We've updated this roundup to include the Maytag MVWB865GC. We're testing lots of washers right now, so stay tuned for further updates!
Top-loading washing machines have an undying appeal in the world of American laundry. While they may not be as energy-efficient as some front-loading machines can be, when wash time's over, It’s nice to not have to bend down to unload laundry and there’s less chance for mold to develop in the machine. There are plenty of us out there who just want to do laundry with the same type of washer that our mothers used.
The average top-load washer is cheaper than a front-loader, but that doesn’t mean they’re all good bargains. We’ve tested hundreds of washing machines in our testing labs and have sussed out which models give you a lot of bang for your buck. On almost every level, the GE GTW680BSJWS(available at AppliancesConnection for $592.00) came out on top. It proved that it could conquer stains and gave users the ability to rinse their clothes with an adjustable water level before submitting them to a spin cycle when they wanted. However, if you’re not enamored with the very old-school design of that GE washer, there are plenty of other washers on our list that are all solid choices.
These are the best top-loading washing machines under $1,000 we tested ranked, in order:
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Best Top-Loading Washing Machines Under $1,000 of 2019
The GE GTW680BSJWS features the very best of top-loading technology, with everything the American public wants out of a washer: a massive 4.6-cu.-ft. capacity, a warm rinse feature, and powerful stain removal. We also love its efficient wash cycles, but if efficiency isn't a big deal for you, you might appreciate the Deep Fill feature, which allows you to add more water to a given cycle (even if you don't actually need more water to get your laundry clean).
By including both a dial for cycle selection and a control board for cycle options, laundry novices and experts alike will have an easy time choosing exactly what cycle they want for a given garment or food stain. If you don't like bending over or squatting to get wet clothes out of your washer, we heartily recommend the GE GTW680BSJWS as our favorite top-load washing machine.
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
The LG WT7500CW is one of our top picks for top-load washers thanks to its size, speed, and power. Its huge, high capacity 5.2-cubic-foot drum is one of the largest available in a top-loading washing machine today, and easily accommodates a large load of laundry from a family of four. Even better, when you need clean clothes in a hurry, its Normal cycle can be as quick as 30 minutes. The best part is that during those 30 minutes, it performed admirably in our stain removal tests.
Other options on the WT7500CW, such as Cold Wash, Water Plus, and TurboWash, allow you flexibility and customization with your wash cycles. Its only major drawback is how much water it uses, but if you prefer more water when you do your laundry, then the increased water usage is worth the slightly elevated utility bills.
The Samsung WA54M8750AW is competitively-priced, and comes with a roomy 5.4-cu.-ft. tub with plenty of room for laundry. It cleans clothes well, and it has plenty of family-friendly cycles and options.
The best feature, however, is ActiveWash. ActiveWash is a combination faucet/hand-washing sink that's built into the top of the washer, so you can clean and soak your clothes—then dump them straight into the washer. When you're done hand-washing, the sink basin simply flips up next to the top of the washing machine, and the rest of your laundry routine proceeds normally. A washer with a built-in, convenient feature like ActiveWash is something worth putting in your laundry room.
The Maytag MVWB865GC is the future of top-load pole agitator washing machines. Between its beautiful metallic slate finish and it's sleek but streamlined interface, this is one washing machine that you won't mind showing off to guests. In a handy combination of tech and legend, this Maytag washer lets you select the cycle with a dial, and punch in cycle options (such as soil level, water temperature, and spin speed) by tapping touch-sensitive buttons on the display.
We were very pleased with the cleaning performance on this washer; the PowerWash cycle is up to the task of defeating your most stubborn stains. Even better, this washer did a great job of minimizing wear and tear on our test laundry load, which is an impressive feat for a washer with a pole agitator. If you want a Maytag washer, you can't go wrong with the Maytag MVWB865GC washer.
The "What to Wash" and "How to Wash" control panel system helps to ensure that your clothes won't get ruined in the Whirlpool WTW7500GC. With over 20 different combinations, this washer can handle any laundry situation. One of those options is ColorLast, which keeps your clothes from getting stretched out or losing their vibrancy by washing in cold water and with a gentler agitation setting.
On top of that, this top-load washer offers a built-in faucet. This feature allows you to easily pre-treat tough stains without the need for a utility sink. The Heavy cycle offers the best cleaning performance, but the other cycles are nothing to sniff at. Between its awesome stain removal, intuitive control panel, and built-in sink, this Whirlpool washer will make itself right at home in your laundry room.
The Samsung WA45M7050AW is a prime example of what a modern top loader can do. It has a 4.5-cu.-ft. drum, a soft-close lid, a powerful Heavy Duty cycle, and a diamond-patterned drum interior. While it has longer cycle times than other top-load washers in its price bracket, the WA45M7050AW has great stain removal and is gentle on your clothes.
Like most Samsung washers, the WA45M7050AW has an amazing number of wash cycles and options, but those myriad options aren't overwhelming: the interface is streamlined and easy to use. When you combine better performance, sleek design, and premium features, you get a washer that's worth trading up for.
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.
The GE GTW460ASJWW is the quintessential American washer. If you want the washing machine that your mother (and maybe your grandmother) used, this is today's version of that machine. It has a dual-action pole agitator, a button that lets you fill the tub to the brim with water (or use the default water settings for a more efficient wash cycle), and easy-to-read controls.
In spite of its retro feel, all of the major cycles for this washer take less than an hour, so you won't be stuck waiting by the washer for long. Unsurprisingly, we recommend using the Heavy cycle for your most intense stains, but the other cycles also clean your clothes well. If you've enjoyed a top-load washer in the last six decades, you'll be pleased by this one.
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.
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 Senior Lab Technician 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.
Cindy Bailen loves writing about major appliances and home design and has spent over 15 years immersed in that. In her spare time, Cindy hosts pledge programs for WGBH-TV in Boston and other public television stations.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.