A Guide to the Different Types of Washers

While the first washing machines were invented in the late 19th century, they were far from the convenient modern ones today. The Hurley Machine Company manufactured the first electric washing machine in 1908, but since then, technology has advanced considerably, giving way to multiple types of washing machines for different laundry needs.


This article will help you understand the 3 types of washing machines so you can decide which is best for your home.

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In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What Are the Different Types of Washers?
  • Which Type of Washer is Best for Me?
  • FAQs About Different Types of Washing Machines

What Are the Different Types of Washers?

The washing machine you purchase will significantly impact your life when considering the efficiency, size, and features you choose. With 3 different styles to choose from, and many colors, features, and configurations, you want to be sure that you’ll find the best washer for your home.

Our guide will cover front-loading, top-loading (both traditional and high efficiency), and compact machines.


  • Front Load
  • Top Load
    • Agitator (Traditional)
    • High Efficiency
  • Compact

Front Load Washing Machine

According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, 28% of washers shipped to stores in 2020 were front-loaders. A front-load washing machine has a large drum and doesn't have an agitator or impeller taking up space. Instead, it rotates clothes in different directions using a small amount of water instead of fully immersing your clothes.

Like every style and appliance, front load washers are available with various features and in multiple styles and sizes. There are significant pros and cons to the front load machine.



  • Efficiency & performance: Front-load washing machines are known for their efficiency and cleaning performance.
  • Water conservation & reduced dry time: They use the least amount of water in all washing machine categories and remove more water, reducing the drying time.
  • Great for small loads: Because front-load machines don't rely on clothes rubbing each other to get clean, small loads do well.
  • Gentle & quiet: They are known for being easier on your clothes and quieter than top-loading machines.



  • Long cycles: While they may be more efficient with water, front-loading machines have some of the longest cycle times, ranging from 70-120 minutes.
  • Not as tall: Although they offer pedestals to raise the machines, it can be challenging to unload and load a front-loading machine due to the required bending.
  • Not all are stackable: Before you purchase a front-loading washing machine and dryer pair, ensure you can stack them if that’s your plan, as not all are designed to stack.
  • Mold/odor: Many owners of front-loading machines have complained about odor, mold, and mildew stemming from the drum.


With all these factors, it might be surprising to learn that front-loading washing machines are often priced much higher than other styles.


Coast Appliances recommends the following front load washing machines:


Traditional Agitator Top Load Washing Machine

The top-loading washing machine has been a laundry staple worldwide for over a century. Most top-loaders offer a range of cycles with a built-in agitator in the center. The agitator is good for cleaning clothes and removing stains, but it can also cause wear and tear on your clothes.



  • Reliability, efficiency, cost: Top load washing machines are best known for their reliability, efficient cycles, and affordable pricing.
  • Ergonomics: They are more ergonomic than front-loading machines, so loading and unloading your clothes is more effortless.
  • Flexible add-to-load options: Another bonus with a top load washing machine is the ability to add items mid-cycle, which you can't do with a front loader.



  • Use more detergent & water: While top-load washing machines have a lot of benefits, they also have some drawbacks, including using more detergent and water than front loaders.
  • Smaller drum capacity: The agitator takes up a lot of space, leaving less room in the drum for oversized items like bedding and some rugs.
  • Noise: While the agitators are good for cleaning clothes, they can also make a lot of noise.
  • Not stackable: You cannot stack top load machines as you can with front load machines, which, if space is a concern, may be an issue.


Coast Appliances recommends the following top load washing machines with agitators:


High Efficiency Top Load Washing Machine

High-efficiency top load machines, also called top load impeller washers, are different from other top load machines because they don't have an agitator.


Instead of an agitator, high-efficiency washing machines use an impeller. In recent years these high-efficiency washing machines have gained popularity, resulting in similar sales numbers between HE top load washers and front load machines.



  • Cost: High-efficiency top load washing machines can be less expensive than front-load while offering a similar large capacity.
  • Large capacity, but conserve water: While they have a large capacity for blankets or towels, they use much less water than their top-load counterparts with agitators.
  • Allow for quicker dry times: They can expel more water from the clothes, leading to a shortened drying cycle.
  • Efficient: Top load impeller machines have efficient wash cycles, ranging from 60-80 minutes.



  • Can be tough on clothes: HE top-load machines have a few cons, including the lack of gentleness on fabrics.
  • Mediocre cleaning: HE washers don’t always clean as well.
  • Tangled clothes: The open drum without an agitator allows for a rough cycle with tangled items at the end of a wash cycle, which can be frustrating.


Coast Appliances recommends the following top load impeller washing machines:


Compact Washing Machine

A compact washing machine is a good choice for someone who doesn't have much space. Smaller than traditional laundry appliances, they're about the size of an average dishwasher, about 34 inches high and 24 inches wide and deep.



  • Saves space, water, and energy: The benefits of a compact washing machine are great. Not only do you save space, but you also save water and energy.
  • Shorter cycles: Because the loads are small, the wash cycles are shorter, saving you precious time.
  • Easy installation: These machines are usually easy to install.



  • Small capacity: While there are a lot of benefits to compact washing machines, there aren't many disadvantages…one potentially big drawback, however, is the compact size means small load capacities, so you aren't able to wash a lot at once.
  • Laundry more often: Smaller loads mean you'll likely have to do laundry more often to wash all of your items.


Coast Appliances recommends the following compact washing machines:


Which Type of Washer is Best for Me?

Deciding on a new washing machine can feel overwhelming, given that you’re faced with so many options. However, with 3 different styles of washers to choose from, each with its advantages, hopefully, we can help you narrow down which type of washer is best for you.

To decide on the best washer for your home, think about the following questions:

  • How many family members will use this washing machine?
  • Will I need to wash large items like bedspreads or comforters?
  • What size capacity do I need?
  • How much space do I have for this washing machine?
  • Will I need to wash large items like pet beds or large blankets?
  • What type of space do I have for my washer and dryer?


Let us help you find the best washing machine by reviewing our Washing Machine Buying Guide.

FAQs About Different Types of Washing Machines

What are the 3 types of washing machines?

When shopping for a new washing machine, you'll find 3 types: front-loading, top-loading, and compact. Top loading machines include machines with and without agitators.

Which type of washing machine is best?

The best washing machine is the one that meets all of your needs, whether that means a high-capacity washer, a space-saving washer, or a quiet washer.

Are top or front loaders better?

Depending on your needs, there are benefits to both top and front-loading washing machines. For example, if you have mobility issues, you might want to consider a top-loading machine, but if you’re looking for savings on your water bill, you might opt for a front-loading washer.

Which is better: impeller or agitator?

Agitators take up a lot of space, so a machine's capacity will be less than an impeller. However, agitators are known for getting clothes cleaner than an impeller. Which is best ultimately just depends on your needs.

What should I look for when buying a washing machine?

The most important things to look for when purchasing a new washing machine are the capacity, style (top loading or front loading), and efficiency.

How much should I pay for a washing machine?

Small compact washing machines begin at around $450, while luxury high-capacity models can cost about $2,000 or more.

How long should a washing machine last?

A regular washing machine could last between 10 - 13 years. However, top-loading washers are generally known to last longer than their front-loading counterparts.


Hopefully, this guide has taught you about the types of different washing machine models.

With our competitive pricing and exclusive promotions, we’re happy to help you get the best price on the perfect washing machine for your space, needs, and budget.


And remember, Coast always offers fast and flexible financing if a new washing machine isn't a planned expense. We’ll even haul away your old washer!


Take a look at our extensive selection of washing machines today to see what we have available.