The Difference Between Agitator vs. Impeller Washers

Agitators and impellers are both found in top-loading washing machines, like these top-load washers available from Maytag, but they clean in two different ways. So what’s the main difference between agitators vs. impellers?

Washing machines with agitators use a central post that twists back and forth, rubbing against clothes to help break apart stains. In contrast, washing machines with impellers use a low-profile cone or disc that spins/rotates to rub clothes against each other to get them clean.

How Agitator and Impeller Washers Work

A washer with an agitator gets its cleaning power from the central post that twists back and forth, while washers with impellers use the low-profile disc to rub the clothes together in order to remove stains. Below we break down their differences.

Top-Load Washers With Agitators

Agitators are tall vertical spindles, vaned or finned, in the center of the washer. Washers with agitators are all about the motion in the wash basket; and, despite what you may have heard, advances in agitator technology ensure they’re not hard on clothes.

They typically move in multiple ways for optimal cleaning, including:

SPRAYING ACTION

Soaks clothes with water recirculated from the wash/rinse cycle.

WASH BASKET ACTION

Rotates for a hard-hitting clean. 

AGITATOR ACTION

Rubs against clothes to help break apart stains and loosen soils.

Top-Load Washers With Impellers

Don't let low water levels fool you: Washers with impellers use a small amount of water in order to optimize the friction of the clothes rubbing against each other. This is what helps deliver gentle, efficient and thorough cleaning.
 

They also typically clean with multiple wash motions, including:
 

SPRAYING ACTION

Soaks clothes with water recirculated from the wash/rinse cycle.

WASH BASKET ACTION

Rotates for a hard-hitting clean. 

IMPELLER ACTION

Uses low-profile cones, wheels, fins or discs that rotate to gently rub clothes against each other.

Agitator or Impeller Washer: Which is Better for Your Needs?

BENEFITS OF A WASHER WITH AN AGITATOR

  • Agitator rubs against clothes to remove and rinse away loose soils
  • Familiar functionality

BENEFITS OF A WASHER WITH AN IMPELLER (WASHER WITHOUT AN AGITATOR)

  • Rubs clothes against each other to deliver a thorough, gentle clean
  • More room in the basket for bulky articles and easy loading/unloading 

Efficient models are available on both agitator and impeller washers - just look to see if it’s ENERGY STAR®.

Find What’s Right For You

You’ve got options when it comes to the wash action and cleaning power of these two top-load designs. Whether you want an agitator or an impeller washer, Maytag brings hardworking models to tackle any load.

Recommended MAytag® Agitator Washers

Recommended Maytag® Impeller Washers

FIND YOUR NEXT WASHER

See what Maytag has to offer and zero in on the right washer for you.

Learn about the differences between front- and top-load washers to help narrow your search.

Discover what HE washers are and the benefits of washing with one.

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