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.

Mon, 11/12/2018, (Originally broadcast Mon, 12/18/2017 on 90.1FM. TOPICS: Flood Control on Buffalo Bayou, Addicks & Barker Dams, From 2013-11-13. GUESTS: Evelyn Merz (Sierra Club) [AUDIO/VIDEO]@KPFTHouston

SHOW AUDIO: Link is usually posted within about 72 hours of show broadcast. We take callers during this show at 713-526-5738.

For technical reasons, I’m having to do a prerecorded show this Monday night, and I thought I would dig into my HD3 archive to see what might be usable. This show was originally broadcast on KPFT-HD3 on November 11, 2013. Yet more than 4 years on it’s still timely, maybe more than ever.

Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio), a listener call-in show  airing live every Monday night from 9-10 PM (CT) on KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). My engineer is Bob Gartner.

Listen live on the radio or on the internet from anywhere in the world! When the show is live, we take calls at 713-526-5738. (Long distance charges may apply.)

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For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:

  • You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts;
    Houston Mayor Annise Parker [L] with Mike, just before the show. (Dec. 14, 2015)

    Houston Mayor Annise Parker [L] with Mike, just before the show. (Dec. 7, 2015)

  • An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.


“The hurricane flooded me out of a lot of memorabilia, but it can’t flood out the memories.” ~ Ex-NFL player Tom Dempsey on the effects of Hurricane Katrina


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