which is better agitator or impeller washer

What’s the Difference Between an Agitator vs Impeller Washer?

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With as much laundry as you do every week, you want to be sure clothes are getting as clean as possible. There are options to consider when choosing a washing machine. If you prefer a top-loading machine, you need to decide between an agitator vs impeller washer. But what’s the difference? And do they both clean clothes and linens equally well?

Agitator vs Impeller Washer – Which is Better?

Although agitator and impeller washers have some similarities, they are not equal. Here’s how they compare:

What is an Agitator Washer?

Dive into exploring a washer with agitator vs no agitator. The agitator in a washer is the tall piece in the center of the washer that sprays clothes, rotates back and forth, and rubs against the clothes while they wash to loosen up debris and kick off the dirt and grime. The inspiration behind it is to mimic what used to be done when using a washboard to scrub clothes.

So do agitator washers clean better? Some believe so. Here’s a highlight of the pros and cons to an agitator washer:


  • Easy to load – just drop in and go
  • No special detergents needed
  • Cleans clothes more aggressively


  • Agitation against the fabrics breaks them down over time
  • Risk of fabrics tearing or things getting caught on the agitator itself during the wash
  • Cannot wash bulky items like blankets and comforters
  • Many agitator washers are not HE machines

This brings us to the difference between agitator vs impeller washer. If there is no agitator in the top loader, then you’re looking at a high-efficiency (HE) machine with an impeller.

agitator vs impeller washer
Image from Maytag


What is an Impeller Washer?

Compare the agitator vs impeller washer – agitators are tall and take up the center space while the clothes go around it. Impellers are low inside the center of the washer and look like a type of cone protruding slightly upward. Impeller high-efficiency washer use less water, detergent, and have lower utility costs since they are an HE machine.

Similar to an agitator, impellers spray clothes, rotate, and rub against clothing – although not as aggressively as the agitators do. However, due to the difference in design, impeller washers have a very specific way clothes are to be loaded in order to get them as clean as their agitator cousin.

Consider a washer without agitator pros and cons:


  • Impeller cleans more gently which preserves fabrics longer
  • Impellers enable the washing of bulky items
  • Impeller washers are HE machines – use less detergent, water, and energy


  • Impellers have a specific way clothes need to be loaded or they won’t get as clean
  • Must use a low-suds HE detergent
washer without agitator pros and cons
Image from Maytag

Which Type of Washer is Better?

When deciding between an agitator vs impeller washer, it boils down to preference. Weigh in the pros and cons and determine what you need. Here are some questions to consider to help narrow it down:

  • Will you just wash basic clothes?
  • Do you need the ability to wash blankets, comforters, throw rugs, or sleeping bags?
  • Is high-efficiency important to you?
  • Does your household require ease of operation?
  • Will household members be mindful of a specific way to load the washer?

Both the agitator and impeller washers have their place in the laundry room. The choice is yours.

Not ready to take the plunge into a new washer just yet? For your washer repair Tampa appointment, just contact the Appliance Repair Specialists. We’ve been providing quality service care to Tampa and surrounding areas and pride ourselves on reliable and affordable service. We’re here for you!

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