A front load washer looks sleek and stylish in your laundry room. But is it the right kind of washer for you? You might be wondering how effective front load washers truly are, given that undermaintained front loaders have always had problems with mold, mildew, and sometimes bacterial contaminants.
Like any other appliance or pretty much anything in life, a front load washing machine has advantages and disadvantages. For starters, it’s ideal for people who want a stackable washer and dryer solution to save space.
It also cleans your clothes really well and makes efficient use of water gallons and electricity. And any one you pick is likely to have modern features like Wi-Fi and steam. But in addition to getting pretty smelly if you don’t clean it often enough, a front load washer can also be pretty pricey. We’ll get into that and other potential downsides later on.
Depending on your situation and your budget, the pros might outweigh the conn—or vice versa.
Our goal is to help you find the best washer and dryer for both your home and your wallet. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the latest features and explain how to shop for a front load washer that has what you need. We’ll also share our favorite models on the market now and where you can purchase them.
5 Best Front Load Washer PicksWatch our exclusive video review: front load vs top load washersWhat Are Pros of a Front Load Washer?
1. It looks stylish.
Front load washers add a sleek, modern touch to your laundry room. They’re sleek and shiny like a new car—not boxy like an old one. We happen to prefer their design to that of top load washers, and you might too—and so might the person who comes to look at your house should you ever need to sell it. Another bonus? People will just assume it’s newer.
2. You can stack it or not. It’s up to you.
You can put a dryer on top of a front load washer for more floor space or sit them side by side and put a folding table and shelves above them—or pedestal drawers underneath. All are great options. It’s your choice depending on your laundry area and the layout you want.
3. It’s efficient by design.
As we mentioned earlier, front load washing machines typically use less water than top loaders do. On average, top load washers use twice as much water per cycle compared with their front load competitors.
Since front load washers use fewer gallons of water to rinse your clothes, you don’t need to use as much detergent or bleach to get them clean and fresh.
And because they have really fast spin speeds that wring most of the water out of your wet stuff, it takes less time and energy to dry your garments, too.
All that can add up to savings on your utility bills. It’s a happy little chain reaction.
4. Your clothes, bedding, and towels will last longer.
Your laundry won’t get twisted around the agitator—you know, the big spindle in the middle of the wash drum in some top loaders—because there isn’t one. An agitator top load washer can stretch fabrics and give them a beating. That can be necessary to get really dirty clothes clean (say you’re a landscaper by trade or just an avid gardener), but for most everyday loads it’s more force than you need.
5. It makes everything easier to access.
No more standing on your tippy-toes to grab the last sock out of the drum. You can see what’s inside and reach it. Because the control panel and buttons are on the front of the appliance, they’re also at the perfect height for a lot of people who need more accessibility.
For more detail on front load vs top load washers, take a look at our exclusive video review below.
Front load vs top load washer: Want to know once and for all which is better? Watch our exclusive video review.GE front load washer (bottom) and dryer (top)What Are Cons of a Front Load Washer?
1. One word: mold.
Front load washers have a reputation for getting moldy and smelly—and they’ve earned it. The rubber gasket around the door and detergent drawer can hang onto extra water after you finish a load, and gnarly stuff can grow in it.
You need that rubber gasket to keep water from leaking out, but it has always had this mold problem. Wiping the door and drawer down and leaving them open between washes will help, but it won’t make your washer completely immune to mold or that stench.
Unless your front loader comes with a built-in odor-removing or self-cleaning feature, you’ll need to clean the gasket and bleach detergent drawer often—ideally after every use. It’s another chore on your laundry list.
2. It costs more than a top loader.
Front load washers tend to be more expensive than their top load cousins. It’s the price you pay for energy efficiency—literally. You may save money on your utility bill in the long run, but the upfront cost typically is higher.
We also think that while you can get away with a basic budget top loader in terms of performance and durability, you should go for at least a middle-tier front loader to get the best value for your money.
You might also want pedestals to give your front load machines a lift and make them more comfortable to unload, as well as add some large capacity storage. Just keep in mind that washer and dryer pedestals generally cost around a couple hundred dollars each.
3. They can take longer to clean your clothes.
Because front loaders tend to spend more time on the spin cycle, the overall wash cycle takes a bit longer than it does in an average top loader. Keep in mind that the more feature rich, high-end models have express wash options that finish in under 30 minutes.
