19 Washer Without Agitator Pros and Cons

The washing machine is one of the busiest appliances in the average home. They work hard to ensure the clothing and linens are cleaned properly. If you are shopping for a new one, then choosing a washer without an agitator might be an appropriate choice for your needs.

Most households look at one key difference between washers with or without an agitator: space. When the agitator is removed from the washing machine design, then you have access to a larger tub for your clothing or linens. That will help you get through your loads of laundry faster, giving you time to focus less on chores and more on fun times.

Spacing is only one element of consideration when shopping for washing machines today. Cost, effectiveness, and ease of use are critical attributes to focus on as well. These are the pros and cons of a washer without an agitator to consider if you’re in the market for a new appliance.

List of the Pros of a Washer Without an Agitator

1. You’ll lose less energy and water without an agitator.
A washing machine without an agitator provides homes with a high-efficiency appliance. Even though you have a larger capacity with this washer type, you’re going to use less water and energy compared to one with an agitator. These units do more with less with up to 80% water compared to traditional models. The energy savings on some units exceeds 60% compared to those with agitators provided.

2. The equipment is easier on clothes.
Because you own a washing machine without an agitator, there are fewer interactions between your clothing and the appliance. That creates less wear-and-tear while doing laundry, keeping your favorite items cleaner and in better condition compared to traditional models. That includes the larger items they’re able to handle since there is more space in the tub, so your bathroom mats, area rugs, comforters, and sleeping bags all come out looking better and feeling cleaner.

3. You create specialized results with bulky items.
Agitation creates damage on any materials. Your large comforters and blankets are specifically vulnerable to this issue when doing laundry at home. Upgrading your equipment to a washing machine without an agitator gives you the chance to produce professional results at a fraction of the price. You’ll find that your bedding looks and feels cleaner after a trip through the laundry too because there is more consistency in the washing process. An agitator may not reach all items of a large blanket, an issue which disappears when it is gone.

4. The rinse in a washer without an agitator offers more usefulness.
The traditional washing machine design with an agitator requires the drum or rub to refill with water a second time to thoroughly rinse your clothing and linens. That means your items are thoroughly soaked and spun at least twice to get them clean. When you choose a washing machine without an agitator, a high-pressure spray rinses your clothing instead. Your items receive the rinse they require for proper cleanliness while saving on water costs and preventing laundry damage.

5. Washers without an agitator spin at higher speeds.
If you compare entry-level washing machines with or without an agitator, you’ll find that the maximum spin speed specs are about the same. Most washers in the budget-friendly price category have a max RPM rating of 700 RPM. Both styles offer a slower spinning speed for your delicate items too.

When you step up to the upgraded models in each category, you’ll find RPM differences that some households may find beneficial. Spinning at higher speeds removes more water from your clothing and linens, which means they spend less time in the high-heat environment of the dryer. At the same time, the larger drum means you can wash more clothes in less time, getting through your laundry chores faster.

6. Impellers are just as useful as agitators for cleanliness.
When you purchase a washing machine without an agitator, the clothes and linens become clean because of the presence of an impeller. This technology produces strong water currents within the drum as it works, removing the stains and dirt from fabrics effectively. You receive as much power within the drum as an agitator provides without the trashing motion which causes fading and stretching over time. You get the same levels of clean (if not better) while taking advantage of multiple savings levels.

7. Fabrics are typically cleaner in a washer without an agitator.
Because water currents clean the clothing and linens, the fabrics are usually cleaned to a deeper level when compared to traditional models. The agitator impacts clothing in a monotonous circle, creating a surface clean on most items. Overloading the agitator with a large load could create problems with some areas even becoming clean. The same issue applies for large blankets or comforters which do not come into contact with the central device. You’ll find that tough stains like grass, chocolate, and wine are much easier to get out when you own a washing machine without an agitator.

8. Small clothing items don’t get stuck in the washing machine.
If you are washing a hoodie, jacket, or bathrobe, you’ll find that drawstrings and other elements of the clothing can sometimes get stuck in the agitator. Even with improvements to the design, the strings can get wrapped around the bottom of the unit or trapped in one of the “wings” on the central post. That may cause the clothing to stretch or tear while in the washing machine. This issue disappears when you upgrade to a washer which doesn’t use an agitator to get fabrics clean.

9. They work with the same size requirements as other washers.
Most homes have specific sizing requirements to meet when installing washers and dryers. If the units are too big, then you won’t have the space necessary to do your laundry each week. A washing machine without an agitator comes in the same sizing formats as any other washer on the market today. Just make sure you measure the space available to you, then match up the specs to the appliances you’re interested in purchasing, to ensure the units fit as intended.

