Combination washer dryers – 5 reasons to buy and 5 reasons to refuse

Combining the best washing machines with the best clothes dryers sounds like a dream team, right? Actually it is much more. Washer-dryer combos are very popular in Europe and while not as common in the US, they are still widely available and there are a range of brands and models to choose from.

However, these appliances have good and bad sides, and for this reason they are not suitable for every home. Here, we’ll break down exactly what you can expect from a washer/dryer combo, including the pros and cons, and help you decide if it’s worth your investment.

Reasons to buy a washer dryer

Washer and dryer next to each other, with laundry and detergent

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

1. Saves space. First, it cannot be denied that this device saves a lot of space. You get two large appliances in one, which means you save half the space in your laundry room.

2. Eliminates the hassle. You also won’t have to worry about going back to the laundry to clean your laundry and transfer your laundry to the dryer. Everything is done in one device, and it can be programmed to automatically start drying after the wash cycle is completed. If you think about it, that’s half the effort saved on your back and knees.

3. Does not require access to the vent. Almost all washer dryers are condenser dryers with no vents, so you won’t need to run them outside. These types of dryers essentially circulate hot air in a drum to remove moisture, which then condenses and drains. The water will either be pumped out or stored in a tank that you will need to manually empty, depending on the model you choose.

Someone unloads the washing machine and loads it into a nearby dryer.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. Cheaper than buying machines separately. While washer dryers are generally more expensive than either machine purchased separately, they are generally less expensive than buying both. This of course depends on the brand and features you choose.

5. Washing and drying are still possible separately. Although washer dryers offer programs for washing and drying in the same cycle, they can also have independent cycles if you need it. So if you want to take advantage of the sun and just wash your load, or if you need help drying after a hand wash, a washer dryer can do it.

Reasons not to buy a washer dryer

Drum washer-dryer Whirpool WFC8090GX Combo

(Image credit: Whirlpool)

1. Poor drying. The biggest and most important disadvantage when it comes to washer dryer combinations is their poor drying performance. While the wash cycle is generally on par with stand-alone washing machines, the dry cycle does not work, especially when running a full wash and dry cycle. Clothes rarely stay dry after this program and often need to be returned to the drum for extra time. This is especially disappointing when you consider the reduced capacity, which we’ll talk about next.

2. Limited drying space. Compared to stand-alone clothes dryers, the washer-dryer combo has a more limited capacity. While clothes dryers can hold up to 9 cubic feet of laundry, washer dryers can only handle up to 4.5 cubic feet – and that’s at its best. Most of them tend to have a capacity of around 2.5 cubic feet. In addition, this capacity often refers only to the wash load – it can be cut in half for drying. So if you rely on your machines for heavy loads, a washer-dryer combination is probably not the best option for you.

3. Takes a lot of time. The next problem is the time it takes for the washer dryer to complete the cycle. While it sounds like a convenient design, a full wash and dry cycle can take anywhere from three to six hours, which can take longer compared to using separate machines. Add to this the additional time required for the laundry to dry completely, as indicated in the first paragraph.

Programming the washing machine through the control panel

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. You cannot wash extra loads if you use it to dry. While having one machine can be seen as an advantage, it can also be seen as a disadvantage. For example, you cannot start the next load of laundry while your clothes are drying. This is worth keeping in mind if you wash a lot of laundry.

5. Generally only non-ventilated electric models are available. If you’re a fan of traditional ventilated gas dryers, then a washer-dryer combo isn’t for you. They are usually only available with electric condenser dryers.

Should you buy a washer dryer?

Ultimately, we wouldn’t recommend washer dryer combinations if you have the space and ability to install separate models. While washer dryers provide similar performance to standalone washer dryers, drying results are generally disappointing when compared to a clothes dryer.

Having said that, if space is of the essence and the laundry load is small, a washer-dryer combo can offer a solution. One of these appliances will require patience, but in the end, in some homes they still have a place.

Looking to buy your next big home appliance? Don’t do anything until you read 11 things to look out for when buying a washing machine. And after you’ve made your purchase, check out our guide on how to clean your washing machine and how to extend its life and reduce the need for repairs.

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