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Top Load Washers - Agitator or No?

bondia
2 years ago

I'm in the market for a new washer and want a top loader. (Have had a front loader for 14 years; not getting another one of those.) I read that agitators are hard on clothes, and that non agitator washers don't get clothes clean and leave them tangled. I feel like I have to choose between not getting my whites clean enough or damaging my delicates, and that's a hard choice. Is there an option that achieves a high level of clean without damaging clothes? I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts/experiences/preferences/recommendations. Thank you in advance.

Comments (83)

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thank you, dadoes. That makes sense but I wouldn't have thought of it. I appreciate your taking the time to explain.

  • dianne47
    2 years ago

    In 2010 I purchased a TOL Maytag Bravos set, top loader with electric dryer. I've had several repairs, mainly the circuit boards needed replacing. I would never buy a front loader, due to issues mentioned in this thread and the impossibility of adding items to a load already running. The Bravos set is still running strong, I still own the home where they are located.


    This year I purchased a home in a suburb of Albuquerque and needed a new w/d set. I read good reviews on the LGs, and discussed brands with a very experienced appliances salesman. He stated the LGs are much better at avoiding off-balanced loads, so I purchased their TOL top loader and electric dryer.


    I've had zero issues with the LG set after 8 months. The salesman was right about the washer not having issues with unbalanced loads. I really like that on many cycles extra water is an option. I frequently use the delay wash option to wash during low-cost electricity hours. It's possible to add one or two extra rinses, I always choose one extra rinse and I have a soft water system so I'm careful not to use too much detergent. I've not yet had any stain that didn't come out in the washer. I'm really pleased with the LG washer and dryer, I recommend the brand.

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  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    monicakm_gw, I'd say that's a pretty good record - once in 9-10 months.


    dianne47, thanks so much for the recommendation. I'll look at the LGs again. Just to clarify - yours is HE, without an agitator? Is that correct?

  • tideman_59
    2 years ago

    I grew up with a 60's GE front load washer/dryer combo. Later, in my own home I purchased a Maytag Neptune front loader. I kept it for 10 years and it performed flawlessly. I got antsy for a new set and purchased a Frigidaire Affinity front load set in 2011. I gave the Neptune set to Habitat for Humanity since they were still working well. The Frigidaire set is still going strong with no repairs. In the meantime, I have collected several old school washers and dryers from the 50's through the 80's as a hobby. While these are fun to use occasionally, I don't use them for my daily driver. That honor goes the my Frigidaire set that cleans everything, without exception, that I have managed to throw at it. For my 2 cents, I would never go back to a top loader again.

    Just an FYI, all front loaders allow you to hit the pause button and open the door to add clothes once the cycle starts. I do it all the time to check the water temp, add clothes, and to check the "slipperiness" of the water for the proper amount of detergent.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    tideman_59, I didn't realize Frigidaire makes washers, I'll take a look at those, thanks.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    monkcakm_gw - Your large capacity washer - does it wash small loads well? I would like to have both options. Occasionally I want to wash a queen or king size quilt but usually I wash small to medium size loads and want to be sure the washer performs well with those.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    @bondia

    Hmmm. Frigidaire has been producing washers for upwards of 70 years. The brand/company was owned by General Motors (yes, the automobile company) until January 1979 at which time it was bought by White Consolidated Industries, which was bought by Electrolux in 1986.

    Maytag was originally a farm implement company.

    Ford Motor Company owned the Philco appliance brand for a while.

    Nash Motors owned Kelvinator. Nash-Kelvinator merged with American Motors.

    Frigidaire (vertical pulsator), Philco (wobble plate, like a hula dancer), and Kelvinator (concentric oscillation) produced washers of unique mechanical designs in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.

  • Love stone homes
    2 years ago

    Wish this thread existed when I bought my whirlpool TL in Feb. The clothes come out twisted. And some of the twist spots (on clothes) are completely dry. In other words, water has not even hit some areas of the clothing. I wash everything on bulky or towels cycle, with x tra deep water and pre-soak to make sure there is enough water to cover all the clothes.

    I hate to admit it, but DH was right. A $400. Agitator washer would have been better than my current over priced pos!

  • armjim
    2 years ago

    Love stone homes, if your machine is an HE impeller type and you are using the bulky cycle, there is virtually no turnover of a normal load of laundry that isn't blankets or sheets. The impeller does not have the size or power to cause the laundry to get properly washed because it just floats in the tub of water.

  • OldSchool 88
    2 years ago

    And many new agitator TL washers have issues with water conservation "features", cheap seals and transmissions that barely survive past warranty, etc.