10. Washers without an agitator are a low-maintenance option.
As with any washing machine, you will need to clean the unit from time to time to ensure it cleans your clothing correctly. There are several automatic products available on the market to help you do this by running an empty load through the machine. Even if there is a mess to clean, you’ll find that working in a drum without an agitator is much less work. Although some washers without an agitator can be temperamental in how they clean clothing, you’ll find that the work required to keep the unit in a good operating condition is quite minimal.

List of the Cons of a Washer Without an Agitator

1. You must follow specific instructions to benefit from the technology.
When you own a washing machine without an agitator, then you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter to get your clothing and linens as clean as possible. Traditional designs allow you to throw clothes into the tub as you grab them because the agitator moves the clothing around, ensuring a level of cleanliness without any effort. Dirty clothes in a high-efficiency washer without agitation devices must follow specific protocols to have a successful laundry experience.

2. An entry-level washer without an agitator will cost more.
If your budget is tight, then a washing machine without an agitator may not be the best solution. You can find top-loading washing machines priced in the $300 range at most stores, with discount pricing bringing down some models below $200 at times. Entry-level appliances without the agitator cost about $100 more and also come with a top-loading design. Make sure that you look at the overall size of the tub before finalizing your purchase though, because you can find larger capacities with an agitator at a lower price than small-capacity washers without one.

3. You must use specific detergents with this washing machine option.
Virtually all of the washing machines without an agitator are classified as a high-efficiency appliance. That means you must use a specific laundry detergent, specially formulated for your equipment, because of the lower water levels being used. These detergents prevent excessive bubbles within the laundry while allowing you to wash more loads in cold or cool water, which saves even more energy for you over time.

4. Washing times are often longer without an agitator present.
Traditional washers with an agitator may complete their cycles 50% faster than a washing machine without an agitator. Because these appliances use more water than the high-efficiency models, the wash times become manageable They don’t tumble clothing, so you get more of a surface clean, but for lightly soiled items, it will get through the cycle faster. Even with the larger drums or tubs offered by the washers without an agitator, the differences between the two often balance each other out from a practical use standpoint.

5. You still have the issue with grease and oil buildup within the washing machine.
Some users think that owning a washing machine without an agitator means you can clean clothing, blankets, and other fabrics with oil or grease stains in them. That is not the case. Although there are fewer contact surfaces to clean with the updated design, the grease and oil will still collect on the interior of the drum. Over time, the leftovers become resistant to cleaning, making them difficult to remove. Portions of the grease still come off during a load too, which means more clothing receive stains.

To remove grease and oil from a washer without an agitator, you’ll want to place some baking soda onto a rough sponge. Then scrub the inside of the drum vigorously, leaving baking soda directly on the massive oil stains. Run an empty hot water load with a full cup of detergent. Repeat as necessary.

6. Some models trap air with leftover water to create a musty scent.
If you’ve ever left your clothing in the washing machine too long after a cycle, then you’re familiar with the musty, almost moldy scent that permeates the clothing. When you use a washing machine without an agitator, air gets trapped inside the appliance with some of the leftover moisture. Even without clothing in the appliance, this odor begins developing in time. To avoid this disadvantage, you may be advised to keep the lid of the washer open to promote air circulation.

Some washing machines, such as the Maytag Maxima, offer a feature which circulates air for up to 12 hours after a cycle completes to prevent this issue.

7. It struggles to clean heavy-duty items in a single load.
If your clothing items include fabrics such as canvas, denim, or thick low-stretch items, then a washer without an agitator may not be the right choice to make. These heavy-duty materials require an aggressive appliance which offers a powerful cleaning solution. Even if only surface elements are cleaned, the thickness of the material often prevents deep stains from forming due to heavy soil. Although lightweight items tend to clean better without a circulating center pole, some households still find that technology more useful than a washing machine without an agitator.

8. The cost to repair a washer without an agitator is typically higher.
In the United States, the minimum cost to repair a washing machine averages about $50, while the maximum cost tends to be around $350. Most households will find a maintenance bill somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. If you own a washing machine without an agitator, the average cost of the repair is somewhat higher because of the differences in agitation technology. The time it takes to repair or replace the impeller technology is higher than what is necessary with the agitator.

9. Your clothes can tie up into knots because of the impeller.
Even though a washing machine without an agitator gives you clothing that is almost dry, the strong currents produced in the drum often cause clothing to tie up into knots. When you combine this issue with the extended run time of a standard cycle, you may find it frustrating to be continually working on your clothes to ensure they can make it through the laundry correctly. Newer models work to prevent this disadvantage from occurring, especially on the higher-end appliances, but it is a common complaint from those who made this investment.

The pros and cons of a washer without an agitator eventually come to personal preference. If you go through multiple loads of laundry each week and want to save time, energy, and water, then this technology is an excellent option to consider. For households on a tight budget looking for functionality over form, then a model with an agitator may provide a better deal. Whatever the case may be for you, begin by looking for high-efficiency, Energy Star-rated appliances for the best results.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.