Laundry Room, Reader Remarks

Reader Remarks: Top- or Front-Loading Washer?

Okay, so here’s the scoop:  unless you’re new to this blog, I’ve pretty much reminded you that I’m graduating soon with an MBA on nearly every post (two years in the making, 25 days and counting, what what!).  Recently, I’ve been thinking about graduation gifts.  Specifically, something like this:


My sweet, wonderful, awesome (Mom/Dad, hope you’re reading this) parents have offered to buy me a new washer and dryer as a graduation present.  I humbly accepted (by immediately scouring every Black Friday deal on my favorite new website and texting my mom a few dozen times).  So, now I have all of these new thoughts in my head.  Awesome decorating ideas like this (collected over the last few years on a dedicated Pinterest board):


I have a budget to stick to (under $1,000 for the pair), and a really tight space to work in (not nearly as tight as the makeover I did for Heidi and Jon a few months ago, but close enough!).  Here’s what things look like now-ish (or rather the last time I even bothered to take photos of the laundry room, which was all the way back in 2010):

But thanks to this sweet little face:

… who now looks more like this:

… the laundry room floor has been removed for me.  Isn’t she thoughtful?

There are a number of challenges that I’ll have to deal with later (I’m still working on the kitchen after all), but for now, the biggest question I have is about the style of appliance.  I haven’t done much research on washers and dryers under the assumption that I wouldn’t be buying them in the near future, so I’m a little clueless as to the pros and cons versus top- and front-loading.  I’ve heard things, but I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get reader opinion.  So far, here are my thoughts:

The room itself

  • Pro:  As a puppy, Charlie sort of removed most of the linoleum floor for me (up to what’s still wedged under the existing washer and dryer).  Which is kinda good, I guess?
  • Con:  Cramped.  Tiny.  Tight.
  • Con:  Awkward layout (single window above the only useful wall, which nixes possibilities like stacking and cabinetry).  Walls narrow toward the door, so the entire space will always feel nook-ish.

Front-Loading Washers

  • Pro: Ideal for tight and awkward spaces.  I can put a countertop above both units to help maximize use of the room (examples 1 / 2 / 3).
  • Con:  Heard that washers are smelly and you have to clean them a lot (which as I’ve confessed, isn’t really something I have a lot of extra time for).  But there are tips that I think I could easily follow, such as keeping the door open to limit mold.

Top-Loading Washers

  • Pro:  Avoids the smelly issue that I’ve heard about front-loading (I have top-loading now, and the only smell I’ve ever had to worry about is accidentally forgetting I left laundry in the washer)
  • Con:  Not as great space-wise without that counter above.
  • Pro:  But as I’ve seen with rooms like Kelly’s and Kim’s spaces, top-loading can still look pretty great.

That leaves us with YOU.  What are your thoughts on top versus front-loading washers?  I haven’t heard a lot of negative things about the dryer part.  Are there any other factors to consider that I’m not thinking about yet?  When you had to make the decision yourself, what ultimately won you over?

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  1. says

    It’s definitely got to be a front loader! We’ve had our current one for 3,5 years. No mould, no smells and we’ve never cleaned it. We’re not really dirty or anything, it just hasn’t needed it. Except for the little tray that the washing powder goes in – but that can just be shoved in the dishwasher.

  2. says

    Yay for graduation and awesome parents!

    I’d go for the front-loaders. As a short person, I much prefer to have the “counter space” to fold on. Also, front-loaders typically use less water and less detergent. (Not always, though.)

  3. fitzwoman says

    Loved my front loader until it broke beyond repair after 5 yrs. These machines are a very expensive purchase, so I would think they would last longer than 5 yrs. So I went back to a top loader without an agitator and don’t want to jinx it, but have been happy so far(only 1 yr. in).

  4. says

    We recently, within the past couple of years, bought a new washer and dryer and admittedly, I did zero research on the top- vs. front-loading washing machine, but I went with a top loading. I did hear about the “having to clean the front loading all the time” issue and that itself was enough to make me get a top-loading because really, who has the time/wants to clean a washing machine? Plus, I feel like the top-loading ones drain so much easier/better. Sure you don’t get to the do the “shelf above the appliances” thing but you’re crafty and clever, you’ll figure out another option for storage. =]

  5. Heidi says

    I have a front load HE Kenmore set that I absolutely love – because they stack. This basically doubled the useable space in my townhouse laundry closet, which was a win-win for me. We got a great deal on ours at the Sears Outlet – there’s one in Tucker on Mtn. Industrial and one in Duluth at Sugarloaf Mills.
    At any rate, I leave the door slightly cracked on my washer (my bifold doors still close flush), and haven’t really had any serious smell issues (after I finally figured out to leave the door cracked – mine didn’t come with an owner’s manual since it was a “scratch and dent” situation). Now in addition to leaving the door cracked, I just wipe down the rubber seal inside the door occasionally…very occasionally and leave it at that. A tip on the Sears Outlet – they keep their stock pretty updated online so you can see if they have the model you’re looking for in stock at the store before you go.