  • doreycrouse
    2 years ago

    If you must go with a top loading machine, I highly suggest you stay FAR away from any Whirlpool designed machine. I have never had great results with them, especially the newer ones.

    I have, however, used a newer GE top loader with an agitator. I will say that I have been more impressed than expected.

    I do have a 10 year old Whirlpool Duet FL that does not have a spec of buildup or debris, and smells great. No issues with mold at all. Why? The door is always left open, frequent hot washes, and correct dosing of detergent and fabric softener.

  • lizzierobin
    2 years ago

    Yes to top load with agitator. Our previous washing machine didn’t have it, and my DH and I hated it. We went with a speed queen. We wanted a washing machine that would outlast us.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for the heads up on Whirlpool, doreycrouse. At the moment (still undecided) I'm leaning toward an LG or GE.


    With my front loader the door is always open, I'm very careful with detergent, and do regular hot washes, but still have a mold problem. I'm beginning to think there is a design difference between gaskets that causes some to grow more mold than others.


    Thank you also dadoes, Love stone homes, armjim, and OldSchool88 for your responses - all helpful!

  • laurieuhler
    2 years ago

    I have a whirlpool, top loader Cabrio, without agitator. The cycles take quite long compared to my old Kenmore top loader, but I have no issues with its cleaning which was a concern of mine before purchasing.

  • gigi121
    2 years ago

    I had a Maytag washer for 35 years and never needed a single repair. We moved to a new home 4 years ago and I opted for Whirlpool top loader without an agitator. It’s is the worst mistake imaginable. My clothes knot up on every setting. There is never enough water to really clean clothes or rinse, Even using a second rise cycle. Yesterday, I removed a king sized sheet set from the washer that had spots that never even got wet! Please suggest a better top loading washer.

  • doreycrouse
    2 years ago

    The LG TL machines seem to have fairly good reviews. I highly recommend finding one with a soak option!

    You are correct about certain boot designs having more issues than others, but I am hard pressed to see how so many people have issues with mold in their machines.

  • tideman_59
    2 years ago

    Bondia

    Just be aware that my washer is now 9 years old. Electrolux is the the parent company of Frigidaire. Electrolux has since downgraded their Frigidaire washers and dryers to be their budget line by eliminating many of the deluxe features that are on my 2011 model.

  • tideman_59
    2 years ago

    LG just came out with a top loader with a full size agitator that will fill with a full tub of water. Have not seen any reviews on how good they are yet, but they seem promising.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago

    Bondia, I started reading this thread a few days ago looking for the same answers as you. Turning to youtube I watched dozens of machines in action and I'm sure without a doubt impeller top loaders are one notch above worthless. Agitators work good turning over the laundry and dual agitators appear to do the best job but what I did notice is many with agitators are also worthless, they lack the speed and power to move the clothes.

    GE and Speed Queen were the best but I'm not done comparing brands. Do yourself a favor and watch them in action on youtube before buying something because not all agitator machines are equal.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    doreycrouse, you're right, I've missed having a soak cycle on my front loader, that's a feature to look for.


    tideman_59, I am taking a look at the LG top loader with agitator, so far it looks good. But you never really know until you use it and then if you don't like it, what a hassle to return it!


    kevin9408, now I'm wondering why I never thought to look at those youtube videos, thanks, I will definitely look at those. Very good advice about not all agitators created equal.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago

    My continued due diligence has narrowed my selection down to a Frigidaire fftw4120sw and the LG wt7305cv. Speed queen and GE's have better agitation but the S.Q. is to small and the GE's are very loud to the point of scary.

    This is trying to decide my method of execution, I don't want any, but I can't bear to watch my wife suffer looking through the glass of our worthless new impeller top loader machine we installed last week. She wants to open the glass and poke down the sheets with her stick but with the lid locked she can't! Yep, new last week and it's being returned and will be picked up Tuesday, so we need to decide quick and pick the better of the worst.

    I watched a 1952 Frigidaire work on youtube and was amazed how well it washed, the spin was clocked at 1132 RPM's compared to machines today that can barely hit 800. So now it takes 3 times as long to wash a load and twice as long to dry, nice advancement just to sleep on dirty sheets.



  • OldSchool 88
    2 years ago

    Not sure how you're calculating your washer capacity requirements...we raised two kids with a 3.2 cubic ft Maytag Atlantis. Only time I've used a laundrymat was for the dog bed and the king-size comforter from our bed.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I'm using a vintage calculator which is never wrong, my wife. If she wants 4 to 5 cu.ft. washer I'll get her one. It's her thing, I can't help and she won't even let me help fold, but the little secret is I don't give a flip about washers, but don't tell my wife.

