To the untrained eye, the differences between top-loading washing machines and front-loading models can seem trivial, but in practical terms they can make a big difference. Both to your washing habits and the way you feel as you go about the mundane task of getting clothes clean.
And if you thought the idea of a hole in the top of a machine was purely aesthetic or designed as a result of water leaking from the front, then you'll find yourself surprised by some of the facts we’ve covered here.
Some people say that top-loading washing machines have their own distinct advantages and special features, while others champions machines with doors in the front, and cite them as the best for reasons which people have argued about for many years.
One thing nobody really argues about is the fact that UK kitchens have always tended to lack the room of their European counterparts, and this has meant that the front-loading model has fitted well into the shapes often left beneath kitchen counters.
Traditionally small and compact, these washing machines slide neatly under the counter and the door makes throwing clothes in nice and simple. Conversely, while top-loading washing machines don't work at all well under kitchen worktops, there is a school-of-thought which says that their usage of more water is a good thing.
While it's not great for the environment, some people understandably think that more water is better, arguing that this produces a better and more thorough wash. Alongside this, people who have trouble with bending down are much more suited to the ease-of-use of a taller, thinner machine that doesn't give them too many problems.
By eliminating the need to reach down, those with arthritis and other debilitating conditions often find that a top-loading model can give them some of their independence back.
Going back to lovers of the front-loader, it's clear to see why they have attracted such a following over the years. One reason has to be the vast number of washing machines out there. With so many manufacturers creating cutting-edge technology, there are plenty to choose from in every budget.
Better still, if you're looking for something both eco-friendly and cost-effective then a front-loading washer is going to be easier and faster than ever to find.
Another reason why washing machines with the classic opening at the front have proved so popular is their general favouring of using less water. Some machines use up to 60% less than their top-loading counterparts, as well as less detergent and less electricity besides.
So if you're trying to find a clear winner between the two, it's probably best to bear in mind the basics: top-loading washing machines are a great choice if you're limited by room and are looking to spend a bit less money. They're ideal for people who don't have the option for a wider model with a front opening, too.
However, if you're not restricted on width and you're looking to save on the energy bills then chances are that a classic front-hole model will work more ideally for you.
Still not sure about which kind to buy? Then perhaps some secret psychology is at work here. For example, some people prefer top-loaders because of the fact that, if they need to, they can open the door at any time and throw more clothes in. Handy if you're in a rush and just need to get some washing done.
At the same time, you may be a long-term fan of front-loading washing machines, and that's fine too. If that's the case, chances are that you grew up with such a machine and have a certain fondness towards it that cannot be shifted.
In the end, once you’ve studied all the facts, it really comes down to which feels more comfortable to use.
David writes about the changing world of how classic brands continue to offer the same range of successful products decade after decade and survive the ever changing storm in one of the world's most competitive and fad-focussed consumer markets.
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