Washer/dryers have something of a bad reputation – people just don’t believe that they’re very good at either. But the luxury of having separate machines is one that many either cannot afford or don’t have the space for, so a combo is what must suffice. Plus, most of us long-suffering Londoners are so fed up of sacrificing every available surface to drying laundry that it’s a compromise we’re willing to make.
This ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ perception is somewhat unfair, though. In recent years, the efficiency of these machines has improved dramatically, with improved running speeds, times and economies, meaning you really can achieve clean, dry clothes from the same machine. But how to distinguish between those that are worth it and those that’ll still have you manically drying your work shirts with a hairdryer at 8:45 in the morning?
Well, first of all, you need to take a look at their energy rating. Only opt for a machine that is classed as A or above as anything below will burn through energy quickly, which is both costly and bad for the environment.
You should also think practically about how much washing you do. If you’ve a lot of people’s washing to get through, you’ll need a model with a large drum (8kg or above) whereas if it’s just your own, something much smaller will be sufficient.
Programme settings are important too. Look out for machines that offer a variety of cycles - from quick wash to hand wash options – as these more realistically reflect your day-to-day needs.
Lastly, give a thought to the noise level, too – a quite motor will be essential for preserving your – and your neighbours’ – sanity.
Here’s our pick of the washer/dryers that cut the mustard.
Best for: allergies
Energy rating: A
There are plenty of nifty features on the Bosch – most notably the Allergy + cycle, which offers a hypoallergenic wash for those with eczema or sensitive skin. With an 8kg wash and 5kg dry capacity, it’ll be able to handle the laundry of a family. What’s more, it’s been awarded a Quiet Mark (a certificate for excellence in stealthy product design) so you can run it overnight or with a sleeping baby in the house.
From a tech perspective, it performs well too. A slick model with a fairly intuitive navigation system, Bosch has really thought about the needs of the consumer here. You can add errant socks and other items mid wash and there’s an impressively speedy 15 minute cycle for those wardrobe-emergency moments. Throw the 3D AquaSpa faster soaking system into the mix and you’ve got an all – round winner. It cleans thoroughly, dries quickly and works quietly – that ticks all our boxes.
£579 | John Lewis | Buy it now
Best for: large families
Energy Rating: A
Able to take on a hefty 9kg wash, the BEKO is a life saver for those with large families. Running at 1400rpm, it’s pretty robust and adept at washing out stains, although several tests have found that there is some water retention at end. Whilst some washer/dryers have all the subtlety of a pneumatic drill, this one is actually quiet- something that parents with small, easily-woken children will rejoice at.
One of our favourite aspects of the BEKO is its LED touch screen, which is simple to read and navigate. The dial also offers 16 pre-set programmes, including useful specialist ones such as ‘shirts’ and ‘delicates’. There are also three degrees of drying intensity, which is particularly useful if you need to retain a bit of dampness for ironing.
If you have to put on several loads a day, you’ll appreciate the cycle speed, which can take clothes from dirty to washed and dried in around three hours. Though not the most eco-friendly or well-known brand, the broad range of programmes and consistently good cleaning make the BEKO a great deal for such a low price.
£607 | Debenhams | Buy it now
Best for: keeping clothes in good condition
Energy Rating: A
We rarely consider the impact that a hard washing cycle has on our clothes, but think about it: all that spinning and rinsing really does take its toll after a while – especially on more delicate fabrics. That’s where the Miele comes in. The patented honeycomb lining collects water droplets which act as a buffer between cloth and drum, allowing the clothes to gently glide over the surface rather than slam into it. Our favourite feature has to be the anti-fluff cycle which gets rid of the dreaded pilling (the albatross that every piece of fine knitwear has to bear).
Though the interface is a little overwhelming to look at, half an hour of reading through the manual would be well-spent. There are 12 programmes to choose from, including a 20 minute speed wash and you can get a full load washed and dried in under three hours.
The 7kg loading weight may seem a little on the small side, but it’s perfectly sufficient for a single or two-person household. Incorporating the Miele TwinDos system (basically two integrated containers that automatically dispense the right amount of detergent and fabric softener based on your clothes) it claims to waste 30 per cent less washing liquid than other machines.
Yes; this one is at the pricier end of the market, but the excellent build, noise and wash quality make it worth the money.
£1,999 | John Lewis | Buy it now
Best for: technophobes
Energy Rating: A
A machine that comes with an app may not sound like much help for those who struggle with technology, but hear us out. Adding Smart THinQ to your phone and downloading handy washing programmes such as ‘wool wash’ and ‘baby care’ straight to your washer/dryer is much easier than navigating the instruction booklet and programming the machine yourself.
That’s not all it’s good for, either. The motion drum doesn’t just repetitively turn but moves dynamically, meaning this machine offers one of the best cleans - TrueSteam technology rids the clothes of 99.9 per cent of allergens whilst also reducing wrinkles (on the clothes, sadly – not the skin) and acting as a fabric softener if necessary.
Although some of the cycles take slightly longer than on the other models, the LG is worth it for keeping clothes sparklingly spotless.
£589.99 | Currys | Buy it now
Best for: busy people
Energy Rating: A
Including a fast wash and dry cycle of just one hour, this slick design is one for those perpetually in a rush. Allowing up to 7kg of laundry for a wash and 4kg for a combined sequence, it’s robust enough to take on bulkier items such as duvets and blankets.
Not just pretty to look at, this machine has some excellent features. The ProSense technology weighs the load before intuitively adjusting timings to fit – for both the washing and drying cycles – before handing over to the DualSense which tailors the spin motion and the temperature to suit different fabrics. We also loved the handy steam function, which allows you to quickly refresh clothes that don’t actually yet need washing – great for giving them a just-cleaned smell.
Working with 1400rpm, it delivers some of the best results at a reasonable price point.
£629 | Currys PC World | Buy it now
The Bosch takes the trophy for its intuitive features. Quiet, quick and with allergy and late addition features, it’s designed to fit seamlessly into your life.