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Choosing a new washing machine can be a daunting task. Even after you’ve decided on a top-load washing machine, you’re faced with another decision: impeller or agitator? But fear not—we’re here to break down the differences and help you find the best fit for your laundry needs.

Agitator Washing Machines

Agitator washers feature a central post in the middle of the drum that moves back and forth in a vigorous motion. This helps to dislodge dirt and stains from your clothes, providing a thorough cleaning.

Agitator washers are known for their excellent performance when it comes to heavily soiled items. If you frequently deal with stains or you have a more active lifestyle, such as playing sports or working outdoors, an agitator washer is up to the challenge. Furthermore, agitator washers tend to have shorter wash cycles compared to impeller washers, which can be a time-saving advantage for those with a busy schedule.

Impeller Washing Machines

If you’re looking for a washing machine that maximizes capacity and energy efficiency, an impeller washer might be a better fit for you. These machines use a low-profile cone or disc located at the bottom of the drum to create a gentle yet powerful water flow. This flow moves clothes around and rubs them together, ensuring thorough cleaning without the need for an agitator.

Impeller washers tend to have larger drum capacities, allowing you to wash more laundry in a single load. This feature is convenient for larger households or those with bulky items like comforters or bedding. Additionally, impeller washers are gentler on fabrics, reducing wear and tear on your clothes over time.

Which is Better?

Now that we’ve established the basics, let’s put agitator and impeller washers side-by-side to compare their differences between the two.

Agitator Washer


  • Vigorous motion provides excellent cleaning performance for heavily soiled items and tough stains
  • Shorter wash cycles for quicker results


  • Smaller drum capacity compared to impeller washers
  • May consume more water and energy than impeller washers
  • Not as gentle on clothes, which may cause more wear and tear over time

Impeller Washer


  • Larger drum capacity allows for washing more laundry in a single load
  • Gentle washing action reduces wear and tear on clothes
  • Energy-efficient and water-saving design
  • Longer wash cycles for thorough cleaning


  • May not be as effective at removing heavy stains
  • Longer wash cycles

For more information and helpful tips on choosing the right washing machine, be sure to check out our Washer and Dryer Shopping Guide.