The Pros and Cons of Compact Washers and Dryers

Do you want the convenience of doing laundry at home but don’t have a lot of space? Small dwellings such as apartments, condominiums, mobile homes, or vacation getaways often lack a dedicated laundry area or room for full-sized washer and dryer dimensions. A compact washer and dryer may be the best bet for someone who doesn’t have much space in their household.

Front Loading Washers Side-by-Side to Save Space

Like their names imply, compact washers and compact dryers are smaller than traditional laundry appliances. They're roughly the size of average dishwashers—about 34 inches high, 24 inches wide, and 24 inches deep. These small washer and dryer dimensions make for easier installation, and they’re accessible for many cabinet configurations and counter heights. 

Sometimes homeowners in the remodeling process will create extra space by foregoing big laundry equipment in favor of a compact stackable washer and dryer set. People opting to downsize may also be looking for ways to maximize small living spaces. A small washing machine and dryer provide cleaning power without sacrificing too much space or having to spend a fortune at the laundromat.  

But there are substantial differences in these appliances compared to the conventional versions. Before you run out and choose your new washer and dryer, let’s review the pros and cons of these smaller appliances. 


You can create extra room for a countertop or cupboard. 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 convenient 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. 

You may save energy and water. A small washer and dryer are usually more efficient and less expensive to operate, which may be good news for your energy and water bills. To make sure you’re purchasing the most energy-efficient models, look for the ENERGY STAR certification. 

Washer/dryer combos are the ultimate space savers. Compact washer/dryer combos take up half the space of washer/dryer sets because they do both jobs in only one machine. 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 may save you money in the long run. 

Another added perk is that most compact washer/dryer combos 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. 

Some units are portable. Many compact washers and dryers also have the option to add wheels or casters. Most portable washer and dryer models are electric and can be easily wheeled around for use and storage. These machines are good options if you don’t have a permanent place for a washer. A portable washing machine uses an adapter to connect to a faucet for a water source and then drains into the sink.  


They have small load capacities. One of the biggest downsides to switching to a compact washer and dryer is the load size. You can usually fit about half of the clothes into a compact load that you can into a traditional machine’s load.  

If you opt for the washer/dryer combo, another downside is it can take longer to complete cycles. They are usually more energy-efficient, but if you have a large family, this may turn laundry day into laundry week.  

A compact stackable washer and dryer can save space but may not be effective for some households. 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 unable to reach the top dryer, take that into consideration when deciding how to arrange the units (or opt for side-by-side 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 compact front-load 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. 

Final Thoughts 

If you want to save as much space as possible, another option 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. An added perk is that your clothes won’t undergo the wear and tear from the heat and tumble of a dryer, so they’ll 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, using a compact washing machine and air-drying your clothes may be the answer. 

No matter which size laundry machine you choose, it’s always good to have a plan to protect vital elements of your household. American Home Shield has home warranty plans for parts of up to 23 home systems and appliances. Our ShieldPlatinum™ and ShieldGold™ plans include both a washer warranty and a dryer warranty as well as the kitchen appliances you rely on every day. If covered parts break down due to everyday wear and tear, we’ve got you covered. Having American Home Shield® home warranty coverage helps protect your budget, makes sure your household keeps running smoothly, and gives you peace of mind.  

When you purchase your compact washer and dryer, make sure you read up on our tips for washer and dryer maintenance, cleaning your washer and dryer, and how to spot common washer and dryer problems.  Check out our home warranty costs today.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein. 

Do you need help with your Dryer? AHS ProConnect offers Dryer repair near you.

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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New Jersey Residents: The product being offered is a service contract and is separate and distinct from any product or service warranty which may be provided by the home builder or manufacturer.