Types of Washer-Dryer Combos
These are true "combo" units because they wash and dry clothes in the same appliance. Washer-dryer combos don't need to be vented to the outside because they have condenser dryers (which make them convenient for those without a place for a dryer vent). Instead of using hot air to dry laundry like a typical dryer, a condenser dries laundry by continually condensing the water vapor in the laundry into water and then pumping the water out through a drain. It's a slow process though, a full cycle can take up to five hours. Washer-dryer combos are very compact, often measuring only 24 to 27 inches wide and 33 to 35 inches tall.Laundry Centers
This type of all-in-one unit combines a stacked washer and dryer. Laundry centers are more compact than full-size washers and dryers, and they are available in 24- or 27-inch widths. They are shorter than many stacked full-size units -- typically only 70 to 75 inches high. However, laundry centers also have smaller capacities, so users have to do more loads to wash the same amount of laundry. Full-sized and compact laundry centers can come with either gas or electric dryers, although sometimes only an electric option is available. Unlike washer-dryer combos, laundry centers do need to be vented to the exterior of your home.
combos turn a small space into a laundry room
If you don't have room for a full-sized washing machine and clothes dryer (which we cover in their own reports), and are sick of hauling your
clothes to a laundromat or communal laundry room, a washer-dryer combo or
laundry center may be a great fit for your lifestyle. While these can take a
longer time to wash and dry clothes -- and have much smaller capacities than
traditional washers and dryers -- they're still preferred by many who don't
have the space or venting capabilities for traditional machines.
Still, it's important to understand the drawbacks of these small,
all-in-one units so that you have a realistic view of what you're investing in.
We saw many complaints about laundry centers or washer-dryer combos that are
not defects in that particular unit, but, rather, are common issues with these
First of all, prepare yourself for some sticker shock. From a cost
standpoint, laundry centers are not much cheaper than a full-size washer and
dryer, and are often more expensive than a budget, full-sized washer and dryer
pair would be. While washer-dryer combos and laundry centers can be found on
sale at various times, they're rarely discounted by much and you definitely
don't see the deep discounts that can be found on full-sized washers and
dryers, Laundry centers can also cost more to repair, and the entire unit must
be replaced if the washer or dryer stops working and can't be fixed.
Once you've decided to take the plunge, though, also keep in mind that washer/dryer
combos and laundry centers will never perform as well as separate washers and
dryers. They're slower, the washers are not as good at getting clothes clean,
especially heavily-soiled clothes, and the dryers tend to leave laundry wetter
and more wrinkled than with traditional machines. One way to combat that is to
do smaller loads and to be diligent about taking your laundry out and folding
it or hanging it up as soon as you hear the drying cycle stop.
Even with these issues, the vast majority of reviews that we evaluated
are positive. People learn to work within the limitations of these units, and
are still thrilled to be able to do laundry on their own timetable and in their
Finding The Best Washer-Dryer Combos
the Best Washer-Dryer Combos
There are no expert reviews of washer-dryer combos or laundry centers.
They simply are not common enough and popular enough to draw the attention of
comparative test sites, even those that otherwise extensively test washers and
dryers. Thus, we relied exclusively on owner reviews posted on retail sites.
Online appliance retailers like HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com and Sears.com
are the best places to evaluate user reviews. Some washer-dryer combos get
dozens of reviews, others only a handful, and most retailer sites mix in
ratings drawn from elsewhere, usually that manufacturer's web site. User
reviews posted at manufacturer sites are as unbiased and uncensored as those
posted directly at retail sites, so reliability is not an issue. The problem is
that the same reviews appear repeatedly at different retailers, so we took that
into account when making our picks.
Among washer-dryer combos, we saw the best feedback for the LG WM3488HW (Est. $1,600).
It's particularly popular with condo and apartment dwellers who don't have an
outside vent. They say it works well for a combination unit, and is
surprisingly quiet. It takes from 1.5 to 5 hours to cycle through a load, depending
upon the settings you choose, something that taxes some reviewers' patience.
In spite of its compact size, the 2.3 cubic foot LG WM3488HW is
well-featured. It has nine wash cycles, five spin speeds, five wash and rinse
temperature options, and four drying cycles. But the feature owners really love
is the sanitize setting, so you can de-germ things like stuffed animals that
may not hold up well in a traditional wash cycle. While this is the standard capacity
for a washer/dryer combo unit, it's still not very generous. Most users have
found ways to work around both the long run times and the small capacity, such
as starting load when they leave for work, and/or doing at least one load every
day so they don't get behind.
While we saw a few complaints about the LG WM3488HW's small size and
long drying times, most owners are thrilled to have an alternative to a coin-op
laundry. The LG WM3488HW is white, but it also comes in silver as the LG WM3488HS (Est. $1,700).
If you have a bit more space, and would like a bit more capacity, LG
makes a larger washer-dryer combo, the 4.3 cubic foot LG WM3997HWA (Est.
However, that additional capacity means it's also as wide as some full size
washers at 27 inches. It offers all of the features of the 2.3 cubic foot LG
combo above, plus a few extras, including a tilt drum to make loading easier.
The LG WM3997HWA's feedback from owners is not quite as strong as its
smaller sibling, although it does have many more reviews because it's been
around longer. Compliments and complaints match up with the WM3477HW -- most
love the convenience compared to shared laundry facilities and say it works
well, but they have to hang clothes to help with de-wrinkling. Others say it's
simply too slow or they want a unit that will fully dry their clothes like a
traditional dryer does.
One tip we spotted: owners note that with any of these washer/dryer
combos it's helpful if you don't overfill it. A number noted that they keep two
separate, small laundry baskets on hand to control the size of their loads, and
they just alternate washing those smaller loads.
If the idea of spending $1,500 or more for a washer-dryer combo leaves
you feeling like you've just been soaked, we saw some decent reviews for a much
less expensive option, the Magic Chef MCSCWD20W (Est. $710). It doesn't have the
number of features and wash/dry options of the aforementioned LG machines, but it's
also less than half their price.
The Magic Chef is small, but, again, those who have limited space have
figured out ways to keep up with their laundry in spite of that. The drying
function also gets poor reviews, as we see with all washer-dryer combos, but
most say that it's sufficient for their needs and they don't mind hanging
clothes to prevent wrinkles and finish out the drying process. They also note
that it's very quiet and easy to use. The Magic Chef MCSCWD20W will fit into a
24-inch wide space, so is a good choice if you're both on a limited budget and
have a tiny residence.