensive machine like this one it would be nice to get more than one year of coverage on everything.
Pros
  • The price is very budget friendly.
  • There are lots of cycle types to choose from.
  • This allows more choices for water temperatures than the rest.
Cons
  • This is going to be too small for large bedding loads.
  • The controls are old fashioned.
  • This does not have an Energy Star.
$539.10Sears
Read the full review
Most Versatile
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.
This machine has some serious cubic footage, making it a good fit for families. With 5.4 cubic feet of space you can fit truly huge loads. One user reported washing two king-sized comforters at the same time. With many machines you would be lucky to fit one. Part of the trick is eliminating the central agitator that was so common in top-load washing machines of the past. This machine also offers forward-looking features like Wi-Fi connectivity and a built-in sink. The trade-off for all of the drum space is relatively large overall dimensions. This one is 32 inches deep, so it might not fit into every closet.
Pros
  • The cycles selection is the best out of all the units we compared.
Cons
  • This machine may not fit in every laundry room.
$949.96Sears
Read the full review
Most Compact
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.
It was one of the smallest machines we compared, and ties for the actual smallest in terms of width, which is arguably the most important dimension. It also has some good features, even if not the most innovative. If you are upgrading from an older top-loading machine you will notice the cycle status lights, which provides 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. The savings of both money and space might make it a good fit for the budget-conscious.
Pros
  • The smaller dimensions will fit into small spaces.
Cons
  • Many machines have more innovative features than this one.
-
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We've been evaluating top load washing machines since 2013. Over those years we have invested more than 120 hours weighing the pros and cons of various features on these machines. We researched all popular manufacturers in finding the top 10 appliances that can make housekeeping more convenient.

We also interviewed experts in the field to help understand what makes a good top-load washing machine, and even 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. A lot of them.

"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 at all, anyway. They may not be exactly as energy efficient as front-load machines or quite as good at cleaning, but they are getting close. Kenmore makes 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 choice in the number of cycles and settings than ever before. 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, Peters said. 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 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 read customer and professional reviews to suss out the features that matter for these appliances. We look for products that have a good reputation with professional reviewers and customers to ensure you don't get stuck with a machine that has to be returned. We built detailed charts to document every washer and its features. We check back regularly to make sure we have included the best washing machines on the market.

How Much Does a Top-Load Washing Machine Cost?

We compared top-load washing machines that ranged in price from $400 to $1,000, yet there are machines that fall outside of that price range, too. At the upper end you have the more modern design without a central agitator, which allows much more room for large loads. They also offer things like digital controls and Wi-Fi connectivity. Most are much 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. 

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 your biggest loads. That regular trek to the laundromat to clean your king-size comforter can be a thing of the past, if you buy the right size washer. However, there is some debate on what the right size is.

It is often said that any machine over about 3.8 cubic feet can 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. Thinner bedding might be just fine in a smaller machine. We recommend you get a machine with at least 4.5 cubic feet to wash king-size bedding and an even bigger machine if you have a really bulky comforter.

How Long Do Washers Last?

According to a 2007 National Association of Home Builders/Bank of America Home Equity study that offers estimates on many 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 all can impact whether or not your machine makes it to the 10-year mark.

In many cases you will want to replace your washer and dryer long before they actually wear out. There are new technologies and styles being released all of the time. Quite often a move will prompt the purchase of a new washer and dryer, too.

Those who know appliances best also recommend carefully choosing in the first place as a way to get the most years out of your next washer. 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. 

What To Look For in a Top-Load Washer

Energy Cost & Efficiency
Just about any new top loading washer will be more efficient than the preceding generation of machines, but it is worth researching specifics to get as much efficiency as possible. 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 sync with the needs in your household. Look for a sanitize cycle if you know you will be using cloth diapers, for instance.

Design & Dimensions
If you are looking at top loading units, you are probably not terribly worried about space. Top-loading washers and dryers typically usurp more space in your laundry room than front-loading units because they cannot 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, 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 full 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. That's 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. In the case of traditional top-load washers, that means no more than to the top of 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. Regardless, they still 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 if you are switching from an older machine:

  • 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 cleans the clothing fine and the main difference is less suds, which can interfere with cleaning and rinsing processes in the new HE machines.

  • Reduce Use – The amount of HE detergent needed to run a load is truly 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 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 these devices typically don’t take as long to clean clothes. That’s because many top-load machines clean using an agitator and keep your clothes immersed in water, whereas front-load units, which always 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 have to wait for the load to stop before you can wash the other clothes.

Front-load washers are more energy-efficient than top loaders. Because front loaders do not submerge your load, 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 options for air-drying your clothing, both  store-bought and homemade.
  • Think Hidden Potential – There is a largely-untapped space between any washer and dryer that are not stacked. Even the thinner spaces can be utilized with a rolling shelf. The thinnest one 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 for mold and mildew problems. Top-loading machines still need some time and effort if they are to run properly. 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:

  • 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 and let it finish. A cycle like this with bleach can also be helpful.
  • Wipe Down Everything – Skin cells, dust mites and dirt can get spread onto every surface as you are tossing clothing into the machine, so it’s important to regularly clean all surfaces. 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 all that is by routinely stripping laundry. This usually results in a bathtub or washtub of dark green or brown water, which is gross but also awesome because it means a lot of gunk is out of your laundry and down the drain. Here are the basic steps for laundry stripping:

1.       Fill a bathtub or other large container with hot water.
2.       Add Grovia pods, RLR or homemade stripping formula. Stripping formula can be made with 3 tablespoons each of washing soda, Borax and Calgon.
3.       Soak about four hours, until water is completely cool.
4.       Wash in a water-only cycle and then dry as normal.

Washer Dryer Combos: One Option for Saving Space

If you are limited on laundry space, you have a few things 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 narrowest of front loading machines cannot save as much space as a washer dryer combination unit, which might be the same width but will always be more compact in terms of height. That's because it does not need a separate dryer stacked on top to do the same work, or at least close to the same work. That brings us to one reason people avoid combo units: 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.