July 2010


A Question About Doing Laundry: What to Buy?

The last time I moved, I moved three blocks and it cost me 50€ to fix my washing machine, and the dryer never got fixed because most of the time I could hang my clothes on a rack, open the windows, and all would be dry within a few hours—or if it was July, 15 minutes.

Consequently I decided that it wasn’t worth moving either machine so I told Anke that if she could give away my dryer, she could have my washing machine.

I gave away my dryer, for free, because I’d had the machine carried up to my attic apartment and I knew that my back could not take it back down the stairs, so the machine was free to the first taker, provide they carried it down the stairs and my back was not involved in any way shape or form. I told them what the problem with the machine was (the pipeline carrying the condensed water was clogged with lint and needed to be cleaned out, but otherwise it functioned well) as fair warning.

Anke made the dryer vanish, and a few days later she showed up and removed the washing machine.  I was thrilled.

So now I need a replacement machine for my new home in Berlin. I’m excited because the machine is actually going to be in my apartment so I won’t have to lug baskets of laundry to and from the basement.

However I have a question for people: it’s been a long time since I’ve gone shopping for a washing machine, but yesterday I was at Saturn and I noticed that here in Germany there is a combination of a washing/drying machine, a nice all-in-one-drum kind of thing.

The question is, is it worth getting one of these dual machines?

Do clothes get really clean and do clothes then get really dry? Is it more likely to break and need costly repairs?

I’m actually considering it because the price differential, at least on the used machine market, is not that great, if not actually the same. I do not, under any circumstances, have the space for two machines, so it’s either a washing machine or a washing/drying machine.

Keep in mind that I probably won’t use the drying function all the time—only for things where I find that drying has a nice effect, like towels—making them soft and comfortable.

Any thoughts?

10 comments to A Question About Doing Laundry: What to Buy?

  • Michele J

    I’ve heard completely anecdotal evidence that those 2 in 1 units are bad – extremely small loads, expensive/impossible to repair, dryer cannot handle a full load of wash, underpowered, do not get stuff completely dry so you have to hang things anyway, use tons of water to cool/condense the dryer air, etc.

    What about a stackable combo? Would take up the the same floorspace. I don’t know what your venting situation is though.

  • Jul

    We have a combo machine that we bought six years ago (although it wasn’t in use 2 of those years – Zurich) that works fine and has never needed repairs. I only use the dryer function on sheets and towels and hang the rest. The dryer takes a fairly long time (up to an hour on towels), and can only dry half a load at a time, but to me that’s better than not having the option to dry at all. I don’t like crispy towels.

  • Venting shouldn’t be a problem if the stacked dryer is a Kondenstrockner, nicht wahr?

  • I had one of those in a rented apartment once – they thought they were being very high tech offering all this new technology (and then let the builder’s 11 year-old-son do most of the plumbing work, and he managed to plumb everything in in such a way that when you emptied the kitchen sink of water, it came up through the drum of the washing machine. We didn’t stay there very long.) Apart from needing to make sure we had nothing in the machine when we wanted to do the dishes I have to say I think the combo machines are a waste of money. Particularly if you set it to dry immediately after washing. It seemed to me like the first half-an-hour or so the machine itself was being dried out and only then would the clothes start to dry. If you put something into the dry machine (i.e. hadn’t been used for a few hours) to dry it wasn’t too bad but all in all, not really worth it. And it was expensive to run but dryers tend to be anyway so that might not be the deciding point. All of this was about 12 years ago and it was really the first few years of combo machines being available in Ireland so I can’t comment on what today’s machines are like, one would hope they’ve improved somewhat.

  • Invest in a good drying rack? I remember seeing some from Europe that hang from the ceiling — then you can crank them up and down (up when not needed). I was never able to find one that I could afford here in the States, but I’ve dreamed about having one.

    We did, however, add a retractable clothes line in the kitchen to dry herbs. In a pinch, I bet I could use it for clothes if Pyewacket would stay out of them.

    BTW, why wouldn’t Michele J’s suggestion work? I’ve seen stacked washer/dryer combos stateside.

  • Ted

    For one person the combo machine should be fine. You can dry things outside in the summer but winter is coming and the dryer will be worth its weight in gold during a blizzard. Ted

  • Michele J – I was wondering about the reliability — hence my question. As for the stacked combo, it’s impossible as I am putting this under a kitchen counter. I need the counter space in order to cook.

    Jul – Thanks for the tip — what brand do you have?

    cliff1976 – Probably not, but I can’t stack in my kitchen without having to always eat out.

    Jeanie – That sounds disgusting and I’m not surprised that you moved on rather quickly. I’m not really planning on running the dryer for everything, like Jul, I really only want it for critical things, like towels. I actually don’t mind crispy sheets.

    MT – I have one drying rack and I am planning on getting a second so that I can do lots of laundry at once, if I feel like it. I would get one for the bathtub but I have the feeling that since I’m doing laundry in the afternoons and showering in the mornings that I would get annoyed with putting away laundry before taking my morning shower.

    Ted – Thanks! Right now I am leaning that way.

  • We bought a new one of those combined washer-dryers (with a Kondenstrockner) three years ago, and it works very well indeed.

    The only thing to remember is that generally, the dryer-load is about half the capacity of the washer load–ours is a 5 kg washer but only a 3 kg dryer. So if you want to put dirty clothes in at the beginning and take out clean, dry clothes at the end, you need to make it a small load. If you just want to use it as a normal washer, then a normal load is fine. When we use it as a stand-alone dryer, the drying times don’t seem abnormally long.

    We had to fix it once (under warranty), but I supect that was a problem with the manufacturer rather than the concept of the machine. Loyal Münchener that I am, I bought several hausgeräten from our local maker when I first moved here, and most have been a bit dodgy. Don’t get me started on the vacuum cleaner…

  • I hadn’t thought about a combo washer-dryer. I don’t even know that those exist in Canada, but what a great idea. I don’t think I can get used to the crunchy towels.

  • headbang8 – Thanks for the advice. I ended up buying a used Bosch Washer/Dryer and it is now installed in my new apartment. Unfortunately I am not yet living there, but that situation will change soon enough.

    I have a one year warranty from the shop where I bought it so if there are any problems, I have somewhere to go.

    Stuttgartgirl – I had to get used to crunchy towels because I never bothered to fix my old dryer. I tried to with friends and while we cleaned a lot of pipes we never got the right pipe fixed. *sigh* I have high hopes for my new machine!