Option Overload: How to Finally Choose a Washer and Dryer Among Thousands of Choices

Buying a washer and dryer isn’t really anyone’s idea of fun. After all, most of us don’t like doing laundry. And most of us complain about our washer and dryer, no matter how much we spent on it, or if it was the “latest and greatest” model. Doing laundry is widely accepted as an overall nuisance. However, its a purchase that has to be made. These appliances can be extremely expensive and run over $1,000 even with a base, cheaper model. So, the question. Do you get a stacked set, a top or front load, do you want an all in one? Here are some questions you should ask yourself, and some pitfalls to avoid running into. 

Tip: It’s all in the way you plan to use them
The type of washer and dryer you get will depend largely on where it’s going to go in your home. For example, laundry might be allocated to a narrow closet in your home, making your only option a stackable. These units tend to be smaller, meaning you still might need to visit the Laundromat to wash big comforters. Dryers are available as gas or electric, so which you purchase will be a result of what your house supports.

For those who have a basement setup or dedicated laundry room where there’s room to place them side-by-side, you’ll need to decide on the size and if you prefer a top-load or front-load washer. These machines tend to be larger, and are up to 5.1 cubic feet (an can handle 20 pounds of laundry in a single load). A compact machine is up to 3.0 cubic feet (about 12 pounds of laundry in one load). They can take larger amounts, including big comforters. Essentially, do you want to open a door on top of the machine or in front? Top-loaders are less expensive, but front-loaders are more efficient, are gentler, and have been found to clean better. 

No law says you need a washer and dryer from the same manufacturer. Mixing them up is fine. The washing bins on top-loaders are so deep that it may be hard for shorter people to reach the bottom to retrieve clothes. When shopping, open the top and see if you can touch the bottom. If you have to lean in too much and you find yourself on your tip toes, a top-loader probably isn’t for you. Do you really want to stand on your toes to do laundry for the next 10 years? Many top-load models today have foregone the inner agitator (the big spinning rod inside the machine) for a hollow bin. Some even have a stainless steel tub. The benefit of these is that they can handle higher spin speeds. Ultimately, this means it will take less time for your clothes to dry.

Front-loading machines tend to be more expensive and have a ton of features, even on the most basic models. Many of the new washers have sensors in them that you’ll want to be sure to wipe dry once in a while to keep them in good working order. Some models could potentially attract mold.

The other issue to consider is bending down to open the doors. Of course, the manufacturers took this into consideration and offer pedestals the washer and dryer can be placed upon, making them taller and much easier to use. They typically have drawers underneath for storing detergent and fabric softener. Unfortunately, these are not included in the price usually will cost you an extra few hundred bucks. Another thing to consider when buying a washer and dryer, whether stackable or front-loading, is the doors.

Typically, the dryer door can be switched to open in a different direction. However, almost all washer doors will open left to right. Older homes may have the hook-ups reversed; in which case you would want to be able to change the door on the washer so you can easily transfer clothes between the two machines. 

You can hire a local handyman or plumber to remove old appliances and install new ones. Washer and dryers are big appliances. You might be wondering if you’ll be able to get them into your home easily. Regardless of the type of machines you end up purchasing, be sure to account for an extra six inches behind the washer and dryer for the hook-ups. This will help you decide how well the units will fit in their allotted space.

You can still get washer and dryers that have only a few wash and dry cycles. Getting one of these options will definitely keep the price down. Many of the newer models, especially front loaders, come with so many options you’ll need to spend some time with the manual to learn about them all. Sales people will talk you through the highlights, but to know what all of those buttons and settings accomplish will take some time.


  1. Whatever you do, never get a washer/dryer combo. They DON’T work, trust me. The wash generally doesn’t completely drain out all of the water, and the clothes take FOREVER to dry. Seriously. You’ll have to dry them at least 3 times for them to dry. And the constant heat from 3 drying cycles means your clothes come out with a funky smoke smell. Don’t do it.

  2. Mmm not necessarily true…they could still be on the market because in some properties, its the ONLY thing that will fit. Washer and dryers are big. Many rental properties, for example, don’t have the square footage to accommodate them.

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