Friday, February 12, 2010

Need Advice: Front-Load or Top-Load?


As you know, we are in the process of building a house. Pretty soon I'll have to buy a washer and dryer and I need to decide between a snazzy front-load or a traditional top-load washer. Either one is okay for clothes, but I want to know which is best for washing quilts. (The photos are just for illustration.)
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I've read Consumer Reports and some online discussions. I don't really care about the steam option and having lots of settings isn't important either. I want one that will be gentle on my quilts, reasonably energy-efficient, and not too noisy.
The front-loader looks cool, but is it worth the extra $? Tell me what you think. Thanks.

47 comments:

Debbie said...

To the best of my knowledge, you can't fill up a front loader with water and then put the items in, which is sometimes recommended for quilts. All depends how you usually wash your quilts.

Selina said...

I have had both. The front loader I have now has quite a few functions but was a very reasonable cost. It's also a 7kg (not sure what that is in pounds, but it's big!) I can fit a queen size chenille patchwork quilt in it no worries (bulkier than a normal quilt) and it washes them beautifully. I buy vintage chenille spreads regularly and wash them and they always come up great. I wouldn't go back to a top loader. Hope that helps you some!

Selina xx

Joan said...

I have a front loader but I will go back to a top loader when its life is over. It takes much longer to wash clothes, but mainly location is our issue. We have a ranch house with a full basement. The laundry room is on the main level, and the spin cycle shakes the whole house! My husband ended up building a wall in the basement underneath the machine to provide more stability. If the machine were located in the basement or garage, vibration wouldn't be an issue.

Stephanie said...

TOP LOADER. I know of no one who has purchased a front loader who didn't regret it. I have the Whirlpool Cabrio--no agitator in the washer so lots of room for big loads and King Size bedding. LOVE mine. But do purchase the extended warranty plan.

Joan said...

Another hint: If you do get a front loader, don't ever let the door close completely when the machine is not in use. Because the door is sealed so tightly, the tiny bit of remaining water in the machine will produce a gosh-awful mildew smell in no time. Find some small thing to use to keep the door propped open a coouple of inches in between loads.

Sherri said...

I have a front loader, and yes it does take longer to wash, but, it uses way less water, and it holds way more clothes, etc. My kids always overloaded my top loading machine and had to have it repaired several times. I have washed a King size comforter in my machine and it still had room. Also, it gently tumbles, instead of vigorously agitating, much better for quilts! I do make rag quilts sometimes and they do okay in the top loader, but I usually take them to the laundry mat or to my daughter-in-laws and wash those. Hope this helps!

sewnut said...

We built a new house last year (follow it on my blog) and chose a front load pair from Sears (LG).
I love it. We chose the largest capacity and it uses so very little water, washes very gently and does a great job. The clothes and quilts are appreciating the gentl care so they look great.

It can be lots noiser though when you are on a high spin cycle so be sure it is placed on a good solid surface.

I do keep the door open for a few days after washing loads to avoid mildew.

Barb said...

I have a front loader for the first time ever and I really really really don't like it at all. I prefer to put the soap in first while the water is filling up ~ also seems sometimes the clothes still have soap in them when the wash is finished ~ and yeah, it'll build up a smell (which gets in your clothes) if you don't keep the door open.

Marianna said...

If the clothes still have soap in them, Barb, you are useing too much soap.

The water savings alone is the only responsible way to go. The front load is much easier on the quilts - no twisting and pulling -
Read the manuel - it is a different way to wash, so learn the new way.

Front Load hands down.

Jackie said...

Hi Karen, Here is my two cents. I have had both and love my FRONT LOADER!! It really saves on water and fits a ton more clothes and no problems with the quilts either. Definitely energy efficient. But just make sure that you have the room to put them. They stick out more. In other words are wider from back to front. Definitely measure where you will put them if you decide to go this route.

quiltingdiva07 said...

I got the most basic LG front loader last year and I love it! The washing does take longer, but the drying is so fast because the clothes have been spun so well. I regularly wash my quilts (I have a Golden Retriever!) and they turn out beautiful. You must use a detergent made for front loaders and only the recommended amount. Joan is right, they do smell if you leave them closed up, but mine has a "clean tub" function that I use once a month with bleach to keep it fresh. You may also qualify for a rebate from your water or power provider if you get the front loader.

