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How to buy the best washer-dryer

By Matt Stevens

Expert advice on how to choose the best washer-dryer for you and your budget.

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The best washer-dryers deliver clean clothes that come out of the machine beautifully dry and will see you through load after load for years to come. 

In this guide, we take you through the key things to consider when buying a washer-dryer, to help you choose the right one for you.

Find out which models we recommend in our roundup of the best washer-dryers.

In this article:

Video: How to buy the best washer dryer 

Watch for the lowdown on what's important when you're buying a washer-dryer.

See our guide to washer dryer features to find out more about the key things you should consider when choosing a washer-dryer.

Key washer-dryer types and features 

Freestanding washer-dryers

On freestanding washer-dryers, the front of the machine will always be visible. They don’t live behind a cupboard door, so won’t be hidden away like an integrated machine.

Drum capacities vary, but an average sized one will take around 8kg of washing and 5kg of drying.

See all of our freestanding washer dryer reviews.

Integrated washer-dryers

The front of an integrated washer-dryer is covered with a kitchen door panel when it's installed. Integrated washer-dryers are best if you are looking to blend your appliance into your kitchen.  

Drum capacities tend to be smaller than freestanding washer-dryers. Most models have a wash capacity of around 7kg, and a dry capacity of 5kg.

See all of our integrated washer dryer reviews, or read our guide on how to buy the best integrated washer-dryer.

Do I need a vent?

Vented dryers remove warm air through a hose or vent that leads out of the house, for example through a window. Washer-dryers usually don't need a vent, as the majority of models cool air inside the machine and the remaining water is drained away. 

Key washer-dryer features

Use our interactive tool to find out which features look out for when choosing a washer-dryer or read below to find out why you might want automatic drying, and why you definitely need to factor in noise and water usage.

Automatic drying

Almost all washer-dryers nowadays come with sensor-driven automatic drying programs. This means that the machine sets the drying time based on the humidity in the drum. But our tests have found that some machines are much more accurate at setting how long to dry than others.

We've found washer-dryers that over-dry clothes, which could lead to shrinkage and fabrics becoming damaged. Others miscalculate the other way, leaving clothes too wet.

Which washer-dryer is quietest?

When you’re in the shop, you won’t be able to tell how noisy different models are going to be. So, if having a quiet appliance is your key buying concern, look for these washer-dryers that get at least a four-star noise rating from us.

We include a noise star rating for all the washer-dryers we review. The more stars the quieter the machine will be.

Which washer-dryers use the least water?

Almost all washer-dryers use water when drying – they use water to cool the condenser and it's this that turns the steamy air into water, which can be drained away from the machine. An average sized machine (8kg washing and 5kg drying) will use around 20,000 litres per year in total to wash and dry.

20,000The number of litres of water a typical washer-dryer can use in a year.

How much does a washer-dryer cost? 

A washer-dryer can cost anything from around £300 to more than £1500. While cheaper models are always tempting, our tests show it's worth stretching your budget to around £500 for a great model that washes and dries well.

Running costs for washer-dryers can be expensive, but opting for a more efficient machine will help save money in the long run. A typical washer-dryer will cost about £120 per year to run, with drying making up the majority of this cost.

We'll give you the usage cost in each of our reviews, so you can compare the most and least expensive models. Take a look at our washer-dryer energy-saving tips to find out how you could cut the cost of your bills.

Size and spin speed 

How big is a washer dryer?

Most washer-dryers are between 595 and 600mm wide. They are designed to fit into a space 600mm wide. The standard height of a front-loading washing dryer is 850mm high.  But there can be exceptions, so check the specifications before choosing a model.

Depth can differ though – ranging from around 40cm to 70cm. Avoid having your machine sticking out into the walkway of your kitchen by checking the specs of a model against the space you have in your home before you buy it.

 

What size drum should I look for? 

Washer-dryers always have two drum capacities  - one for washing and one for drying. They can always wash a larger load than they can dry.

Base your buying decision on how often you wash your clothes and the amount of garments you like to wash in one go. If you have lots of clothes but you only like to do two loads a week, a larger drum size will suit. 

Washing capacities in washer-dryers

The amount a washer-dryer can clean in one go typically starts as little as 5kg (which is enough to wash 16 men's cotton shirts at once) and ranges up to 12kg, enough to wash 38 shirts at once. An 8kg washing drum capacity is about average.

Drying capacities in washer-dryers

The drying capacity is always smaller than the machine's wash capacity, typically ranging from 2.5kg to 8kg. That means that if you've filled the drum when washing, you’ll need to take a few items out before drying. The more you need to take out, the more of a pain the machine might be to live with. The weights given are dry, rather than wet weights.

