Top-loading washing machines have an undying appeal in the world of American laundry. They were the standard for many years—lots of us grew up with one in our homes—and they remain very popular today. While they might not be as energy efficient as the more modern front-loaders, it’s nice to not have to bend down to unload laundry and there’s less chance for mold to develop in the machine. Besides, there's a certain appeal to doing the laundry with the same type of washer our parents used.
The average top-load washer is cheaper than a front-loader, but that doesn’t mean they’re all bargains. We’ve tested hundreds of washing machines in our testing labs and have sussed out which models give you the most clean without cleaning out your wallet.
On almost every metric, the GE GTW720BSNWS(available at Home Depot for $0.00) came out on top. It can conquer stains, has a ton of customization options, including a Warm Rinse option. If you prefer something a little bit more old-school, or simply want a few more options, all the washers on this list are solid, top-performing choices.
These are the best top-loading washing machines under $1,000 we tested ranked, in order:
If you’re looking for a modern top-load washer, the GE GTW720BSNWS fits the bill. With its TIDE Pod dispenser, a stain removal guide, and a Sanitize with OXI cycle, this washer is ready to tackle any laundry load. Despite its many customization options (including the coveted Deep Rinse option, which adds more water to each load), the interface is streamlined and easy to use.
Best of all, this washer has a really effective Normal cycle that finishes in about 45 minutes. Not only was the Normal cycle fast, but its cleaning performance was actually better than the stain removal we observed in the Deep Clean cycle, which is pretty impressive. Our testing also revealed that this washer’s Normal and Delicates cycles are among the most gentle we’ve ever tested; you won’t have to worry about wear and tear on your clothes. For a washing machine that successfully marries neat new features with solid cleaning performance, check out the GE GTW720BSNWS washer.
We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we've also used them like normal people would in the course of their daily lives, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features (as opposed to the kitchen-sink approach to features).
With all this in mind, you can feel confident that when we recommend a product, we're giving it our Reviewed stamp of approval, which means two things: firstly, this appliance performs well, and secondly, this appliance is easy to use. We're always reviewing new products, so stay tuned for our reviews and roundups of the latest products in laundry, refrigerators, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners.
Every washing machine that comes into Reviewed’s labs gets put through the same testing regime, which addresses both performance and user-friendliness. Performance tests include:
Stain removal – Using a strip of AHAM-approved stains (which includes cocoa, sweat, pig’s blood, red wine, and oil), how much of each stain can this washing machine remove?
Wear and tear – During a given cycle, how hard is the mechanical action of the washing machine on your clothes?
Water retention – How much water does your washing machine spin out at the end of the cycle?
Cycle time – How long is each washing machine cycle?
The best washing machines have solid stain removal abilities, do not damage your clothes, retain little water, and have short cycle times.
Beyond these performance tests, we also assess the usability of each washing machine, based on our experience, both during testing and during more casual use (one perk of working at Reviewed is that there is plenty of laundry machines on premises!). Our main goal is to get the answer to one question: How easy is it to actually use this washing machine? This involves cumulatively assessing the control panel, the door, the detergent dispenser, and any smart features that are included.
By combining the performance data with our own observations, we can make the solid recommendations for someone looking for any type of washing machine at any price point.
What You Should Know About Top-Loaders
You've probably heard people bragging about their beautiful front-load washing machines (and rightfully so); why would you want to buy a top-loader? As it turns out, there are plenty of reasons to buy a top loader, but the three most important reasons are this: ease of use, extra water options, and ergonomics.
Ease of Use
While recent studies indicate that front-load washing machines are overtaking top-load washers in the laundry popularity contest, some shoppers prefer to stick with what they know—top-loading washing machines with pole agitators. The sentiment isn't misplaced; getting a machine similar to one whose layout and logic you're used to will make your laundry life easier, even if most top-load agitator washing machines have gotten a tech-induced face-lift, and will probably look slightly different than the one in your mom's basement. Additionally, you can easily throw laundry into a top-load washer after a cycle has started—this is a much more difficult task for a front-load washer, which has to pause the cycle so that the water doesn't spill out when you open the door to throw in an errant piece of laundry.
In general, most top-load washing machines are less complicated than front-loaders, which often come with control pads that look like they belong on a spaceship. If you just want to hit a few buttons and get your laundry going, you'd probably be better off with a top-loader.
Top-load washers have different ergonomics than front-loading washers. If you prefer to just drop laundry into the washer from a standing position, and don't want to crouch down to get your clothes into and out of a front-load washing machine (or have to stack your front-loader so that accessible while standing), then you're probably better off with a top-loader. The washing machine type and feature set are just two of the things to consider when you're buying a washing machine, but knowing that you prefer a top-load over a front-load washer will help to narrow down your choices considerably.
Other Top-Loaders We Tested
If you want a workhouse washer that can deal with lots of laundry and lots of different laundry situations, you’ll want to take a look at the LG WT7900HBA top-loading washer. This washer has a lot of appealing features, including a 5.5-cu.-ft. capacity (most normal washers have a capacity of ~4.8 cu. ft.), an Allergiene cycle (which claims to remove pet dander and dust mites), and seven steam cycles (including Normal, Allergiene, and Sanitary).
Additionally, the cycle times are nice and short. The Normal and Speed Wash cycles both clock in at 30 minutes long. If you really have some serious stains to remove, though, we recommend the Heavy Duty cycle, which performed the best in our stain removal tests, and takes less than two hours to run. While this washer isn’t as efficient as some LG front-load washers we’ve tested, if you like top-load washers and want a larger tub capacity, fast cycle times, and steam cycles, the LG WT7900HBA might be a good fit for you.
