Impeller vs. Agitator Washer: Which Should You Pick?
You’ve had it with laundry mishaps. You’re done asking, “Do I need a new washing machine?” You’re finally ready to shop for a new washer, but you want to ensure you’re getting the best top-loading washing machine for your home and family.
Should you choose an impeller or agitator washer? And what’s the difference, anyway? Check out this comparison of impeller vs. agitator washers to determine which one best suits your needs.
Agitator vs. Impeller Washing Machines: What’s the Difference?
There are so many choices when shopping for a washing machine. Front load or top load washers? Impeller or agitator? Digital display or manual dial? Some washing machine features are simply a matter of personal preference, but agitator and impeller washers actually function differently on a fundamental level.
Typically, front load washers don’t need an agitator or impeller to move clothes, but top loaders will have one or the other. Simply put, these washing machine components sit in the center of the wash basket and move your clothes to help break up stains and dirt.
Both have built-in spray action to move your clothes during the wash cycle. But, while they have the same basic purpose, impeller vs. agitator washing machines both have pros and cons all their own.
What Is An Agitator Washer?
Agitators are spindle-like devices (they will have either vanes or fins) that are secured in the center of the wash basket in the washing machine. During the wash cycle, they twist, turn, and move clothes through the water — “agitating” them — to loosen dirt quickly. The agitator’s motion will vary depending on the type of wash cycle — delicate, standard, or heavy wash. But even with a specific wash cycle, agitator washing machines aren’t always gentle on clothes.
- The vanes and fins twist and turn, ensuring the whole load gets enough detergent and water.
- In washing machines with agitators, debris and dirt are loosened up and removed more effectively.
- Clothes are cleaned quickly, making for shorter cycle times.
- Energy-efficient models with agitator washers are available — just look to see if it’s ENERGY STAR® certified.
Agitator Washer Cons
- Generally, agitator washers have less room than impeller washers for washing bulky items like blankets and pillows since the agitator column takes up space. However, there are high-capacity agitator units available.
- Items can get snagged on the agitator itself and potentially tear.
- Since there is greater friction on your clothes during wash motions, agitators may increase wear on your clothing fabrics over time.
What is An Impeller Washer?
Instead of a tall agitator column, washing machines with an impeller use currents in the water to rub the clothes against each other. Impellers are shaped like low-profile cones, often with small fins or vanes that spin to move water, creating cleaning currents. Impellers are common in high-efficiency washing machines and are thought to be gentler than agitators since they never actually make physical contact with the clothes.
Impeller Washer Pros
- Impellers help preserve your fabrics. They avoid rough physical contact with clothes for a gentle clean.
- There’s more room in the wash basket for bulky items like blankets or pillows since there is no tall agitator column in the washer.
- Impeller washers generally use less water and have high spin speeds. Both of these features can help you save money on laundry day by reducing energy costs. To find an energy-efficient impeller washer, look for the ENERGY STAR® certification.
Impeller Washer Cons
- Because of their gentle washing motion, impeller washers may not always get clothes as clean as an agitator washer.
- During high spin speed cycles, clothes can get twisted in the center of the wash load, throwing off the machine’s balance.
Impeller vs. Agitator — Which is Better?
When shopping for a new washer, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and decide which one is best for your lifestyle. Both an impeller and agitator washing machine will get your clothes clean. They just do it in two different ways.
On one hand, agitator washers are great if you commonly deal with tough dirt and grime and need to aggressively get your clothes clean. However, the lack of room in the drum from the agitator column could mean smaller loads and higher energy costs.
On the other hand, impeller washers are more gentle on your clothes and can help you save on detergent, water, and energy. But because they are more gentle, they might not be as effective when deep cleaning your clothes.
|Cleaning Features||Agitator Washing Machine||Impeller Washing Machine|
|Gentle on Clothing?||Mostly, but can be rougher on them||Helps clothing last longer|
|Cleaning Performance?||Gets tough stains out in less time||May not get out deep dirt the first time|
|Wash Cycle Speed?||Faster||Slower|
|More Space for Large and Bulky Loads?||Not typically, unless you choose a high capacity machine||Yes|
Find the Best Agitator vs. Impeller Washing Machines at Rent-A-Center
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