A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… an appliance engineer had the good idea to take a washing machine and a dryer and combine them into a single appliance. As good-natured and pure as his intentions may have been, what he created was something that could be advertised to wash and dry, but in reality do neither very well.

It sounds like a great option for those of you with small condos or apartments with no room for a full laundry area. So you head down to your local appliance store and tell the salesman you want to purchase a combination washing machine. If you have a good salesmen (and they are few and far between) he might save you a lot of grief and tell you right up front that a combination washer/dryer is what we in the industry call “last resort laundry”. It neither cleans nor dries well. Years ago there were over a dozen appliance brands which sold combination units, but today only a handful remain. That is because they are more prone to break-downs and consumer expectations almost always exceed their capacity.

In Europe, washer dryer combo units are far more popular and do actually work better than their U.S. counter-parts. This is mainly due to voltage — in Europe they use 220 volts, which significantly helps in the drying process. Whereas in America almost all combination washing machines are 110 volts, limiting the amount of heat the dryer function can produce. This is why you will find current owners of combo washer dryers complain of clothing that takes over 4 hours a load and still comes out damp.

The only combination units that do work well are ones that sport a condenser dryer — but even then, you are limited to very small load sizes and extremely long wash cycles (5 hours or more in many cases). Condenser drying works by circulating the warm air through the dryer chamber and then through a condenser which removes the moisture and drains it. If you absolutely HAVE TO buy a combination washer and dryer, make sure the unit is a condenser dryer. Otherwise, make sure you have a good iron handy because your clothes will be coming out wet.

To those currently struggling with combination units, here are a few helpful tips to make life better:

1. Reduce your load size

2. Always use VERY LITTLE soap

3. Remove your clothing as soon as the machine is finished.

By doing just those three things, you will see a major improvement in how your clothing comes out.

Anthony Rocco

About The Author

Founder and Editor of Appliance Buyer's Guide. With over 10 years experience selling appliances and designing kitchens, and having grown up in the business, I have a unique perspective on todays offerings in the Appliance world. Currently Managing Director at The Kitchenworks in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

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