In a front loader washing machine, you get nearly all the conveniences of taking your laundry to a Laundromat. But you get them in your own laundry room! How cool is that?
You’ll benefit from significant water and energy savings, and in many cases, more effective cleaning. You can wash all but the biggest washable bedding items in your home. Generally speaking, front loading machines do a good job at washing. They save energy and water as well.
We’ve used one since 2013. We washed several hundred loads of various sizes and types of laundry in that time. And, we have written our impressions of the ups and downs of the front loader washer below.
Front Loader Washing Machine: Pros, Advantages, Features, and Benefits
You access the washtub in front loader clothes washers through the front hatch. It’s not through a lid on the top like in older machines. So, this frees the top surface for stacking a dryer. A stacked washer and dryer set has a smaller footprint than the top loading washer placed side-by-side with a dryer. Furthermore, the lower capacity models can fit in much smaller closets.
Use less Water
Front loading washing machines use less H2Othan the top loaders. Front loaders even the high efficiency top loaders. Since the front loader constantly drenches the clothes in moving water, these need less water to clean the same. Top loaders though, churn up the clothes as they soak in a tub of standing water. That tub must be most of the way full. So this means that top loaders use more water than front loaders.
Since the motors in front loaders run on controlled DC voltages, and not 60 Hertz AC power, they hum less. But they can whistle during the spin cycle. Now these pitches are higher than the humming of the old AC motors. So, you can more easily tone down their noise. How? Try placing the washer in a laundry room, behind a closed, thick door.
No Agitator or Impeller to Tear Clothes
In a front loading washer, the whole wash drum turns to agitate and circulate the water through the clothes. So, front loaders need no agitator. This lowers wear on costly clothes. Thus, no agitator extends the life of your clothing.
Fewer Moving Parts to Break Down
Many front load washers have direct drive motor systems. In these, the motor directly attaches to the drum. Thus, the drum always spins at the same speed as the motor. So, this gets rid of the need for belts and clutches. Thus, with fewer moving parts, there are less parts to break down. The result is a more reliable washing machine.
Less Laundry Soap Detergent Needed
Front load washing machines use less water all around. Plus, the water circulates more completely through the clothes. So you use less soap to get the same degree of clean.
Can Wash Blankets and Pillows
You often cannot wash blankets top loaders. Why? Because the blanket would get quite heavy with the gallons of water it soaks up during washing. But with less water used in front loaders, blankets don’t get so dripping heavy. So, the washer can better flip and toss them around in the wash drum for better cleaning. Even queen-sized quilts we’ve washed successfully in the Bosch top loading washer pictured above.
Can Watch Your Clothes Washing
Nearly all front loaders feature a glass window that allows you to see what’s going on inside, as it’s happening. Far fewer top loaders have a window in the door that allows seeing into the washtub, although some do exist.
Adjusts Amount of Water Used to the Size of the Current Wash Load
Now perhaps you only wash a single shirt or a few pairs of socks. Then, the machine only draws enough water to wash that size of load. Bigger loads use more water. Most current front loaders sense how much water is the right amount, given load size. Then, they only draw that amount.
In contrast, a top loader machine uses the same amount of water as set on its water level controls. No matter how many or few clothes you put in, it uses the same water amount. This is of concern in non high efficiency (HE) models.
Front Loader Washing Machine: Disadvantages, Cons, Problems, and Limitations
Can GetNoisy and Wobbly
Among the front loader washing machine problems, is that they can make lots of noise. They get especially loud during the spin parts of the cycle. Plus, if not properly installed, front loaders can rock on the floor, adding to their rhythmic din. Correct balancing and secure footing are critical.
Longer Laundry Cycle Times
Generally take longer to complete a wash load. The two models we tested take well over an hour to wash a load. But the many top loaders we’ve owned could do it in well less than one hour. Perhaps designers paid too much attention to saving water. Further, they paid too little to fast yet effective clothes washing desires.
May not Clean Well in Low Water Pressure Scenarios
Some models appear to require a set minimum pressure on the input water lines in order to properly fill. Thus, with too little water, they may not clean or rinse the clothes well.