Kathy said...

I have been told that a front loader is easier on quilts...I go to the laudromat when I want to wash my big quilts.

And I pre wash my fabric...for a while when my washer was broken I was using the laudromat front loader and it really twisted the farbic up compared to the top loader. Just my experience...

Lynn said...

I have had my front loader for a couple of years now and love it - love the stands too so I don't have to bend over to get things out of the washer or dryer. They are very gentle on things and will spin more water out than a top loader. Mine (a Bosch)has settings to lower the spin cycle which I use for shirts and things like that. I prop the door open with a sponge to let the air in but I would do that with my top loader too to keep it fresh smelling. Another thing to consider is if you want to do dyeing I am not sure you can do that in a front loader as it takes so little water and more or less flops the clothes into the water. Different brands are better as far as the vibrating goes so check out Consumer Reports.

kelly lautenbach said...

front loading washers do not agitate like a top lod washer does so they are more gentle on your clothes AND your quilts. They're also easier to get a large load into without pushing and jamming it in. ;) You can great deals on front loading washers if you look and shop carefully. It's not unusual for Lowe's and Home Depot to choose one to have a price war over. Have fun shopping. And I say get yourself a cute color too. SOMETHING needs to make laundry more fun! :)

Shari said...

My experience with a front loader is that I use much less water, much less soap and the clothes are cleaner. Yes, the cycle times are longer (but I don't sit by the machine---I go and sew!).

I love my mine and I won't be going back!

patty a. said...

I have a maytag front loader and I really like it. I use to have a top loader. the front loader does not walk across the floor which was my biggest reason for buying a front loader. I don't have any problems with washing my quilts. I just stick them in and put a little soap in the dispenser and that's it.

Judi said...

Front loader for sure. I love mine. The water savings is great. The clothes come out with less water. When I was in college in an apartment I went to the laundry mat and it only had front loading machines - that's where I feel in love with them. I do keep the door open between uses. You can use regular soap in them, but it's only like two tablespoons to get everything clean. I also would go with a freezer on the bottom for your frig. I mean you are always in the frig part, but how often are you in the freezer.

Brenda said...

If you ever want to felt wool or sweaters for crafting or quilting purposes, I understand a top loader is the way to go. Otherwise, I'd go for the energy efficient/water saving model.

margot said...

My sister had a front loader and had major problems with mildew. If your washer and dryer are located in a closet like mine are there isn't room to leave a door propped open and close the doors to the closet the washer/dryer are located in. Although front loading machines may be larger in general my mother has a huge top-loading machine - I'm sure it would hold almost any quilt (maybe not my king size down comforter). I noticed when I visited a friend's new home a couple weeks ago that she had a Maytag top-loading high efficiency washer (no agitator inside or a very low profile - I don't remember anything but being surprised at the moment right now)- a combination of the best of both worlds?

NeverBored said...

I have an LG front loading washer--my husband's choice to replace our top loading machine when we moved into our new house. He was concerned about the amount of water we were putting into the septic system. The difference in the amount of water used between the two types of washers is significant and a septic system is expensive to replace, so we do what is best for it's 'health'.

The salesman told me, one of their employees found there was so much soap left in her clothes from her top loader, that when she got a front loader, she didn't need any detergent for awhile.

I really like my LG--it's quieter and more stable than my previous top loader, and spins so much more water out of the wash that my drying time is less.

"Lois Grebowski" said...

I love our front-loader!

Because of special plumbing concerns/fire codes with our condo (older high-rise building) we had to get a certain brand/model. I love it. As for the vibration during the spin cycle, a neoprene mat under the pan the washer sits on, helps keep noise and vibration at bay.

Exuberant Color said...

If you want a top loader you had better buy it now. My Maytag repairman was here this week (36 yr. old Maytag needed a part) and he told me that you won't be able to find a toploader in another year or so, unless the unreliable manufacturers keep making them. He said the reliable brands will all be front loaders. I wanted his advice because I think mine is running on borrowed time right now.

Michelle said...

