questionswhich is better in the long run: top or front…

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Front load washers are a lot more energy efficient, but they are a pain to keep clean. You'll get mold and musty smell coming from them unless you take extra care to keep them clean and dry. There are drops you can put in them, but they only work slightly in our experience. Here are some tips that you would need to follow for a front load from what I've learned having one.

When not washing clothes, keep the door open to allow standing water to dry.
Every couple of weeks, take paper towel and clean all of the seals by the door. You may need to use bleach if a smell or mold is forming.
Every couple of weeks, use the pellets available at Home Depot to cleanse the washer.

I like the front load washer, but they can be a pain and for some are not worth the trouble.

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I've gone through a lot of washing machines due to cleaning lots of filthy dog beds in our boarding facility. I've decided I prefer the front loaders, but they are not perfect. I have been tempted to try an agitator free top load but I question their cleaning efficiency.

Front loader attributes:
They use less water and so are considered cheaper and more environmentally friendly in the long run.
They are gentler on the clothes.
Their doors are at the same level as the dryer and are perhaps more ergonomic (especially when elevated on a pedestal).
They are more likely to leak, and more likely to develop odors when sitting unused.
The drive mechanism is more robust and less prone to failure.
The drain system is more likely to get clogged and unclogging can be messy.
They seem to spin more water out of the clothes and make drying faster and cheaper.
The top of the washer is available counter space.

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The two front loaders I have used while living in different places I have not been terribly happy with. I can never put what seems like a reasonable size load to washer size in it. With top loaders it is easy to judge but I have washed Blankets in the front loaders and the high efficiency means that often part of the blanket never gets wet? I love the front loaders at the laundry mat where I go now but the ones that family members have owned have never worked out.

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I'll cast another vote for front loaders. We had one for over a year, and I never noticed the smell issue. We're getting one for the new house too, mostly for the water savings and ergonomic issues.

One note, we'll be sure to raise both washer and dryer off the floor a foot or two, also for ergonomic reasons.

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everyone i know that has had agitator free top loaders has said never again. they tie your clothes in knots, and aren't good at cleaning medium to heavily soiled clothes.
as for the front loaders i keep hearing that they spin so much more water out that your dry time is less than half. also even tho you use less soap it is the more expensive type of soap. i have never heard that they need replacing more often (but don't all washers come with a two year limited parts warrenty?) yes, you do need to keep the door open slightly when not in use or you will get the musty issue. and unless you like backaches, you will need to raise it somehow (pedistals are expensive)

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Bought a front loader last year when we needed new machines. Love it!

Less energy, less water, seem to be cleaner clothes (older machine had it's problems).

NO musty smell because when we're done running our machine we leave the door open. Had that problem at first (despite being told) and learned that when not in use, leave it open. No musty smell in the last 8 months because we leave it open.

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I didn't want to deal with the airing out and funk of a front loader.

We got a topload Maytag Cabrio. Has huge capacity, which is great for 2 boys and seems to have held up well for the first 2 years. very efficient, and out clothes haven't been cleaner! I'd recommend!

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I vote for top loader. I bought an inexpensive "standard" top loading washer and front loading dryer fourteen (14) years ago.

Both are still running fine, and no issues with smell or mold from the washer.
I clean the lint trap on the dryer with every load, and clean or replace the exhaust hose every couple of years.

Neither machine has ever required service.

Here's the qualifying statement: I'm single and live alone, so they only run a couple of loads each week.

JM2C

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I prefer a top loader with an agitator. They are simple, which means less likely to break. For added life, consider getting one with a stainless steel wash drum.

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We bought a $600 front loader last year to replace a 15 year old top loader which developed issues. The front load washer cut the drying time from 1 hour to about 15 minutes per load because it extracts much more water. That is a huge difference in energy usage as my electric dryer uses around 5,200 watts. My friend is a service man for washers and dryers and said he's already carried out 18 month old front load washers to the scrap because of poor customer maintenance. He said top loaders are much more reliable, but you save a lot on water and detergent (and electricity if using an electric dryer). My 4.2 cu. ft. washer uses about 8 gallons per load according to the water meter right next to it. My 3 cu. ft. top loader used around 35 gallons! My suggestion, is if you can afford and stay on top of the maintenance of a front loader, it's very much worth it.

