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Washer-dryer combos — 5 reasons to buy and 5 reasons to skip

Tom's Guide logo Tom's Guide 27/07/2022 Katie Mortram
Whirpool WFC8090GX Washer and Electric Dryer Combo © Provided by Tom's Guide Whirpool WFC8090GX Washer and Electric Dryer Combo

Combining the best washing machines with the best clothes dryers sounds like the dream team, right? There’s actually a lot more to it than that. Washer-dryer combos are very popular in Europe, and while they’re not as common in the U.S, they’re still widely available and there’s a selection of brands and models to choose from. 

There are good and bad points to these appliances however, and for that reason they won’t suit every home. Here, we will 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 combo 

1. Saves space — First of all, there’s no denying this appliance is a major space-saver. You’re getting two large appliances in one, meaning you’re saving half the space in your laundry room. 

2. Saves hassle — You also won’t have to worry about returning to your laundry room to empty and move over the load to the dryer. Everything is done in one appliance and it can be programmed to automatically start drying once the wash cycle has finished. That’s half the effort saved on your back and knees when you think about it.  

3. Doesn’t need access to a vent — Pretty much all washer dryer machines are ventless condenser dryers, so you won’t need to vent it to the outside. These types of dryer essentially circulate hot air in the drum to extract moisture, which is then condensed and drained. The water will either be pumped away or stored in a tank which you will need to manually empty, depending on the model you choose. 

4. Cheaper versus buying machines separately — While washer dryers are generally more expensive than each machine purchased separately, they tend to be cheaper versus buying both. This of course depends on the brand and features you choose. 

5. Washing and drying separately is still possible — While washer dryers offer programs to wash and dry in one cycle, they also feature independent cycles should you need. So if you want to take advantage of the sun and just wash a load, or if you need help drying after a hand wash, a washer dryer can accommodate this. 

Reasons not to buy a washer-dryer combo 

1. Poor drying performance — The biggest and most important con when it comes to washer-dryer combos is their poor drying performance. While the wash cycle tends to be on a par with standalone washing machines, the drying cycle falls flat, particularly when running the full wash and dry cycle. Clothes rarely emerge dry after this program, and often need returning to drum for additional time. This is especially disappointing when you consider the reduced capacity, which we will cover next. 

2. Limited drying space — Compared to standalone clothes dryers, a 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 a best-case scenario. Most tend to come with a capacity around 2.5 cubic feet. On top of that, this capacity  often just refers to the wash load — it can be cut in half for drying. So, if you rely on your machines for large loads, a washer-dryer combo is likely not the best option for you.  

3. Takes a long time — The next problem is the time it takes for a washer dryer combo to finish a cycle. While it sounds like a convenient design, a full wash and dry cycle can take anywhere from three to six hours, which can work out longer versus using independent machines. Add to that any additional time you need to fully dry the load as well as mentioned in point one. 

4. You can’t wash additional loads if you’re using it to dry — While having one machine can be seen as a benefit, it can also be seen as a negative. For instance, you can’t run your next load of washing while your clothes are drying. This is worth keeping in mind if you handle a lot of laundry.  

5. Typically only electric, ventless models are available — If you’re a fan of traditional gas, vented dryers, then washer dryer combos won’t be for you. These are typically only available with electric, condenser dryers. 

Should you buy a washer-dryer combo?

Ultimately, we wouldn’t recommend washer dryer combos if you have the space and option of fitting separate models. While washer-dryers provide a similar performance to standalone washing machines, the drying results are typically disappointing compared to a clothes dryer. 

Having said that, if space is a premium and your laundry load is small, a washer dryer combo can offer a solution. Patience would be required with one of these appliances, but ultimately they still have a place in some homes. 

Looking to buy your next big appliance? Don't do anything before you read the 11 things you should look for when buying a washing machine. And, once you do make a purchase, check out our guide on how to clean a washing machine and how to make your washing machine last longer and need fewer repairs

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