The sliding graphic below shows the typical washing to drying capacity for a 8kg drum size. 

What spin speed do I need? 

A good spin  can remove the majority of water from your clothes, which this reduces the amount of drying time you’ll need.

Higher spin speeds often do a great job of removing water from your clothes, but not every time.

Spin speeds typically go from 1,000rpm to 1,600rpm, and you may have to pay more for a model with a higher spin speed. Faster isn’t always better though - we’ve tested washer-dryers with 1,400rpm spin speeds that do a better job of removing moisture from clothes compared to a model with a 1,600rpm spin. 

So, before paying extra, see if it’s really worth it by checking out the models with the most effective spin dry.

Pros and cons of washer-dryers 

Pros

  • Space saving - Being able to combine two machines into one is probably the best thing about a washer dryer. This means they are perfect for those of you that are short on space, don’t have a garden to hang out washing or just simply don’t want too many large appliances in your home.
  • Upfront cost - If you’ve just moved house and you need new appliances or if your washing machine and tumble dryer have conveniently packed up at the same time, opting for a washer dryer means you save money buying one machine instead of two.

Cons

  • Running cost - Like most standard washing machines the wash cycle is generally efficient and economical in a washer dryer. However, the dry cycle typically uses more energy than traditional condenser or vented tumble dryers.
  • Drum size - The wash and dry drum capacity is different in every machine. This means that if you fill the wash cycle to its capacity, you will have to remove some garments before the dry cycle. If you tend to wash as much as you can in one load this could cause hassle.
  • Lack of choice - Naturally there will be less choice for a washer dryers, compared to traditional washing machines and tumble dryers because there is less demand for them. So if you’re looking for a different colour or specific features finding the perfect product might be a little more difficult.

Black and silver washer-dryers 

If you’re looking for a black or silver washer-dryer, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Most brands, including Samsung and Indesit make models in variations of white, black and silver.

But if you’re looking for more individual shades like green or blue you will have less choice, will probably have to pay a little more and you might have to opt for a lesser known brand.

 

Best washer-dryer brands and popular models 

Which washer-dryer brand won't breakdown?

Washer-dryers are two machines in one so in theory there’s more that can go wrong with them. Choose a washer-dryer from a brand with a good reputation for product reliability and performance.

Going for a well-known name won’t guarantee you'll get a reliable washer-dryer that won’t breakdown - particularly where washer-dryers are concerned.

Every year we contact thousands of members and get feedback to find out how reliable brands of washer-dryers are. Find our which washer-dryer brands have the best breakdown record with our most reliable washer-dryer brands guide.

Popular washer-dryers

We've tested washer-dryers from brands including Bosch, Hotpoint and John Lewis. See below for quick summaries of the most popular models, including key specs. Or, take a look at the best washer-dryers to find out which models we recommend.

Bosch WDU28560GB, £763.97

  •  Type: Freestanding
  • Wash capacity: 10kg
  • Dry capacity: 6kg

This washer-dryer has a very generous wash capacity which is useful for households that do a lot of laundry. But with a price of more than £700, it’s an expensive option.


Find out if it’s worth investing in in our Bosch WDU28560GB washer-dryer review.

John Lewis JLWD1614, £679

 

  • Type: Freestanding
  • Wash capacity: 8kg
  • Dry capacity: 4kg

The John Lewis JLWD1614 washer-dryer offers a whole range of useful programs including an anti-allergy cycle, a steam refresh and a specialist sportswear option. There’s even a program that will wash and dry a small load in just one hour.

Find out what we thought of it in the John Lewis JLWD1614 washer-dryer review.

Beko WDIX7523000, £410

 

  • Type: Integrated
  • Wash capacity: 7kg
  • Dry capacity: 5kg

This washer-dryer may be cheap, but it’s not lacking in features. It comes with a delay start function, a child lock and an LCD display showing the time remaining on the cycle. It’s integrated too, so can be hidden behind a cupboard door.

Read our Beko WDIX7523000washer-dryer review to find out whether this is a bargain worth snapping up.

Zanussi Z716WT83BI, £629

 

  • Type: Integrated
  • Wash capacity: 7kg
  • Dry capacity: 4kg

The Zanussi Z716WT83BI has 21 different programs, with specialist cycles covering everything from wool, to denim and duvets. Those with a busy lifestyle will appreciate the Flextime function, which lets you shorten the program to get your clothes cleaned more quickly.

See our Zanussi Z716WT83BI washer-dryer review to find out if it’s any good at washing and drying your clothes.

Ready to pick your washer-dryer? Go straight to our washer-dryer reviews to get our expert verdict on the latest models.
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