Washers Buying Guide

Learn the latest trends in high-efficiency washing machines, with top- and front-loading clothes washers

Clothes washers are available in a wide range of sizes and features, from traditional top-load to high-efficiency front-load models. This guide will help you determine what size of washer your family needs, and what features are best for you.

Washer Types

The main washer types are traditional top load, efficiency top load, high-efficiency front load and compact. Each is designed for a different load capacity.

Tip: If you have a large family and require heavy-duty laundering, a large efficient top-loading or front-loading washer may be best. Smaller families may find a space-saving compact model the best choice.

Traditional top load

  • Make loading and unloading easy with access to the drum from the top
  • A central agitator moves the clothes around the drum during the wash cycle
  • Settings allow you to choose the appropriate water level
  • Normally, three temperature settings are available: hot/cold, warm/cold, and cold/cold. Newer models offer a wider range of temperature settings.

Top load high-efficiency

  • Several wash cycle options; some use a series of different directional movements to get clothes clean as opposed to agitation of traditional models
  • Impeller washers feature a cylinder at the bottom of the drum that delicately moves clothes through the wash cycle and produces clean laundry without as much wear and tear as agitator models
  • Higher speed spins and increased water extraction but with reduced energy consumption
  • Require high-efficiency (HE) detergents, which are ultra-concentrated

Front loading

  • Clean better and are more energy efficient than the best high-efficiency top load models
  • Load monitoring determines the amount of water for the load based upon the weight of the clothes
  • Washer partially fills with water and cleans by lifting the clothes to the top of the tub and dropping them back down into the water
  • Touchpad controls offer convenient start time delay and memory settings
  • Can be used with a laundry pedestal, which raises your washer to a more comfortable height for loading and unloading


  • Unitized models can fit into a space the size of a small closet and are ideal for apartments or 1-2 person households
  • All in one” washer and dryer units combine washing and drying functions in one appliance