The Pros and Cons Of Compact Washers and Dryers

Is space a hot commodity in your house? Find the pros and cons of cutting back on washer and dryer sizes right here.

Front Loading Washers Side-by-Side to Save Space

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When space is a hot commodity and laundry still needs to be done, a compact washer and dryer can alleviate organizational woes. Oftentimes , small dwellings such as apartments, condominiums, mobile homes, vacation getaways and ranches lack a dedicated laundry area or room for full-sized washers and dryers. Sometimes homeowners in the process of remodeling will create extra space by foregoing big laundry equipment in favor of a compact washer and dryer set. People opting to downsize may also be looking for ways to maximize smaller living spaces. Compact laundry machines provide cleaning power without sacrificing too much space and may be the perfect solution.

Like the name implies, compact washers and dryers are smaller than traditional laundry appliances,. They're roughly the size of average dishwashers, which means most of them are about 34 inches high, 24 to 27 inches inches wide and 23 inches deep. This makes them easy to install and accessible for many cabinet configurations and counter heights.

If you're wondering if a compact washer and dryer are right for your home, there are a few things to consider:

• As you might expect, compact washers and dryers have a smaller capacity than their larger, roomier counterparts. Compact washing machines measuring 24 inches wide usually have about 1.5 cubic feet of capacity, while dryers the same size have about 3.5 cubic feet. If you have a large family or if you routinely do a lot of laundry, the smaller capacity of compact laundry units may not be a fit for your household.

• When horizontal space is in short supply, many compact washers dryers can be stacked on top of each other. Some models are even built as one connected piece. Stacking your washer and dryer can save valuable floor space but may eliminate the possibility of easily reachable cabinets. When stacking, washers typically support the dryer on top. If you have someone in your household who is short, elderly or otherwise unable to reach the top dryer, take that into consideration when deciding how to arrange the units. Be sure to measure the height of your area carefully to ensure that it can accommodate a stacked configuration (remembering to add an extra foot if you choose a top-loading washer so that the dryer doesn't block the opening). When vertical space is an issue, consider a front-loading washer so the dryer can be stacked directly on top. Not only should you consider height limitations, but also account for the depth of the space. These compact appliances still require dryer vent components and washer hoses to function, but can be great options for fitting into closets as well as into converted shower spaces.

• Since most compact washers and dryers fit under a standard counter height, you can choose to place a countertop over the units if they are side-by-side instead of stacked. This makes for a nice area to fold clothes or to provide extra counter space when needed. Some compact units even come with front panels that will coordinate with cabinetry.

• The smaller size of compact units makes them more efficient and less expensive to operate, which may be good news for your energy and water bills. They may be more expensive to purchase, however, and stacking kits can be an additional cost. To make sure you’re purchasing the most energy efficient models, look for the ENERGY STAR certification. Electric dryers may require higher voltage than standard power outlets provide, so you may incur expenses for the installation of a new outlet as well.

• If you're looking for even more compact benefits, consider a washer-and-dryer combination appliance. Washer/dryer combinations take up half the space of washer/dryer duos because there’s only one machine, but most only have a small load capacity and take a lot longer to complete cycles. Because you’re only buying one unit, the purchase cost tends to be lower than that of a set. Most combination machines are energy efficient and use less water than standard models, which will save you money. Many combination units have the option to add wheels or casters, allowing easy movement and storage. An added perk is that most combination washers and dryers don’t require venting, which allows more flexibility in where they can be used. Some models even have a delayed start feature for greater convenience, and most are noticeably quieter than larger washers and dryers.
• A portable washing machine uses an adapter to connect to a faucet for a water source and then drains into the sink. These machines are good options if you don’t have a permanent place for a washer. Most models are electric and can be easily wheeled around for use and for storage. They do have a very small load capacity, however, and none are currently ENERGY STAR rated.

Another option for saving laundry equipment space is to take the old-fashioned route and go without a dryer altogether. Clothes and linens can be line-dried or dried inside on a rack; this option saves the most space and energy costs. In addition, your clothes won’t receive the wear and tear from the heat and tumble of a dryer, helping them look better and last longer. If you’re looking for a space-maximizing solution combined with energy savings and a way to stretch your wardrobe dollars, air drying your clothes may be the answer.


Next > How to Clean Your Washer and Dryer


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