    You did kindle my curiosity so I calculated our dog's bed volume at 4.7 cu. ft, and wonder how she got it into a 5.0 cubic foot front loader, is it possible? Hmmmm.........I need to ask.

    Update: Just ordered the Frigidaire, wife approved.

    update on update: Cancelled the Frigidaire, found out it's a cheap Chinese Midea washer re-branded with the Frigidaire name. Discussing and shameful, but if you want a Frigidaire buy best buy's Insignia and save $150.00. Frigidaire makes Insignia.....or should I say Midea makes both brands.

    AND THE WINNER IS........GE GTW725BSNWS.

  • cupofkindnessgw
    2 years ago

    I cannot recommend using the Eco cycle on a Speed Queen. It's there to satisfy government water usage regulations. Use the normal or delicate cycle. Also, you can add even more water by turning the dial to a "rinse" segment, which has no water limitations but will be rather cool, then holding the water fill knob to the right. When the water level is where you want it, turn the cycle knob all the way around (clockwise) to the start of the cycle. Now your tub is as full as you need.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    kevin9408, congratulations on dodging the Frigidaire bullet and thanks for the heads up. Mostly congratulations on having made a decision, the process is torture. I just looked at your winner and it does look good. Have you received it yet? When you have actually used it, would you please let us know if both the Deep Rinse and Extra Rinse features can be activated on the same cycle, or if it's one or the other? I want to be able to use both.


    Old School 88, it's not a deal breaker but I'd really like to be able to wash my king size quilt at home if possible. Of course most loads are only medium size. So that's the flexible capacity I'm looking for.


    cupofkindnessgw, thanks for the info on the Speed Queen. I think I'd go nuts if I had to stand there holding a knob while the tub filled but it's good to know it's possible to do that.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I'm picking the GE up from the retailer's warehouse tomorrow otherwise it would take two weeks for delivery but need it now. I'll let you know as soon as possible , deep rinse and extra rinse same cycle, got it.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    @cupofkindnessgw (and @bondia),

    Tricking the water level selector won't work on any current Speed Queen toploader for the home market. They don't have a mechanical water level switch. It's an electronic pressure sensor integrated into the computer board. The top-of-line model has touch-panel controls so no knob to turn at all. The other models with a rotary knob, it's a selector to program the control board and can't be tricked.

  • Love stone homes
    2 years ago

    @armj. “if your machine is an HE impeller type and you are using the bulky cycle, there is virtually no turnover of a normal load of laundry that isn't blankets or sheets.”. I though using the bulky or blanket cycle, along with xtra deep water level would get the clothes thoroughly wet.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I installed the new GE washer and ran it twice but first to Bondia's question. Yes it will do Deep rinse and extra rinse together with both rinses in extra rinse mode.

    First cycle was quick wash (27 min's) with no extra options and no clothes. The drum depth is 20" for reference, and the wash cycle added 7" of water or about 1/3 full. The rinse cycle added 5" of water or 1/4 full.

    The next was a 2 queen sheets and 5 pillow cases set on towels/sheets (56 min). Options selected were deep rinse. extra rinse. and deep fill witch adds approx. 3 extra gals of water. After it started agitating we hit deep wash again and more water was added. We did not hold the deep fill button for 3 seconds to get max fill which is 26 gallons total. Wash fill was 8" and added an extra 1" each time we hit deep fill for a total of 10 inches or about 1/2 full. The rinse cycles both filled to 13 1/2 inches. I believe 2 inches were added because we hit the deep fill twice just like the wash, so without deep fill the level would be 11 1/2 inches and not bad.

    Agitated good making one FULL revolution (I noticed some brands only did 1/2 revolution), but not great like the maytag commercial, and 10 times better than the impeller models. The sheets were pulled down and actually washed, same with the rinses. The spin was long, 16 minutes and included sensing time, but the spin was great and the sheets felt almost dry. My wife said they don't smell clean but I sensed no smell, not even the detergent smell we are used to smelling. Wouldn't clean have no smell if the rinses took out all the detergent smell? The sheets came out fine without balling up like the impeller washer did to them. This GE model was very quiet and I was impressed., lower end GE models are loud as stated by many who reviewed them and what I heard on youtube.

    I know she's going to rewash with more detergent but it is what it is. We're both satisfied with the machine, our only concern or disappointment was seeing no spin to remove the wash water before going into rinse. It just sat for a while letting gravity drain the water, but maybe other cycles have a spin so we will see. Since I'm not sure, do washers usually give it a spin between wash and rinse?