I have a top loader that has 3 gentle wash settings, delicate, extra delicate and hand wash. I love it! My FIL has had a lot of problems with front loader machines and they are loud, if that's an issue. I would never buy one unless it was an industrial laundromat model. I've never had a problem with those and take my comforters to the laundromat to wash them but I wash my quilts, no really large ones yet, and blankets in my top loader.

mermaids said...

front loader, all the way. :) for those who complain about noise & vibration...sounds like your machine is not properly balanced.

front loaders use very little detergent. if detergent is being left on your clothes, you are using too much. way too much. had a hard time retraining my husband when we got a front loader. he assumed more soap meant cleaner clothes.

i found the overall time it takes to a load of laundry is less. because the front loader spins the clothes so vigorously, they are almost dry when i put them in the dryer. cuts the drying time way down. (lowering the spin cycle can also cut down on noise/vibration)

i do not use special detergent. just the regular stuff in a much smaller dose. seldom use bleach on whites anymore because they come out so clean.

the water & energy savings are significant.

as for the mildew issue... even leaving the door open a small crack will allow air to circulate. i leave a hand towel draped over the top of it to keep anyone from accidently bumping it closed as they walk by. we bought ours 5 years ago. no mildew smell.

it is a different type of machine, so it needs to be used differently.

Grandma G said...

My mom had a front loader many, many years ago, and when I got my first washer, I was very disappointed that they didn't make them any more. I am sooo glad they started making them again, and I have an LG that I've been using for a couple years - LOVE IT! It's not only much more economical to use, it's SO much gentler on clothes. I'll never go back to a top loader!

kwiltmakr said...

To put in my two cents, I would go with the front load. I have wanted one for a long time. I used one a few times at a friends house and I think they would be the best for quilts.

mg said...

front loader all the way...we have the samsung ones...awesome...friend has the bosch ones...the dryer is better, it spins both directions during the drying cycle but they are considerably more expensive...make sure you get one with internal water heater...it saves your hot water, no more cold showers when someone turns on the washer...mg

Chris@Cats On My Quilts said...

I have a front loader washer and dryer and love them. I will never go back to a top loader. I notice some people commenting on how much loger the wash cycle is and that's true on many models. But on my Frigidaire the wash cycle is the same amount of time as my old washer. My sister's on the other hand takes 90 minutes to do a load and that is ridiculous so make sure you find out about the length of cycles. Mine, on the gentle cycle washes a queen quilt beautufully. One more thing, your items being washed come out of the washer very dry. The spin cycle really takes the water out so time in the dryer is very short. Mine is very quiet. Good luck.

Linda said...

Sorry, no advice from me. I have a 35 year old Maytag dryer that's been wonderful. I'm sure when the time comes to replace it, I'll end up spending too much for a new one that won't live half as long.

Kim S said...

The new Kenmore front loaders are made by LG... they are both direct drive. What this means is they move the drum differently from belt driven machines, so on a gentle cycle they will turn the clothes/quilts in smaller circles (I think that's what they said) for a much more gentle wash. Very cool... and they are in the 6 consumer reports for best buys.

I've also been looking at the Maytag Bravo top loading machine. No agitator so you can fit larger bulkier items and their drum is as large as the larger front loading machines. Very cool....

I can't make up my mind either, but I leaning toward the Maytag Bravo. I don't want to pay the extra fro pedestals for the front loaders or have to bend down that far to load and on load with them...

FWIW

Kim S said...

PS... from my understanding the Maytag Bravo and the Whirlpool Cabrio are basically the same machine, both made by Whirlpool, and that they work the same as a front loader. They use less water and energy to run.

Debbie said...

Love, love, love my Bosch front load washer and dryer. You must read the directions as the amount of soap required is ridiculously small and our clothes have never been cleaner. Plus, it spins out so much water that it actually takes less time for the dryer to dry them than for the next load to wash. My washer averages 50 minutes to wash and I can knock out 6 loads in a day without breaking a sweat. By the way, your blog is awesome. Keep up the good work. Debbie in not-so-warm-Florida

Karen said...

