How does a front load washer work?

Woman loading laundry into a front load washer.
(Image credit: Getty)

If you’re wondering how a front load washer works, you’re not the only one. They’re a relatively new design in the US, unlike their common counterpart, the top load washer, and can look very different, with no agitator and (the clues in the name) a door at the front. 

They’re known to clean clothes better, remove stains easier, and use less water, making them more energy efficient than even top-load eco-models. But it seems many Americans are still choosing top-load washers. Perhaps tradition and not knowing a lot about front loader is to blame.

So whether you’ve invested in one of the best front load washers (opens in new tab), or not, we’ve spoken to an appliance expert at  Power Point Stores (opens in new tab) on how a front-load washer works and broken down the parts, literally.  

What is a front load washer?  

Front load washers may be more expensive than top load models, but they are known to do a better job of cleaning your clothes. They use less water and tend to last longer too. Though there are some similarities between how a front load washer and a top loader work. Both feature a stainless steel drum and use a motor, drain pump, and rotational spinning to rinse water from your laundry.  

How does a front load washer work?  

If you're new to front load washers, or you're simply looking for a few handy tips to help get the most out of your machine, these pointers will explain just how a front load washer works.

1. Loading

The main variation comes with loading your clothes. A front load washer comes with, you guessed it, a door on the front of the machine. The drum inside can come in a few sizes, ranging from 11 lb loads, all the way to industrial-size 26 lb models. 

What the expert says...

Sterling Broad, Owner of Power Point Stores (opens in new tab), says, “Some front-load washers use smart technology and can be controlled via an app. For the tech-savvy customers, this feature can allow you to time the wash to start when you’re out, or remind you to buy more washing tabs.”

The design of front load washers makes them easy to stack with a dryer, and doing so will allow you to load laundry without constantly bending down. Despite needing to crouch to empty cycles, front load washers tend to be easier to reach into it which is great news if you struggle with the depth of top load machines. It's also a good idea to throw smaller items, like socks, into the drum first so that they're less likely to get caught up in clothes and bed linen.

2. Components

There are fewer internal components in a front load washer than in a top load model since there are no gears or clutch control. Instead, there's a rubber bellows system that keeps the water and clothes inside the drum when it spins. By comparison, the electrical components can be trickier to navigate on a front-load washer.

Forget simple dial controls, front load washers work with minicomputer systems to automatically select cycles according to load size and pre-sets, like eco, hygiene-care, or fast wash.

3. Water usage

Front-load washers only use around 13 gallons of water, half of the amount a standard top-load washer uses. How? As Sterling at Power Point Stores (opens in new tab) explains “It will only dose the water necessary for the load which has been put into the machine”. More water may be added to larger loads to maintain the preset level once it's been absorbed.

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Louise Oliphant
Ecommerce Writer

Louise is a contributing writer at Top Ten Reviews. With experience in home eCommerce, Louise worked in PR and communications before joining Future in April 2022. She now writes across Real Homes, Ideal Homes, Livingetc, Homes and Gardens, and Gardeningetc. 


Bringing bags of bedding expertise from her time working for luxury bedding and homeware brands, Louise specializes in sleep content, so you can wind down well. From buying guides and reviews to features and news, Louise is your go-to for getting a great night's sleep. Aside from helping readers get essential shut-eye, Top Ten Reviews’ also allows Louise to write content on vacuums, cleaning and other household need-to-knows. Tidy room, tidy mind, right? Oh, and she certainly won’t snooze on sales, deals, and discounts, or great designer dupes - there’s nothing better than a top-brand bargain in her eyes.  


When she’s not shopping for or trying out the latest home buy, Louise will be at one of the galleries around London. With a BA in Contemporary Art, Louise loves viewing exhibitions and getting inspired for her next artwork. Otherwise, you’ll find Louise decorating the bare space of her newly-rented East London flat, if not in her bed - which is no surprise given how comfy it must be.

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