Homeowners can be passionate about their washers and dryers. After all, we depend on them to get kids' clothes, work clothes and bedclothes clean so we can go about the rest of our lives. Which ones are the best? We talked to a designer, a tester for Consumer Reports and the owner of a gadget-testing website, as well as two appliance-repair service owners.
No matter which one you choose, don't overload your machine, said Mike Duerden, an appliance technician in North Salt Lake, Utah, because that's one of the top causes of breakdowns. It's OK to think about appearance, though, because you should like the way your appliances look. Scott Dresner of Dresner Design in Chicago says the ideal laundry room should have a utility sink, counter space to fold, hanging space and storage to keep detergents and stain removers organized.
Dresner likes the Whirlpool Chrome Shadow Front Load Washer WFW9620HC and Chrome Shadow Gas Dryer WGD9620HC ($1,499 and $1,599, abt.com), not least because the dark gray color is snazzy. ("They are a great color," he said.) It also doesn't hurt that the washer has a load-and-go dispenser, holding up to 40 loads' worth of detergent in a compartment, and that you can control both by a smartphone app. Large loads fit in the 5-cubic-foot washer and 7.4-cubic-foot dryer, making these a good choice for families with lots of soccer-stained laundry.
After much testing, Kimberly Janeway, a home and appliances reporter for Consumer Reports in Yonkers, N.Y., found that performance varies widely among compact washers and dryers, and that they vibrate more than full-size machines. Two that passed the many tests were by Miele: the Front-Loading Washing Machine with QuickIntenseWash WWH860WCS and the Heat-Pump Tumble Dryer TWI180WP ($2,199 and $2,099, ajmadison.com).
Miele, as a brand, gets "strong marks for reliability," Janeway said. This particular 2.26-cubic-foot washer "is good enough to remove your toughest stains," and its features include a two-phase automatic dispensing system for detergent, smartphone control and a SingleWash function for when you just need that one shirt cleaned. The 4.03-cubic-foot dryer is "a ventless dryer, so it doesn't require you to run ductwork to the exterior of your home." They are stackable, and both are EnergyStar-qualified.
For when there's no laundry room in an apartment building, or very little space in a house, there's the Kuppet Compact Twin Tub Portable Mini Washing Machine ($119.99-$189.99, walmart.com). It's recommended by London-based Amir Zarandouz, owner of the Gadget Nerds. At 27.4 inches wide, 16.1 inches deep and 31.9 inches tall, it's "small enough to squeeze into the tightest space," he said. The portable washer-and-dryer combo has a powerful motor and decent capacity, at 18 pounds for the washer and 8 pounds for the dryer. Both sides can run at the same time.
After growing up with a father who owned an appliance store, Duerden set up an appliance-repair service in Utah, and he has seen it all when it comes to broken machines. That said, he thinks that Speed Queen's machines are "excellent," adding: "They're not a big name, not a lot of people have heard of them," but "they're just good machines." The classic TC5 Washer "fills the tub full of water like what Grandma's machine would do." Choose the DR5 Dryer to match ($1,083 and $999, us-appliance.com).
"When customers ask us to recommend the best washer and dryer combo for a large family, we recommend looking for a large-capacity unit," said Scott McConnell, owner of Lake Appliance Repair in Fair Oaks, Calif. "A large-capacity washer and dryer will allow you to wash more clothes at once." He recommends the Maytag Top Load Washing Machine with Extra Large Capacity and the Electric Vented Dryer with Extra Moisture Sensor ($1,399 and $1,399, homedepot.com). "The washer provides 6 cubic feet capacity compared to a standard washer, which only averages around 4 cubic feet. That translates to an 18-pound load and up to 22 towels in a single load."