I have had both. I currently own a Bosch front load and love it. It saves water! Which is important if you pay a water bill. It is also better for the environment. It does take longer to wash clothes but they do come out cleaner! There is also a 25 minute "quick wash" that can be used if you need something quicker. And a lot of other neat features. Once I got used to it, I found I prefer this machine to any of the ones I had in the past! :0)

Linda Mc said...

I've had a front loader for a couple of years now and I say go for it. It's gentler because it doesn't agitate, it tumbles. I wash my wool sweaters on the handwash cycle and that alone is worth the extra money.

Caron Carlson said...

Karen, I have been trying to reach you regarding a question about a pattern I would like to teach. I have emailed with no response. Can you please email me? TIA bigtimequilter@yahoo.com

Deb said...

I haven't read all the comments so I don't know if someone has said this or not... at our local laundromat there's a big sign saying "no quilts allowed in any top loader." I guess they are asking folks to use those big front loader machines for extra large loads that will accommodate quilts.

Mary-Kay said...

I just read all your comments and I think I made the right choice in machines. I have the Maytag Bravos which is a top-loader with no center agitator. It works the same as a front loader and is a little cheaper.The Whirlpool Cabrio is the same washer and it's a little cheaper than the Maytags. Also it works great with quilts and holds twice as many towels as my old washer.I always leave the lid open but since it's a top-loader the lid isn't in the way when you walk by.There is a Refresh cycle that you use every 45 loads. I really, really like my washer and I'm really glad I bought this type. I hope this helps you in your decision. Oh I also bought the extended warranty and the matching gas dryer.

life is sweet said...

Front loading, hands down. You just have to be willing to learn how to use it correctly. I love mine!

danaandthread said...

one of my requirements of my next home is a front loader. i can wash my quilts without worrying about the agitator ruining them. the front loaders are much more gentle on fabrics and use less water and energy. i actually take my niece's baby quilt home with me to wash because my brother has a top loader. i won't let her quilt be ruined!!!

Frieda said...

I have had my front load washer for about 15 years. I love that it does not use a lot of water and the clothes are very clean and do not take long to dry. Actually the washer and dryer take about the same amount of time to run. Very easy on the septic system.

Amy said...

About four years ago, we purchased a front loader. I'd always had a top loader before. I would never go back. It is so much gentler on your clothes. When we had the top loader, clothes were always tangled around the spindle in the center. We have a Whirlpool Duet. It is quiet and we have had no problems. Two years ago, our dryer went kaput and my husband purchased the Duet dryer. It is so much quieter than the old dryer. Our washer and dryer are in the basement and we have no issues with this location. They are more expensive but I think they are worth it. I highly recommend them.

sewfunky said...

I have a frontloader, but its very hard on the fabric.

Quiltingdaisy said...

Another Front Loader who'll never go back!

connie said...

I have a comment to make about a front load washer. This is not about quilts but it is important if you have kids especially a dirty boy. I had a front loader and it started putting dirt back on my white clothes. I called to have a repairman come and they said that the dirt had been deposited one the outside of the inner drum. It was going to cost $400 to have it cleaned... He said that if you wash dirty clothes this happens. At the time my son was playing football and he said they were too dirty for the front loader. Needless to say I did not have it fixed and purchased a top loader!!!

Dana W. Fisher said...

I bought a front loading washing machine when we moved to North Carolina, but will be returning to a top loader next time. Mildewing of the rubber ring is terrible. The door must stay open all the time that the washer is not in use and you can't get rid of the smell or the stains completely. I'm really sorry I didn't do more research before I bought it.

Akiko said...

I like my front-load. My old top-load was eating my fabric and clothes. (stuck to beat bar and made hole)

Pam said...

Karen,
Please don't buy a front-loader!! Ours was a nightmare. It works great for the first 3-6 months and then you start needing repairs every 3-6 months from there on out. After about 1 1/2 years you realize that you can't really get your clothes clean and find out that you are just sort of sloshing the same old dirty smelly water through them and your washer never completely drains. I know 2 other people with the exact same experience. After battling it for about 3 years we hauled ours to the dump (it was still in great shape, but wouldn't have been a blessing to anyone.)

Now we have a basic top-loader with knobs (no computer to go out) and I'm happy as a clam and our clothes look and smell clean again!!

Pam
www.RealWomenQuilt.com