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Agitator top load washers give you an old-fashioned, deep-soaking clean. They're the one modern appliance that would be pretty familiar to your great-grandmother. The top lid opens with a hinge, and there's a washtub inside with a post in the center—that's the agitator. It's what swirls your laundry around in the soapy water and gets it clean.

Although there are newer (and some might say better) technologies out there, agitator top load washer sales continue to rise, thanks to their affordable price points. Lately, manufacturers have taken note of the strong interest in agitator models and started incorporating impressive features such as high-efficiency technologies and steam in select models.

In this article, we'll rank the six best agitator top load washers, to help you narrow down your search. We'll also ensure that you know what you're buying by explaining the wash quality, wash cycle speed, price points, water usage, spin speeds, and noise level you can expect from these machines.

We'll also highlight the differences between modern washing technologies. You might know that an agitator's what you want. Or you might not realize that there are some top load machines without an agitator too.

Read on, and you'll understand the options and pros and cons of each, and be ready to choose a new washer and dryer with confidence.

Photo: Speed Queen

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The Best Agitator Top Load Washers

Best Overall: Speed Queen TC5003WN

Speed Queen TC5003WN Top Load Washer

Width: 25 5/8 inches | Height: 42 3/4 inches | Depth: 28 inches | Capacity: 3.2 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 6/4 | RPM: 840 | Steam: No | Color: White | Energy Star: Yes |

Who It's For: People who want a simple washer that just does its job properly. If you're looking for a washer that provides great clean in only 28 minutes without any additional frills, you've found your match.

Why We Chose It: We love how this Speed Queen washer can handle tough loads and stains. Also, its lifespan and warranty give you peace of mind. It single-handedly propelled the brand onto our best washer and dryer list.

Speed Queen has finally got its mojo back after a few years' hiatus. The traditional agitator TC5003WN is available again, with its stainless steel drum for a gentler wash. This product is engineered to last; it comes with Speed Queen's customary 25-year lifespan and an industry-leading three-year bumper to bumper warranty (not to mention five-year motor and 15-year transmission warranties).

Even though the drum capacity is just 3.2 cu. ft., which is a bit smaller than some of its rivals, it has plenty of room for big loads. The advanced design and steel base suspension system allow this Speed Queen to handle the kind of tough loads that can throw other washers off balance—such as blankets and heavy work clothes—with ease.


Budget Pick: Maytag MVWC465HW

Maytag MVWC465HW

Width: 27 1/2 inches | Height: 41 inches | Depth: 27 inches | Capacity: 3.8 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 12/5 | RPM: 900 | Steam: No | Color: White | Energy Star: No |

Who It's For: People who are looking for an affordable agitator top load washer.

Why We Chose It: This washer comes at such a budget-friendly price point but it definitely does its job properly. It has all the features we expect to see in an agitator top load washer.

The PowerWash cycle is effective and produces great results. It does a very good job with removing tough stains and dirt. The Deep Fill Option gives you the flexibility to fill up the tub when you want, for presoaking clothes or giving them an extra-thorough rinse.

We also like that this Maytag uses modern High Efficiency (HE) detergent to generate the perfect amount of suds for cleaning.

Premium Pick: GE GTW685BSLWS

GE GTW685BSLWS Agitator Washer

Width: 27 inches | Height: 46 inches | Depth: 27 inches | Capacity: 4.5 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 14/6 | RPM: 800 | Steam: No | Color: White | Energy Star: Yes |

Who It's For: People who want an old-fashioned agitator top loader with the kind of technology you usually find in a modern front load washer.

Why We Chose It: This GE washer has WiFi connectivity and can work with voice assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. You'll get the same solid features with a smart edge and a few extras.

This GE washer has all the great features of the GTW465ASNWW, an ultra-reliable base model. It starts with its agitator: It has forward and reverse motions to ensure all of your clothes get clean. It also has a deep fill option, a 35-minute express cycle, and specialized cycles for cleaning the drum and sanitizing with Oxi which removes 99.9 percent of bacteria and boosts the cleaning action of your detergent.

The soft-close lid means you'll never accidentally slam it again. We also like the digital countdown clock on this model.

Beyond all those features, you get access to GE's nationwide service network and a 10-year motor warranty.

Best Capacity: Maytag MVW7230HW

Maytag Agitator Washer MVW7230HW

Width: 27 1/4 inches | Height: 58 1/2 inches | Depth: 27 7/8 inches | Capacity: 5.2 cu. ft. | Cycles/Options: 12/6 | RPM: 850 | Steam: No | Color: White, Metallic Slate | Energy Star: Yes |

Who It's For: People who need a washer with room for lots of clothes and a big menu of additional features. This Maytag has an impressive capacity that makes it the perfect choice for big families.

Why We Chose It: Maytag invested heavily in this machine by addressing the inherent shortcomings of agitator washers. Now that this version is available, we think that it'll be the right choice for plenty of buyers.

