Life With a Combo Washer/Dryer
It takes a little getting used to, but the shirts aren't complaining
My wife and I decided to put our laundry center upstairs, centrally located between the bedrooms in our new second-story addition. We had limited space for the machines, which got us wondering about a combo unit—one appliance that both washes and dries laundry.
While talking with our friends Loren and Heather, who had recently included water-conserving appliances in their remodel, we learned about the LG combination washer/ dryer (model WM3677HW; http://us.lge.com). Loren and Heather liked it, though they described the laundry process as being different from the typical washer-and-dryer tandem setups. They said it would take a little getting used to, but that we’d be pleased nevertheless with the machine’s advantages. My wife and I bought one for $1600, and here’s what we’ve learned so far.
The magical innovation of this front-loading combo unit is that I can dial in a preset wash mode after filling the machine with laundry. I’ve used only the “normal” setting, but should the need arise, I can dial in “sanitary,” “cotton/towels,” “delicates,” “permanent press,” “hand,” and “speed” wash. I haven’t had time yet to install our backyard clothesline for drying, so I hit the “dry” button and let it fly.
“The combo washer/dryer is a good investment and uses less water and energy than a standard two-appliance arrangement.”
The machine runs on 120v and does not require the 4-in.-dia. duct common to the typical clothes dryer. This is a real advantage: no tortuous route through an existing structure to the exterior; no lint clogging the duct and cutting down on efficiency; and goodbye to the flex connection at the back of the dryer that inevitably comes loose, dumping moist air and lint into the house.
I confess that I toyed with running a dryer duct anyway, just in case we decided that this machine wasn’t for us. But then I remembered puzzling over the duct that I had installed for the bath fan downstairs, and the inspector remarking that “only an architect would duct a fan this way.” I decided to skip the duct.
My wife and I agree that the combo washer/dryer is a good investment. It uses less water and energy than a standard two-appliance arrangement. The combo takes a long time (3 to 4 hours) to run through a full cycle of washing and drying at the normal setting; however, it eliminates the need to transfer laundry from one machine to another.
Our friends often run their LG at night; their machine is remote enough that it doesn’t disturb their sleep. In our case, though, the spin cycle vibrated the entire house like a helicopter landing on the second floor. This made nighttime runs impossible and had me worried that our hard remodeling work was coming undone with each load of laundry. To remedy the situation, we slipped a thick rubber mat under the machine. This has made an enormous difference, but we still shy away from setting the spin cycle at extrahigh speed.
“ My favorite attribute of this machine is its gentle approach to washing clothes.”
One of the unique attributes of the LG combo is the drying quality. As clothes spin at high speed, they are dehumidified dry, and the resulting condensation simply runs out the drain line. When they come out, clothes are hot and slightly moist, like a towel served to me recently by JetBlue. They need to be hung up promptly or ironed if they are prone to wrinkling. A steam-cycle feature built into the newer LG model helps to prevent wrinkling.
Another peculiarity is that lint collects in the door lining. It is somewhat tricky to remove and, insofar as it remains caked in, becomes a part of the “combo experience.”
This machine is not for people who desire higher productivity and prefer to run their washer and dryer simultaneously instead of sequentially. Perhaps my favorite attribute of this machine is its gentle approach to washing clothes. My favorite T-shirts will last a lot longer playing in this combo.
Photo by: Scott Donahue; Heather Kuiper and Dr. Loren Rauch contributed to this review.