Guide to Buying a Washer-Dryer
Washer-dryers are especially useful when you don’t have the space for a separate washing and drying machine. Often not needing an external air vent, the dryer however can be more limited in the weight of clothes it can dry. However, the convenience of having the washing and drying completed in one go can often outweigh this.
Before deciding whether you want to get a washer-dryer or the two appliances separately, you need to decide if you have the space, because if so, this might be the best option. Both the washing machine and dryer tend to work better when separate.
They come as freestanding or can be fitted into your kitchen units for an integrated or built in look. They measure around 80-90 cm high and 50-60 cm deep, so should fit well under the kitchen worktop. These washer-dryers have a flat front and hide behind the kitchen cabinet doors to keep your kitchen looking streamlined.
There are lots of brands, features, colours, sizes, settings and of course, prices. Set a budget and do a bit of research to work out what’s available. Some of the popular features to look out for include water level controls, auto-temperature, capacity, stain removing features, delicate cycle, energy efficiency and water use. For the dryer, energy use, capacity, temperature settings, cool-down cycle, noise, and moisture sensors. Some come with a drying rack and lint filter that can be useful
On the plus side, washer-dryers can be easier to install as most don’t need an exterior vent and they can just plug into a standard electrical wall socket. You will need plumbing in and out, as for any conventional washing machine. The machines are usually more compact than their standalone equivalents and so can be hidden better in small cupboards or in the bathroom. This and their general maneuverability make them ideal choices for small spaces and apartments.
The cost of buying a washer-dryer is usually less than for the two machines separately. However be careful that this isn’t a false economy. They can be less reliable and not so long lasting, so you need to factor this in when working out your budget. The day-to-day running cost of the washer-dryer however, is not much different to running the two equivalent machines separately.
Washer-dryers have a different capacity for washing and for drying, usually managing to dry only about half the weight of a full load. This means that you may need to split your load of washing into two batches for drying and won’t be able to let the machine complete the cycle of washing and drying without human intervention. In addition, due to the dual function of the washing machine, its drum size tends to be smaller than for standalone machines. Think carefully about the capacity of the all-in-one machine, which tends to be significantly less than with separate machines (up to 2 cubic feet or 11 lb wash load). Larger washers can handle around 20 lb (9 kg). The dryer in a washer-dryer can usually cope with half to three-quarters of the washer, so care is needed to ensure that the dryer is not overloaded.
As you have to wait for the drying cycle to finish before you can load up again, then if you have several loads this will take a lot longer than if you have two separate machines.
Check the speed of the dryer and its cycles and programmes which can vary a lot with washer-dryers. You may need to do a bit more ironing as the dryer will tend to leave more creases in your clothes than from the standalone dryer. They can be less efficient at drying than the standalone dryer because there’s a small heating element.
Taking into account the pros and cons of buying a washer-dryer, you can decide what’s best for you. If you have a small space, like to wash small loads often, don’t want the hassle of venting and installing a bigger dryer and want to save a bit of money, then the washer-dryer will be an ideal option. If you have a bit more to spend, some of the more expensive washer-dryers feature useful sensor drying and will stop automatically once everything is dry.
This article was written by James, a writer from London who loves home improvement and anything to do with tech.