Top-Load Washing Machines
The overall benefit of the popular top-load washing machine is the upfront cost when purchasing one. They can also perform larger loads and have variable load settings typically take an hour or a little less to wash a load.
With the expansion of environmental awareness, top load washers have drawn a more negative impact to the savings of electricity, water usage and detergent usage. Top load washers can use up to 40 gallons of water per load between fill and rinse cycles on full loads.
A central agitator thrashes the clothes around, compromising the longevity of the clothes. The amount of detergent used in top load washers requires more water to effectively rinse the detergent from the clothes.
The Front-Load Washing Machine
Front-load washers use 40 to 75 percent less water--10-24 gallons--than their top-load counterparts. Since the wash drum is placed horizontally in front-load washers, the water level does not reach more than half of the tub.
Less water is needed because there is no central agitator. The drum uses internal paddles to agitate the clothes and uses gravity to draw the clothes through the water level.
Thus, they are gentler on clothes. They use different detergent, which can cost more and be more difficult to locate in regions where front-loads are not as popular, which takes less water to effectively rinse the detergent from the clothes.
Using less water and gravity, they rinse clothes more effectively which also results in less energy needed to dry the clothes. However, they are much more expensive than top-load washers.
They can take up to twice as long to complete a washing cycle as a top loader and have a more limited load capacity.
Weighing the Options
As is the case with everything, the effectiveness of individual brands and model of washing machines varies. Top-load washers are now available in energy-savings models that use less water.
However, they're more expensive than the less effective washers that use more water. This is the same for front-load washers.
You get what you pay for. The higher the cost for the unit, the more effective it will most likely be.
A premium-brand, energy-efficient top-load washer will most likely be much more effective today than the lowest generic brand front-load washer.