Washing Machine Vs Washer Dryer – which is better?

If you’re looking to buy a washing machine and are considering buying a washer dryer, read this first. There are so many washing machines on offer nowadays that it can all get a bit confusing. Added to which there’s the prospect of a washer dryer which on the face of it does the washing and drying for you without any extra work from you.

That sounds great, just place the washing in the machine, switch it on and forget about it. Go out to work and when you come home, the washing is all clean and dry and ready to be put away. Sadly however, the reality is far removed from that idyllic dream. Let’s start by looking at why you might be considering buying a washer dryer instead of a separate washing machine and separate tumble dryer.

Why Buy A Washer Dryer Instead Of Separate Washing Machine & Tumble Dryer?

There are a number of reasons why buying one machine to do two jobs looks appealing, let’s go through them before we get into specifics about efficiency, costs and other important issues. Reasons to buy a washer dryer include;

  • Space
  • Purchase Price
  • Convenience


It stands to reason that buying a separate washing machine and tumble dryer will take up twice the space that a single washer dryer will use. On average, all of these units are pretty much the same size give or take a few millimetres. If you don’t have the room for both a washing machine and a tumble dryer, then a washer dryer makes perfect sense.

Purchase Price

This might not come as too much of a surprise to you, but, buying a combination washer dryer will cost less than buying a separate washing machine and separate tumble dryer. However, what might surprise you is, depending on which make and model machines you choose, the saving isn’t that large.


The idea of putting all of your washing into the machine, turning it on and forgetting about it until you come home by which time it’s all washed and dried sounds great. And would be so convenient too especially if you have any issues with mobility which causes you pain or suffering when moving all of the laundry. However, the reality is you can wash almost twice as much in the washer dryer as you can dry.

This means either, not washing a full load, or, waiting for the wash cycle to finish and then removing almost half of the load to allow the dryer to work. 

Washing Machine

Disadvantages Of Buying A Washer Dryer

There are many disadvantages connected to buying a washer dryer compared to buying a separate washing machine and tumble dryer. First, let’s reiterate the above point;

Washer Dryers Can Only Dry Around Half As Much As They Can Wash

Washing machines rely on the washing rubbing together within the drum to remove dirt and stains which is why washing machine drums are relatively small. Tumble dryers, on the other hand, need to allow warm air to pass through the clothes in order to dry them. Which is why the drum on a tumble dryer is so much larger than on a washing machine.

Washer dryers have only one drum, this means a compromise has to be made, and that compromise is the amount of clothes that can be dried is less than can be washed in the same drum. This means you need to remove up to half of a full load in order to get it dry. Which also means you can’t go out and expect it all washed and dried on your return (unless you don’t go out until you’ve already sorted and started the drying process).

Inefficient Drying System

In stand alone tumble dryers the clothes are dried using hot air and vents. The hot air is passed through the clothes and the warm damp air is then vented straight out of the machine. Washer dryers don’t have the facility for vents because of the water passing through when on a wash cycle. So they use a condenser system to dry the clothes.

Condenser dryers work by forcing warm, dry air through the clothes and then cools that now damp air in a heat exchanger that condenses it back into moisture which is either trapped in a tank or pumped into the drain. The heat exchanger relies on cool water to cool down the air which after a little while warms up. 

This now warm water has to be drained and fresh cold water replaced. What this means is a washer dryer uses substantially more water than a stand alone tumble dryer. The average washing machine uses around 64 litres of water, whereas a washer dryer uses around 100 litres, that’s a third more water pumped straight down the drain, not too good from an environmental standpoint and even worse if you’re on a water meter.

Costs More To Run

Aside from the extra water that will cost more if you’re on a meter, there’s also the amount of running time and the work involved in pumping that cold water around the system. The cost of drying washing in a washer dryer can be twice as much as using a stand alone tumble dryer.


Before you can wash another load, you have to wait until the first load has dried. Compared to using a separate washing machine and tumble dryer which can both be working simultaneously. This means it can take twice as long to get your weekly washing completed. Especially when you consider washing sheets and towels which could take up to 8 hours to wash and dry.


Washer dryers never seem to last as long as separate washing machines and tumble dryers. Common faults include faster limescale build-up, and problems with the dryers heating element and fan assembly. These faults are often blamed on overloading the drying cycle.


Why Buy A Washer Dryer?

With all that we’ve just said, why buy a washer dryer? There are a few scenarios where a washer dryer is the best option; 

  • If you don’t have the room for a separate washing machine and tumble dryer, the washer dryer might not be as good as a stand alone dryer, but it’s better than nothing.
  • It costs less to buy a washer dryer than it does to buy a separate washing machine and tumble dryer. If your budget is tight, then this might be your only option.
  • Only one or two people in the home, which should mean less dirty washing and therefore less demand on the machine.
  • If you can dry clothes outside and only need the dryer occasionally.

What’s Better; Washing Machine Or Washer dryer?

The reality is any machine dedicated to one particular task is going to be better than a machine that performs two totally different tasks. A dedicated washing machine can usually wash more clothes than a washer dryer. You will certainly have a larger choice of machines available if you go for a separate washing machine compared to a washer dryer.

When it comes to the tumble dryer, it will take around 10 times as much energy to dry clothes in a washer dryer as it will to wash them. Modern tumble dryers use heat pumps to dry clothes, some washer dryers use heat pumps for drying but these cost around twice as much as standard washer dryers.

The reality is using a separate washing machine and tumble dryer is the best way to do laundry. Each machine has been designed and built for the specific task and there is no compromise on quality or efficiency. However, if space or budget are tight and it’s a washer dryer or no tumble dryer at all, then, we would recommend a washer dryer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better: washer dryer or washing machine?

A separate washing machine and tumble dryer is always going to be the best choice because each machine is designed to perform a specific task. Getting one machine to do both means there will be a compromise somewhere along the line.

Can you use a washer dryer just for washing?

You can use a washer dryer to just wash clothes.

Can I use a washer dryer as a dryer only?

You can use a washer dryer to just dry clothes, just check your machine’s settings.

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