Given their typically better cleaning performance and higher efficiency, you'd think that front-loaders would garner more of the U.S. washing-machine market, especially in light of the cash for appliances rebates available for many of these washers. (See our cash for clunkers for appliances buyer's guide to washing machines.) Yet nearly 75 percent of American households still have top-loaders, according to research from Whirlpool Corporation.
"We've seen a large group who have tried a front-loader and returned to top-loaders," says Juan Carlos Puente, general manager of Whirlpool's laundry division. "These are the first users of front-loaders." That accounts for folks who switch back to a conventional or high-efficiency top-loader after a less-than-positive experience with a front-loader.
But what about first-time buyers choosing a top-loader and other consumers deciding to stick with their tried-and-true top-loader? One factor behind their decision could be the typically higher price front-loaders carry. And in this digital age when user reviews, forums, and the like abound online, you can't discount word of mouth about some of the problems associated with front-loaders, including . . .
Ergonomics: Loading and unloading a front-loader can be a hassle. While placing a front-loader on a pedestal makes it easier to load and unload a machine, it adds to the already typically higher cost of a front-loader.
Mold: Moisture and debris trapped in the seal of a front-loader door can cause a mold problem. To prevent mold buildup, run only warm- or hot-water loads unless one requires cold. Between loads, keep the washer door ajar to allow air to circulate. (Don't do this if you have young kids at home.) Also wipe the door gasket, drum seal, and door glass dry after every use, and clean the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener dispensers monthly. And consider running a dehumidifier if your laundry room is damp.
If you have a mold problem, run an empty load but add bleach. Also notify the manufacturer and arrange for a service call. Save all paperwork related to the purchase and service of your machine and keep a log of contact with the manufacturer, the retailer, and the service company. Read about class actions related to mold and front-loading washers.
With top loaders, you can add stuff to the wash after you've started filling it up with water. Conversely, if you suddenly remember you forgot to take your pocket knife out of your jeans, it's easy to reach in and get something out after the cycle has started. With front loaders, you cannot interrupt the cycle unless you first let the machine drain. Too much hassle.
I don't have the space for a front loader...especially if its so high maintenance that you have to leave the door ajar.
I've also had my friends mention that you can't add something to the washer once its started. I don't know any moms who haven't found an errant sock or two once she's just put a load in the washer. Its human nature to quickly pitch the strays in with the load. You can't do that with a front-loader, apparently.
When my washer gives out, I will buy another top-loader.
Another factor could be size. We bought a new washer and dryer last fall and found that front-loaders were typically deeper and wouldn't fit well in our laundry room; the couple of inches made a difference.
my husband & I are needing a new washer/dryer, i am hesitant on purchasing a front loader. my mom has one & while living w/ her we have noticed it doesn't clean surface dirt off of jeans & the clothes get a mildew smell. My mom uses tidehe & her $1500 LG dryer/washer$1500. I think the smart chip in the dryer doesn't get the clothes completely dry, leaving just enough moisture to generate this mildew smell. anyways, i scan craigslist and have seen large amounts of people trying to sell their broken ferontloaders. i'm afraid these things are electronically complicated meaning expensive repairs. i want energy efficency but not at the cost of clean clothes & my wallet. could care less about the jones!
I am hearing that Frigidaire, and possibly other front-loaders, use aluminum parts that will be very quickly eaten up by bleach. Frigidaire denies all knowledge of this being a problem, yet I see a lot in repair forums about this. I also read a lot about bearing failures, I wonder is aluminum debris is partly to blame for the bearing failures I am reading about?
I have only used bleach once in my Frigidaire gallery front loader, and won't use it again - it will be interesting to see how my washer fares over time.
While I envy the front loader ability to wash a blanket or comforter without damage, the convenience of being able to drop additional laundry into a top loader once the cycle has begun,or to adjust clothes after a quick peek, seems far more valuable than a purportedly more efficient machine that cannot be opened or a load tweaked once the start button is pushed....
I also think there is a small paranoia about risking water all over the floors if the door leaks or is improperly opened, which is not possible except for hose failure in a conventional top loader.