    To address the original topic; agitators are better than impellers with no doubts and I'm done now thank goodness! Good luck finding the right washer bondia.

  • SEA SEA
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Good for you Kevin. It's no easy task these days finding a washing machine you are happy with. My concern though is that Mrs Kevin said outloud that the laundry didn't smell clean. If she is usually the laundry person in the home, I would take her seriously. However, it is hard to tell if she is correlating no residual detergent scent to 'not clean'...time will tell. Best of luck to you.


    ETA, that my Speed Queen TL washer does do a drain while spinning, then a full spin in-between wash and rinse, and then again at final rinse.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago

    Thanks sea sea. I just found out mine has no spin between wash and rinse for sure but if my wife likes it I'm happy. I guess every wash load will include an extra rinse and see why it was in stock everywhere and the price was dropped $250.

    The wife can put it on the biggest cycle, throw in every option and even throw in a extra rinse and spin and sniff away, I'm done.

  • SEA SEA
    2 years ago

    Haha Kevin. Hear ya!

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    Love Stone Homes,

    Deeper fill level will submerge the clothes ... but too much water causes the load to float, not touch the impeller. The designated Bulky cycle typically has a more gentle action to avoid twisting/tangling sheets and such items. Impellers don't have fins that protrude upwards and outwards to roil the water quite as much as an agitator. They have bumps and ridges on the surface which needs for the clothes to be in physical contact with it for rubbing and vibrating cleaning action. Clothes floating up away from the impeller = less cleaning action.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    kevin9408, thank you so much for checking out the deep rinse/extra rinse and getting back to me, I am glad to hear it is possible to have both. Thanks for all the detailed information. Of course now you have given me something else to look out for, a spin after the wash cycle/before the rinse cycle. Though honestly I don't know if my current washer does that so maybe I shouldn't put too much importance on it. I'm a rinse fanatic though as you can probably tell.


    I use unscented detergent so for me, if clothes don't smell clean it means they do smell off or bad as normally they don't smell like anything while wet.


    Very glad to hear the machine is quiet as my laundry is right off our kitchen.


    Congratulations on having the "choosing a machine" experience behind you and may it be many, many years before you have to go through that again. Thanks for being so helpful.


    dadoes, thank you also for being so willing to share your expertise, I really appreciate it. Very good to know about current Speed Queens. That's been my husband's favorite all along but I'm the one who does the laundry so I get final decision on this one.

  • Love stone homes
    2 years ago

    @dadoes. Thank you for your explanation. I will now return to using appropriate wash cycles.

  • Cindy Durr
    2 years ago

    The struggle is real. Our old Maytag died 3 weeks ago and it worked well up til then so we bought the big 5.3 cubic Maytag with impellor. My husband went to Lowes as I work nights. Well it arrives and its so deep I cant reach the bottom. Standing on a step stool does nothing because my arms are still the same length. Of course my dh loves it, he is very tall, I am not a shorty at 5'4...so I try using tongs but they don't work so well. try a grabber, etc. Not loving the washer but trying to live with it because he so rarely states he likes anything. But I went to Lowes and learned their return policy is 30 days. figured I will give it 2 weeks. Well today I do my wash and it comes out with soap all over the dark shirts. I wash the same load again with deep fill no soap and still has soap. I dont use a lot of soap and it is the he kind. So I went to Lowes and chose another washer. they are trading them sat. This one is a whirlpool 4.7cubic with an agitator. And I can reach the bottom and the reviews seem ok, fingers crossed.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Good luck, Cindy Durr! It is a struggle! And it seems washers are like perfume, you can’t know if you’ll like it until you live with it a bit.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago

    Good luck with the upgraded impeller machine with a placebo agitator cindy. Because of my unhappy wife I looked deeper into these machines and after reading the propaganda on them and the HE detergent I concluded we've all been conned.

    They built the crap washers to meet government efficiency standards, (guess who) and designed HE detergent to work with these worthless washers in 3 inches of water, with low/no suds. If you add more detergent the so called efficient rinse (to save water) won't remove the soap, and if you add more water to the wash cycle with the recommended soap amount it won't be adequate to clean the clothes (dilution), AND the rinse still won't remove all the detergent, so they have us between a rock and a hard place. To sum it up you'll get dirty stinky clothes, soapy clothes or BOTH, so my wife came up with a solution for our new GE, which has no spin at all between the wash and rinse cycle to meet mandated standards, and it works.

