If you’re tired of hoofing it to the laundromat with a heavy bag of clothes, it may be time to purchase a washer and dryer for your apartment. As with any large appliance purchase, there are a lot of choices to make, and it can quickly get complicated and overwhelming. Here are some of the main things you need to look out for.
Check your lease
Does your lease allow you to install a washer and dryer? Sometimes, it’s spelled out explicitly in the lease, but that’s not always the case. If there’s no mention in your lease, look for mentions about flooding or fire hazards. For the last word, you can always check directly with your landlord.
Assuming you’re good to install a machine, what do you buy?
Connections and dimensions
Before you start trying to find the right machine, you need to know your limits. Which machines are available to you depends heavily on the space in your apartment. Find where you’d put the machines, and note down these:
Washer and dryer hookups: You want to use washer and dryer hookups if you have them. There are machines that work hooked up to a sink and draining out to a bathtub, but you want laundry in your apartment for convenience. Using up the bathtub and sink isn’t the most convenient way to do laundry, but might be worth it if it’s the best you can do.
Power outlets: Many machines require 240V outlets instead of the standard 120V. If all you have are the smaller outlets, you’re going to be limited in what machines you can buy.
Space: Measure the size of the area you’re putting the washer and dryer in. Your desperate desire to do laundry without going to a laundromat won’t give you a larger space, and you don’t want to discover too late that you spent all this money on a machine that doesn’t fit.
Types of machines
Now that you know your limits, it’s time to look at the options you have. There are several types of machines, and it’s easy to get lost, even in broad categories. Here are some types of machines, to help you tell which is for you:
Top-loading vs. Front-loading: This is the big argument in washing machines. In general, front-loading washers take longer to wash and take more maintenance but use less water and electricity.
Portable vs. Stationary: The difference between stationary and portable is more than you’d guess from the name. Stationary machines are your standard washers/dryers, plugged into a large outlet and hookups. Portable machines are smaller and can be moved around, but also work plugged into a standard outlet and connected to a faucet, not a dedicated washer/dryer hookup.
Compacts: Most washers and dryers take up a lot of space, but there are ones made specifically to be smaller. You’re most likely to want a compact, since standard washers and dryers take up space you’re unlikely to have in an apartment.
Washer/dryer combo: This is a single machine that does the job of both a washer and dryer. You put in dirty clothes, and when it finishes, they’re all dry. The cost is that they take longer to run and don’t hold nearly as many clothes as a dedicated washer or dryer would.
Laundry center: This is a middle-ground between compacts and a combo. The washer and dryer are separate but stacked on top of each other as part of the same machine. They’re about the same width as compacts, so fit easily in an apartment, but require proper ventilation for the dryer, which might be an issue.
High-efficiency: If you’re interested in saving water and electricity, you’re going to want to look for machines with the high-efficiency (“HE”) symbol. They have significant savings in utility use, for the cost of longer wash times.
The category of washers and dryers is large, but now you have some context and know some of the trade-offs involved. Good luck with your search!
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