Front loading washing machines offer many advantages over traditional top loading washers. Probably the best advertised of these are energy and water savings. They also present downsides. Before you make a decision to purchase a front loading washing machine, consider some of the disadvantages of front loading washers compared with top loaders.
Front loading washing machines typically cost more than top loading washers. In saved energy costs over time, the front loader eventually recoups its high initial cost. The cost issue is strictly at the purchase end of the transaction. If you have a budget that limits you to a purchase price of about $500 or less, the front loader is disadvantaged. The top loader is likely available within your budget.
Extra Bending and Housekeeping
The front loading machine, unless you purchase a high pedestal and perch the machine on top of it, requires you to bend to load soiled and unload wet laundry. Even if you have a stacker set up with your front loading washer and dryer, the washer goes underneath the dryer, so bending or kneeling and lifting is still part of the process.
The doors on front loading washing machines have very thick seals made of rubber. Their purpose is to prevent water from leaking around the door. They also can trap detergent, water and dirt, which creates an environment that encourages the growth of mold, mildew and musty odors. A couple of antidotes to this disadvantage are wiping out the seal with a dry rag after each use and leaving the door open when the machine is not in immediate use.
No Last Minute Add-ins
With a top loading machine, you can indulge in afterthought. Those last jeans a child left in the closet, that lone damp towel a teenager tossed onto the bed can become part of the load of laundry that is already in progress. You just lift the lid on the top loader and toss the rogue laundry item onto the rest. With the front loader, once the door is sealed and the start button activated, you are locked in and committed. Last minute add-ins are a no-no. You must wait until the top loader is finished, and begin a new load.
With a top loading washing machine, you can use virtually any laundry detergent. With a front loading machine, most manufacturer instructions are specific. You must use a low suds detergent identified as high efficiency (HE), which are becoming more widely available. They are also often more expensive than alternatives that work in a top loader.
Front loading washers tend to have longer wash cycles than top loaders. On some of the heavy soil settings, a front loader can take up to two hours to wash a load of laundry. With less intense settings, washing still takes from an hour to an hour and a half. Top loaders usually take from a half hour to 50 minutes for an average load.