Many people have had the same experience with front loaders I had. I bought a pricey front loader (LG) that I otherwise love for its engineering,but the mildew problem was never explained to us, reviews at the time did not cover it at all (including CR). Service visits under contract were a nightmare to get authorized (LG is terrible on service) and we have to leave the front door of the machine open most of the time or the residual water sours and creates smelly clothes. There has been ZERO action to relieve this situation through class action suits, which mostly go on forever with no relief to the consumer, demonstrating both the level of warranty un-enforceability and the dreadful lack of response on behalf of the legal system for consumer issues.
Seems like having to use warm or hot water instead of cold would negate most of the energy savings from a front-loader. I run cold water almost exclusively in my top-loader and have never had a mold issue.
Re: Top loader vs. front loader
In 2007, we purchased a Fisher&Paykel top loading washer and a Fisher&Paykel top loading dryer. Transferring loads from the washer to the dryer is much more convenient than it was with the front loaders (and the floor in front of the machines is no longer the cleanest place in the house, i.e. no dropped clothes during transfer). A bonus feature of the dryer is the self cleaning lint filter.
Absolutely no problems have been encountered with these units.
I have a front loader that I have enjoyed but there is a mold problem. In researching a replacement, it does not seem that any of the manufacturers have eliminated this issue.
It does not make sense to use extra water and energy to clean a machine when I bought the machine for the water efficiency.
My question is what about the HE top-loading machines. Is there a mold and odor problem with them? I can't seem to find an answer to this anywhere.
These are really good points to ponder on for people deciding on buying top load washing machines. In addition to these, there are now new top loaders that are made more efficient. They are called high efficiency top load washers. They save more on energy and water. Although not as much as front loaders, these are alternative choices for those intending to purchase top loading washing machines.
Have any of you actualy ever even SEEN a front loading machine? Almost all of them have a "add a item" feature that lets you add more stuff after the cycle has started. As for mildew smell, just leave the door ajar between cycles, the door is airtight and moisture can not escape if kept closed. I have been using a front loader for 6 years now and would never willing get a top loader. My water bill savings and the fact the laundry gets MUCH dryer (less time in the dryer = less $$$) Plus the fact that I can wash big blankes and sleeping bags. I just love mine!
We've had our Samsung front loader with matching dryer for nearly two years now, and I LOVE it! We've not had a problem with mold, but we always wipe down the seals and glass after using the washer, or just leave the door open. We have absolutely no problem with vibration or noise either. As a matter of fact, if the machines didn't have an audible "end of cycle" tone, we wouldn't even know the washer is running - unless we're right in the laundry room. The dryer balls tumbling with the clothes is the only noise we hear.
The issue is more that the front loaders don't use enough water to wash out the dirt or the soap, with someone with sensitive skin or allegries, these washers are a no go. Also, I have heard from family that the new top loaders break down and generally have two or three maintenance calls a year due to strings, etc getting caught in the drums.
I put up with a front loading machine for four years. I liked the fact that it was energy and water efficient, but the things I disliked about it far outweighed these positives. It could not handle large loads of laundry; the normal wash cycle took almost an hour and a half to complete; if the machine went off balance, I had no way of knowing whether this occurred a minute from the start of the wash cycle or a minute from the end (and it went out of balance a lot, and yes it had been leveled); the spin cycle was violent and noisy and the machine often smelled musty. I recently banished it from my home and have welcomed the return of a trusty top loader. If I can, through my comments here, spare another soul the aggravation I experienced while that 'monster' was in my house, I will have done a good thing!
My wife and I are in the process of replacing our less-than-year-old GE front loader. After several visits by the repair team, it's become apparent that the out-of-balance banging is a fact of life. Enough is enough, back to top loading for us.
