June 2022

Why does your front loader take so long?

We explain top and front loader washing machine cycle times.

Its no secret that top loaders wash way quicker than front loaders, but the gap between cycle times of the two types is widening.

We’re hearing more and more from our members about the frustration of having to wait so long for a standard wash to complete. You could of course choose a top loader if time is of the essence, but to be quicker top loaders have to use a lot more water, they don’t wash as well and aren’t as gentle on your clothes.

We test washing machines with a 3.5kg load and a “normal” cycle cold wash. Our current average tested cycle time for top loaders is 56 minutes, compared with 151 minutes for front. The average water used in these tests for top loaders is over twice the amount used for front loaders (126 litres for top compared with 58 litres for front). Top loaders have more of the washing submerged in water than a front loader which will have the clothing being tumbled in and out of the water. Therefore to achieve the same amount of contact with water and detergent (and hence the same amount of dirt removal) in a front loader, it needs a longer cycle time.

Washing machines are sold with water and energy efficiency ratings prominently displayed as selling points – more stars are better. This can come at the detriment of cleaning performance as well as cycle time.

To achieve more water rating stars, a washer needs to use as little water as possible but still clean to an acceptable standard. The only way to do this is to extend the cycle time. This doesn’t actually affect energy consumption all that much as most of the energy is used in the initial heat up of the water.

As we always say, the best thing to do is read our reviews as they will give you a more accurate understanding of how a product performs.

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Test results

You can reduce cycle time by choosing a slower spin speed or by reducing the wash temperature. Or you can select a faster wash program (but bear in mind that many faster washes are better for smaller loads, so may not clean your clothes as well).

Member comments

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Linda C.
27 Jun 2022
Front loaders ARE much gentler on fabrics ...

Timewise, I agree with those who say a) there are options to reduce times b) don't leave it til the last minute - no problem to run overnight fully finished, or skip last rinse/spin & do it just before hanging out in morning.
Biggest plus is the $$$$ I've saved over decades from clothes, tea towels, towels, bed sheets etc. etc. lasting much longer. Family have top loaders & I used to, and noticeable the difference.
Have to say though, some strong young men were not impressed carrying my front loader down 8 flights of stairs because of the weight of the built in water heater!!!

Bridgette v.
26 Jun 2022
Are our clothes really that dirty?

All my washes are short - 45-60 mins long. Even sheets and towels are done on a warm 40 deg short wash of 60 mins. Given that I wash every day, and most loads are small, I think the 2 plus hour wash cycles are excessive. Maybe justified if you were washing large loads of really dirty washing. I have a FL Bosch, but am considering replacing with a Miele when the time comes. My parents have a FL LG. I found there was less flexibility in programme lengths with their machine, but it did do a good job. I changed from top loader to front loader about 12 years ago, and would never go back.

Eve M.
25 Jun 2022
Front is fast read your user manual

It is only the cotton cycle that is long my Miele does that in under 2 hours my clothing cycles are all done on either the 20min 3.5 kg or the power wash 4kg in 49 mins . Read your user that is why it came with the machine

25 Jun 2022
But there's options!

Our Miele, if you wash with standard settings, takes about 2hrs for a wash. But just read the simple manual, there's plenty of ways of cutting that drastically. Change the temp and click the "short wash" button and you've already halved that. There's also a special 20min function, which I use for my football kit all the time.

If you're buying just check out all the different wash cycles that are available. On most of these machines there's plenty, so really..... this is a non issue imo.

Nicholas G.
25 Jun 2022
Machine Choice Crucial

Get the best washing performance you can afford (without compromising other aspects of performance) - then shorter wash programmes will likely still be very satisfactory - my top spec Bosch can was very well in 45/60 minutes for lightly soiled clothes. If they need a longer wash I put them on overnight.

With front loader remember it is not the size of the drum that determines the load - the front loader action without an agitator can have clothes more firmly packed - maybe do a test of dry weight just to reassure yourself you can put more in your front loader than you think.

Gary B.
25 Jun 2022
Warm wash vs cold

Switched to our first front loader. Always did cold water washes in top loader but now using the 30° setting in the FL and despite same size machine fits less than the TL so more washes done. Hence no savings in power or water bills. Have a question though, do you think its better to have the machine heat the water or have it take it from the tap- the LG can do either. Cheers

Frank - Consumer staff
28 Jun 2022
Re: Warm wash vs cold

Hi Gary,

If you are only doing 30 or 40 deg washes you aren't going to notice a saving really as its not a huge temperature rise. If you have electric water heating then the cost of using your home water heater compared to the electric heater in the washing machine is going to be much the same. You could argue that if you have a hot water cylinder then the water is already warm so you may as well use it. In some countries gas water heating is significantly cheaper so that would be a way to save money, but gas water heating in NZ really isn't much cheaper.

Most machines are design to be cold fill and this is what I would stick with, you are then only heating the water you need.

Kind regards,
Frank - Consumer NZ staff

Kas S.
25 Jun 2022
Don't understand your times

I had a Westinghouse front loader for 15 years and I could do a standard cold wash in 33 minutes. My current LG front loader has many options to choose, way down to a quick 14 minute cold wash and my favourite is a mix load in cold water I use all the time and that only takes 44 minutes but my machine also weighs the load I put in it before it fills it with water.

Gary B.
25 Jun 2022

Have an LG also and a cold water wash is close to 3 hours. Big family loads though..

Kas S.
25 Jun 2022
Hi Gary B

I'm also on tank water supplied from a stream. I've had my current LG 9kg for 3 years (model before the WV9-1409W) so I'm really surprised yours takes so long, but my household is only 2 adults with a lot of work gear to wash, but I also wash dog beds, blankets in mine with the same amount of time. My LG also has a Turbo Clean which cuts the time way down and makes the 44 minutes a reality.

Maurice V.
25 Jun 2022
Don't watch washing.

Do other things during the cycle. My current w/m does a good wash at 59 minutes. My previous w/m, which lasted 20 years, had a time delay so that it could start during the night and the clothes would be ready to dry when I woke.
Doesn't seem a problem of the machine but more the operator.

Ruth M.
25 Jun 2022
Use your time delay if you have one.

Yes, I set the time delay on my machine to complete the wash at the time I get up in the morning so it is all ready to hang out the washing line. Especially helpful over winter when drying time outside is at a premium.