One unit we found actually used a timer to determine the fullness of the drum, rather than a flow sensor. During filling, this timer opened the water intake valves for a set amount of time, that was not user adjustable. The result was that in low-pressure situations, the washer did not rinse well. When someone flushes the commode or takes a shower, clothes came out soapy. Not rinsed well.
Filling the washtub in this timed way helps guarantee that a load takes a predictable amount of time to complete. But without enough water pressure, your clothes don’t clean and rinse well.
So, if you’re looking for a front loading washing machine, get one that senses the water level in the drum. It should not move forward in the wash cycle until it fills with enough water for good clothes cleaning.
Actually, this is a big plus for today’s washers, except when the control module breaks down. When it does, it renders the front loader completely useless, and repairs can run into the hundreds of dollars.
Harder to Load and Unload
You should place the front loading washing machine on a raised platform. This makes easier the adding and removing clothes. Otherwise, you must stoop or bend down to reach the front door during loading and unloading. Of course, this may not be any more of a setback than in top loaders. Why? Because in them, you must reach way down into the washtub to retrieve the clothes. So, you’re still bending. But when loading front loaders we bent around more. But this may not work for folks with back injuries or arthritis. When you can’t bend around, loading and unloading the floor-hugging front loader is hard.
Front Load Washing Machine Needs Regular Cleaning
When a front load washer stinks, you must crack the door a little to let it dry out between washing. Fortunately though, they sell popular brands of front load washing machine cleaners for this.
But leaving the hatch open for complete drying might not be practical when you put the washer in a closet. In apartment sized closets, you usually have little space between the washer front and the closet door. With the washer hatch open, you may not be able to close the closet door. Inconvenient yes. But with these washers, leaving the door open between loads is a must.
Front Load Washer Smells Like Mold and Mildew
If not left ajar while not using, especially when used little, the seals start looking really dirty. They get moldy and stained with mildew, and sometimes coated with soap scum. Plus, leaving the hatch open doe snot always cure the mold and mildew smells. To squelch these odors, we run ours through a cleaning cycle regularly. For that, we use an appropriate washing machine cleaner such as Tide, Gain, and Afresh. See the Related Posts section below for our reviews on these washer cleaner products.
More Expensive to Buy
A front loading washer can run nearly two thousand dollars for a large capacity model. This is around twice as much as a like-sized top loader. But with the energy and laundry soap savings, the unit often pays for itself well before it wears out.
Some do not Allow Chlorine Bleach
The users guide for our Bosch unit warns against using chlorine bleach, as this can harm the water-handling internal components.
Servicemen Often Not Trained Well
Front loading dryers have been around for decades. However, front loading washers are a relatively new technological animal on the scene. As such, repairing and maintaining them is not yet common knowledge among washer repairmen. Problems in these machines often puzzle the run-of-the-mill “handyman,” and tinkerer. So be careful. Do not allow anyone but factory-certified technicians to work on your front loader. Why? Because the layman’s lack of expertise may end up ruining your washer.
The Front Load Washer Seal can Leak
So, it’s important to always keep the rubber seal around the front hatch clean, and free of debris. This grime can make this gasket leak if allowed to build up too much. Again, regular front load washer cleaning combats this mold and mildew buildup, keeping the seal from leaking.
Front Loader Washing Machine Pros and Cons Conclusion
Over all, the front loader washing machine technology is still relatively young, and as such, by no means perfected. Complaints often arise about this type of washing machine. They fret over either the high cost of it, or how poorly it cleans clothes. They also grumble about how long it takes to wash a load, and how loud it can be.
But laundering in this way is a certainly a work in progress, and improving constantly. Units are getting better each year. So if you want to buy a front loader, read up on it in Consumer Reports. Also, read the customer reviews. Make sure the machine will work as you hope. As they call even the small ones major appliances, don’t buy one without doing your homework. Research on a small major appliance does you just as well as that for a big major appliance.
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Front Loader Washing Machine: References
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- 2014-11-13: Originally published this article.