My wife and I purchased a front loader washer set in 2004. We sold it 2 years later when we purchased a home because of the smell and mold issue we experienced. We purchased the home and a conventional washer and dryer was included. We immediately noticed a considerable difference in the quality in cleaning. We moved to a new home in 2009 and left the conventional washer and dryer in the first home and purchased a top loader HE washer and dryer set. OMG!!! We experienced the same problems as with the front loading HE. Needless to say we will be purchasing a brand new conventional washer. Neither HE top loaders nor HE front loaders gets whites clean. You're not saving money when you have to wash the same load twice with HE washers. The dryer is fine especially with its steam option. Stay old school Stay conventional.
Anng posted about her problems with a front loader, but the interesting thing is that she described my problems with my top loader perfectly. I have a Kenmore Elite Calypso top-loading washer. I have had to have it serviced three times already. That's not including the first time while it was still under warranty. It's expensive, especially considering that three of those times were service calls due to something getting stuck inside, one time as small as a piece of a worn out, very frayed shirt label. It drives me crazy that it starts to smell moldy, and the Affresh does not alleviate the problem. It's a machine that is used almost daily, at least a couple of hours averaged out daily. Granted, I bought the washer and matching dryer in 2002; so perhaps the newer top loaders are better at draining the water and suds, but I truly doubt it. For that reason I plan to purchase a conventional washer very soon. I love the dryer. Too bad the washer isn't what I hoped it would be.
I have a front loader and have often interrupted the cycle to add things. It hasn't been a problem and does not need to be drained. Our problem was that our whole house vibrated when it was spinning. We worked on that issue in several ways before finally finding a solution. Ohio Steel makes a stand to put under the washer that has springs. It shakes and so does the washer, but nothing else does and our house is back to normal. Whew! I like the job it does and almost always use cold water. I have, however, always left the door ajar. I also occasionally run an empty load with a half cup of white vinegar.
I am considering getting the Samsung frontloader WF210ANQ but not sure if I should go finally with the old agitator type again. Last summer my washer died so I decided to get the new fangled water conservation kind. I purchased GE frontloaders and returned them months later after I realized the washer was causing holes in my thin shirts and son's basketball shorts/shirts (shiny kind). I exchanged for whirlpool cabrio top loaders this time and it took me a few months more to determine it's doing the same thing!! (It took longer because I didn't throw out ALL my holey shirts out from the first time, until I paid attention to washing new shirts that never been washed.) I like the washers but I do tend to think that the new technology--washing with less water, drums with holes sucking in thin fabrics with the more forceful agitation--causes this problem. I have seen folks post the holes in clothes issue for all brands. I also notice that the clothes don't always come out clean because of less water--some come out partially dry. Yes, I have tried all different settings--usually setting on heavy soil to get more water going in. ANYWAY, the reason I am posting here is that I am faced with replacing once again and the salesperson at Lowes says the video for this samsung frontloader claims less tearing of clothes due to the different barrel style or something. I don't know whether to try another frontloader/water conservation set re: this samsung or go for the OLD agitator kind that didn't ruin my clothes (problem is they are on the way out so there is a limited selection at lowes--small, etc.). It seems that because this is new there are not a lot of reviews yet. I didn't see any comments about holes in clothes for this washer yet, I do when I google the other brands I bought. Except for one thread that mentioned the problem with samsung frontloaders but no model numbers given. So please, does anyone who has this washer seen ANY holes in your thinner t-shirts or other delicates? Note that this happened with the other washers on delicate, cold water, low speed settings. Thanks so much!
My four year old Frigidaire Gallery front loading washing machine just died. Its my second one in just 12 years.No more front loading machines for me. Both went due to bad bearings which are not worth replacing as the machine has to be removed and fixed at a shop somewhere. To me this is quite unacceptable,and I will be telling all my friends and family not to buy a front loader especially a frigidaire brand.
I have worn out 2 Kenmore heavy duty top loaders (each after many years of very satisfactory service.) About 1 or 2 years ago when I needed a new machine, I decided to buy one that was energy star rated. Since I like top loaders for a variety of reasons, I decided to buy an energy star Hotpoint top loader. I figured I was set for the rest of my life (I'm retired, so wash fewer loads than formerly). I am now giving up on this machine. You don't save energy or water if you must frequently wash loads two or even three times to get them clean. I find if I set the machine for a large load but put in a small load of clothes, it will do an acceptable job; but again, that wastes water. I frequently need to wash rugs and blankets, and this washer just isn't up to the job. Energy star is an excellent concept, and I'm all for it; but if the appliances can't deliver on performance, then we're worse off than before. I will replace it with another top loader, probably not energy star.
