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Washers & Dryers Buying Guide

Washing and drying units are very useful helping hands to have around the home. But before you purchase one you need ask any salesperson the right questions. This buying guide would help you answer those pertinent queries.

Types of Washers & Dryers

Top-Loading Washers

Top-loading washers are loaded with laundry via the top lid. They may or may not have an agitator. An agitator is a device that moves back and forth in the washing drum. Agitator models usually spin slower than other models so drying time takes longer. Some agitators too can stretch weak fabric. Non-agitator models, aka high-efficiency (HE) top-loaders, clean clothes better, require less water, spin faster and dry clothes faster. However, HE top-loader detergents cost more. Before buying any type of top-loader, check to see if you can conveniently reach the bottom of the drum, otherwise you can try a front-loading washer. HE top-loaders have bigger drum capacities because of the absence of an agitator.

Front-Loading Washers

Front-loading washers types are more recent. To save floor space, some front-loaders can be stacked (one placed on top of the other) with a dryer using a stacking kit like LG's KSTK1. Compared with HE top-loaders, Front-loading washers use less water and are less noisy but they take longer to finish a washing cycle. And unless the Front-load is sitting on a pedestal or some kind of platform you may have to bend to access the drum. It is also usually difficult to add additional laundry once the washer starts a cycle. Sometimes the rubber between the door gets moldy but this can be resolved by either leaving the door open or cleaning the rubber.

Laundry Centers

Laundry centers combine a washer and a dryer in one unit. They are made to fit in small spaces and average about 1.5 cubic feet washing capacity. Usually, Laundry centers do not have high-end features like standard washer and dryers.

Washer-Dryer Combination

Wash-Dryer Combination machines combine both the washing and drying in a single drum unit. Usually these unit are front-loading, have condensation-based ventless drying system, and feature automatic washing and drying systems.They conveniently occupy half the physical space needed for separate washer and dryer units.

Compact Washers

Compact washers are smaller units usually about 24 inches wide and with about 2.3 cubic feet capacity. There are several options such as a washer only unit, a dryer only unit or washer-dryer combination. Some compact washers and dryers are also stackable. They are made to fit in smaller laundry spaces.

Tumbler Dryers

Tumbler Dryers work by sucking in air around it, heating it, before passing it through the drum to dry the laundry. The hot, wet air is eventually vented out of the unit and out of the building as well, through an exhaust. The process of sucking in outside air and flashing it out repeats until the clothes dry. Clothes dry faster with these types of dryers. However, the heat generated in the drying process can weaken the fabric.

Ventless Dryers

Ventless dryers are of many types including Spin dryers, Condenser dryers, Heat pump dryers and Microwave dryers. These dryers may be suitable for you if venting the air out of your building will be a problem. Ventless dryers are more energy efficient than Tumbler dryers but they take longer to dry clothing. Clothes coming out of a ventless dryer may feel damper but these dryers are gentler on your clothing. Condenser dryers sucks in much less air than a tumbler dryer. This air passes through a condenser which heats it and the hot air is pushed to the drum to dry your clothes. The hot wet air is finally pushed to the condenser again to cool it. The cooled air will be reheated as many times until your laundry is dried. The evaporated water in the unit is emptied from the dryer either via a removable tray in the dryer or a hose attached to your unit. Heat pump dryers work in a similar fashion as a Condenser dryer, and they are much more more energy efficient.

Features to look out for in Washers & Dryers


Sizes for washers and dryers can range from as small as 1.6 cubic feet to as big as 5.6 cubic feet. If you have to buy a dryer to complement your existing washer, buy a dryer which has about twice the cubic feet capacity of your washer. Compact washers and dryers are usually about 24 inches wide while full-size one are about, at minimum, 27 inches wide. About 1 to 3 inch clearance space should be made around your unit for ventilation and plumbing work. Front-loader units can be stacked, one on top of the other, to save on floor space. Another way to determine how big your washer should be is suggested on as follows: - A washer of 6.2 cubic feet can fit about 28 bathing towels at full load - A washer of 5.1 cubic feet can fit about 21 bathing towels at full load - A washer of 4.2 cubic feet can fit about 17 bathing towels at full load - A washer of 3.3 cubic feet can fit about 14 bathing towels at full load

Energy Efficiency

Always check the energy efficiency ratings of your washer. This notwithstanding, there ways you can reduce the power consumption of your frequent washing and drying cycles.

Energy Efficiency Tips for Washers

- Buy higher energy-efficient washers. - There is no need to use warm water for washing unless you are washing badly stained clothing or your underwear. - Soak badly stained clothing and rub them before feeding into the washer. - Wash with full load but don't overfill the drum. - Lighter weight bath towels and other light clothing save on energy than thicker laundry. - Occasionally, wash your laundry with warm water to rid your washer of bacteria. - Clean the machine, including the vents, the trays and the filters, regularly. - Keep laundry room temperatures normal.

Energy Efficiency Tips for Dryers

- Buy higher energy-efficient dryers. - Use high speed spin washers so your laundry is almost dry coming out of the washer. - Run similar types of fabric at a time in your dryer - Dry your clothes in the dryer as often as necessary - Don't add wet clothing in-between a drying cycle run. - A immediate second cycle run takes advantage of the heat left in the dryer by the first cycle. - Remove your laundry from your dryer when they are dry - Run lower heat settings - Clean the machine, including the vents, the trays and the filters, regularly - Keep room temperatures normal

Other Useful Features on Modern Washers & Dryers

- Cycle and temperature settings: prewash, second rinse, bedding, cotton, handwash, extended spin, stain remover, extra rinse cycle, custom settings, etc - Auto water level: The washer automatically set the required water level - Pedestal for Front-load washers and dryers: Gives the washer more height, reducing the need to bend. Some pedestals have drawers. - Steam-cleaning technology: The steam causes less damage to fabric - Touch screen panels - Advanced timers: Speed-wash and delayed start settings - Antibacterial wash cycle: Improves the way of killing bacteria in your laundry - Quiet Settings: The unit makes less noise - Automatic detergent dispensers - Stainless Steel Tub: They can spin faster, reducing the drying time - Pause or interrupt washing cycle feature on Front-loading units - Reverse tumbling: To minimise tangling - Dryers with built-in moisture sensors: An energy saving feature - Smart washers and dryers: Interact with your unit via your smartphone - Drying Rack: Detachable racks that can be used inside the dryer for delicate fabric

What’s your Budget

Top-loading washers with an agitator costs less than high-efficiency (HE) washing machines. Also, Top-loader units cost less than Front-loader units, generally. Tumbler dryers would usually be cheaper than Ventless models. But Tumbler dryers would cost more to run. Heat pump dryers are more energy-efficient but they also cost more.

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