  6. Kaitlyn says

    SO JEALOUS that you even HAVE a laundry room!! My stuff is in the basement which tends to be dirty, it’s unfinished. Anyway, same as many people have said… Front load washers can seriously decrease the amount of water it takes to get clothes clean! I don’t have one in my current house but next one I buy will be front load :)

  7. says

    Very late to the party here, but as an owner of a low-ish cost front loader I WILL NEVER BUY ONE AGAIN! We have a Maytag and bought it after extensive research. We also have the limiting factor that our old house can’t accommodate a full size washer and dryer in the basement. So that means we had to get their small version without any real features. It doesn’t do a good job washing, started stinking almost right away (have to leave the door open, use vinegar with loads, etc), vibrates like it’s trying to leave the house, doesn’t do a great job washing our clothes, and the washer/dryer cycles are seriously out of sync. Oh, and the dryer (electric) takes at least 2 cycles to dry a single load. Oh, and the old 1970s washer we had was better and more reliable. I had to take this waster apart when a dime got lodged in the pump and left us with a front loader that wouldn’t drain, full of water, with a locked door. I ended up taking it apart and had to open the door and just let the water drain all over the basement floor. Good thing it’s not finished. I am responsible for all of our laundry, and I look forward to the day that we eventually get a new washer and dryer. I’ll probably look at the Euro high efficiency top loaders.

  8. Grace says

    I have front load washer and when it dies it will be replaced with a top loader! Go for the top loader!

  9. Kevin says

    Just make sure you have sufficient room to open the door on both in the space you have. My front load has to be farther from the wall than the old style top load washer it replaced. Just check before you buy.

  10. Cris says

    I’m from Spain and I can tell you there are almost no top loaders here, and when you see one it just seems like such a waste of counter space that it would only make sense for somebody with a movility issue, who has problems bending over.
    In the States you don’t have such space constraints as we have here (our washing machines are ussually in the kitchen, sometimes in the bathroom), so that’s probably why you keep using top loaders. But if whole countries of people use front loaders, I wouldn’t think the smell issue is really such.

    btw, I really like your blog, I think you are so brave with all the things you tackle.

    Greetings from Spain!

    • Sarah says

      Happy to have someone visiting from Spain! Always wanted to go there (it’s on my travel list… whenever I find the funds for the plane ride). Glad you found the blog and thanks for weighing in. I am definitely needing the counter space and will share the design concept in the coming week!

  11. says

    I’m a convert from top load to front load washers. I own a Samsung front loader that I have had for almost two years now, and I love it. It uses much less water, and considering how much I pay for that utility in my area it’s a big plus. I consider the front load washers to be much gentler to your clothes, and still gets them clean. They spin clothes drier, so I also spend less energy on drying time. I have had no problem with odor. The installer gave me a big talk on the main reason that people get odor issues is that they use waaaayyyyyy too much soap and fabric softener in front loaders. Even when they’re told, they tend to think more in terms of the amounts that they used in a tub/top-load washer, and add more than they need to. It gunks up the machine, and then the smells start. And really, if you follow the recommendations, it’s another plus, less soap and fabric softener means less money spent.

    • says

      I also have to add that though I’ve had no problems at all to warrant a service call, there is more than one appliance repair business certified to repair Samsung washers here, and I don’t live in a huge metropolitan area. You should certainly call around first, but I’m finding the statement that appliance repair places aren’t certified to repair foreign-made brands like Samsung and Bosch just doesn’t hold water. These brands have a large enough market share that repair and parts are more readily available than they were even five years ago.

  12. Daniel says

    Frontloader!! ;)

    Toploaders always remind me of my student days. I don´t know why, but we´ve always had toploaders in my shared flats and after graduation I got my first frontloader.

    -> toploader = student
    -> frontloader = worker

    So if you still feel like a student after your graduation, you should get a toploader. If not, go for a frontloader.

    Easy, isn´t it? ;)


  13. Wilma says

    I’m on team front loader. I can fit way more in, it’s more gentle on my clothes, and despite one commenter suggesting that a front loader cannot clean clothes as well, I’ve had no problems with it.

    And we dump everything together (other than delicate work clothes)–towels, jeans, shirts, etc., and it all comes out clean, and makes the laundry process simpler.

    We leave the door open, and every once in a while the gasket needs to be wiped down. I’ve also run the “clean washer” cycle three times in the two years we’ve owned it.

    Most European countries have only had front loaders for decades, so the technology should be well thought out by now. :)

    Good luck making your decision!

  14. says

    I too have a top loader without the agitator (which I love). Previously I had a front loader, which lasted only 3 yrs (boo). My 2cents: front loaders are awesome, but the uneven on the rotor (working with gravity on the down spin, against on the up spin) means that construction has to be sturdy. At a $500 price point, it is hit/miss whether your machine would be up to snuff. Top loaders are “old” technology, which means the non-electronic components are cheaper to manufacture/fix. good luck and congrats on the MBA.

  15. Carol says

    OK for my 2 cents. I read the above reviews QUICKLY because I am now in an unwelcome situation. I have a set of Bosch front load washer/dryer which I love(d). They are about 10 years old. Back in October, I remodeled my laundry room thanks to my son’s wonderful help. I wanted a counter over the w/d. Finally finished it with beautiful granite – looks wonderful! Yesterday the washer died. Now when the counter was installed, the base cabinet with the sink had to be raised which makes the granite 38″ from the floor. Guess what? I can’t find a w/d less than 38″ in height. So…….before you decide on anything like this, be sure to TRY and see into the future. I wish I did. Now for a few of the above comments. My w/d went through 4 boys that played sports. The washer cleaned far better than my old top load. Someone above mentioned less water and friction does not clean as well – I disagree based on experience. As for smell; I leave my door slightly open and clean the gasket occasionally. Another comment was about fixing your own washer. I don’t think there is one out there anymore you can fix yourself. They are all computerized in one way or another. So pick your poison! Good luck!!

  16. says

    I am in the process as well of buying new and redoing my tiny laundry space. I have been without a dryer now for over two months and realize it is now way past time to make that purchase. The more I read “top verses front loader reviews” The more I am realizing, it is about what works best for you. So, here I go to place my order and perhaps I will revisit this blog to let you all know which I decided on and how well I like it. It was great to read all of your comments!

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