The best all-in-one washer/dryer
An all-in-one washer/dryer is the perfect solution for anyone living in a cramped space: apartment dwellers, RVers, boaters, and others who don't have much room. Also known as combo washer dryers, these machines wash and dry your clothes in the same unit while taking up half the space of standard machines.
In this guide, we examine some of the features you need to consider when shopping for an all-in-one washer and dryer, from installation to capacity to load time. We also offer information on several machines we feel are at the top of this niche in terms of quality and cost. One of our favorites is the Steam Washer/Dryer from LG, which requires no external venting to run in your home.
Considerations when choosing all-in-one washer/dryers
The materials used in washer/dryers vary from composite plastics to stainless steel, with steel providing the greatest durability -- a feature that should be high on your list if you plan to take the machine on the road or high seas, where bouncing around in an RV or on a boat can lead to an increased risk of damage.
Size and capacity
You'll want to be sure your purchase is compact enough to fit your space. These machines can vary in terms of physical size, with 24 inches in width being average.
Capacity is also a big consideration. The capacity of an all-in-one is typically much less than that of a standard machine, although some come close. These usually run between 2 and 3 cubic feet, with some reaching 4.5 cubic feet. The weight of the loads you can run in these ranges between 6 and 15 pounds, depending on the machine.
It's helpful to know how much energy a washer/dryer combo uses before purchasing it. Pay particular attention to any mention of sensors that can adjust water levels and wash/dry times based on load size, as these can greatly improve efficiency.
Carefully check out the installation specifics for an all-in-one machine before purchasing it, particularly if you are buying it for an apartment. Some of these can be used with kitchen sinks; others require dedicated hot/cold hook-ups. Even if your machine is not capable of connecting to a sink, you should be able to find an adapter that allows you to do this.
Wash cycles and settings
The more wash cycles a combo unit has, the more you can do with it. Some cycles are for specific types of fabric or clothing, like wool. Others provide a variety of additional functions, from sanitization to a "tub clean" cycle. The ability to adjust the water temperature provides you with added control.
Popular cycles to keep an eye out for include normal dry, low temperature dry, more dry, damp dry, and timed drying. Whichever machine you choose, it should dry your laundry thoroughly and evenly.
Delay wash: Available in some machines, a delay wash setting allows you to program a load to wash at some point in the future, usually within 24 hours.
Automatic dispensers: While not standard, some all-in-one washer/dryers include automatic dispensers that allow you to load the machine with detergent and fabric softener so you don't need to do it later. In fact, some can hold and auto-dispense up to 20 loads of detergent and softener.
Display: Some all-in-one washer/dryers use a series of LED lights to track what the machine is doing. Others use a screen or even a touchscreen. Whatever the machine uses, it should be easy to read and understand.
Child lock: If you have little ones about, consider picking up an all-in-one washer and dryer with a child-proof lock. While not standard, some combo machines have them.
Price: All-in-one washer/dryers generally fall within three distinct price ranges: under $200, between $900 and $1,300, and greater than $1,500. The majority sit in the middle. Price tends to correlate with capacity, feature set, and build quality.
If you're worried about germs on your clothes, seek a combo unit with a sanitizing cycle.
Machines with a wrinkle shield or guard option will tumble your clothes every few hours, thus keeping your clothing from wrinkling if you can't remove it right away.
You should be able to set your all-in-one to perform one function (washing or drying) at a time. This is handy if you just want to dry something or wish to wash a delicate item and hang it to dry.
High-efficiency (HE) detergent is recommended for use in the majority of all-in-one washers and dryers.
Q. Does an all-in-one need to be vented outside?
A. One of the perks of all-in-one washer/dryers is that the majority are ventless. Where standard dryers typically need a hole cut into the side of your house to allow hot, moist air to dissipate, these combo units usually use a condensation process that strips water from the drying clothes and flushes it down the drain.
Q. Can I use dryer sheets with my all-in-one combo?
A. While diluted fabric softener can be used with these machines, manufacturers recommend that you do not use dryer sheets in them.
Q. How long does it take to do a load of laundry in a washer/dryer combo?
A. This varies by machine. While the wash cycle of some all-in-ones is comparable to standard washers, the majority take longer to wash a load than standard. Expect a wash time of 30 to 90 minutes. Drying can also take much longer -- sometimes up to four hours for a normal load.
All-in-one washer/dryers we recommend
Best of the best: LG Ventless Steam Washer/Dryer
Our take: A well-received combo unit from a trusted manufacturer.
What we like: No vent required. Dryer time is shorter than some other models. Can accommodate a comforter.
What we dislike: Pricier than some other combo units, and some buyers complain about the difficult draining system.
Best bang for your buck: Deco All-in-One Compact Washer
Our take: A compact all-in-one with handy sensor features and a decent price.
What we like: Offers a nice menu of 14 functions. Clothes come out clean. Small enough for RV use.
What we dislike: Occasional circuit board problems reported.
Choice 3: LG 24" Washer/Dryer Combo
Our take: A convenient, compact washer/dryer combo that needs no vent.
What we like: Has a clean white look and a stainless steel interior. Compact enough for a motorhome.
What we dislike: Drain is required. Machine may vibrate while in use.
Rich Gray is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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