Time for a New (or First) Washer and Dryer?

These very necessary appliances aren’t exciting, but they are tough to live without!

By FamilyTime


Have you been lugging overflowing laundry bags to a basement laundry room in your apartment building? Or down the block to the laundromat?

Have you been babying your ancient washing machine, holding your breath every time you punch the "on" button? Do you cross your fingers when your geriatric dryer starts to tumble your clothes?

If you answer "yes" to even one of these questions it might be time for a new -- or first -- washer and dryer.

But how to get the best for your family?

Decide on a Budget

Washing machines and dryers come in a range of prices. Very serviceable washing machines can cost as little as $300, while dryers might be a little more expensive. On the other hand, large, top-end machines can run as high as $1,500.

Once you figure what your budget can handle, stand firm. Don’t be tempted to spend a lot more. With a little diligence, you will be able to find a washer and dryer in your price range that do a fine job getting your clothes clean and dry.

On the other hand, since most folks keep their washers and dryers for an average of 14 years, spending a little more for an energy-efficient model will, over the years, save you money. Look for the bright yellow Energy Star label on the machines to help guide you.

Gas or Electric?

It’s pretty easy to make the decision whether you want to buy a gas-operated dryer or one that is powered by electricity. Your house or apartment has access to gas, or it does not.

If you wonder if you should take advantage of gas, keep in mind that in nearly every part of the country, gas is less expensive than electricity.

Front-Loading or Top-Loading Washer?

This is probably the most significant decision you will make when buying a washing machine. (Nearly all dryers are front loading.) Top-loading washing machines are fitted with a center agitator in the drum. Front loaders are not.

With few exceptions, top loading machines are less expensive. They also hold smaller loads but take less time to run through a washing cycle. Front loaders can handle larger loads and studies show they get the clothes a little cleaner. They also take 15 to 30 minutes longer to do the job.

Front loaders use less water and less energy. They don’t use as much detergent, although many require low-sud detergents.

Front-loading washing machines can be stacked with a matching dryer, which can free up floor space.

If you have a small family, check out single units that include a washer on the bottom attached to a dryer on the top. These tend to be narrow enough to fit in a closet and are great for apartments and small houses.

Finally, you can also buy a single unit that cycles from washing machine to dryer. These are handy in cramped areas but the entire cycle takes a while.

Special features add to the cost of the washing machine. These include automatic temperature controls, extra rinse cycles, automatic detergent and fabric softener dispensers, and time delay abilities, to name a few of the more popular.


It’s wise to buy a dryer that is designed to accompany the washer. Not only will they look nice sitting next to each other, the dryer will be designed to hold the full load from the washer.

As a rule of thumb you need twice the capacity for the dryer as the washer to give the clothes or sheets room to tumble.

Dryers with special features cost more than those with simpler capabilities.

Shop Around

Talk to friends, read reviews on line, and keep an eye on local sales when you start to look for a new washer and dryer.

Check out the same or similar models at different stores. A low price might not make sense if the store won’t deliver the appliances for a small or no fee. And if you are replacing old machines, find out if the deal includes removing them.

An average American family washes about 400 loads of laundry a year. That’s a lot of laundry. A good washer and dryer will make the chore easy and pleasurable.