Samsung’s FlexWash front load washer (left) and dryer (right) have an extra mini top load unit on top to wash and dry delicate items or small loads.How To Shop for a Front Load Washer
No matter the brand, make, or model you’re looking for, there are a few universal characteristics you’re going to want to keep in mind.
Front loaders can be surprisingly bulky and deep because of their curved, rounded design. It’s really important to check that the washer dryer fits in your space before you buy it. (We know this sounds obvious, but people make this mistake all the time.)
We recommend that you measure every aspect of your laundry room, even large capacity storage features you might not think about, like pull-down attic stairs or closet doors. They might affect the direction you want your washer’s door to open or whether it fits at all.
Pro Tip: Not all washer doors have reversible hinges. Make sure yours does or double-check the direction you want it to open before you buy.
It’s also important to measure the path to your laundry space to ensure your washer will fit through the doors, hallways, and/or stairwells the delivery team will need to access it.
Most manufacturers include the dimensions of their appliances online, so thankfully you don’t need to travel to multiple appliance showrooms with a tape measure to find the perfect fit.
Internal capacity is just as important as the outer dimensions since it determines the amount of laundry you can do in a given load. Standard front loaders range in capacity from 4.5 to 5.2 cubic feet, which lets you wash as much as 15 to 22 pounds of dirty laundry at once. On the other hand, compact front load washers can hold about 2.0 to 2.4 cubic feet.
Plan on stacking your front load washer and dryer? Make sure you have what you need to do it correctly. If you’re not buying a new matching pair, you need to make sure your dryer’s compatible with your washer. Many front load washer and dryer sets also require a specific stacking kit. This can add an extra expense plus some assembly time.
Specs and Cleaning Performance
To get the most of your purchase, review the specifications carefully before you commit. These are the features we recommend looking for:
- Odor and mold blocking features: Some front load washers have this technology built in. The latest GE washers, for example, have the UltraFresh vent system, which is designed to help keep mold at bay. If cleaning the door gasket is a dealbreaker for you, a GE front loader with an UltraFresh vent system could be the solution. Our exclusive video review explains exactly how it works, and how it performed in our year-long test.
Watch our exclusive video review of GE UltraFresh washers
- An automatic detergent dispenser: We think this is a real convenience that’s worth the extra expense. You pour in a whole bottle of detergent at once, and then you can forget about it for a while. The machine will dose the detergent for you using exactly the right amount for each load. Sensors tell the machine how much your items weigh and even how dirty they are—it knows better than we do how much to add. You’ll love not having to hoist up and measure out detergent every time you wash. Here’s another bonus: It prevents excess detergent from building up in the drum and on your clothes, where it can look dingy and get stinky.
Beyond these top-line features, look for front loaders equipped with steam (which can help loosen stains) and a quick wash cycle under 30 minutes, ideally for more than just a few items.
Allergy and sanitize cycles may also be important to you—they’re fairly common as well, so you just need to look for them.
We’re not sold on the overall benefits of Wi-Fi in appliances—at least not yet. However, if you like to monitor things from your phone, it’s handy to get a notification telling you when the washer’s finished. Wi-Fi-equipped washers can also give you access to download additional wash cycles.
This point is really simple: Front loaders are usually quieter than top loaders. While every washer gets a bit louder during the fastest parts of the spin cycle, front load washers are quieter overall.
Energy and Water Efficiency
We said it earlier, and we’ll say it again, just in case you’re not reading straight through: Front loader washers use around half the energy of top load washing machines. That said, you’re still going to want to pay attention to standard industry labels that signify the washer as being at the top of its class.
Washers with the federal EnergyStar seal have been recognized for their efficiency. Some states and local utilities will also give you a rebate for investing in a new EnergyStar-certified washer.
LG front load washer (right) and dryer (left) installed on top of pedestal drawers.The Best Front Load Washers of 2022
1. Best Front Load Washer with Mold Prevention: GE GFW850SPNRS
As we mentioned earlier, we’re big fans of GE’s UltraFresh technology. In our experience, it really does prevent mold growth in your washer. Add the GE OdorBlock features alongside a thorough self-clean cycle, and you can make cleaning your washer a breeze.
This model also has the automatic detergent dispenser we love, holding enough detergent for 32 consecutive loads.
You’ll also appreciate the One-Step Wash + Dry feature, which lets you fully launder certain items (like a school uniform you need tomorrow morning) in one step, without having to transfer them into the dryer, and the 20-minute quick wash for lightly soiled items.
