Washing Machines With Agitators vs Impellers

When shopping for a brand-new washing machine, you shouldn’t only be concerned with the load capacity and how much electricity it consumes. You should also learn the difference between agitators vs impellers because it can make a huge difference in your laundry care.

Washing machines fitted with agitators feature a central post twisting back and forth while rubbing against your clothes to get rid of the stains. On the other hand, those with impellers feature a low-profile cone that spins while rubbing clothes against each other to remove the stains.

Here is everything you need to know about agitators vs impellers.

How Washers With Agitators Work

Washing machine agitator with central post

Top loading washing machines are probably the most common in the market. Despite the common misconception, development in washer technology is geared towards improving agitator’s action on some of the toughest stains while remaining gentle on your clothes.

During laundry day, you may have to deal with tough stains such as coffee spills, sweat, and mud stains. Some of these stains may need extra toughness when it comes to stain removal. For this reason, most washers are fitted with several wash motions to ensure you get the best service.

Some of these motions include:

  • Spraying action: the machine soaks your clothes with water recirculated from the wash or rinse cycle. This usually helps full in removing the loose dirt and light stains.
  • Wash basket action: this is where the actual cleaning begins. This motion involves rotations for a hard-hitting clean.
  • Agitator action: This is the best choice when you are dealing with tough stains. In this case, the central post twists back and forth, rubbing against your clothes to remove the stain and loosen particles.

How Washers With Impellers Work

Inside of an impeller washing machine.

Some people may be skeptical about the low water levels used in impellers. However, this should not alarm you as these machines use little water to maximize the friction caused by the clothes rubbing against each other.

Compared to an agitator washer, impeller washers use less water and motion. This is because these machines are designed with a spacious interior to give clothes more room to move. To optimize the friction, the clothes are driven from the outer rim of the wash basket to the center using very limited water. Through this process, impeller washers can provide a thorough and efficient clean while maintaining a gentle touch on the clothes.

These machines are also fitted with multiple wash motions, some of which include:

  • Spray action: this involves soaking clothes using recirculated water from the rinse cycle. Just like in agitators, this motion helps get rid of the loose stains and dirt.
  • Wash basket action: here, the machine rotates to give your clothes a deep clean.
  • Impeller action: This is the best choice when dealing with very dirty clothes. This motion uses low-profile fins, cones, disc or wheels spinning while gently rubbing the clothes against each other. This way, the machine can effectively clean your clothes while maintaining the integrity of the fabric.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Washing Machine Agitators vs Impellers


Having understood how these two work, you need to know the pros and cons of working with a washing machine agitator vs impeller to make an informed decision as to which one is a perfect fit for your laundry needs.

Benefits of an Impeller

Woman taking laundry out of an impeller washing machine

This washer help preserve the integrity of your fabric by avoiding rough physical contact with your clothes. It also has a spacious basket for beddings and pillows. Since impeller washers use as little water as possible, you can also lower your water bill.

Disadvantages of Using Impeller Washers

Impeller washers are gentle on the clothes. As much as this is an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage when dealing with tough stains. Although you can just set it to a high spin speed cycle, there is the likelihood of clothes getting twisted inside the machine.

Benefits of Using an Agitator Washer

The disc, vanes, and fins fitted on the central post in an agitator washer help distribute detergent and water. Moreover, agitator washers assure you of a quick and aggressive clean. The motion caused by the twisting central post makes it easy to loosen and remove debris and dirt, providing you with a clean wash.

Disadvantages of Using Agitator Washers

Agitator washing machine holding a small load of launcry

Agitator washing machines have limited space within the wash baskets, making it difficult to wash bulky materials such as pillows and beddings. The central post also consumes a lot of space. Since agitators rely on the twisting back and forth motion to clean your clothes, expect to see one or more clothes stuck.

Washing Machine Agitators vs Impellers, Which Is Better?

There are several points that you need to consider before buying a new washer. First, you should make a list of all the advantages and disadvantages of each piece of equipment before settling on which one perfectly fits your needs.

Second, you need to keep in mind that both of these machines can clean your clothes; the only difference is they clean differently.

When we compare agitator vs impeller, agitator washers use an aggressive mechanism to remove tough stains, dirt, and grime from clothes. The one downside is its small wash basket. If you want a washing machine with agitators, you should be prepared to do laundry by batch.

Impeller washers are more gentle on the fabric and can help you save detergent and water. Unfortunately, it is this gentle approach to clear that contributes to an impeller’s downside. Their gentle touch renders them ineffective against tough stains.

Regardless of your choice of the washer, various popular brands offer models to meet your specific needs. Some of the popular brands may include Maytag, Whirlpool, and Rent-A-Center, among many others. When shopping for appliances, it is not enough to look at the rand name; check for functionality depending on your lifestyle. Also, remember to look for those that are Energy Star certified to minimize the cost of energy in your home.

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