Washing Machine vs Washer Dryer: Which to Buy?

Independent product picks. As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commission from qualifying purchases.

If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, you may be overwhelmed by all the options available. And rightfully so.

Not only do you have to consider their energy ratings, available programs, and price, but you also have to think about the style of washing machine that works best within your home.

Would a single-unit washer dryer be more beneficial thanks to its space-saving design? Or would a freestanding washing machine fit your lifestyle more suitably?

Truth be told, only you can answer that question, but we’ve put together a handy comparison guide to try to help you decide which is best for your home. Be sure to consider your budget, your lifestyle, and your home layout when using our guide. Good luck and happy shopping!

Capacity and Machine Size

Both washer dryers and washing machines measure capacity by the weight, in kilograms, of the laundry load. It is important to note that washer dryers will come with two capacity measurements; one for washing and one for drying.

The drying capacity in a washer dryer combo is half of the washing capacity, meaning you can only effectively dry the lower weight capacity listed. This is because you need more room for air circulation to dry than you do for washing.

An average top-rated washer-dryer capacity is 8kg with a 4kg dry capacity and the best rated washing machines has the same average wash capacity of 8kg. Although, washing machines can reach as high as 10kg loads. You can absolutely wash bigger loads in a washing machine than you could in a washer dryer because with a washer dryer you’re going to need to fill them to half capacity, around 4kg, in order to dry in just one load.

Overfill the washer dryer and you risk having to do two separate drying loads, effectively eliminating the convenience of a combo machine altogether.

On the plus side, washer dryers, though the same washing capacity as washing machines are only one unit. They will take up a smaller footprint in your house. If you’re tight on space, the combo machine is going to be a great option for your home.

Wash, Spin, And Dry Performance

Since washing machines and washer dryers use the same technology to wash and spin your clothes, they are relatively similar in their washing performance. Washer dryers have been reported to have slightly better washing and rinsing capabilities, particularly for synthetic fabrics, but where the washer dryers leave some wanting more is in their drying power.

As mentioned above, the dryer capacity is smaller and so overloading it is easy to do, and drying in a washer-dryer combo machine takes significantly more time than in a standalone dryer. If wash and dry time is a huge concern for you, a freestanding washing machine with a dryer is likely the best choice for you.

Washing Machine or Washer Dryer for Energy Rating & Water Usage

Washer dryers have ratings of A to G for energy efficiency while washing machines range from A+++ to D. From the washer dryers and washing machines we looked at, most affordable options have A to A+++ ratings. Look for energy usage in the form of kWh/annum, which is how much energy it uses per year based on an average number of laundry loads. The lower the number, the more efficient the machine.

Newer models in both washer dryers and washing machines are highly energy-efficient.

Where they differ is in their water usage. Washer dryers will use much more water than a washing machine as they also use water to dry clothes. It seems counterintuitive, but the way these machines work is that once the laundry has finished washing and spinning to remove excess water, the machine becomes a tumble dryer that heats the air that is taken out of the machine during the wash cycle, cools it so it condenses back to water that can be drained, and then tumbles your clothes with hot, dry air to dry them.

While this is very convenient for the busy laundry doer, it is quite a bit more water used per cycle.

So, Which one Would be Best to Buy?

It’s still up to you to decide! For overall washing and rinsing, the washer-dryer models have a leg up on their freestanding counterparts. This one-and-done machine saves space and comes with the convenience of not having to manually load your clean clothes into a separate dryer.

The downside is the drying capacity and additional water usage. If you’re short on space and rarely fill your washer to the brim anyway, this convenient combo machine is a wonderful option for your home.

Freestanding washing machines have a powerful spin cycle and a large capacity drum. Though they take up more space as they’ll need their reliable partner, the dryer, they still use less water annually and have great energy ratings. If you’ve got the space to spare and have a large family with big loads of laundry, the freestanding machine is going to be your ideal choice.