When shopping for a new top load washer most people face a dilemma of whether to go with an agitator washer or a high-efficiency (HE), impeller model. In this article we will rank the 5 best agitator top load washers and also cover the differences between the two washing technologies.
Agitator top load washer sales continue to be the off the charts in 2019 thanks to their affordable price points of around $649. We must also note that manufacturers took notice of the strong sales on agitator models and started incorporating features such as high-efficiency technologies and steam in select models.
We are happy to report that Speed Queen returned to the agitator market after a 2-year long absence.
In this article we will explore wash quality, the speed of wash cycles, price points, water usage, spin speeds, and noise level to help you make the best decision.
Agitator vs. Impeller Top Load Washers
Wash Quality & Fabric Care
The wash action in an agitator top load machine works when the agitator rubs against clothes and generates cleaning action to loosen soils and penetrate clean water and detergent into the fabrics.
In an impeller, high-efficiency (HE) top loader, the washing machine relies on drum motions choreographed to rub clothes against each other. As a result the wash action in an HE, impeller top load washer is much more gentle compared to that of the agitator models. However, we must also note that the current crop of agitator models (especially higher on the price point scale) employ features to care for your fabrics in a greater degree (motion control for the drum, properly engineered vans and fins that help with fabric care).
How Quickly Can I Wash?
Most agitator top load washing machines finish their load under 60 minutes. It is more common for the high-efficient top load washers to finish the same task at around 80 minutes. Although manufacturers are racing to add express cycles in impeller HE models, we notice that these cycles are mostly effective for smaller loads with normal soil levels.
In the next section we will explain a major caveat regarding total laundry time.
Spin Speed - Water Extraction
Most agitator top loaders spin at under 800 RPM. This makes them super stable so even on an upper floor installation in an older home, you will not experience excessive vibration.
The high-efficiency top loaders on the other hand spin at a higher speeds 1,000-1,300 RPM's depending on the model.
Here is how spin speed benefits us. The higher the spin speed the more water is extracted in the washer leaving less work for the dryer (i.e. shorter dry times that save energy).
Other Factors to Consider
Lower price points are the reason why agitator top load machines are so popular. As tried-and-true technology, manufacturers do not need to pour research and development money into this engineering design to make additional improvements.
While most agitator washing machines hover around $649, their fancy siblings in the HE world start at $699.
Having said this, continuing strong sales in agitator models motivated some manufacturers (noteably GE and Maytag) to incorporate advanced features such as high-efficiency and steam. Naturally, products with more advanced features have higher price points.
High-Efficiency top loaders are designed to conserve energy and water. Agitator washers use more water compared to the impeller models.
Mildew Smell and Mold
Mildew smell and mold can be a concern for front load washers. Since gravity pulls the moisture away from the gaskets where mold can grow, agitator washers typically do not have these issues. However, we always recommend cleaning your washer once every few months with vinegar and baking soda (or a supermarket variety washing machine cleaner) to keep it in smelling fresh.
Agitator top load machines tend to be much louder than the high-efficiency models.
Manufacturers are spending most of their time updating the HE washing machines with new features and larger footprints. However, as a downside of larger capacity, deeper tubs might be more difficult to reach into.
Impeller, high-efficiency washers incorporate many nifty features that help us with our daily chores. Automatic detergent dispensers are a favorite as it takes one step out of doing laundry. You can often store months worth of detergent in these dispensers and let your washing machine decide how much detergent to use based on the program, soil levels, and weight of the laundry.
6 Best Agitator Top Load Washers
TC5000WN 26-inch Agitator Top Load Washer
Width: 25 5/8-inch | Height: 42 3/4-inch | Depth: 28-inch | Capacity: 3.2 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 6/4 | RPM: 840 | Steam: No| Color: White | Energy Star: Yes |
Speed Queen finally found its "mo·jo" after 2 years of hiatus. The traditional agitator TC5000WN is back in town with its stainless steel drum which helps with gentler wash. This product is engineered for a 25-year life-span as it is customary with rest of the Speed Queen lineup and comes with an industry leading 3-year bumper to bumper warranty (not to mention the 5-year motor, 15-year transmission warranty).
If you want at great clean in 28 minutes without frills you found your match with this Speed Queen washer - just water and detergent stirred by an agitator...
The capacity at 3.2 cu. ft. is smaller than that of its rivals but keep in mind that this does not mean you cannot load it up. The advanced engineering along with steel base suspension system allows Speed Queen to handle tough loads such as blankets and work cloths with ease.
More on Speed Queen Washers: In our earlier blog article we reviewed the entire Speed Queen washer line up.
