Do compact washer and dryers work well?
November 14, 2014 6:21 AM   Subscribe

I just moved into a small house and bought a frontloading washer and dryer. However when they came to install it, the appliances didn't fit. Now I am planning on buying a compact washer and dryer. However, in the past I have had problems with "mini" versions of appliances. Sometimes they are fine, but sometimes not only are they smaller, they also just simply work badly (don't clean, don't mix, don't heat etc. etc.)
posted by Spurious to Shopping (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could you clarify, please. Are you talking about a stacked washer/dryer, or some other small machines. I've had stacked washer/dryers on and off for many years and they work fine, take a big load of clothes. the only thing they're not really good for is large quilts/comforters.
posted by mareli at 6:34 AM on November 14, 2014

North American "compact" appliances = European standard appliances. Front-loaders can be great as long as you don't overload 'em, and use the right detergent.
posted by scruss at 6:38 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @mareli I'm talking about this type of thing
posted by Spurious at 6:40 AM on November 14, 2014

Buy two front-loaders and stack them, attach them together using a mounting bracket. Buy a decent brand.
posted by devnull at 6:49 AM on November 14, 2014

The model you showed has less wash capacity than most of these.

It is, however 7 inches deeper (front of machine distance to back of machine) and 3.3 inches wider. Were you trying to put your machines side by side, or on top of each other? What are your available dimensions?
posted by mareli at 6:59 AM on November 14, 2014

I have compact washer/dryers in my American home and hate them. They're high end European brands and do sort of do the job right. But they are tiny. Like, I can barely wash one set of king sheets in a single load. Or more than six shirts. If I'm in a hurry or lazy and put too much in nothing gets clean. Everyone raves at how energy efficient doing one load is in these things, but that's completely offset by the fact you have to run 2x as many loads to get stuff clean.
posted by Nelson at 7:15 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Could you give an example of what you consider 'compact', and how much space you have? And maybe let us know where in the world you are? Availability differs a lot, based on location. I could recommend my washer-dryer, but maybe it won't fit or you can't get it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:17 AM on November 14, 2014

It's all I used before moving to the USA I have seen no noticeable difference in washing and drying times or quality. I have used cheap and fancy machines in each county. Only difference is capacity but I find smaller loads of laundry easier to handle and less daunting.
posted by wwax at 7:19 AM on November 14, 2014

I had a compact washer/dryer in my last apartment. It worked okay for me, but I was just one person. If there were more people in my household I'd say "No way, never!". The washer was so small that I could fit just two pairs of jeans in there, tops. I could wash my queen size sheets in there...first the fitted sheet, then the flat sheet. I was doing a load of laundry every night because the loads had to be so tiny.

Also: if you're gonna have to have a compact washer/dryer, be vigilant about maintenance. Make sure that you clean the lint trap every. single. time. Wash out any other removable lint traps on a regular basis.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:52 AM on November 14, 2014

Don't get a combo washer dryer in one unit (stackable is fine; I'm talking about one machine that does both washing and drying). I have one and the previous tenants never cleaned it (I suspect) and it makes my clothes smell moldy. Plus it uses a ton of water to dry things as it dries with steam. It's the pits.
posted by sockermom at 7:53 AM on November 14, 2014

I have used a Bosch compact washer and dryer. They took a while to get used to. A queen sized sheet set was a stretch for a single load. The amount of detergent you use is better measured in drops than by the little lines in the HE detergent cup. You also can't use chlorine bleach in it for some reason. But with tiny loads the right amount of detergent and faux bleach, they did pretty well. That said, I prefer big front loaders simply for the versatility of load size. It's great to not worry about whether I can shove a dog-dirt-covered comforter in the washer whenever I need to.
posted by cecic at 8:31 AM on November 14, 2014

Just so you're not solving the wrong problem, were the appliances too large to fit in a door? Or too large to fit in the room, period?

Removing and reinstalling a door frame isn't fun, but it is possible for someone with a few basic tools. Would certainly be more cost effective than buying $1400 of appliances you turn out to hate.

Moving a wall? Well that depends on the wall...
posted by fontophilic at 8:35 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Along the lines of what fontophilic is suggesting - we had to move the door frame from inside the wall to in front of the wall to accomodate the extra deep full-size washer/dryer we had just bought. It looks just fine, you'd never think it was any different originally.
posted by Dragonness at 9:00 AM on November 14, 2014

I have a Bosch front loading washing machine that you'd call compact and I'd call normal.

It works excellently. I can fit one load of bedding in it or a week's washing for one person, so with two of us we do about three loads a week.

I've also previously had a Bosch dryer, which had settings for how dry the clothes should be rather than how long it should run for, and A+++ would dry again. I could fit a whole wash in the dryer without a problem.

