How to buy the best washer dryer

Lynn Wright / 27 May 2016

Searching for the best washer dryer to deliver perfectly clean, dry laundry every time? We’re here to help with our guide to buying the best one whatever your budget.

Washer dryers combine the cleaning capabilities of a washing machine and the drying power of a tumber dyer in a single, space-saving applicance. A washer dryer is ideal for smaller households with limited floor space or those whose laundry needs don’t justify a separate washing machine and tumble dryer.

Buying a washer dryer can be a big investment, so it’s important to carefully choose the right model for your needs. The perfect washer-dryer will offer superior cleaning power, effective spinning, fast and thorough drying along with cheap running costs and reliability.

What to consider when buying a washer dryer

Free standing or integrated Unlike tumble dryers, there’s no need to vent washer dryers or empty any water containers. All the water removed during drying flows away through the waste water pipe, making a washer dryer easy to position in the home.

Freestanding washer dryers come in a wide ranges of drum sizes and prices, and some models are available in different colours. They are easy to install and most can fit easily under a standard height worktop.

Built-in/integrated washer dryers are hidden behind a kitchen cupboard door so you can achieve a streamlined kitchen design. They tend to be quieter in operation than freestanding models but there’s less choice available and they cost more to install.

Drum capacity This refers to the weight of dry clothes that you can fit into the drum and is given in kilograms. Bigger drums mean you can wash and dry more clothes at once. However, washer dryers work best when the drum is about 80 per cent full, so a smaller drum size may be more suitable if you’ve less laundry or prefer to wash little and often.

Washer dryers have different drum capacities for washing and drying. The amount they can dry at any one time is always less than the amount they can wash. Washer dryer capacities range from models with a 5kg wash and 2.5kg drying capacity to huge machines capable of washing 12kg and drying 8kg at any one time. A washer dryer with a 7kg wash capability is suitable for an average family, and able to clean the equivalent of 35 shirts in a single load.

Spin speed This refers to how quickly the drum spins in terms of rotations per minute (rpm). The higher the spin, the more water is removed from clothes after they’re washed, so the quicker they’ll dry. Most models have spin speeds between 1,100 and 1,600rpm.

Wash functions Look for a washer dryer with a good range of programmes. All offer standard washing programmes for cottons, synthentics and delicate fabrics at different temperatures settings. Premium models have additional options such as sportwear, pre-wash, anti-crease and allergy-friendly cycles. Eco programmes that use less water and energy can help reduce utility bills.

For more information on essential washer dryer features read Washer dryer features explained.

Energy efficiency Washer dryers’ energy efficiency ratings typically range from A to A+++ and models with the highest ratings save water and electricity, helping to keep utility bills low. Washer dryers use a significant amount of water to dry clothes, so water efficiency may be an important factor if your household has a water meter.

Reliability It’s likely you’ll use your washer dryer twice as much as you would two separate machines, so it pays to invest in a reliable washer dryer from a trusted brand. Look for a model that comes with a parts and labour guarantee.

Ready to choose the perfect washer dryer for you, read our guide to the Five best washer dryers.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.