The Best Front Load Washers of 2021
A front load washer sure looks great. But is it the right kind for you? You might be wondering if front load washers are good or bad given that they've always had a problem with mold.
Like any other appliance (or pretty much anything in life), a front loading washing machine has advantages and disadvantages. They're ideal for people who want a stackable washer and dryer solution to save space. They also clean your clothes really well and make efficient use of water and electricity. And they're likely to have modern features like Wi-Fi and steam.
But in addition to getting smelly if you don't clean them often enough, front load washers can be pricey. We'll get into that and other potential downsides later on.
Depending on your situation and your budget, the pros might outweigh the cons—or vice versa.
Our goal is to help you find the best washer and dryer for 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. Let's dive in.
What Are Pros of a Front Load Washer?
1. It looks stylish.
Front load washers just exude modern and fancy. 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 what you like.
3. It's efficient by design.
As we mentioned earlier, front loading washing machines typically use less water than top loaders do. On average, top-loading washers use twice as much water per cycle when compared with their front load competitors.
Since front load washers use less water, you don’t need to use as much detergent to get your clothes clean and fresh.
And because they can spin really fast and wring most of the water out of your wet stuff, it takes less time and energy to dry your garments.
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. The agitator top load washer can stretch things out 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 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's on the front of the appliance, it’s 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.
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 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. They add storage too. Just keep in mind that they 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 for under 30 minutes.
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. (We know this sounds obvious, but people make this mistake all the time.) We recommend that you measure every aspect of the room, even 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 even whether it fits.
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.
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 are 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 products, for example, have UltraFresh vent systems, which are 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.
- 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 part 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 government-backed EnergyStar seal have been recognized for their efficiency. Some states and local utilities will also give you a rebate for purchasing an EnergyStar-certified washer.
The Best Front Load Washers of 2021
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 (which include Microban antimicrobial parts like the gasket, dispenser, and drain system) and a self-clean cycle, and you can feel really confident it won't get stinky, whether you're fastidious about cleaning it or not.
It also has the automatic detergent dispenser we love. It holds enough at one time to do up to 32 loads.
You'll also appreciate the One-Step Wash + Dry feature, which lets you fully launder a couple 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, including steam, and Wi-Fi that lets 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 model. It has allergy-friendly steam technology to wash clothes, among nine other wash options. There are 10 wash cycles, including the convenient TubClean to sterilize the tub and help prevent mold.
Want Wi-Fi? It'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, LG's 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 it side by side with your washer, you have the option to elevate it with the LG SideKick pedestal, a mini second machine that can wash another 1.0 cu. ft. of laundry simultaneously. It comes in two colors: white and graphite steel.
3. Most Convenient Stackable Front Load Washer: LG WashTower WKEX200HBA
LG recently revolutionized the one-piece wash center you usually find in apartment closets. Its sleek 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 cu.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 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
4. Best Speed Wash: Samsung WF50A8600AE
In a hurry? This 5.0 cu. ft. Samsung washer has a Super Speed Wash cycle that gets your clothes or 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 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.
5. 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 its control panel.
We also like the tempered glass door—a nice, durable upgrade.
With all the ongoing innovations in laundry appliances, there are hundreds of front load washers to choose from. Ultimately though, which one is 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 the energy efficiency. After all, purchasing a new washer is a big investment, and we’d like to think the energy and water you conserve from using a front load washer justifies the price tag.