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Washer Dryer or Separate Washing Machine and Dryer?

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If you are in the market for a new washing machine, or you’re kitting out your home with appliances for the first time, then one of the big decisions you’ll need to make is whether to buy a washing machine and a dryer, or to purchase an all-in-one unit.

For some people, the decision is simple. If you don’t have a lot of space in your home, and nowhere to dry clothes naturally, then you’ll need to get a washer dryer. For others, it’s a more nuanced decision.

How much laundry do you do? How much do you need to tumble dry each time? And how big is your budget?

laundry hanging on washing line

The Case for Separates

Washing clothes and tumble drying them are different jobs that need different sized drums. Clothes need a lot more space to ‘tumble’ while they’re being dried, so the hot air can help them dry out. When they’re being washed, however, they soak in water and the act of the clothes rubbing against each other helps to clean each item. That’s why the recommended load sizes for the wash cycle and the dry cycle of a washer dryer differ.

With separates, you can be washing one load and drying another at the same time, which saves you time if you have a lot of laundry to do. It also saves wear and tear on the motor, so each machine should last a lot longer.

The Case for a Washer Dryer

There are two issues with separate machines. Firstly, you need twice as much space. Secondly, unless you’re going to opt for the lowest end budget appliances, you’re going to be paying a lot more for separate washing machines and dryers.

A combination washer dryer will get the job done. You will need to take some time to remove clothes from the washing machine after the cycle has finished, tumble drying only part of each load.

This may not be an issue if you routinely wear clothes that cannot be tumble dried, however. You can wash several garments together, tumble dry the everyday items, and let the more delicate items hang dry. Modern combination machines have condenser dryers that pump out the water that they collect, just like standalone dryers.

There may, in theory, be more reliability issues with a combination machine. After all, a combination machine sees more wear and tear on the motor and has more complex parts. In practice, however, the difference in performance should be minimal unless you’re putting the machine under heavy load.

So What Should You Do?

For most people, if you have the space and the money to buy two separate machines, you’ll find that standalone washers and dryers offer the best performance and convenience. If you can’t fit two machines in your kitchen or laundry room, though, a washer dryer will still get the job done, and modern appliances are robust, reliable and perform well. If you’re a young person or a mature couple that doesn’t have to worry about cleaning PE kit and school uniforms for several children every day then a washer dryer is more than up to the task.