How long have front load washers been around?


Washing machines can trace their roots way back into the 18th century when the first washing machine was designed. Since then, washing machine inventions have improved, laying the groundwork for the modern-day washing machine.

Earlier on, washing machines were hand-cranked, and then run by steam until the late 19th century. The turn of the 20th century introduced electric washing machines.

By the mid-20th century, John Chamberlain, working for Bendix Aviation Corporation, invented and patented the multifunctional machine that could wash, rinse and spin in a single cycle. This led to the dawn of modern-day automated washing machines and the front load washers we know today.

Front load vs. Top load

There are currently two variations of modern-day washing machines: the front loader and the top loader washing machines.

Front load washing machines have a horizontal cylinder resembling a drum, and clothes get loaded from a door in the front of the washing machine. When washing clothes, a paddle & the drum move the clothes around, combining motion and gravity to force water through the clothes.

In contrast, top load washing machines have vertical cylinders, meaning clothes get loaded from the top. The agitator is at the top to provide the required motion.

The front loader was originally produced in the 1950s, while the top loader had to wait until the turn of the twenty-first century to feature in consumer markets. So, why have front loaders been around for such a long time?

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Front loaders are effective at cleaning

The wash motion in front load washing machines is more effective. The front loader cleaning actions include chemical, thermal, and mechanical features all taking place over time. They generally have long wash times.

The chemical action is brought about by using an effective detergent coupled with ideal water temperature. This works with gravity to tumble clothes over each other thanks to the mechanical motion. The clothes scrub themselves against the abrasive elements of the detergent and the internal surface of the drum. Combined, it gives a quality cleaning.

This process takes place over time, meaning front loaders are slower washing machines than top loaders. Clothes also need proper tumbling space, so be careful not to overload it either.

They are water-efficient

Front-load washing machines use much less water than their counterparts. This is because the rotation of the drum drags the clothes through the shallow pool of detergent solution. In contrast, top loaders require a deeper pool to ensure that clothes get wet during a wash cycle.

Water efficiency means saving on water bills, making front loaders the more economical and environmentally friendly washing machine. With the current economic situation and more regulations on environmental protection by the government, it’s a good fiscal and environmental decision.

They are energy efficient

Front-load washing machine technology makes a difference in saving energy. Because they use less water overall, they will also not draw much water from the heater for warm or hot water wash cycles.

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In addition to that, because of their motion technology (tumbling mechanism), more water is forced out of the laundry during the spin cycle. That reduces the time spent in the dryer, and dryers are very energy intensive.

Front loaders are stackable

One major advantage of front loaders is the ability to stack them one over the other. This saves a lot on floor space, especially for commercial use. However, they have to be a matched set, in order to stack properly and safely. You should be able to correctly fit one on top of the other with a mounting kit. In most cases, the dryer mounts on top of the washer.

Downsides of front-load washing machines

As much as this seems beneficial, it does have its downsides. Controls are harder to reach for stacked washing machines. Repairing a stacked washing machine requires first unstacking.  Worse yet, replacing a broken washing machine often means having to replace both the washer and dryer as can’t use mis-matched machines.

The wash time also takes longer. This is because the mechanical motion of the machine requires time to force water through the laundry with the help of gravity. However, a longer time in the washing machine does usually mean a shorter time in the dryer.

Smaller loads are required in front loaders. For a front loader to clean effectively, small loads are desirable to allow for the tumbling effect that the technology uses.

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A front door also means more laundry cannot be added once a wash cycle has started. This is possible in a top loader. However, developments have seen the addition of a pause button that allows for stopping and restarting the wash cycle to deal with this limitation.

Finally, front loaders are notorious for mold or mildew problems. Improper use of detergent or too much softener accompanied with letting the drum stay wet between uses can cause mold or mildew to grow. This problem can be avoided with regular cleaning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who invented the front load washing machine?

The front loader washing machine has its origins with the Bendix Aviation Corporation. They were recognized for their work on the first automated washing machine and would eventually feature the front loader in the 1950s.

Why are front loaders more popular washing machines than top loaders?

Front loaders are more economical and environmentally cautious than their top loader counterparts. Front-loaders save more on water, electricity and can be stacked. They give a more quality clean than top loaders.

When did front loaders become popular?

Front load washing machines first gained popularity in the 1950s. They have continued to evolve and become more advance, making them even more popular today. With technological advancement, front loaders are here to stay. Improvements made have seen front loaders sturdier and more efficient. With computerization, it can only get better.

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