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I will also attest to front loaders. We've had our first one for about 4 years now, and it's been great. I've never had it serviced and, as others have stated, we avoid the smell issue completely by leaving the door cracked open after a wash. They are so much more efficient, and really cut down down on drying time.

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Another thing I should add, they actually recommend that you fill a front loader full for better cleaning. My cue is when clothes can't be piled in there anymore without being held in. I should also add that we have 8 people in our family, so we usually do at least 2 loads per day.

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I have a friend that works on them and he hates the front loaders. They break easier and have more things that can go wrong. That's not to say they break easily, just more so than top loaders.

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I have a top loader that came with the house, and it's been fine for 5+ years. That's probably not very useful, but it's another data point.

Out of curiosity, for people with front loaders that need to elevate their washers, would there be any issue with just putting down a cheap rug and arranging cinderblocks in a square footprint on top of the rug? ("Any issue" aside from aesthetics.)

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We have a duet. The first one was nothing but problem with leaks. The 2nd (free replacement per extended warranty) was not so bad. I did take it apart because it broke again.

2nd repair with the replacement, the spring ripped the metal. I always said the Duet needed better stabling components, (shocks and springs) I moved the spring to a different location and added a 5th spring. I would still love replacing the shocks with higher quality but I am afraid as they are connected to plastic and the plastic would crack.

I was told it takes much longer to do laundry, with the front loader.
The rubber gasket on the front is what ripped an leaked. Cloths would get between it and the metal it would grab and ruin clothes (the first one we had) The 2nd is not that bad, if this one dies wife says we are getting a front loader.

\ / springs
O drum
/ \ shocks

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Don't forget to check with your water and power suppliers - many offer rebates for the energy and water efficient appliances. We bought a new washer and dryer and sent the rebate in for the energy efficient dryer and they sent us a letter and a form for a rebate on our front load washer.

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@cosmikavengerrr: the reason for a base is primarily the back problems of bending. however if you do want it hightened then you must provide a stable platform. remember all the side to side you top loader makes? well it's now going up and down basically. will your floor support that much weight (12 to 15 blocks at about 38 pounds each plus a washer full of water and clothes)? the washer must have stability-most pedistals mount (screw) to the washer so it cant vibrate off. if you know someone with decent carpenter skills you should be able to build a sturdy box to mount it on.

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Someone (consumer reports maybe?) did a comparison of front loaders V top loaders, and apparently all of the top loaders being made nowadays suck.
They're was some line that I can't remember well enough to paraphrase, but it essentially stated that todays top loaders were no better than just soaking your clothes. This was not the case with older top loaders though, so it may be a conspiracy by washing machine manuf's to get everyone to move to front loaders.

So, according to the self appointed experts, if you are buying new and have the $$ to make a choice, the front loaders are the way to go. Just remember to run them with a cup of bleach every now and again to kill off the bacterial growth endemic to front loaders.
Or perhaps purchase a 5-10yr old top loader (maybe someone does factory refurbs shrug).

My ex has a front loader that blasts each wash with silver ions to kill critters in the wash, and in the machine. Unfortunately it turns out to be bad for the environment :(

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@moosezilla: Thanks, that's useful to know. Whenever my washer eventually breaks and I move to a front-loading one I might just forgo the pedestal and squat down to load/unload (assuming knee bends feel better than back bends by that point).

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Font loaders sure aren't built like they used to. The shocks and bearings wear out fast. Shocks are not hard to replace but the bearing kit is $300-$500 and ours went 30 days after the 5 year warranty ran out. This means it walks.

Next time I will get a top loader without an agitator.

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@dcpotts: Interesting! I stopped by to say I have an older agitator-free toploader and it does a good job on our clothes. We really don't get a lot of heavy soil, but our clothes do come clean. Instructions said that if you pack the clothes in too tightly, they will knot together, so I have always just dropped them in, no packing down. If I do try to cram in that extra pair of jeans or whatever, I do get knots, so I just go with the capacity I know works. The washer spins my clothes fast and quite dry - I have to use the wrinkle free setting so they won't be too dry - if they are, the wrinkles won't come out over in the dryer.

