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Best and Worst Agitator Top-Loaders From Consumer Reports' Tests

GE, LG, Maytag, and Samsung make models that stand out
Maytag
/ Source: Consumer Reports

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Traditionally, agitator washers were the no-frills station wagons of the laundry aisle, while high-efficiency top-loaders and front loaders, respectively, raced in the muscle car and luxury lanes—loaded with shiny, sleek designs and advanced technology. So why are agitators always more popular than those other eye-candy washing machines? Let’s pop the hood on that.

Agitator washing machines are often your least expensive option and cycle faster than other washer types. The downside? Performance. In Consumer Reports’ tests, most agitator washers don’t clean as well as HE top-loaders—the type without an agitator—or front-load washers. And until recent years, they washed fewer clothes per load.

To make agitators more appealing, manufacturers have begun to tweak the machines to be more like feature-rich HE top-loaders and front-loaders. That’s why you’ll see agitator top-loaders in our ratings that have stylish details, such as a stainless steel look and a glass lid. Some now have jumbo capacities, so you can do more laundry at once.

All that drives up the price of the models, undercutting an agitator’s biggest selling point. At the same time, prices on other washer types have come down. Like cars, washers are highly competitive machines.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of six impressive agitator top-loaders in our ratings, along with three to skip. LG and Samsung agitators rank high, though they’re too new to this category for us to rate them for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction. As you’re shopping, double-check to make sure you can fit the new machine in your space (and through doors) by noting the dimensions in our washing machine ratings.

6 Impressive Agitator Top-Loaders From CR's Tests

LG WT7005CW

CR take: The recommended LG WT7005CW has you covered. A CR Best Buy, it earns a Very Good rating in water efficiency, energy efficiency, and washing performance. It’s not very gentle on your clothes, but it will get them clean. Wash time is 70 minutes; for vibration, this model receives an Excellent score (you’ll barely notice it’s running). It features auto temperature control, auto detergent and bleach dispenser, and a deep fill option. With a claimed capacity of 4.3 cubic feet, the 27-inch-wide washer will easily fit in standard laundry areas.

LG WT7305CW

CR’s take: LG’s first agitator top-loader, the LG WT7305CW, is a winner in so many ways. Washing and water efficiency are top-notch. It’s also highly energy-efficient; though its wash time is relatively long (70 minutes), it extracts more water from clothes, which makes for shorter dry times. With a fairly roomy claimed capacity of 4.8 cubic feet, it can handle relatively large loads, including a king-size comforter. It’s not the quietest machine, though, and its gentleness rating is only Fair.

Samsung WA51A5505AW

CR’s take: The Samsung WA51A5505AW tackles big loads—its claimed capacity is 5.1 cubic feet—within a standard 27-inch width. Though its 90-minute wash cycle is the longest among top load agitators in our tests, it’s an excellent cleaner that’s energy- and water-efficient. However, like most agitator washers, it’s rough on fabrics—so it’s best to separate clothes by type (cottons, delicates, denims, etc.) and choose wash cycles accordingly to preserve your clothes a little longer.

Samsung WA44A3405AW

CR’s take: If deep cleaning is your top priority, you may think twice about the Samsung WA44A3205AW. But the price is right. While its washing performance and fabric gentleness is only middle-of-the-road, this Samsung still earns a Very Good rating overall and is designated a CR Best Buy. That’s mostly because of its attractive price tag, an Excellent score for vibration, and Very Good marks for water efficiency, energy efficiency, and noise—meaning it’s pretty quiet. This sleek white model has 4.4 cubic feet of claimed capacity and a cycle time of 70 minutes. It features auto temperature control, auto detergent dispenser, and a stainless steel tub.

Maytag MVW8230HC (discontinued)

CR’s take: The Maytag MVW8230HC snags a Very Good overall rating in our tests because of its washing performance, energy efficiency, 55-minute cycle time, and generous 5.2-cubic-foot claimed capacity. It’s noisy, however, typical for this type. It’s also one of the few agitator top-loaders we’ve tested that is WiFi-connected, allowing you to receive cycle alerts on your smartphone and more. You must pay 99 cents a month for a connected subscription after the first six months. Available in metallic slate.

GE Profile PTW605BSRWS

CR’s take: The GE Profile PTW605BSRWS only scores Good on predicted reliability, but the price is right. So is its Very Good washing performance and energy efficiency, and Excellent vibration score. This model has a 4.9 cubic foot capacity and a 105-minute wash cycle. The tradeoffs: it’s noisy, water efficiency is just Good, and like most top-load agitators, it’s rough on fabrics. It’s available in white.

3 Worst Agitator Top-Loaders

These three agitator top-loaders rank lowest of all washers we tested.

Kenmore 20232

CR’s take: Although gentle on fabrics, the Kenmore 20232 earns Poor water efficiency ratings and mediocre washing-performance scores on CR’s tests. Don’t like waiting around for a long wash cycle? The machine has an average cycle time of 70 minutes, substantially longer than most top-loaders.

Amana NTW4516FW

CR’s take: The price is appealing, but this Amana NTW4516FW earns a Poor rating for water efficiency. It used 25.5 gallons to wash our test load, and many of the stains on our test swatches remained after washing.

Maytag Commercial MVWP576KW

CR’s take: This Maytag Commercial MVWP576KW washes clothes gently and quickly, with just a 30-minute cycle and a claimed capacity of 3.5 cubic feet. It’s also energy-efficient and barely vibrates. The problem: A washer is designed to clean clothes, and this one isn’t up to the task, receiving a Poor rating. It’s also a water guzzler and noisy, earning only Fair marks in both areas. These tested deficits are why it’s the lowest-rated top-load agitator in our ratings, by far. We cannot recommend this model.

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