I have stacked one of these dryers on top of a washing machine by means of constructing a substantial wooden shelf inside a cupboard so that the dryer went on the shelf and the washer went under.

I have had BAD experiences with a combo washer/dryer, i.e. literally one box where you wash and dry things without moving them in between. It didn't dry well, although possibly because it was an economy brand.
posted by emilyw at 9:27 AM on November 14, 2014

I have one and the previous tenants never cleaned it (I suspect) and it makes my clothes smell moldy.

Even if you clean them, they are just grotty because there are places inside them were water+soap collects and grows into scunge. You are supposed to leave the doors open after you use them so that they air out. They are great because they use very little water. And a pain because of the smell and because they can take a lot longer than "regular" laundry and they don't hold very much. My dad had a compact set of stacked machines that fit into what is basically a closet at his (former) place and they were nice because you could have them in the main part of the house, easily accessible blabla but they were hard to do real loads of laundry in them so you'd wind up doing five teeny loads and it took all day.
posted by jessamyn at 11:20 AM on November 14, 2014

Whatever you pick, make sure you can set the water level independently (i.e., it should have a non-sensor option). I have a "high-efficiency" washer by GE that never puts enough water in (I understand how HE washers work, but you still need sufficient water in the rinse cycle to actually rinse the clothes).
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:25 AM on November 14, 2014

We had a cute little European front loading set (two machines, not a combo all-in-one). They did a fine job washing and drying clothes, but I would never buy a small set like that again. You can never ever ever leave wet clothes in the washer, or they will get musty immediately - as soon as it finishes washing, they must go in the dryer. And you cannot have kids unless you have someone willing to do laundry 24/7.
posted by ellenaim at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2014

The particular washer you linked to has pretty bad reviews on the Home Depot site. I find customer reviews of appliances to be super helpful -- look for comments from people who have owned the washer for quite a while.

I used my mother's compact washer and dryer a lot during a 2-week visit. It uses very little water but somehow stuff still gets really clean. For best results, use a very small amount of HE detergent. Use the warmest water advisable for whatever you're washing -- I ran the hot water at the nearest sink to make sure to get the warmest wash. Also, use the fastest spin to extract as much water as you can, so the drying time will be shorter. It seems to me that the washer can handle a larger load than the dryer can.

You do need to clean the washer to prevent odor. Run it once a month on a hot wash with just Oxy, bleach or Smelly Washer™. And in between, leave the door ajar. With my standard-size front-loader, I always wipe away the water that's accumulated in the lowest part of the gasket, which takes about 5 seconds. Now and then, remove the detergent tray and rinse it.

Compared to traditional top-load washers, these water-saving new machines are finicky. But considering that they fit in a smaller space and get clothes clean, I don't mind the extra effort. By the way, the front-loaders are a lot gentler on fabrics than top-loaders are.
posted by wryly at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2014

What's best depends on your circumstances. I've owned four variations on this theme -- a tiny high-end front-loading washer/dryer in one machine, tiny high-end Bosch front-loader stacked washer and dryer, smallish front-loader American-made stacked washer and dryer, and smallish American-made top-loading washer and front-loading dryer, stacked. (Whew!)

The European stuff is better quality: better designed and more satisfying in many ways. The American stuff is bigger capacity. If you do a lot of large loads you'll prefer stacked (separate machines) and probably US-made. If you do smaller loads you may prefer the European models. You will definitely do laundry more often with the smaller machines.

Personally I love the small machine that both washes and dries. That's because I live in a tiny place and find small things satisfying. Also it sounds like an airplane and doesn't make annoying chugging noises, plus front-loaders don't get unbalanced and "travel" across the floor like top loaders do. YMMV depending on your needs :)
posted by Susan PG at 12:46 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a tiny Bosch set that stacks and love it. It fits as much as a old American top loader but is much more gentle to the clothes.
posted by sepviva at 7:40 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have one machine that washes and dries front- loading . We rarely use the drier, only when children's school uniform or sports kit need to be turned around quickly. Otherwise it all goes on the drying rack. American machines with an agitator are very hard on clothes and towels. We can do very small loads frequently which suits us, without having to wait to fill a huge machine. Also we frequently use 30 degree short wash which is quick for items which need a wash but aren't very dirty. Many if not most detergents are designed now to work in 30 degrees although we don't use it on towels, sheets or soiled items, just ones that need the equivalent of light hand wash, which is many things aside from towels, sheets, children's laundry. We much prefer this system to the huge American machines although we have 4-6 people's laundry it seems easier. Practical and economical.
posted by claptrap at 3:06 AM on November 15, 2014

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