The Maytag MVW7230HW replaces the ultra-high-capacity (6.0 cu. ft.) MVWB965HW, which was the largest agitator top load washer available.

The "powerwash agitator" on the MVW7230HW combines the classic wash with a modern drum moves that provides a great clean and relatively gentle fabric care.

You'll like the Wrinkle Control cycle, which is specifically designed to prevent wrinkles with low spin speeds and warm water.

PowerSpray is Maytag's term for recirculating water and detergent from the bottom of the tub to the top. This system is particularly effecive in treating stubborn stains.

This Maytag agitator top load washer also has a very good 850 RPM spin cycle. That means it'll extract more water from your laundry, which in turn shortens how long it takes your dryer.


The DA Download: Agitator Top Load Washers

An Agitator Front Load Washer Is Perfect for You If...

  • You want a washer with old-fashioned features like an agitator and a deep-fill option
  • You have lots of very dirty clothes to wash
  • You care a lot about finishing loads fast
  • You have space to sit your washer and dryer side by side

You Might Not Love an Agitator Front Load Washer If...

  • You want a washer that's gentle on your clothes
  • Your priorities include saving water and energy
  • You want to stack your dryer on top of your washer
  • You want the quietest machine possible

Impeller vs Agitator Top Load Washers

Wash Quality & Fabric Care

The stroke action in an agitator top load washing machine works when the agitator rubs against clothes and generates cleaning action to loosen soils and infuse the fabric with clean water and detergent.

agitator-vs-impeller

A high-efficiency (HE) impeller top load washer relies on drum motions choreographed to rub clothes against each other. As a result the wash action in an impeller washing machine is gentler compared with that of an agitator model.

However, it's important to note that the current crop of agitator models (especially more expensive ones) have features specifically designed to care for your fabrics, including motion control for the drum and properly engineered vans and fins that help with fabric care.

Wash Speed

Most agitator top load washing machines finish a load in under an hour. A majority of HE top load washers finish the same task in about 80 minutes.

Manufacturers are racing to add express cycles in impeller HE models, but we've noticed that these cycles are typically only effective for smaller loads with normal soil levels.

Spin Speed

Most agitator top load washers spin at under 800 RPM, so they're super stable. Even on the upper floor in an older home, you won't hear excessive vibration.

HE top load washers spin at higher speeds of about 1,000 to 1,300 RPMs, depending on the model.

A higher spin speed might cause more vibration, but it has benefits too. The faster the spin speed, the more water gets extracted. Ultimately, that leaves less work for the dryer to do and results in shorter dry times that save energy.

Other Factors to Consider

Price

Lower price points are the reason why agitator top load machines are so popular. Since it's tried-and-true technology, manufacturers don't need to conduct further research and invest money into developing it.

While most agitator washing machines start at around $649, HE washing machines start at around $699.

That being said, continuing strong sales of agitator models have motivated some manufacturers (notably GE and Maytag) to incorporate advanced features such as high efficiency and steam. Naturally, products with more advanced features have higher price points.

Water Use

HE top loaders are designed to conserve energy and water. Agitator washers use more water than they do, hands down.

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 top load washers typically don't 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 smelling fresh.

Noise

Agitator top load machines tend to be much louder than HE models.

Capacity

Manufacturers spend most of their time updating HE washing machines with new features and bigger capacities. However, a downside of having a bigger, deeper tub is that it can be more difficult to reach into.

Useful Features

Impeller HE washers incorporate many useful features. Automatic detergent dispensers are a favorite because they make it much easier to do laundry. You can often store months' worth of detergent in the dispenser and let your washing machine decide how much detergent to use based on the program, soil levels, and weight of the laundry.

Conclusion

Agitator top load washers are the classic choice when it comes to doing laundry. They're fast, simple, and relatively inexpensive compared with top load washers that don't have an agitator or than front load washers. They also require very little cleaning and maintenance. However, they can be harsh on your clothes and tend to have fewer wash options and bells and whistles than other washing machines.

If you're still trying to decide between a top load washer and a front load washer, check out our in-depth top load vs front load guide.

FAQs

There's a lot of talk about washer cycles that rid clothes and sheets of allergens and dust mites. Do agitator top load washers have specific cycles for this?

Heat, steam, and soaking eliminate dust mites, pollen, mildew, and most other allergens found in fabrics. With a top load washer, you get even more peace of mind knowing that mildew won't get transferred from the washer's gasket to your clothes or linens.

My laundry room is in my basement. Is it true that it's a better idea to put a top load washer in the basement rather than a front load washer?

Yes, that's true. Basements tend to be damp and have very little fresh air flow. The washer's gasket, where water can collect, is the culprit for mildew and mold. A front load washer might not fare well in this environment. With top load washers, however, gravity pulls any moisture out of the gasket.

We still recommend leaving the washer door open between cycles, as well as wiping down dust, soil, and laundry detergent from in and around the gasket. It's also a good idea to run a washer cleaning cycle every few months.