Found only in top-load washers, an agitator is the column in the center of your wash basket. It rotates back and forth to move your clothes around and force soapy water through the fabric to remove dirt. Your agitator may also have a dispenser at the top for fabric softener. Pour your fabric softener in this dispenser and the washer will automatically add it to the laundry during the rinse cycle.
Two common types of agitators are the straight-vane agitator and the dual-action agitator. Straight-vane agitators contain large fins on the bottom and smaller fins at the top; all the fins spin to rotate your clothes back and forth through the water. Dual-action agitators have fins at the bottom and a spiral design at the top. The bottom fins spin while the spirals help move clothes at the top of the basket down to the bottom, ensuring a more thorough and even cleaning of your entire load.