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All About Washer-Dryer Combos [Pros and Cons]

by Pam Silvia

No matter how you slice it, doing laundry can be a tiresome and dreaded chore. It entails plenty of guesswork and masterful timing—from separating your darks and lights; to assessing the right water level and detergent amount; to loading your dryer with sopping-wet clothes. But what if we told you that you could skip that last step?

A washer-dryer combo can reinvent your laundry routine with the ability to wash and dry your clothes, towels, and home furnishings in a single load. So, whether you are craving appliance innovation that keeps up with your busy lifestyle or are looking to maximize space in a compact room, this two-for-one appliance can elevate your laundry setup.

Intrigued? Your friends in the business at Spencer’s TV& Appliance have the lowdown on this double-duty laundry appliance. Check out our washer-dryer combos pros and cons!

product image of LG WM3998HBA washer-dryer combo

Pictured: LG 4.5 Cu. Ft. Black Steel Front Load Washer & Dryer Combo (WM3998HBA)

What is a Washer-Dryer Combo?

To get a little more granular with our definition of a washer-dryer combo, this product combines a front-loading washing machine and a condenser clothes dryer into a singular appliance. It is also roughly the same size as a standalone washer.

In terms of price point and brand affiliation, washer-dryer combos typically offer many features that come standard with other mid- to high-end washers and dryers, including smart sensors, sanitize cycles, steam settings, and WiFi connectivity.

In short, washer-dryer combos promise to do everything washer and dryer sets can but with half the footprint, which makes this laundry appliance especially advantageous for smaller living spaces.

Now, let’s discuss the pros and cons of washer-dryer combos.

Washer-Dryer Combo Pros ✓

We’ll start with the benefits of washer-dryer combos:

They are more space-efficient than a standard laundry pair

As previously mentioned, a major value-add of washer-dryer combos is that they take up half the space of a washer and dryer set. For any family living in a small home or apartment, this combination appliance significantly diminishes the amount of space needed to perform an essential household chore.

But even if your home is not lacking in square footage, it is always a good idea to optimize your space by thoughtfully downsizing and streamlining your laundry setup.

Their washing performance is equivalent to a standard washer's

Product testers noted that most washer-dryer combos operate similarly during the wash cycle to achieve comparable results; once water, clothes, and detergent are added, the washer-dryer combo spins, rinses, and spins again. All types of detergent dissolve normally in these appliances, too, whether you prefer to use pods, liquid, or powder.

For the most part, the energy consumed when using one or the other is similar. In addition, the purchase and running costs for a washer-dryer combo amount to be roughly the same as owning a separate front-loading washer and condenser dryer.

Their drum design is gentler on clothes

Washer-dryer combo units are designed with a horizontal-axis drum, which is similar to the drum in most front-loading washing machines. Most notably, this design allows the combo unit to be gentler on the clothes tumbling around inside it, preventing snags. And because washer-dryer combos lift clothes out of the water to then plunge them back in for the drying portion, their operation makes for a gentler cleaning method.

They are easy to use

Best of all, with a washer-dryer combo, you can wash and dry your clothes without manual intervention! Because you’re using an all-in-one appliance instead of two separate machines, the process of washing your clothes is as simple as selecting the desired settings for your load and then hitting “Start.”

Plus, with this combination appliance, you have the option to wash or dry independently—so you can choose to only run the wash cycle for items you wish to air dry or just select the wrinkle-release cycle when you don’t have time to iron your business wear.

hand pours in Tide liquid detergent in dispenser of Whirlpool washer-dryer combo

Pictured: Whirlpool® Smart All-In-One Washer & Dryer in Cashmere (WFC8090GX)

Washer-Dryer Combo Cons ☒

It’s only fair that we discuss the drawbacks associated with washer-dryer combos, too. Here are the most frequently reported issues with this appliance:

They can only dry half of the capacity of a standard dryer

As we already mentioned, washer-dryer combos use the same washing actions as an equivalent front-loading washer, so their cleaning capability is comparable; however, their drying results may not be as successful as those of a standalone dryer.

A main reason for this underperformance is that drying actions require more cubic feet than a washer for clothes to be tossed around and tumbled. By contrast, washing actions rely on friction, and because a washer-dryer combo occupies the footprint of a typical washer, washing results for both are largely comparable.

As such, the same cannot be said about the drying performance of a washer-dryer combo and a standalone dryer.

They may take a longer time to wash and dry than standard laundry pairs

Although washer-dryer combos clean about the same as a standalone washer, the drying aspect is where things get a little complicated. Unlike standalone dryers, washer-dryer combos entail a lot of plumbing fixtures and water inlets in the drum, which support the washing side of things but are also coopted for the drying component.

As a reminder, washer-dryer combos are, in part, condenser dryers. Unlike vented dryers that pump hot, wet air straight into your laundry, condenser dryers capture the moisture from the clothes, pushing warm, dry air to extract moisture and cool down the humid air in a heat exchanger to condense the moisture. The extracted moisture is then either collected in a tank or pumped down the drain. The now-dry air is reheated, and the cycle repeats.

What this all means is that condenser dryers take longer to dry your clothes than vented dryers. For reference, a vented dryer may finish a normal load in about 45 to 50 minutes whereas a condenser dryer could run for approximately an hour and a half.

With this in mind, the total run time for a combined wash and dry cycle can be anywhere from three to six and a half hours, depending on the load size.

They may use a staggering amount of water to dry your laundry

Washer-dryer combos may use up to 55-½ gallons on some machines, as the dryer’s condenser mechanism uses water from the tap for the cooling phase.

This staggering amount is in addition to the water that is needed for washing (in some cases, the drying component may require more water than the washing portion), so it can be said that washer-dryer combos are more expensive to maintain as far as your water bill is concerned.

That said, if you’re looking for a more efficient alternative, heat-pump washer-dryer combos are available. While these models don’t rely on any water to dry your clothes, it should be noted that their upfront cost is steeper.

colorful clothing inside front-loading Whirlpool washer-dryer combo

Let Us Help You

If you have any questions regarding any of our top-rated laundry products, be sure to contact your friends in the business at Spencer’s TV & Appliance. We are proud to have served the Phoenix area for over 47 years (and counting). Call or visit our experts at any of our 10 locations today!