When searching for a new washing machine, it’s important to know the difference between agitators and impellers.
Agitator washing machines consist of a tall column in the middle of the wash basket that twists and turns. They are what you generally think of when you hear the word “washing machine.” Impellers, on the other hand, are low-profile, disc-shaped washers that spin your clothes in a circle.
Read on to learn more about the differences between an agitator versus an impeller in washing machines. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear idea of which is a better fit for you.
Table of Contents
- What’s the Difference Between Agitators vs. Impellers?
- Which Washing Machine Is Right for You?
What’s the Difference Between Agitators vs. Impellers?
What Is an Impeller Washer?
An impeller washer is a simple disc-shaped machine that uses less water and motion than an agitator washer. It uses unique wash motions to clean your clothes by spinning them in a circular motion, driving them from the outer edge of the wash basket to the center. It relies on clothes with water recirculated to rub fabrics against each other to remove stains.
Unlike agitator washers, impeller washers use less water to remove dirt and stains. As such, impellers provide a much gentler yet efficient washing experience. They also have more space for bulky items like blankets and cushions, since they’re designed to give more room for laundry to move.
What Is an Agitator Washer?
In contrast, an agitator washer uses its central post to remove dirt. They sometimes come with vanes to create friction and remove dirt and stains from clothes. Because they create more friction than impellers, they can take on tough loads and give your clothes a thorough cleaning. Most top load washers are agitator washing machines.
Agitators are also more likely to break than impellers because they rely on their central columns. If your central column breaks or snaps, or if your machine isn’t working the way it should, contact a professional. They will test your washer to see if the issue could be caused by something else, such as a broken lid or filter. If they discover that your agitator washing machine is broken, you may have to buy a replacement central post.
Do They Both Provide a Hard-Hitting Clean for Tough Stains?
Impellers tend to do a better job at washing your clothes than agitators.
Although agitators create more friction than impellers, washers with impellers require less water to remove dirt. Specifically, impellers use water to get clothes to rub against each other to deliver a thorough yet gentle clean.
This means impellers do a great job with dark stains and extremely soiled clothes. Agitators rely on the column itself to do the cleaning, so clothes that don’t touch the column may not be as clean as you’d want them to be.
Which Washer Type Is Best for Delicate Items?
Impellers are generally a better pick for delicate items that contain polyester, chiffon, lace, velvet, and other lightweight fabrics, such as lingerie and ties.
Because impellers rely on rotating wash baskets and low-profile wheels, discs, cones, or fins, clothes gently rub against each other for cleaning friction.
In contrast, agitators use more intense motions to get rid of stains. This can damage your clothes over time, particularly if the agitator has a lot of vanes. However, due to advances in agitator technology, many newer agitator washers aren’t hard on delicate items. As such, it’s a good idea to research individual washers before coming to any conclusions.
Which Has Shorter Wash Times?
Agitator washers typically have shorter wash cycle times because they use more force to clean your clothes. Impellers require more time to wash your clothes since they use less water and motion. Both types recirculate water during the rinse cycle.
Which Has Better Energy Efficiency?
Impellers are more energy-efficient than agitators.
When you use washing machines with agitators, your clothes are submerged in water when they’re being cleaned. This makes agitators less efficient because they use more water.
Washing machines with impellers are also more energy-efficient because they spin clothes at staggeringly high speeds. As such, your clothes are less wet when you take them out, which means you won’t have to spend as much time drying your clothes as you would if you were to use an agitator washer.
Which Has More Economical Water Usage?
Impellers use less water than agitators because they never fully submerge your clothes in water. Instead, they spin water in circles, so they don’t have to fully submerge clothes in water to clean them. Since there’s less water, you won’t need as much detergent.
Which Washing Machine Is Right for You?
To determine whether impeller versus agitator is better for you, it’s a good idea to identify what kind of items you want to clean with your washer and what’s most important to you when it comes to a washing machine.
If you don’t have a lot of time for laundry and you want to get things done quickly, consider getting an agitator washer. They typically require less time to clean your clothes. Agitators also do a wonderful job at washing heavy items like rags, work clothes, and jackets.
However, if you have more time for laundry, consider getting an impeller washer. Impeller washers come with many pros that most agitators don’t have, such as:
- Economical water usage
- Improved energy efficiency
- More room for bulky items such as blankets and pillows
- The ability to wash delicate items such as bras and ties without tearing or wearing them down
All in all, personal preference plays a large role in the debate between impeller vs agitator washing machines. Although impellers seem to offer more benefits, agitator washers have been around for a lot longer. As such, many prefer using them because they’re more familiar. Impellers are also typically more expensive than agitators.
A wide range of leading brands, including LG and Samsung, carry options for both agitator and impeller washers. Consider factors such as water usage, cleaning capability, average load size, and cost when deciding whether an agitator or impeller washer is right for your home.