Agitator Vs Impeller Washing Machines – Which is Better?

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In Brief: Agitator Vs Impeller Washing Machines

Agitator washing machines and impeller washing machines differ in their cleaning mechanism. Agitators rub against clothes, are better at cleaning tough stains but are rough on clothes. They have a shorter wash cycle and use more water. Impellers make clothes rub against each other, are gentler on clothes but can’t always clean tough stains. they use less water but are more expensive. They have longer wash cycles but shorter dry cycles.

Washing machines are a big part of the urban household, with more Indian families using them every day. They help us clean large piles of laundry just at the press of a button.

However, with advancements in technology, there are many different kinds of washing machines available today.

Top-loading washing machines come with either agitators or impellers.

Agitator Vs. Impeller Washing Machines

Here are the key differences between agitator and impeller washing machines – >

Agitator Washing MachinesImpeller Washing Machines


Have a vertical spindle with vanes/finsHave a short rotating disc with small discs and cones
Cleans by rubbing against the clothesCleans by rubbing clothes together
Effectively removes stainsIs less effective in removing stains
Is hard on clothes over timeTreats clothes gently
Uses more waterUses less water

Agitator Washing Machines


How they work:

The agitator is a rod placed at the center of the washing machine. It usually has fins or vanes on its surface to give it more surface area and force.

When the washing machine rotates the clothes, this agitator moves in a specific motion to rub against the clothes. Through this contact and motion, it simulates the hand-washing mechanism of beating clothes against a rock.

This removes the stains and dirt from the clothes, making them cleaner.

Typically, there are three kinds of motion depending on which cleaning mode you pick. It either sprays recirculated water at the clothes from the sprinklers at the base of the agitator.

Or it rotates the wash basket to hard-hit the dirt out of clothes. The third motion rubs the agitator against the clothes to loosen and break apart stains.

Here is an informative video that explains the cleaning mechanism of agitator washing machines:

Key benefits of Agitator Washing Machines:

Agitator washing machines do a good job at cleaning stains through their different motions. Their hard action against the fabrics is highly effective in loosening up stains to break down oils and dirt.

Another advantage of these machines is that they have a relatively faster wash cycle. Most agitator washing machines also cost less than others.

Limitations of Agitator Washing Machines:

A common disadvantage to using agitator washing machines is that they can be a little too rough on clothes. It isn’t apparent at first but long-term use lowers the quality of clothes.

They can start having loose threads or even ripping apart. They are also known to use more water than impeller washing machines. Nevertheless, some newer models claim to reduce these effects.

Who should opt for Agitator Washing Machines:

Agitator washing machines are a good option for people who do frequent wash cycles. This could be if your family is large or your work requires you to change clothes multiple times a day.

Since they cost less than impeller washing machines, if you have a tight budget, you’ll prefer them. If you are likely to keep buying new clothes, the long-term effect of agitators on fabrics shouldn’t bother you.

These are also common choices for people who aren’t much concerned about the amount of water use.

Impeller Washing Machines

How they work:

In impeller washing machines, there’s no agitator-like appendage. Instead, a much smaller rotating device, the impeller, lies at the bottom of the wash basket.

Through its three motions, two of which are similar to the agitator, it makes the clothes rub against each other. The cleaning is achieved through this contact between the clothes.

The third, and unique, the motion of the impeller uses the tiny cones, discs, wheels, and fins on the impeller body. These rotate to cause currents in the water that make the clothes gently rub.

These washing machines use less water to increase the friction between the clothes for effective cleaning.

Watch this video for a quick demonstration of how the impeller cleaning motion works:

Key benefits of Impeller Washing Machines:

Because impellers are low-profile, they leave a lot more space for clothes. This also makes loading and unloading easier, especially if you’re washing bulky items.

By making the clothes rub against each other, they are much gentler on them. These machines are also known to have shorter dry cycles as they remove water from clothes better.

Limitations of Impeller Washing Machines:

Because of their gentler action on clothes, impeller washing machines are sometimes ineffective in removing hard stains completely. The impeller action can also end up tangling the clothes together.

This can cause an imbalance in the wash basket and interfere with cleaning action. The wash cycle can also take slightly longer than that of agitator washing machines.

Who should opt for Impeller Washing Machines:

As impeller washing machines can operate using less water, they are often opted for by environment-conscious individuals.

These are appropriate machines for people who own expensive clothing. The gentler action ensures that your clothes don’t get damaged.

If you’re worried about the cleaning action on hard stains, pretreating laundry with stain remover can help.

They are a good choice for homeowners who often need to wash pillows, stuffed toys, rugs, and other bulky items.


Agitator washing machines and impeller washing machines differ in their cleaning mechanism. Agitators clean clothes by rubbing against them whereas impellers clean by rubbing clothes with each other.

Agitators are effective in removing stains but can be hard on the fabrics. Impellers are much gentler but sometimes they aren’t that effective in removing tough stains. Agitator washing machines use more water and cost less.

Impeller ones are more expensive but more efficient.

While agitators have shorter wash cycles, impellers have shorter dry cycles. Which kind of washing machine is better for your home depends on your personal preferences.

Images: Whirlpool