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Buying Guide: How to Choose Your New Washer and Dryer

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Maybe you’ve just moved and you left your washer and dryer in your old home as part of the final sale. Maybe your family’s hand-me-down machines went kaput and you’re in dire need of a new set as that mountain of dirty clothes keeps on growing. No matter how you’ve come to this point, the fact remains: You need to find a washer and dryer you can rely on that don’t break the bank.

We know buying these big-ticket items can be daunting. But with the right cleaning and care, your new set can take care of your family’s dirty laundry for the next eight to 12 years.

With that in mind, there’s a lot to consider when choosing the right machines for you. Here are some things you’ll want to know before stepping foot into the appliance aisle:

Consider your budget.

There’s no getting around it, washers and dryers are expensive. The price of washers ranges from around $275 to $2,500, depending on the type, load capacity, and added bells and whistles. Dryers range from about $350 to $2,000. All-in-one washer/dryer machines range from $500 to $1,800.

So first things first, take a look at your budget. What are you willing to spend?

Consider your space.

Next, grab your tape measure. Whether you have a laundry room, corner, or closet, you’ll want to determine whether the two machines will fit in your space before heading to the store.

When you’re measuring, keep in mind that the average width of a washer and dryer is 27 inches each. There are some compact machines that are around 24 inches in width each. All-in-one washer/dryer models tend to be around 27 inches wide.

It’s important to leave about an inch of space on each side of the two machines to ensure proper air circulation, so for regular-sized machines, you’ll typically want a total width of 58 inches to put the two side-by-side.

If you’re tight on width space, consider stackable machines — which are, on average, 75 inches tall. Stackable sets are perfect for small spaces — like your new apartment!

The depth of a washer or dryer varies between 28 and 34 inches. Note: You’ll have to add at least six inches to your depth measurement for door clearance and appliance hookups.

If your laundry area isn’t on the ground level, you’ll want to consider reinforcing the floors to accommodate the weight of the heavy machinery.

For your dryer specifically, you’ll need to see if there’s a gas line to your laundry area — this will determine whether you can purchase a dryer that uses gas as its heat source, or if you should stick with an electric dryer.

Tip: Double check your connections. Make sure your laundry space is within a few feet of both hot and cold water lines, and a drain connection for water. Some laundry spaces have a three-prong or four-prong outlet for dryers — that will determine the kind of power cord you’ll need to purchase.

Consider your washing and drying needs.

Do you have a big family, or foresee your family growing? Are you planning on pets in the near future? Do you have bulky bedding you wash regularly?

Think through your weekly routine, how often you do laundry, and how big your regular loads are — that will determine the load capacity of your washer and dryer.

A regular-capacity washer is about three to four cubic feet, and can wash about 12 to 16 pounds of laundry. A larger-capacity machine is upwards of 4.2 cubic feet, and can handle 20 pounds of laundry or more.

The capacity of your dryer needs to be thought of in relation to the capacity of your washer. The dryer needs to have enough space for the laundry to move around freely, and for hot air to circulate completely. Usually, when you buy the two in pairs, the dryer was made to accommodate the washer. But if you’re buying one at a time or a mismatched set, know that you want the dryer to have double the capacity of the washer.

Consider your comfort.

If you want to minimize bending over and kneeling, you’ll want to consider a top-load machine. Top loaders also tend to have larger load capacities than the front loaders. To mitigate this issue with front loaders, you can also buy pedestals that raise the machine about a foot off the ground, which also allows for storage under the machine.

If your space requires stackable machines, you’ll have to go with a front loading set. A perk is that they also tend to be more energy-efficient and use less water.

Next, what bells and whistles will make your laundry easier to handle? Are you often washing on the go? If you need to save time, consider a machine with a quick wash feature. Do you sometimes forget to turn the machine on after you’ve loaded it? (We’ve all been there). Think about one with WiFi connectivity that lets you control it remotely.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot to consider when buying a new washer and dryer, but taking the time to think through your needs before you venture into the store will help you make the best choice when you get there.

Don’t fret. Know that the clothes mountain will be tackled soon enough.


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