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Differences Between Top and Front Loading Washing Machines
The popularity of these differs significantly from country to country with the top loading machines used more in the United States, Canada and Australia with the UK, Europe and the Middle East preferring to use the front loading type.
Although there is no published reason why this is I would say it's simply because most home's in the UK and Europe do not have utility rooms or large kitchens and it just comes down to space.
Top loaders use a vertically positioned drum which is loaded through a hinged lid which closes and seals during operation.
Passing through the center of the drum bottom is the agitator which can move independently from the drum.
During washing the drum fills with water and the motion created by the drum and agitator washes the clothes by pulling them into the center then down to the bottom out to the side and back to the top to start over again.
These machines are more complex than front loaders as they require a clutch and gearbox system to operate both the agitator and drum where a front loader has no agitator.
This has the result of top loaders being more expensive to buy and having more parts that can break.
Other disadvantages of top loaders is that they do not clean larger items very well as they float rather than circulate round the drum and delicates can often be damaged by the agitator.
Front loaders have a horizontal drum loaded through a special door at the front attached to the drum with a bellows type seal to ensure water can't leak out.
These bellows can collect lint and smell if not cleaned regularly to prevent mold growth with some machines having a special clean cycle for this purpose.
No agitator is required as the clothes tumble with the rotation of the drum due to gravity this makes them better for delicate washing.
Less water is used in these machines as the clothes only have to be wet not submerged and sensors automatically control the water level to suit the load.
Another bonus of less water is that less soap is also required.
Small homes and fitted kitchens where machines are to be fitted under the counter are ideal situations to use a front loading washing machine.
Some of these machines are also designed so you can stack a dryer on top of them which is impossible with a top loader.
Results from testing have proved that front loaders will use less water and power even although the cycle time on a front loader is generally longer.
All top loaders and most modern front loaders allow you stop the machine in mid cycle to add or remove any items if necessary with a front loader easier to load as you don't have to lean over to get at the clothes.