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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.

Washing machines   lifetime scoring promo

Washing machines tested

We've rolled out our new lifetime performance scores for all washing machines we've tested.

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).

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