If you want a washer that is both beautiful and functional, then you’ll appreciate the Samsung WA50R5400AV top-load washer. This washer has some really nice features that belie its affordable price tag; who wouldn’t want a built-in faucet for pretreating stains, a soft-close top, or a fingerprint-resistant black stainless steel finish?
During our testing, the Heavy Duty cycle had the strongest stain removal performance, but the Normal cycle comes in a close second. Depending on your expectations, you may find that a 55-minute-long Normal cycle is too long or just right. Fortunately, if you need an even shorter cycle time, this washer has a Super Speed option that can shorten your Normal cycle time to as little as 36 minutes. If you want a washer with a luxury feel and a non-luxury price, check out the Samsung WA50R5400AV washer.
The Maytag MVW7232HW top-load washer is a great mix of new features and old-school functionality. With its capacity of 5.3 cu. ft. and it’s Extra Power stain removal booster, this washer can handle large loads without taking a hit on cleaning. For those who like having control over the amount of water in your wash, you’ll be delighted by the Deep Fill option, which allows you to add varying amounts of extra water to your wash cycle.
In terms of stain removal, this washer has some of the best-performing Normal and Heavy Duty cycles that have ever come through our labs. Even better, we found that this washer is gentle on your clothes. While the cycle times are longer than those of some other washers we’ve seen on the market (the Normal cycle clocks in at ~40 minutes), for the kinds of cleaning power you get with the Maytag MVW7232HW, you won’t mind the trade-off.
While today's washers are all about efficiency, some people prefer their washers to completely fill up with water for every cycle. If that's you, then look no further: the LG WT7100CW top-load washer won't disappoint.
With large, intuitive controls and a nice soft-close lid, this washer is easy to use, but still has enough options to please even the pickiest of laundry doers. It did an okay job of stain removal and didn't spin out as much water as we'd hoped it would, but for those who want a lot of water in each laundry cycle, the Deep Wash cycle is sure to be a people pleaser. In fact, that Deep Wash cycle uses about four times the amount of water used in a Normal cycle. With its quiet operation and see-through lid, the WT7100CW is a solid choice for someone who wants to upgrade from an old-school washer with a pole agitator, but isn't quite ready to embrace a high-end, high-tech laundry set up.
If your laundry hamper is full of delicate pieces, sportswear, or other items that don't do as well as cotton does in a washing machine, you're going to love the LG WT7300CW. This washing machine has a clear glass lid so that you can peer down and see the wash plate wash your clothes. One of the metrics by which we judge washers is wear and tear, that is, how much the washer damages the threads of your clothes in a given cycle. Out of the washers we've tested recently, the Normal and Delicates cycles on the LG WT7300CW were the most gentle.
LG is known for its feature- and gadget-heavy appliances, and the WT7300CW doesn't disappoint. While it has a ton of extra cycle options (like Tub Clean, Turbo Wash, and Water Plus), you still select cycles by turning a dial and pressing a button. The cycle times are a bit longer than some of the other LG washers we've tested recently, and the Quick cycle option is located on the panel, rather than on the dial, but its gentle and efficient cleaning performance makes the LG WT7300CW an easy choice for one of our top top-load washers.
The GE GTW685BSLWS has time-tested features in a more modern context. Its soft-close glass lid is a nice bonus, and it allows you to monitor the wash as it agitates. All you need to do to turn on the machine is to lift up the lid. A single knob lets you dial up a wash cycle; because they’re clearly labeled, it’s a breeze to pick the one you need. You can have granular control over each wash load by choosing the soil level, water temperature, spin, and rinse. Once you’ve set it, you can save it using the My Cycle feature.
Of course, you can also just use the default cycles and settings and get good stain removal results; with the turn of a dial and the tap of a button, you can start your laundry day off right. This top-loading agitator machine helps you get clean laundry by successfully balancing old-school design and high-tech features.
Has a warm rinse setting so no cold laundry
Deep Fill option adds extra water
Good stain removal
Detergent sometimes left behind in dispenser
Tough on laundry
Laundry purists may stand behind a traditional washing machine design—a top loader with a pole agitator—such as the new LG WT7305CV, but those who can also geek out on special smart features will love this modern machine.
The WT7305CV comes outfitted with LG's ThinQ app, which lets you control the washer remotely, and, through LG's ProActive Care program, it uses AI and wifi to send LG usage diagnostics and appliance problems. It also has some other great features that actually add functionality, like its soft-close lid and a deep fill feature, which is great for users who get their clothes really, really dirty.
When it comes to cleaning power, the WT7305CV holds its own, but we would've liked to see a bit more stain-fighting power from a washer in this price range. That being said, the WT7305CV is more than capable of handling the average load of laundry—just be careful around red wine and chocolate.
The Maytag MVW7230HW top-loader carries a premium price, but if you can get it on sale it offers some decent performance for a traditional top-loader. On our tests, we found it performed about as well as the average washer and also had some nice extras like a built-in faucet and an impressive, decade-long warranty.
If you don't have a utility sink in your laundry room, you might appreciate the Activewash sink and ridged wash basin built into the Samsung WA52M7750AV washing machine. To get the best cleaning performance, we recommend that you use the Heavy cycle, which clocks in at about one hour and 20 minutes long. It's only about seven minutes longer than the Normal cycle, but does a better job at stain removal.
If you need to tackle really tough stains, you can use the Steam Sanitize cycle to blast dirty clothes with high heat and enough steam to loosen and remove stains from fabrics. A steam cycle also doubles as a handy way to refresh musty or packed away clothes. With the variety of cycles and options available on this Samsung washer, even the pickiest of laundry doers should be satisfied.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.