The Washing Machine Debate: Top loader vs front loader

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, it’s one of the very first questions you’ll ask yourself: front loader or top loader? While top loader washing machines have been by far the most dominant in New Zealand, there are now a (relatively) few front loader machines available on the market. Each design has its advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation, so it’s a good idea to consider which one may be right for you. To help you decide which appliance will be washing your beloved laundry, we’ve compiled a list of some pros and cons of each.

  Front Loaders Top Loaders
  • Front loaders tend to be more energy efficient than top loaders when using warm water, as well as using less detergent- this is because of their horizontal drum that uses gravity to tumble the clothes
  • Use significantly less water, usually around 50% less (though this can vary depending on the model)
  • Quieter
  • Have higher spin speeds, which allows for more efficient drying
  • Often have more cycle options
  • Create little lint from washing clothes


  • Often have larger capacities, with the largest commercial models being up to 10kg
  • Much faster cycle time – top loaders typically run cycles in 15-20 minutes, whereas front loaders usually take between 1.5 to 2 hours. This is due to the clothes being constantly immersed in the water, unlike in a front loader
  • More energy efficient when washing in cold water
  • Respond better when fabric softener is added
  • Much longer cycle time
  • Often more expensive
  • Smaller capacity than many top loader models
  • Use considerably more water and detergent
  • Can create significant amounts of lint due to the friction of clothes during the wash
  • Less energy efficient for most washes, in which warm water is typically used
  • Louder than front loaders


Couple washing machine shoppingAt the end of the day, it’s really one of those curly hair/straight hair conundrums: some people have a marked preference for one over the other.

The good news is that it appears that, between front loaders and top loaders, there is something for everyone.

It doesn’t hurt to ask around to get the options of your friends. For a few more opinions, click here to read about the front/top loader poll we had at Canstar HQ.

Read more about Canstar Blue’s recent washing machine consumer satisfaction survey here.

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