My only complaint about the machine is the fabric softener dispenser. It doesn't rinse out like the soap dispenser does, so some stays behind and gets thick and I need to wipe it out often. And with the clothes spinning as hard as they do, I don't think they come out as soft as they did with the old machine. So I use dryer sheets more thank I used to.

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@houndlax: I'm with you, love my 1.5 year old top-loader high-efficiency Bravos. Mine has a huge capacity and cleans extremely effectively.

Both types of high-efficiency washers use far less water and spin at high rpms which cuts drying time in a big way. They also require that you learn new tricks whether top-or-front-load. They work very differently, relying more on repeatedly working the wash water through the clothes than brute force agitation.

Without attention both can get the swampwater funk, though top-loaders seem a bit less prone. It's not only from dampness that can be aired out by leaving the door / lid open, it's from the washwater & residue the remains in the machine's plumbing. Similar to a jetted tub an HE washer's plumbing should be regularly cleaned.

I read the manual and other owner tips (can't just dump laundry in like a standard top-loader for example) and have experienced only laundry happiness, no intractable knots or wrinkles.

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I have an agitator-free top loader (its a Cabrio), have had it for about 5 years, and haven't had any problems. I am really impressed with how clean it gets the clothes without an agitator. It jets in water at relatively high pressure, you can see it kneading through clothes (has a glass lid). I think it bundles up clothes less that the agitator models i have used. Only complaint is that I believe it uses more water (as a HE top loader) than a front loader, although less than other non-HE top loaders.
Comparatively, my tenants have a front loader, and I must say I am impressed. It has a lot of extra features, does a great job of cleaning, and appears to use less water. These is no odor problem after ~1 year. They have a Samsung set which cost several hundred less than my Cabrio. I think you end up paying a lot more for agitator-free top loaders without getting much if any better result- the one exception is my top loader has a larger capacity.
Going front loader next time!

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My partner is in the laundromat business for over 20 years, and he say's he prefers front loaders. Top loaders just sort of stir your clothes around while top loaders use the gravity to smash clothes against each other and really pound the dirt out. Also, our customers never complain about front loaders not washing their clothes right, while the customers who use the top loaders tend to do a double wash. Hope my answer helps : )

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@jeffrjohn: Thanks for the tip on these. I've had a front loader for about a year and noticed that smell and had a hard time eliminating it. I'll be making a trip to Lowe's for those pellets. It is a wonder Sears didn't say anything about it...they could be making a little more each month from me.

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top loading is the best, its easier to clean and use, and has more space.

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Speed Queen Horizon is a good front loader. (We have them in our laundromat and our customers love them!) It actually holds a bit more than their equivalent top loader, because the basket is the same size, but there is no agitator taking up space.

Certainly they use less water, and therefore need less detergent than a top loader. And they spin out much faster and more effectively than a top loader.

If possible, put yours up on one of the pre-made metal bases to raise it off the floor. Then arrange your home's drain piping so you can get the gravity drain model washer... that way, there's no standing water to get nasty (also no drain pump to get clogged with buttons etc.).

Of course if money is no object, get a Milnor double- or triple-loader. But the price is in the high four-figure range. And, BTW, they need to be bolted to a 12" thick concrete pad, so they don't "walk around" when they spin out!

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@crowbite: Speed Queens are awesome, we used to have a Speed Queen laundramat down the street. Efficient. .... and such a cool name too.

Someday I hope to have a Speed Queen, doing laundry, bolted down to concrete in my basement so she doesn't walk around... :)

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I had a the cheapest Kenmore top loading washer and it's counterpart dryer. They were bought in 1995 and were still going when I sold them in 20010. They NEVER needed service. NEVER BROKE DOWN, the only problem over the years was they stopped working as efficiently. They weren't really agitating the clothes well enough. We bought a brand new LG pair of front loaders - supposedly energy efficient - not. Within the first year the washer broke down and now the dryer's motor is out. They were 4 times as much and while they did clean better, they are badly made. I talked to a repair man he said, "Buy the cheapest washer and dryer you can. They're all the same. They all break down. Their all poorly made." So that's what I plan on doing next time.