This 5.0 cu. ft. Sapphire Blue beauty has 12 wash cycles and settings, as well as Wi-Fi compatibility to let you program it remotely.
2. Most Reliable Front Load Washer: LG WM3600HWA
There’s so much to love about this 4.5 cu. ft. LG front load washer. It has allergy-friendly steam technology to gently release stains, among nine other wash options. There are 10 wash cycles, including the convenient TubClean to sterilize the tub and help prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and unsanitary bacteria.
Want Wi-Fi? This model’s connected, so you can use your phone to monitor its progress and stop and start loads, and it’s compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home. It also can communicate with your washer to select the perfect cycle to get your clothes dry in minimal time and with customer service to troubleshoot any problems that crop up.
If your machines are stacked, the LG Smart Pairing feature lets you set the dryer using your washer’s control panel—no need to reach up there.
We love that it’s EnergyStar certified too.
If you want to place this machine side by side with your washer, you have the option to elevate it with the LG SideKick pedestal, a mini second washer that can do another 1.0 cu. ft. of laundry simultaneously. It comes in two colors: white and graphite steel.
Our exclusive video review of LG front load washer and dryer3. Most Convenient Stackable Front Load Washer: LG WashTower WKEX200HBA
LG WashTower WKEX200HBA
LG recently revolutionized the one-piece wash center you usually find in apartment closets. Its sleek LG WashTower saves you floor space, and it has a unique design that puts the controls at the center, in between the 4.5 cu. ft. washer and 7.4 cubic ft. dryer, which is great for folks who have trouble reaching typical stacked dryer controls.
At 74 inches tall, it’s lower than an average stacked set too, so it’s less of a reach to unload the dryer. It can also fit under most standard door frames, which are 80 inches. This makes installation a bit easier and allows it to fit a large capacity in more spaces like bedroom closets.
It’s smart on the inside, too. It has 10 unique wash programs, including a steam cycle that can remove more than 95 percent of allergens, called Allergiene.
This clever unit is Wi-Fi connected and compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
It comes in two color options: white, and a color LG calls Black Steel.
LG also recently announced that it’s making a version of this washer dryer combo available with a ventless dryer. The heat pump dryer makes this unit even more flexible to install, since you can put it anywhere with an electrical outlet and a water line. There’s no need to vent the dryer to the exterior of your home.
Our exclusive video review of LG WashTower stackable laundry4. Best Speed Wash: Samsung WF50A8600AE
In a hurry? This 5.0 cu. ft. Samsung front load washer has a Super Speed Wash cycle that gets your clothes and linens clean in 28 minutes flat. Throw them into the matching dryer, and you can finish an entire load in under an hour.
The MultiControl feature it comes with is another real convenience. It lets you set the dryer using its control panel—a real pro if your machines are stacked and the dryer’s a bit hard to reach.
Samsung’s CleanGuard antimicrobial surfaces in the detergent drawer and drum are designed to help prevent mold, mildew, and make your cleaning job easier.
We like that it has 24 wash cycles, including a self-clean cycle and a steam cycle. Wi-Fi and vibration reduction features are two more bonuses.
Best of all, when it’s on sale, you can get it for $925. It’s one of our top picks under $1,000.
Watch our exclusive video review of Samsung washers5. Best Overall Front Load Washer: LG WM4200HWA
This 5.0 cu. ft. model is undisputedly the top front loader on our list. There may be bigger or flashier ones out there, but we think it has everything you need and then some.
First of all, it’s closet depth, so it can fit into smaller, shallower spaces. If you have a skinny space, this may be the model for you.
You get 14 wash cycles plus a steam option. It also has built-in antimicrobial and anti-vibration technologies and is app-controlled with built-in Wi-Fi.
The ColdWash technology is a great perk for saving on your energy bill.
Like the other LG washer on our list, it has Smart Pairing, so you can control your dryer settings from the buttons on its control panel or from your phone.
We also like the tempered glass door—a nice, durable upgrade.
With all the ongoing innovations in laundry room appliances, there are hundreds of front load washers to choose from. Ultimately though, the one that’s best depends on your specific needs. Creating a checklist for your dream front load washer can help you navigate your personal search more easily.
Front load washing machines are notorious for being a bit more expensive than top loaders, but we think the price is well worth it when it comes to all the features and energy efficiency. After all, purchasing a new washer is a big investment, and we think the energy and water you conserve by using a front load washer justifies the price tag.