Best and Worst Agitator Top-Loaders From Consumer Reports' Tests

LG, Maytag, Samsung, and Speed Queen make models that stand out

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top loader washer and dryer Maytag

Traditionally, agitator washers were the no-frills station wagons of the laundry aisle, while high-efficiency top-loaders and front loaders, respectively, raced in the muscle car and luxury lanes—loaded with shiny, sleek designs and advanced technology. So why are agitators always more popular than those other eye-candy washing machines? Let’s pop the hood on that.

Agitator washing machines are often your least expensive option and cycle faster than other washer types. The downside? Performance. In Consumer Reports’ tests, most agitator washers don’t clean as well as HE top-loaders—the type without an agitator—or front-load washers. And until recent years, they washed fewer clothes per load.

To make agitators more appealing, manufacturers have begun to tweak the machines to be more like feature-rich HE top-loaders and front-loaders. That’s why you’ll see agitator top-loaders in our ratings that have stylish details, such as a stainless steel look and a glass lid. Some now have jumbo capacities, so you can do more laundry at once.

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All that drives up the price of the models, undercutting an agitator’s biggest selling point. At the same time, prices on other washer types have come down. Like cars, washers are highly competitive machines.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of six impressive agitator top-loaders in our ratings, along with three to skip. LG and Samsung agitators rank high, though they’re too new to this category for us to rate them for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction. As you’re shopping, double-check to make sure you can fit the new machine in your space (and through doors) by noting the dimensions in our washing machine ratings.

6 Impressive Agitator Top-Loaders From CR's Tests

3 Worst Agitator Top-Loaders

You’ll see more than 100 agitator top-loaders, HE top-loaders, and front-loaders in our washing machine ratings. These three agitator top-loaders rank lowest of all washers we tested.

For more choices, see our full washing machine ratings and reviews.


BW Headshot of Consumer Reports author Keith Flamer

Keith Flamer

As a kid in Delaware, I lived a few blocks from Bob Marley, who once said, "It is better to live on the house top than to live in a house full of confusion." At CR, I'm psyched to help readers navigate this cluttered, hyper-commercialized world we live in. I've covered luxury real estate, interior design, and culture—reporting on everything from smart home technology to racial hypocrisy at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate. Since the pandemic started, I cherish simplicity, covering accessible topics like decorating, cooking, and cleaning. Give me a smoothie blender over a mansion any day. Blenders are slightly easier to clean.