What Cleans Cats Better, Front or Top-Load Washers?

“We’ve heard of people inviting their friends over to see their new washer and dryer. Who would have ever thought of that happening?” says Steven Peterson, General Electric’s marketing manager for clothes care.

For those whom sleek styling isn
t the only selling point, which washer is best for washing your cat? Big chunky chart after the jump.

Which washer you buy depends on your needs, budget and whether you cravenly covet the approval of others through your home appliances. Here’s a handy comparison shopping chart.



Large capacity, up to 4 cubic feet or 20 pounds.

Removes more water from clothes, requiring less drying time.

Gentler on clothing.

Uses less water and electricity, costing less to run.

Dryer can be stacked on top to save space.


Great if whoever does your wash has a nice butt.


Costs more, typically $800 to $1,800.

Pulling clothes out can be hard on the back. Pedestals sold to raise them cost extra, about $150 each.

Requires special detergent.

Longer cycles, up to two hours.

Harder to get a cat inside.


No-Agitator Top-Loaders


More room for bulky items such as comforters and pillows.

Uses less water and electricity than conventional top-loads.

Removes more water, cutting drying time.

Fits 25% more blood-stained sheets.


More expensive.

Fewer brands and models.

Reliability of some new technologies not established.

Might wrinkle clothes.

Might require special detergent.

Self-flagellators may miss having an agitator.

Conventional Top-Loaders


Costs less initially, $300-$600.

Proven reliability.

More models available.

Uses regular detergent.

Shortest cycles.

Easier to get a cat into.


Smaller capacity, 12 to 16 pounds.

Uses more water and electricity, costing more to operate.

Cannot be stacked.

Generally noisier.

None of your friends are going to come over for a “check out my conventional top-loader” party.

Check out the source article from for more, including Consumer Report’s top rankings for individual models. Also, a few things to think ahead about when buying a washer. You don’t want to get stuck with more washing capability than you have cats for.


Edit Your Comment

  1. gretchen says:

    Front loaders don’t require special detergent. It’s marketed and sold, but when using regular detergent in a front loader, you just adjust the amount to 1/2 or less of the traditional amount.
    My Frigidaire (TM) manual tried to insist that the ONLY detergent for it was Tide HE (TM) which is just some cross-promotional fear-mongering. HE detergents haven’t been around that long, front loaders have. Also, using regular detergent (in the smaller quantity) makes it even more cost efficient.

  2. AcidReign says:

    …..I bought a washer last year, first googling them up and reading. I ended up with a $300 Whirlpool top-loader, which was at or near the top in the most important category, which is RELIABILITY. I hate things that break! I’ll pay extra per load if it runs forever! My 15-year old Maytag had burnt up a motor and needed a new hot-water valve. It was going to cost $300 to fix… The Whirlpool does a great job, and the tub is really deep, going nearly all the way to the floor.

    …..I read quite a number of complaints about the front-loaders not getting all the soap out, particularly if one lives in an area with soft water. Plus, you wouldn’t want to buy something so cutting-edge that it makes local repairmen scratch their heads! And what do I care about noise? My headphone amp will drown out whatever… The unit’s in the basement, anyway. The cat’s only fallen in once. She does not like cold January water!

  3. Snowrunner says:

    Okay, maybe I am stupid, but why would I need “special detergent” for the front loader?

    I grew up in Europe and front loaders are the standard there, I really don’t see why I need “special” detergent for that.

    I smell a marketing ploy there.

  4. Paul D says:

    Your nose does not deceive you, Snowrunner.

    It’s BS.

  5. etinterrapax says:

    My understanding was that HE detergent foams less, or something. Or works with the smaller amount of water that HE washers use. Not all front-loaders are HE. At any rate, I don’t have one, so it’s strictly academic. I have an extraordinarily cheap top-loader that I didn’t have to pay for, and that had better not break in the warranty period. Like AcidReign, I like my major appliances to last through at least six presidencies. I’m irritated with the current trend to sell more bells and whistles attached to a shorter life span, when I’d prefer the reverse for the money.

  6. airship says:

    I didn’t buy the cheapest washer and dryer, but I did buy the second-cheapest. Guess what? They wash and dry my clothes just fine. Less to break, and very easy to operate – just turn the dial and pull. One simple trick: I spin my wash an extra time before drying and it cuts drying time in half.

  7. I’ve found cats are a lot more ornery coming out of the dryer than the washer. The G’s they tend to pull during the extra-fast spin cycle on a front loader stun them for a little bit, but the slower speed of the dryer tends to bring them around.

  8. Xian.C says:

    Top-loading wachers can be stacked. My parents have one. It’s an awkward setup that limits the size of the washer lid, but it does work.

    As for the cats, why bother with the washer. A nice glassed-in shower stall is much easier. The cat’s claws don’t work too well on wet glass and tile, but it’s fun watching them try.

  9. Xian.C says:

    I meant top-loading washers with agitators.

  10. yggdrasil says:

    Ditto on the “Special Detergent” for front loaders BS alarm. The only time front loaders have trouble getting all the soap out is when you overload on soap – and that’s the same with top loaders. And front loaders are NOT “new technology”… they’ve been the standard in Europe for 35+ years… if your repair guy doesn’t know how to work on a front loader, get a better repair guy (not that I’ve ever had to get my front loader repaired -knocks on wood)