We just don’t know how lucky we are do we? Since the first electric washing machine went on sale in the early 1900s, we’ve been able to do away with the soap, scrubbing board and mangle and have our washing done for us automatically.
The advent of the electric tumble dryer, popular since the 1940s, then meant we weren’t tied to the weather when hanging out the clothes on the washing line.
But when the first washer dryer was developed in the late 40s/early 50s, it was a revolution, creating a machine that not only washed your socks, underwear and shirts but dried them out too.
Perfect for those without the room for a standalone washing machine and separate tumble dryer, washer dryers come in many shapes and sizes with a whole range of features. So to help you choose the right one for you, here’s our guide to the 10 things to think about when buying a washer dryer.
You can save space
Washer Dryers – as the name suggests – combine both the clothes washing and drying functions meaning you only need one machine. So if you live in a flat or a house with a small kitchen, they’re the perfect choice if you can’t fit in a washing machine and tumble dryer.
Although you may not always use the drying function, you have the convenience of having it there in an emergency. At least if it’s pouring down you won’t need to wait it out while your outfit dries on the radiator and let’s face it, bath towels just don’t feel the same wrapped around you unless they’ve been tumbled to make they fluffy.
There’s a choice of Freestanding or Integrated
Like all kitchen appliances, washer dryers are available in both freestanding and integrated machines. So, if you have a fitted kitchen you’ll be able to hide the appliance behind a cupboard door, which may also dull the noise it makes.
Before deciding which to buy, measure the space you have available. Although the dimensions of machines are roughly the same – usually a 60cm width – remember, you’ll need to leave a little room on either side and above, to be able to pull it out. The heights can vary though but the vast majority are made to fit under an average height worktop.
A choice of drums for one up to a large family
Like with a washing machine, a washer dryer is available in all different capacities. This is represented by the size of the drum and the weight of the wash load it can take – usually shown in kilograms.
Washer Dryers tend to start around 5kg and go all the way up to 11kg meaning it’ll cope with even the messiest of households. Importantly, the larger capacity machines will still be around 60cm wide to ensure they fit in the traditional kitchen space.
But when looking at the wash load, always consider the drying load too. This will be slightly lower than for the wash because more empty room is needed during the drying process.
However, you will find standalone washing machines available with a larger capacity than the largest capacity washer dryer.
Spin when you’re wringing
You will find the Spin Speed of a Washer Dryer shown as RPM. The higher the number, obviously the faster it will spin and the more water that will be expelled after the washing has taken place.
It will also be worth looking at the length of time a normal wash takes. There could be a lot of variants here, especially if the Washer Dryer has a range of settings for different types of clothing, materials, towels and bedding. It may also have a quick, or daily, wash function for a short freshen up.
Listen out for the Noise
When you’re placing a Washer Dryer in the kitchen or even a utility room nearby, consider how near this is to a family room or lounge where you may be watching TV or using a computer.
The noise made by a Washer Dryer, just like from a washing machine or tumble dryer, could be off-putting and prevent you hearing the television or enjoying playing a games console.
You can found out though how loud your Washer Dryer will be by looking at the Energy Efficiency label. It will be shown in decibels (dB). The lower the number, the quieter it will be, and as an example, a normal conversation level is around 60 decibels.
A range of brands to suit all budgets
Brands like Miele, Siemens and Bosch are at the higher end of the pricing spectrum with others such as Candy much cheaper. Samsung and Zanussi tend to be in the middle range of cost.
Most Washer Dryers work on condensing technology so you won’t need to connect them to a separate vent on an outside wall. Water expelled from your clothes leaves the machine through the same drainage pipe that takes away the dirty water after a wash.
They’re cheaper than buying a separate washing machine and tumble dryer
It stands to reason that a Washer Dryer will be more expensive than a washing machine – after all, it does two jobs. The cheapest washing machine can be well under £200 but a Washer Dryer starts at just over £300.
However, it is still much cheaper than buying a separate washing machine and a standalone tumble dryer. These start at around £150 for the cheapest model.
Today’s modern Washer Dryers are made to last but because they carry out two very different functions, there may be more chance of something going wrong than with two separate standalone appliances. Many though come with long warranties that can include both parts and labour so it may be worth looking around for one that offers that extra add-on.
Colours will suit all tastes and decor
You won’t find many Washer Dryers in bright colours such as red or orange but while white is by far the most popular type, others are available to match your kitchen in black, silver, stainless steel and graphite.
Look for the most energy and water efficient
Due to the way they are constructed, Washer Dryers can take longer to dry clothes than a standalone tumble dryer. That can mean it may use more electricity in the process and over time, increase your utility bill.
The Energy Efficiency label will display how efficient the appliance is and there may be two different ratings, one for the washing and one for the drying. These can start at A+ for the best and all the way down to C for the least efficient.
As well as energy efficiency, the amount of water used in the washing process is also important to know. You will also find this displayed and the less water it consumes, the more environmentally-friendly it is. This can vary widely and is shown in litres for a “normal” wash.
Many machines though have a specific function to save water on certain washes or will have a half-load option to avoid using more water than you need when only washing a few items. It will also save you money if you’re hooked up to a water meter at home.
Understand all the variables and features
Like with all washing or drying appliances, there are many different functions and features available on your Washer Dryer.
Among the most important are Sensor Drying, which allows you to select the level of how dry you wish an item to be. That could be just enough to be able to iron it or fully dry to put straight away in the wardrobe. A sensor means it will stop drying once all the water is gone, rather than keep going until you open the door to check it manually or use a timed function that may going for longer than is actually needed for the finished result.
Similarly, there are functions that take out the most creases to make ironing easier or not needed at all by drying and spinning in a certain way, normally by going in the opposite direction.
Delicate, Wool and Silk washes are also available on many machines along with half loads, different heat settings, extra rinses and spins, timers to delay the start or end of your wash or dry and a memory function to remember the way you wash or dry most often.
You might also wish to look for a machine that has an extra wide opening door and those with electronic displays and buttons rather than just dials and knobs can be easier to operate and display information such as how long is left until the wash or dry is finished.
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