Best Top-Load Washing Machines of 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Home & Appliance Editor
Updated
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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.
View on Amazon
$1339@Amazon
Best Overall
LG WT7200CV
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.
View on Sears
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.
View on Sears
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)
$849 Mrs. G TV & Appliances
5 3 4 5
$16
130
5
8
8
3
5
1 Year
10 Years
Lifetime
44.5
27
28.3
$799.96 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
$479 Sears
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
$398 Home Depot
3 5 2.5 1
$19
162
3.5
8
2
3
5
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
42
27
27
$699 Frigidaire
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
$599 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
$624 Lowe's
4 2 3.5 1
$25
212
4.8
10
5
4
5
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
42
28
28
$989.99 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. 

Quick Tips

Make sure you read your manual and know what type of detergent your machine needs. Most modern top load washers look like the old style from the outside, but they are very different inside and require different types of soap.

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.