Best and Worst Front-Load Washers From Consumer Reports' Tests

Front-loaders save water and energy, but some work better at getting clothes clean

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LG front loader washer and dryer in laundry room with grey cabinets Photo: LG

Unless you have a bad back, it’s easy to be seduced by front-load washers. They’re spacious and easy to load, and their sleek appearance can spruce up even the dullest laundry room.

The best front-loaders clean better and gentler than high-efficiency top-loaders and top-load agitators, while using less water (averaging 10 gallons compared with 13 gallons for top-load HEs and 20 gallons for agitators). And they adjust the water to the size of the load you’re washing. So they’re efficient even for small loads.

More on Washing Machines

Their larger capacity gives detergent and water room to work their magic through clothes that swirl freely around the drum with less friction. Front-loaders effectively clean by lifting clothes up as the drum turns, then dropping the clothes into the water. This differs from top-load HEs and agitator models, which clean clothes by rubbing them together. Front loaders can range from 3.5 to 6.2 cubic feet, but most fall in the large capacity range of 4.5 to 5.2 cubic feet.

Front-load wash cycles can last from 65 to 120 minutes on the normal/heavy soil setting, considerably longer than top-loaders. But they also spin faster, extracting more water from clothes and reducing dryer time. That saves money in the long term, because dryers consume the most energy during laundry.

Front-Load Flaws

Front-loaders represent about 29 percent of the washing machine market, according to Mark Allwood, a CR senior market analyst. They also make up the majority of Green Choice washers in our ratings, the most eco-friendly machines designated by a green leaf icon.

One of the big reasons that front-loaders aren’t more popular is that some consumers are turned off by their tendency to develop mold, mildew, and odors. In our most recent member survey, 15 percent of all front-load washer owners sensed mold, mildew, or odor in their machines.

Cleaning and airing out your front-loader regularly can help. To clean the drum and gaskets, CR’s laundry experts recommend running the tub-clean feature or a hot water cycle with bleach but no laundry. It’s also a good idea to leave the door open after each wash. But if you have adventurous toddlers who could possibly climb inside, keep it closed.

Front-load washing machines also require bending down to load and unload clothes, so they may not be the best option for someone with physical restrictions unless the washer is placed on a pedestal.

Stacked Pairs

Most front-loaders can be stacked with a matching dryer. But check the features and specifications listed with our ratings to ensure the pair you’re considering can be stacked. Some washer-dryer pairs can’t be stacked for a variety of reasons—like a washer-top detergent dispenser or different-sized washer and dryer.

Our ratings include more than 40 front-loaders from brands such as Electrolux, GE, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Speed Queen, Whirlpool, and others. LG is the only front-load brand we’ve tested that rates Excellent for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

As you’re shopping, double-check dimensions in our ratings to make sure you can fit the new machine into your space (and through doors). CR members can read through our ratings or reviews of five impressive front-loaders below, as well as two we don’t recommend.

Best Front-Loaders

Worst Front-Loaders

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.