A non-agitator washing machine is any clothes washing appliance that lacks an agitator component, a central spindle in the wash drum that twists and turns during a cycle. Agitators are typically only installed in top-loading washing machines, although not all top-loaders have such a spindle.
Agitators, which usually feature vanes or fins, clean clothes by vigorously moving clothes around the wash drum. This is ideal for cleaning heavily soiled clothes, but tends to be rougher on fabrics.
One of the major disadvantages of agitator washing machines is that they are less suitable for cleaning delicate fabrics and knitwear, as these can get wrapped around the spindle and stretched or ripped. Additionally, agitators take up a significant amount of space in the center of the drum, preventing easy loading with large items such as blankets or sheets.
Non-agitator washing machines use plates, discs and wheels to spin or juggle the wash in the tub. An impeller is a non-agitation style washing machine device that creates turbulent water in the drum by means of rotating vanes that never make physical contact with the clothing. Impellers are often found in high-efficiency washing machines, which use higher speeds and less water to clean clothes.