    She washes the clothes in a 40 min. cycle and adjusts the detergent to the water level, with a deep fill requiring 5 times the recommended amount of soap, and one rinse. She then runs the load through another 20 minute quick wash cycle without soap. To recap the total relabeled cycles: 1 - wash, with adjusted water level to meet load size, (to much or to little water and the agitator is ineffective), with adjusted soap amounts to match water level. 2 - post wash, in what was once a rinse cycle in soapy residue with low water level. 3 - Spin, which was once the last spin but now the spin between wash and rinse. 4 - Pre-rinse which was the wash in the quick wash cycle. 5 - Final rinse. 6 - Final spin.

    HEY, it works great, clean clothes!! 60 minutes of fun and we only use about the same amount of water as a old school washer. But what I do love is the ECM permanent magnet motor which uses 20% of the electricity as the old school machines. You'll love your new washer Cindy, Maybe. So Bondia, have you selected a washing machine yet?


  • armjim
    2 years ago

    Kevin, your wife must be miserable using that machine. If I understand, she is hanging out nearby so she can go in and change cycles and reset the machine to what she wants for it to do. That is a pain in the #$%^. Also, I get it about HE detergent. I finally realized recently I may have been putting a little too much detergent in- I either use Original Tide or Gain, and I noticed more bubbles in the rinse water than should be; right now I think it is my fault versus the powders I use.

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago

    Armjim, she makes one trip to change the cycle to quick wash after the first 40 minute cycle has finished. She's been doing the same for the Maytag front loader we had for a decade or more adding an extra rinse and spin cycle after the first wash cycle. When it comes to laundry she's a clean freak and clothes must pass her sniff and feel test or back in it goes. Clean laundry makes her happy regardless of the number of trips to the washer, and I'm not allowed to wash any clothes, I'll except the restriction......heeeheheehehe.

  • bondia
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    kevin9409 - I haven't made a decision yet, other stuff crowded out that decision temporarily but I'm back at it. I'm a really slow decision maker. I've been doing for 14 years what your wife is doing, I frequently run my clothes through a short cycle with no soap as a final rinse. Since my washer is right off my kitchen it's not too much of a hassle but it does slow the process down and I'd like to not need to do that in the future. I'm going to try to find out if the LG I'm considering spins out the final wash water or just drains it. I'm pessimistic about that answer.

  • lizzierobin
    2 years ago

    So, my DH selected the speed queen. Nothing special, regular knobs no digital display. We LOVE it! It works like a champ on small and extra large loads And everything in between. He wanted

    something that could outlast us. I hope this is the case.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Topload Speed Queen? Which model? TC5, TR3, or TR5? They have regular knobs but don't be fooled ... there are two computer boards in all of them.

  • lizzierobin
    2 years ago

    Top load TR5. We are aware there is a computer board, but it’s minimal, and comes with a 5 year warrantee. We previously had a Sears Kenmore top load washer with an agitator for 18 years. Great machine, knob only. We then had a Kenmore top loader, which did not have the agitator, and that’s the one we disliked. I never felt our laundry was clean.

  • dadoes
    2 years ago

    TR5 has two computer boards, same as TR3 and TR7. One in the console that takes input from the controls and runs the cycle sequences and sends operational commands to a separate board in the base that functions as a power converter and operates the drive motor, pump, and water valves.

  • lizzierobin
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Interesting to know there are two boards. Thank you for that info. My DH research and picked this machine; I was happy to have a washing machine with an agitator that washed clothes thoroughly. and yes, we both felt our laundry came out cleaner than the non-agitator machine. Plus, I have used both the handwash and delicate cycles and those have worked well, not damaging those items. I think this is what OP was asking about.

  • monicakm_gw
    2 years ago

    Kevin9408, which GE washer do you have? I got dizzy reading what all your wife does to get clean clothes :o

  • kevin9408
    2 years ago

    GE GTW725BSNWS is the machine

  • ceilsan32
    2 years ago

    The Speed Queen Top loader TR7 has been outstanding. It's vitally important to download the 33 page washer owner's manual and to view the YouTube video re: using only 1/2 the recommended detergent so as to extend machine life (you can read about overuse of detergent and its affect on washers on various websites). Also, use only HE detergent, to stay within warranty. Clothes are much cleaner and come out of dryer needing little or no ironing. Keys are to follow manufacturer's advice re: size of wash loads and how you load the washer. I don't miss watching my LG front loader atop pedestal "walk" far out of alignment, and I couldn't deal with kneeling down to load/unload laundry without the pedestal. In these Covid times, I wasn't about to wait months on end for new laundry set.

    After lengthy research, Speed Queen TL was the obvious choice. Panels are easy to read, easy to use, and there is no difficulty in reaching into bottom of wash tub. Dryer light is "theatre bright" and dryer dries more quickly than my LG. Win win!