RAGE AGAINST THE FRONT LOADER - I miss my top loaders and would love to have them back. They were old and I started having trouble with the electronics. I thought I would upgade to an LG front loader. Big mistake. Mold is the biggest problem. Cant' turn it off to add something is the second biggest problem. As to the dryer - the energy saving feature is that it doesn't completely dry the clothes. Great. Whatever rating they got was done drying a half-load of wet suits. Plan on running it on VERY DRY and them needed to run a touch-up cycle after that.
Whirlpool front loaders have been easy enough to use. The dryer door can be reversed with a simple kit, but it took me over an hour to swap the door hinge.
Long cycle, but clean clothes. Using tablets they recommended to avoid mold build-up and haven't found any of that after more than a year using it daily. Hot water isn't really that hot - needs a heating element in the machine, like high end top loaders. When you use less water, the machine tends to cool it off too fast, thus I don't get the effect of "hot" water, only tepidly warm.
Dryer buzzes too soon, as well. Clothes are always too damp for my liking.
Got the stands with it and leveled both machines. That took a couple of tries, but the pay off is no vibrations.
Only bad news is the shear sizes of the monsters. I don't like pouring soap or other chemicals from the top pull out tray - messy.
But, over all, better than average machines for cleaning and drying. I'll still go back to a top loader after these wear out.
I have a Samsung that is a little over a year and YES I am seeing little holes in my cotton shirts(looks like moth holes). It is very frustrating b/c we paid a lot of money for this frontloader. If anyone knows of a solution, please post. Thanks
I read EVERY SINGLE posting here, and it sounds like every comment, with the exception of a few, are inserted here by the manufacturers and their marketting folks to write bad stuff about the others' features.
I never trusted comments or blogs written by anonymous "reviewers" or customers, and will never do.
I myself have had the chance to use all three types of machines discussed here and have seen no apparent difference between them three. But, I'm just a single guy without all the computers and gizmos that CR shows in the video.
I've had a Bosch front loader for 5 years and am satisfied. Several of the previous comments said that they can't interrupt the cycle, but I often pause the cycle and add more items without draining the tub. Cleaning performance has been better than my old top loader and gentler too, as there isn't an agitator to yank and twist the clothes. We also haven't had any problem with mold- just keep the door ajar between uses. The spin cycle, however shuts down if the oad is not balanced, such as when there is a heavy item such as a rug or comforter. When that happens I need to add a couple of wet towels to balance the heavy item.
Have had Kenmore front load washer dryer for 8 years. Don't have confidence in the brand, my dish washer was not stellar either. But my gripe with the front load washer is that I can not control amount of water. Too little is used to wash the clothes and the same for rinsing. Have tried resetting to go through a second time without detergent just to get things rinsed better. But ultimately, I add water by hand to both the wash and the rinse cycles, so that the laundry is actually sloshing around in some water, as opposed to just barely being wet through. Even by hand filling, I still do the rinse about 2 extra times to get the water clear and un-soapy ( and no, I do not use too much soap & it is the type for front loaders) So that is much extra work and to heck with saving water, I just want the clothes clean and soap free. Laundry used to be just fine when I had the older, simple top loader! It had different water level choices--- although with this new ingenious engineering for low water efficiency I suspect all washers will have an issue. Unfortunately, engineers don't DO laundry, they just design the machines!!!
I need to make the samsung decision today!! Can you tell me what model you have that's causing the holes? Is it a samsung with the diamond drum (like the 330 or 419) that is supposed to be "gentler on wearing and tearing of clothes"? Does anyone know if the diamond drum of the samsung frontloader really is easier on clothes? I don't want to swap out for the same problem, especially since I actually like the whirlpool cabrio except for the holes it makes in my thin t-shirts. Help!!