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Impeller vs. Agitator Washer: Which Should You Pick?

Impeller vs. Agitator Washer: Which Should You Pick?

Woman putting clothes into a washing machineYou have delicates that you wash every week, colors you don’t want to fade, and a pile of dirty soccer uniforms that aren’t going to clean themselves. But your old washing machine just isn’t getting the job done anymore. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to shop for a new washing machine.

But when you’re shopping for a new washing machine, it can feel like you’re stuck on a spin cycle with all the available options! And one of the biggest decisions you’ll face is the choice between an agitator washer and an impeller washer. But what’s the difference between the two? After all, choosing the right washer for your home can make a huge difference, so it’s important to know all your options. Check out this comparison of impeller vs. agitator washers to determine which one will best suit your needs.

What Are Impeller and Agitator Washers?

Long gone are the days of beating your dirty laundry on a rock to get it clean, but the most efficient automatic washing machines emulate that same hand-washing motion. Both impellers and agitators are devices in top-loading washers that clean the clothes by moving them through the wash cycle. They can both be found in high-efficiency washer models, making them both ideal for saving energy and water. And while both do a great job of cleaning your clothes, they do it in slightly different ways.

Agitators are spindle-like devices — either vaned or finned — found in the center of the wash drum in the washing machine. During the wash cycle, they twist, turn, and move clothes through the water — “agitating” them — which is how the clothes are cleaned. While the agitator’s motion varies depending on the wash mode — whether delicate, standard, or heavy wash — it’s fair to say that agitators aren’t the most gentle on clothes.

High-efficiency washer models can come with either agitators or impellers As for impellers, they’re often found in high-efficiency washing machines and are thought to be more gentle since they never actually make physical contact with the clothes. Instead, the impeller vanes rotate and create currents in the wash water. Those currents move the clothes through the water, rubbing the clothes together and washing them in the process.

Pros and Cons of Impeller and Agitator Washers

Now that you know the difference between impeller and agitator washers, it’s time to explore the pros and cons of both types of machines. While both have their advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider.

Impeller washer pros:

  • Impellers help preserve your fabrics, as they avoid rough physical contact with clothes.
  • 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 can help lower your energy costs. Efficient models are available on impeller washers — just look to see if it’s ENERGY STAR® certified.

Impeller washer cons:

  • Because of their more gentle washing motion, impeller washers might not always get clothes as clean as an agitator washer.
  • During high spin speed cycles, there’s the potential for clothes to get twisted, throwing off the machine’s balance.

Agitator washer pros:

  • The vanes and fins twist and turn, ensuring the whole load gets enough detergent and water.
  • Because of the motion of the agitator, debris and dirt are loosened up and removed more effectively.
  • Clothes are cleaned quickly and aggressively.
  • Efficient models are available on agitator washers — 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 due to the lack of room from the agitator column. However, there are high-capacity agitator units available.
  • There’s a risk that items will get snagged on the agitator itself and potentially tear.

Impeller vs. Agitator — Which is Better?

When shopping for a new washer, it’s important to 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.

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 it comes to getting a deep clean from your clothes.

Whatever You Decide, Rent-A-Center’s Got It

Whether you decide on a washer with an agitator or a washing machine with an impeller, Rent-A-Center lets you rent-to-own name-brand appliances like Whirlpool and Maytag with no-credit payment plans, free repairs through the life of your contract, and the ability to upgrade anytime! Find your next brand-name washer online or at your local Rent-A-Center today.

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