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Impeller vs. Agitator Washer: Which is Best for You?

by Michael Webster

When deciding on a new top-loading washing machine, you will need to choose between two different styles: agitator and impeller washers. Agitators and impellers are both found in top-loading washing machines, however, they move and clean clothes in two unique and distinctive ways. Both types of washers will help you conquer that mountain of laundry, it’s just a matter of how that makes all the difference.

So, which style will help you get through laundry day the best? Check out our head-to-head breakdown and key factors of choosing between an agitator or impeller washer.

How Do They Both Clean?

To start things off, let’s break down how these two types of washer cleaning styles differ from each other. You are probably more familiar with a washing machine with an agitator because they have been around for a longer amount of time (and that’s okay!)

Over the years, advances in washer technology have ensured that agitators can take on your toughest loads, without being too tough on your clothes. Traditional agitators are tall spindles located in the center of the wash basket that twist (or agitate) back and forth, rubbing against the clothes to help break down dirt and other particles.

On the flip side, a washing machine with an impeller does things slightly different than an agitator. Impellers are low-profile cones or discs that spin and rotate to rub clothes against each other to get them clean. They also use less motion and water than a washer with an agitator. Impeller washers are designed so that the laundry has more room to move in order to enhance the friction between clothes, which helps in delivering a gentle, yet thorough clean.

Top-loaded washer filled with an assortment of clothes. 

How Do They Compare?

Before making your final decision, you will have several options and features to compare when it comes to the wash action and cleaning power of these two washers. Now that you’re aware of the two potential washing mechanisms for handling your dirty laundry, let’s break down how the two stack up against each other.

Agitator washer key features:

  • Rubs against clothes to break down tough stains and clean.
  • Familiar functionality.
  • Wash basket rotates for a hard-hitting clean.
  • Shorter overall wash times.
  • Soaks clothes with water recirculated from the wash/rinse cycle.

Top view of agitator washer empty with a shiny metal wash basket. 

Impeller washer key features:

  • Rubs clothes against each other for thorough and gentle clean.
  • More room in the wash basket for bulky articles and easier loading/unloading.
  • Wash basket rotates for a deeper clean.
  • Shorter dry times.
  • Soaks clothes with water recirculated from the wash/rinse cycle.

 Top view of empty impeller washer with a shiny metal wash basket.

Which One is Best for You?

Okay, now that we’ve compared the two, it’s clear that agitator and impeller washers are both decked out with modernized features to help get you through laundry day. But the question still remains: Which washer is just right for you and your lifestyle?

Whether you are sanitizing gym clothes, cleaning coffee stains out of your favorite jeans, or making sure you have clean sheets for the week, both agitator and impeller models can help you get the dirtiest of jobs done with ease. With both agitator and impeller washer’s impressive cleaning performances, energy efficiency, capacity, and convenience being extremely similar, your decision really lands on your personal preference – and that’s it! Both washers will get the job done efficiently, it’s just a matter of which style or brand you want to commit to!

If you have any questions about these comparisons and think it might be time to purchase a new washer, contact us today or shop our catalog of high-quality washing machines from America’s top appliance brands.