Have you stacked your washer/dryer?
March 29, 2011 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Thinking through pros and cons of stacking our washer and dryer.

We have full-sized, front-load washer and dryer that currently live next to each other in a closet off the kitchen. We've bought the manufacturer's stacking kit and are trying to decide if it's a good idea. On the one hand, it would free up half the closet for storage. On the other hand... am I about to create a hassle for myself? Is this setup harder on the laundress (reaching up vs. bending down)? Do I need to reinforce the floor so they don't fall through under the extra weight? If you've done this, or decided not to, I'd appreciate your insight on things both mechanical and practical.
posted by Sweetie Darling to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Re reinforcing the floor: the floor supports both side by side so I'm not sure why the floor wouldn't support them stacked on top of each other. What is the floor (and subfloor, if relevant) made of.

Re ergonomics: it would depend on your height, the height of the washer or dryer (which is on top?) and your physical fitness level.
posted by dfriedman at 2:09 PM on March 29, 2011

We have ours stacked. My wife is petite (not that she's the only one who does laundry here, just sayin'). Height and stability are not an issue. The only issue you'll need to deal with is the exhaust ductwork for the dryer.
posted by adamrice at 2:12 PM on March 29, 2011

Your average front-loading washing machine is 40" (3'4") tall, making the two stacked 80", or 6'8". I'm 5' tall. Doing this would put all the controls for the top one way above my head (over a foot at least to the bottom of the controls, more like a foot and a half), not to mention pulling the laundry out at that height. It would be very, very difficult for me.

If you and everyone else doing your laundry are quite tall it's not an issue, but if you are shorter, or you want your kids to be able to learn how do the laundry without a complicated step stool dance (because of course you can't access the one one the bottom when you have a step stool up for the one on top, not to mention going from the basket to the top), it's just not an option.
posted by brainmouse at 2:12 PM on March 29, 2011

In my experience, front load washers stink. And I mean literally stink. Mold and fungus and stink.

I know that as long as keep the door of the washer open after each wash, so that it can dry out, and if you use the fungus tablets and do an occassional wash with vinegar, then it the front load washer should not get funky. I understand that the sellers say with proper maintenance, front loaders should not have that problem.

But, I have had several front loaders, and the problem always appears sooner or later. Eventually someone forgets to leave the door open, and then the moisture is trapped inside the seal-tight machine. Eventually, front loaders stink.

Top load washers do not have this problem. And they make stacked washer dryer units where the washer is top load. I would do that.
posted by Flood at 2:12 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our apartment came with a stacked washer & dryer tucked into a tiny nook in the bathroom. The most annoying part for me is a very small issue: the movement of the units causes anything stacked on top (say, a container of laundry detergent) to slowly inch its way backwards until it's all the way against the wall - and I can't reach 6 feet up and 3 feet back very easily. I could maybe put a different surface under them to increase friction, or put the laundry detergent and stain remover in a different room, but mostly I just make my husband do the laundry.
posted by deludingmyself at 2:13 PM on March 29, 2011

I'm 5'7" with a crummy back. I find stacked machines much, much nicer to deal with than side-by-side. I suppose it depends a lot on where the controls are for the top machine (on the top or on the front?), but taking clothes in/out of something at eye level is way easier for me.
posted by phunniemee at 2:13 PM on March 29, 2011

Mine are stacked and I like it. I've gotten good at tossing the wet clothes up into the dryer while sitting on the floor. It's sort of annoying, but worth it for the extra space. Also, there's nowhere to put the basket while you pull the clothes out of the dryers so I drop them on the floor a lot. Not a problem if you don't have the floor covered with dirty clothes. If I had more space I would get a rolling table/cart to hold the basket at dryer level so I wouldn't have to throw or drop the clothes.
posted by artychoke at 2:22 PM on March 29, 2011

I find stacked washer/dryers a little awkward: I usually drop some of my laundry while getting it out of whichever machine's on top (the dryer, right?). Depending on the height I can't always see into the top machine, either, so I wave my arm around inside for a while to feel for all the socks. I also prefer having the top of the machine to put my laundry basket and detergent on. Slightly inconvenient, but overall not a big deal.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:22 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Saving space is great for 99.99% of the year. Who cares about the 2 minutes a week you spend reaching into a machine?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:47 PM on March 29, 2011

I don't think the floor will need reinforcement. The dryer isn't that heavy. If the floor in there is already tile, you probably already have joists close together anyways. If the floor isn't tile, the joists may be spread out more, but I couldn't imagine it being enough to impact this.

