Whitegoods are a big investment for the average household, given their significant initial cost and frequent usage. So, when you’re choosing a washing machine to tackle the weekly wash, which one should you choose?
Among the factors to consider is the decision of whether a top or front loading washing machine is best for you. While there is no cut-and-dry answer, understanding the differences can help your decision making.
Front Loader Washing Machines
How they work: Clothes tumble inside the front loading drum, which are agitated with water as they spin.
A front loader machine is a gentle cleaning solution because of its tumble action, which also extracts more water from the clothes during the spin cycle to cut down on drying times. They tend to use less water and electricity than a top loader model, potentially reducing ongoing costs. Front loaders also tend to be a bit smaller than top loaders which can be important for those with limited space in their laundry.
However, front loader washing machines can be more expensive than top loaders. It’s also worth looking at the length of their washing cycles as they can be slower than their top loading counterparts.
Ideal for: The energy and water conscious.
Top Loader Washing Machines
How they work: Top loaders fill the drum with water, and then use one of two methods to clean clothes:
- agitators: a protrusion in the centre of the machine that physically turns the clothes.
- impellers: low profile ridges inside the top loader drum that use turbulence to turn clothes.
Top loaders have a significant advantage over front loader washing machines: capacity. By and large, top loader washing machines are bigger and faster than front loaders, easier to load, and can wash more clothes in a single cycle. They can also be opened mid-wash if you have forgotten to include some laundry items in the initial wash. While they can use more power, water, and detergent; top loaders are usually cheaper to purchase than front loaders.
Ideal for: Families or anyone tackling laundry loads en masse’.
Washer / Dryer Combos
Some washing machines also offer a drying function within the same unit. These can be a good option for those short on space, but be sure to check details like cycle time and water usage for the drying cycle. As with any white goods purchase: do your homework before making a decision.
Things to look for when purchasing your washing machine
- Spin cycles: Do you wear a lot of woollens or delicates? The ability to change the spin cycle of your wash could mean a longer life for your clothes (a slow spin cycle is gentler on clothes, whereas a faster one will extract more water and reduce drying times).
- Water temperature: Do you have a preference for doing your washing in hot or cold water? Ensure you purchase a machine that can facilitate this choice.
- Energy rating: The higher the energy rating of your washing machine (measured in stars), the less you’ll pay in the long run on your power bill. Our article on energy ratings can give you a better understanding on what to look for.
- Water rating: Appliances with high water efficiency ratings can cost less over the long term thanks to their reduced water usage.
- Adjustable legs: Washing machines aren’t designed to run on uneven surfaces. Avoid the racket (and the possibility of damaging your machine) by considering a machine with adjustable legs.
- Size: Imagine taking home your new washing machine, only to find it doesn’t fit in your laundry! Make sure you measure the area where your machine will sit and check your machine of choice is the appropriate size.
- Capacity: How big a washing machine do you need for your household? Is it likely your circumstances will change in a few years? Capacity is measured in kilograms, so figure this out at home and factor it into your purchasing decision.