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New HE Top Loading washers - Not Your Mother's Old Washer

By: Tiffany Alton-Froggatt

Top loading washers are what most people envision when they think about washing machines. An old workhorse in the basement, with an agitator to thoroughly beat the grass stains and mud out of your little league uniform.

While traditional top loading washers were known for their dependability and predictability, they used a staggering amount of water and energy. At about 40 gallons of water per load, these machines no longer meet the governments requirements for water and energy use.

While front loading washers are extremely water and energy efficient, around 60% of the population still prefer the top loading format. There is a certain comfort in having a washer like the one you grew up with.

That being said, there are some key differences between the traditional top loading washers of the past and the new high efficiency washers currently on the market.

  1. Noise. HE top loading washers sound different. Due to the "bread maker" type noise that these washers make, they are not ideal for main floor or second floor laundry rooms that are adjacent to bedrooms or main living areas in your home. Audio clips of the operating noise of new top load washers can be found on Youtube for reference.
  2. Water levels. New HE top loading washers are designed to use less water. They use sensors to determine how much water is required for your laundry. While your washer would fill up the tub with water, the new format will only fill 1/3 to 1/2 of the way. This is great for water conservation, but you definitely want to use only HE (low sudsing) detergent, and only use the recommended amount. Detergent pods create way too many suds, so I don't recommend them at all. If you are using too much detergent for the quantity of water, your whites will become dingy, and you will see soap residue on your darks when you take them out of the dryer.
  3. Load balancing. Laundry can become off balance in any type of washing machine, but if you have loaded an HE top loading washer incorrectly, or if the type of laundry you are washing absorbs a lot of water (pillows, towels, comforters), you may get an error message alerting you to rebalance the load or remove items before the cycle can complete.
  4. Size. While the outside of the machine may be identical to your old washer, the demand for larger capacities means that the tubs of HE top loading washers have become very deep. It is imperative that you make sure that you can comfortably reach the bottom of the tub before purchasing. Some customers have told us that they have had to use a stool or "laundry tongs" to get all of their socks out at the end of the cycle.
  5. Cycle length. The average cycle length on an HE top loading washer is 60-80 minutes. This may be considerably longer than the cycle length on your old washer, but in order to effectively clean your clothes with less water and extract the maximum amount of moisture at the end of the cycle, longer cycles are necessary.

Choosing a new washer is a big decision, and there may be other factors to consider, like the floor plan of your home (will it fit? Do you need stackable laundry?), mobility restrictions (Can you comfortably load and unload the machine?), and cycles/options.

Peterborough Appliance's friendly and helpful sales team can help to guide you through this process and find the washer that is the perfect fit for your family. Call us at 705-748-9781 or email for more information.