Washers & Dryers

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A Guide to Understanding Washers & Dryers

Possibly the greatest investment to your home is having a washer and dryer of your very own. While pricey, they do eventually save you loads of time spent sitting at the Laundromat and plenty of money spent on gas to get there. Not to mention the quarter rolls.

Types of Washers

  • Regular top-loading washers: Typically least expensive of all washers, regular top-loading washers use agitators to swirl, wash and rinse the laundry. Top-loaders are also easier for adding laundry mid-cycle.
  • High-efficiency top-loading washers: High-efficiency top-loaders lift and tumble laundry, filling only partly with water and spinning at high speeds. They also hold more laundry than most regular top-loaders.
  • Front-loading washers: Typically more efficient cleaners, front-loading washers handle clothes with a lift-drop method, moving in and out of the water. Front-loading washers are typically quieter, and their moisture extraction reduces drying time. Usually, they can stack on or below a similar dryer.
  • Space-saving washers: To utilize floor space, the space-saving washers are small enough to fit in a closet, measuring in at about 24 inches. Like the front-loading washers, they can usually stack with dryers. However, they cannot handle large loads.

Types of Dryers

  • Full-sized dryers: With the most capacity, full-sized dryers are most practical. They have controls mounted on front, rather than a back panel, making them easy to stack.
  • Space-saving dryers: Measuring in at 24 inches or less, space-saving dryers have about half the space of full-sized dryers, but their small size makes them ideal for apartments.
  • Washer-dryer laundry centers: With matching performance to other dryers, washer-dryer laundry centers are one unit with both machines, with controls in the middle for convenience.

Important Washer & Dryer Features

  • High-quality tubs (washers) are extremely important yet often overlooked during purchases. By buying a stainless steel or plastic tub, you get a machine that can better withstand high spin speeds and avoid rust.
  • Energy and water efficiency are standard concerns in today's appliance market. For washing machines, particularly, water can be an issue, while electricity is a major dryer concern. Some appliance companies are more resource-efficient than others (one model washer, for example, reuses water from its last rinse to start the next), so consider this when you're shopping for your washer and dryer.
  • Extended tumble (dryers) is a relatively simple feature that keeps clothes tumbling in the dryer after the cycle is over, some with heat, others on and off. Either way, it helps reduce wrinkling when clothes are left in the dryer.
  • Automatic dispensers (washers) are optional and may seem useless, but they actually save you money in the long run. With clear lines indicating detergent levels, they help to avoid overuse of detergent, and the automated detergent release helps to avoid splattering and bleach stains that can ruin your clothes.
  • Washer-dryer pans are not necessary, but they will highly simplify your washer-dryer experience. By placing them under your washer and dryer, you prevent machines from sliding and scratching the floor. Many pans come in translucent designs, making it easy for installers to find the drain.

Washer & Dryer Design

Washer and dryer units are typically limited to four color options: white, black, gray and stainless steel. Many people will keep their washing machines in the garage, where appearances aren't as important. But modern washing machines and dryers are sleek and elegant, with impressive displays that leave no washing options unnoticed.

For interior washing machine and dryer storage, washer-dryer pans are particularly helpful, preserving your floors and controlling water leaks. Another design feature available to interior sets is custom built-in cabinets, which hide stacked washer and dryer units while blending into the rest of the home's décor. This also provides owners the option of personalized cabinet colors and designs, which they can mold to fit into their own personal aesthetic. Because washing machines and dryers are limited in their design, this may be ideal for design-focused homeowners.

Washer & Dryer Cost

Another great feature about washing machines and dryers is the cost. Sure, they're not cheap, but for the most part, they all cost the same. While front-loading washers will cost more at the store, they have greater capacity, lessening your number of loads and saving water. Dryers are similar, where front-loading models cost more at the store, but they use much less energy, so the cost levels out over time. In the end, you can shop for a great model without breaking the bank.

At the store, washing machines and dryers will cost in the mid to high hundred-dollar range, with dryers in the low hundreds and washer-dryer laundry centers ranging in the low thousand-dollar area.

Washer & Dryer To-Do List

  1. Find out how much space you have for a washer and dryer. Apartments, for example, would do better with stacking, space-saving washer and dryer sets, larger homes can consider side-by-side sets, and so on. With that knowledge, you can decide on full-size or space-saving units.
  2. Decide which special features are important to you, and find stores that won't charge extra for them. Department stores can get cost-heavy on extra features, so be wary of this while you're shopping. You can usually find a store that will sell you models "as-is," to save them the trouble of special ordering. If a salesperson is giving you trouble, ask to speak to a manager. They are likely to make a deal with you. To them, sacrificing $50 extra for an extra dial is worth making the sale.
Last Updated: January 20, 2012
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for Idealhomegarden.com

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