About Thinkwing Radio

Mike Honig is originally from Brooklyn, New York. He moved to Houston in September of 1977 and has been there ever since. Mike's interests are politics, history, science, science fiction (and reading generally), technology, and almost anything else. Mike has knowledge and experience in many diverse fields, sometimes from having worked in them, and sometimes from extensive reading or discussion about them. Mike's general knowledge makes him a favorite partner in Trivial Pursuit. He likes to say that about most things, he knows enough to be dangerous. Humility is a work-in-progress.

Washing Machines: Should You Buy A Front Loader or Top Loader?

Front Load (F/L) washers use much less water and energy, yet clean better and are gentler on clothes.

  • They use less water than a top loader; this  means less water to heat, thus also saving energy.
  •  They are gentler on clothes and wash better, and the absence of a harsh agitator is the difference here. The tumbling action cleans better and does less damage. You can see this effect by the reduced lint in a dryer filter.
  • They spin out more water before going into a dryer; this means faster drying times using less energy.
  • They require high-efficiency detergent (low sudsing) because suds use water; low-sudsing detergent is a major way that front loaders are made better cleaners with less water.
  • All washers have some propensity to mildew, and F/L washers are a little more prone. This is resolved by leaving the washer door ajar when not in use. (Top loaders should keep the lids open for the same reason.)

As asides

  • F/L washer capacities are listed in cubic feet, just like a top-load washer, but this is not a true volume. The physical volume of a top-loader tub may be 3.1 c.f., but the agitator takes up about 12% of that, meaning that the usable volume is nominally more like 2.7 c.f. The original classic front-loader (White-Westinghouse) was rated a 3.1 c.f., but was physically a 2.7. It’s about compatibility of load capacity, but in fact, the smaller actual volume of a F/L is much more useful and effective in the absence of an obstructive physical agitator. (You can effectively wash a small comforter in a nominal 3.1 c.f. F/L washer.) This is not so different from how TVs are measured diagonally because picture tubes were originally round.
  • NEVER dry anything on HIGH.
    • High heat shrinks cottons, even if they have been pre-shrunk.
    • High heat ruins elastics, shortening their useful life dramatically.
    • Even if a cotton or other garment won’t shrink in high heat, the thread stitching likely will. This is often what causes puckering in the shape even of towels and other items that you might think are fine in high heat.

In short, never dry above medium heat unless there is some compelling and overarching reason.