MVWB965HW 30-inch Agitator Top Load Washer
Width: 29 1/2-inch | Height: 43 7/16-inch | Depth: 30-inch | Capacity: 6.0 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 15/5 | RPM: 1,000 | Steam: Yes (both washer & dryer) | Color: White, Metallic Slate | Energy Star: Yes |
The Maytag MVWB965HW in white or its sibling the MVWB965HC in metallic slate are the largest capacity agitator top load washers available in the market at 6.0 cu. ft. The "powerwash agitator" combines the classic wash with modern drum moves that provide great clean and relatively gentle fabric care.
Maytag invested heavily in this machine by addressing the inherent shortcomings of agitator washers. However, the price point reflects the research and development that went into making this a great washing machine.
You will like the steam feature which enables deep clean and sanitization. Heavy stains are likely to yield to the power of extended soak and steam cycles.
PowerSpray is the Maytag jargon for recirculating water and detergent from the bottom of the tub to the top. This system is particularly effecive in treating stubborn stains.
MVWB865GW 28-inch Agitator Top Load Washer
Width: 28-inch | Height: 43-inch | Depth: 28-inch | Capacity: 5.2 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 11/5 | RPM: 850 | Steam: No | Color: White, Metallic Slate | Energy Star: Yes |
The Maytag MVWB865GW 28-inch Agitator Top Load Washer is a task-master. This model allows you to fill the tub with water for an old fashioned soak and clean. The "PowerWash agitator" is effective and incorporates specialized drum moves to enhance cleaning.
Maytag washers bring commercial technology to the residential market for exceptional reliability, long appliance life-span and performance cleaning.
GTW465ASNWW 27-inch Agitator Top Load Washer
Width: 27-inch | Height: 44-inch | Depth: 27-inch | Capacity: 4.5 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 10/6 | RPM: 750 | Steam: No | Color: White | Energy Star: Yes |
This budget friendly GE top load washer comes with a powerful agitator. The agitator has forward and reverse motions to give a good rub to your clothes.
This is a no frills washer from GE. It completely relies on a lot of water and your favorite detergent do the work. You can soak stained clothes in a full tub of water for an extended period of time. You can also rinse with a full tub of water to completely get rid of any detergent residue.
This GE top loader can finish a load in an express cycle of 35 minutes.
GTW685BSLWS 27-inch Agitator Top Load Washer
Width: 27-inch | Height: 46-inch | Depth: 27-inch | Capacity: 4.5 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 14/6 | RPM: 800 | Steam: No | Color: White | Energy Star: Yes |
The GTW685BSLWS has all features of the model we reviewed on the top, namely the GTW465ASNWW. There are, however, some additional skills added to this model such as Google Assistant and Alexa readiness. It picks up more specialized cycles such as self clean of the drum, sanitize with Oxi which GE claims to remove 99.9% of bacteria to boost the clean action of the detergent.
The lid is glass and closes gently without slamming. We also like the digital countdown clock in this model. GE is confident with the technology on this washer and offers a 10-year motor warranty.
MVWB765FW 28-inch Agitator Top Load Washer
Width: 27 1/2-inch | Height: 42-inch | Depth: 27-inch | Capacity: 4.7 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 11/5 | RPM: 900 | Steam: No | Color: White/Metallic Slate | Energy Star: No |
The Maytag MVWB765FW comes at an attractive price point and provides all the features we expect to see in an agitator top load washer.
The "PowerWash" cycles is effective and produces great results with deep stains. "Deep Fill Option" gives you the flexibility to fill up the tub when you want. When pre-treating laundry or when you need an extra detailed rinse after a wash you can use "Deep Fill Option".
With so many options and features to choose from, you’re sure to find a top load washing machine that’s perfectly suited to your needs, preferences and the way you choose to launder. Browse our selection of top load washers to find the one that’s perfect for you or feel free to reach out by phone or chat. If you are in the NJ/NYC/CT tri-state area, stop by one of our stores and our helpful sales staff will happily assist you.
If you are considering purchasing a front load washer and still have questions about the differences between the top load vs front load technology please refer to our in-depth guide.
I hear a lot about washer cycles that rid clothes and sheets of allergens and dust mites. Do top loaders have cycles specific to this?
Heat, steam, and soaking eliminate dust mites, pollen, mildew, and most other allergens found in fabrics. With a top loader, there's also more peace of mind that mildew doesn't get transferred from the washer's gasket to the clothes.
My laundry is in my basement. I hear it is a better idea to put a top load washer down there rather than a front load washer. Why is that?
Basements tend to be damp with little fresh air flow. The washer's gasket, where water can collect, is the culprit for mildew and mold. With top load washers, gravity pulls any moisture out of the gasket. We still recommend leaving the washer door open between cycles, wiping down dust, soil and laundry detergent from in and around the gasket and running a washer cleaning cycle every few months.