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.
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.
Washer-Dryer combos turn a small
space into a laundry room
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.
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 and washer-dryer combos that are not defects in that
particular unit, but, rather, are common issues with these appliances.
all, prepare yourself for some sticker shock. From a cost standpoint, laundry
centers and washer-dryer combos 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 and washer-dryers combos 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.
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 -- especially those in
washer-dryer combos -- 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.
these issues, we found that many people learn to work within the limitations of
these units. Most are just thrilled to be able to do laundry on their own
timetable and in their own space.
Finding The Best Washer-Dryer Combos
"Washer Dryer Combos"
"Washers Dryer Combos"
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.
appliance retailers like Home Depot, Lowe's and Sears are the best places to evaluate
user reviews. Amazon, while not an appliance retailer, per se, had more
washer-dryer combos available for this update that we've seen in the past. 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 appear to be 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.
The best washer-dryer combos
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.
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.
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. $1,900).
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.
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
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. $800). 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.
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. The Magic Chef MCSCWD20W comes in white, but is also available in
black as the Magic Chef MCSCWD20W (Est. $850).