Washing machine and tumble dryer versus washer dryer: which is the laundry lord?

Two machines must be better than one, right? Not necessarily, if you lack space and/or cash

Washing machine and tumble dryer versus washer dryer
(Image credit: Getty)

We all seem to think two-in-one appliances are the more convenient option, and the washer dryer does appear to do us all a huge favour. After all, it does both jobs without us intervening, saving us precious laundry time and energy. What more do we need? But is the washer dryer combo really as good as it sounds? And are you getting more out of it than having a separate washing machine and tumble dryer? 

Firstly, there are some important things you should consider before buying. Realistically, how often do you do your laundry and how will this suit your lifestyle? Are you knee-deep in daily laundry or only do washing once a week? What sort of capacity do you need? While you’ll spend less on a washer dryer combo, the capacity/drum is often a lot smaller than a separate appliance. 

Those lacking in space may opt for a washer dryer, as well as households who do very little laundry. There’s no point splashing out on expensive machine with all the bells and whistles if you’re not likely to take advantage of the settings. However, if you are considering what best washer dryer to buy, have a look at our guide to help you choose wisely. Also, find out here if you’re guilty of making these common washer dryer mistakes

Here we look at the pros and cons of the washer dryer combo and also getting both the best washing machine and the best tumble dryer to find out exactly what you’re missing out on (if anything at all!).


Washer dryer vs Washing machine

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Powerful performance: Unlike the combined washer dryer, having two separate appliances means they only have one task to focus on. This provides a more powerful output from each, to offer better results.  Essentially, separate appliances will have more capacity and energy to get the job done, so they will deliver a quicker performance.

Best for large families: If you run a busy household, and always have loads of laundry to get though, separate appliances are more efficient. The dryer will be more energy efficient and take less time to dry a full load. Plus, a bonus is they can both work at the same time. So while one is drying, you can stick another load of washing in the other machine without the wait! 

Less likely to break down:  Separate appliances are less likely to break down as they each have fewer components, and do less work than a combined washer dryer. Since each machine is dedicated to one job, this means fewer risks and more cost effective in the long-run.


More expensive:  The more obvious disadvantage is price. It works out more costly buying two separate appliances rather than just one. So if you’re running a tight budget, this may not be cost-effective. However, shop around to see if there are good deals for each appliance, and many stores offer finance plans. 

Takes up more space: Two appliances takes up a lot of room, and they’re only realistic for  large spaces that can accommodate both. While some households can stack one on top of the other, it’s not advisable without the correct use of a stacking kit. Otherwise they will be unstable and more importantly, a health and safety risk! 

You have to transfer wet laundry over: Unlike a washer dryer that does everything for you, you still have the chore of unloading the wet laundry over to the separate dryer. And quite frankly, who really has time for that?


Washer dryer vs Washing machine

(Image credit: Pexels Polina Tankilevitc)

Great for those on a budget: It’s always far cheaper to buy one machine than forking out for two separate appliances. If you’re on a tight budget, this is probably the more affordable option. You can purchase a decent washer dryer from as little as £350, although do take time out to check the specifications. Cheap does not always equate to the quality you are after!

Ideal for those who live in a flat or small home: If you live in a small home or have a tiny kitchen, a washer dryer is worth considering. Not only is it space-friendly and compact, it’s also easy to install and operate. It also works by using a ventless drying system, unlike separates which may need a vent to be professionally installed outside. 

Quick and convenient, saving you time: If you’re on a busy schedule, and just want to get the job done with no-fuss, washer dryers saves you time. With a washer-dryer, you won't have the hassle of sorting through wet laundry to stick in the separate dryer.

You don’t really need to use the dryer option all the time: Drying is always handy, but you don’t always have to use it with a washer dryer. Especially on those summer days when you can air-dry the conventional way. If you’re a smaller household and realistically would only use the dryer option a few times a month, then it’s not worth paying out for a separate dryer.  


Washer dryer vs Washing machine

(Image credit: Pexels Rodnae Productions)

Takes longer to dry clothes: Combined washer dryers usually take longer to dry clothes than a separate appliance. This is because the machine is designed to wash more capacity of clothing at once while drying at a lower capacity. So not only will your clothes take longer to dry but drying performance may not be so great. To resolve this, you would have to take some clothes out and dry in smaller quantities.

Not so energy efficient: While we assume we’re saving on water and energy, a washer dryer can actually be more costly to run. As a combined appliance, it’s often working overtime with long wash cycles and having to dry full loads, using up more energy.  

Prone to faults or break down: Washer dryers are also prone to suffer from faults including limescale build-up, lint and fluff trapped in the dryer vent. Plus, once it breaks down, you’ll have to replace the entire appliance, which is more costly and inconvenient. These all can be avoided though, by proper maintenance and simply cleaning your machine after cycles.


While both options have their pros and cons, it’s clear that the washer dryer has its limitations. If you want capacity and consistent performance, separate appliances will give you much better results. Although expensive to splash out for two, you’re not likely to get any faults or breakdowns, making it a worthwhile investment in the long-run. 

Of course, if you don’t have enough space, and are on a budget, ignore all of the above: the best washer dryer is the ideal option for you.

Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence is a freelance lifestyle journalist and digital editor for national publications. She also has a rather unhealthy obsession for Homes & Interiors, and loves a good bargain.