Our washer actually got quieter when we stacked. We don't have vibration problems really, but definitely make sure you adjust things so you start out level. I'm tall and put stuff on top of the stacked units and nothing has vibrated off yet.

It's slightly annoying to move wet clothes from bottom to top, but doing laundry isn't really a joyous thing so it's not like this turned a wonderful task into drudgery.

You do lose storage space on top for stuff like the detergent or using the top of the machines for folding or whatnot.

If I had the space personally, I'd unstack them, but we don't have the space. And really it's just personal preference, not any driving burning need to have them unstacked.
posted by cmm at 3:04 PM on March 29, 2011

I had this setup for a while and thought it was great. I am 5'6" and found it easy enough to handle the controls at the top and to throw the washing from one machine to the other.

We did reinforce the floor but only because we were moving both machines onto a suspended timber floor upstairs.

The dryer sat on a purpose built shelf in the cupboard, and there was room on this shelf next to the dryer for the detergent - keeping it on top of the dryer would been pretty inconvenient.

I have always had front loading washing machines (standard in the UK) and have never noticed any kind of smell nor needed "fungus tablets".
posted by emilyw at 3:36 PM on March 29, 2011

I like having the space on top for laundry baskets and stuff.
posted by Mom at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2011

I have had stacked machines in my basement for almost 6 years.

Height: I'm 5'1" and have no problems reaching the controls at the top of the dryer. (There's plenty in this house that I find high and awkward: these machines aren't part of it.) As a short person, I very much prefer these to bending inside a top loader washer, too. I spin the drum of the washer and dryer with my left hand and check with my right to confirm that I've gotten everything out: either things will drop or I'll feel the items when that area of the drum spins around to my hand.

Mildew: I've had occasional problems if I got in the habit of leaving the door closed. When I leave it open, everything's fine.

Dropping stuff: The laundry hamper sits below the open door when loading and unloading. An occasional stray misses the basket, but this hasn't been a big problem.

Storage: I keep laundry detergent and associated stuff in a cabinet to the left.

Folding space: The setup means I lose the top surfaces of the machines, but I prefer to fold upstairs anyway.
posted by maudlin at 4:04 PM on March 29, 2011

If you decide to keep them side by side, a couple of the big hardware stores sell wall cabinets that match the width of a washer and dryer. Ours cost $140, it's got a cheap and cheerful melamine finish. I like having the tops of both machines free to fold/stack clothes from the dryer.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:08 PM on March 29, 2011

I stacked mine, and stopped stacking as the spin cycle meant a frightening amount of vibration that seemed to spread out over the whole house. The poor house is ninety years old and probably did not, I felt, benefit from a regular shake-down. It was really quite a racket.

I also like being able to bury the tops of the washer and dryer with ignored laundry and sixteen bottles of different kinds of detergent.

(I suspect Flood's problem is simply: Flood forgets to leave the door open)
posted by kmennie at 4:31 PM on March 29, 2011

I'm 5'1" and have no problems reaching the controls at the top of the dryer.

To clarify: these are at the top of the front panel, not on the horizontal top surface. The latter would be game over for me.
posted by maudlin at 4:58 PM on March 29, 2011

In my experience, front load washers stink. And I mean literally stink. Mold and fungus and stink.

Check consumer reports before you buy. A small handful of front-loaders have this problem (I believe it was even specific to LG).

Generally speaking, they also use (much) less water, and wash clothes better compared to top loaders. Because they don't fill up with water, their maximum weight is also a lot less.
posted by schmod at 5:01 PM on March 29, 2011

Mine are stacked: front-loading washer below condenser dryer. No problem with either in 10 years. The heights are fine.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:07 PM on March 29, 2011

We got a front-loading washer with a stacked condenser dryer last year, and I absolutely love them. Granted, we're both tall. Front-loaders don't have to be tiny; ours is an 8kg that will wash a whole comforter. I don't mind the bending down, etc.

Our previous setup actually had the dryer *hanging* above. In my experience it's fairly common in Australian apartments. Basically, the dryer gets flipped upside down (so the controls are on the bottom) and hung via a bracket. Unfortunately condenser dryers are too heavy to hang, so that's why we had to go with the stacker. But if you're worried about the floor strength, hanging could be an option.

Thanks to those who mentioned leaving the door open. My husband has been doing that but I haven't, so I'll start getting in the habit now...
posted by web-goddess at 10:20 PM on March 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I think we're going to try it. Appreciate being aware of the cons, though.

And BTW, I've had no trouble with musty smells since I switched back to using powdered detergent (and not very much of it). Leaving the door open helps too.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:00 AM on April 1, 2011

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