Get the Lowdown on Compact Washer and Dryers

Is a compact washer and dryer right for you? We size them up against standard units.

By now, most of us have heard of front load, top load and even steam washers, but there's a whole other class of washer and dryer units that you may not be as familiar with. I’m talking about compact laundry units. While there are certainly many similarities between compact washer and dryers and standard ones, there are also some pretty big differences that you need to know about before you decide to go small.

Kitchen With Hidden Laundry Room

Kitchen With Hidden Laundry Room

A stacked washer and dryer are within reach but can also be easily hidden in this gorgeous white kitchen.

From: Dresner Design



I’ve owned a compact washer and dryer for over a year now, so I’m going to share everything I’ve learned about these guys with you.

They're Smaller Than Standard Units

This one seems super obvious, but it still took me a bit by surprise. Standard washer and dryers are typically at least 26 inches wide or, oftentimes, even wider. Compact units are 24 inches wide, so you do save a couple of inches. And in a small space, those couple of inches might mean the difference between being able to fit a laundry unit in your home.

But those two inches also means you can't wash as much as you may have been able to before. So if you have a large family or special laundry circumstances (like a newborn baby), it’s something to keep in mind.

They Don't Necessarily Need to Be Vented Outside

Most compact dryers are electric and not gas. The great thing about a compact dryer, is that it doesn’t necessarily need to be vented outside like a typical gas dryer. These types of dryers are often the go-to solution for apartment-dwellers who simply don’t have an outside venting option. Instead, there are special indoor venting kits that you can use.

Indoor Ventilation = A Lot of Heat

The tricky part about not having your dryer vented outside means that all of that heat sticks around in your space. For some people this isn’t that big of a deal; however, if you genuinely have a tiny space, it can get REAL hot REAL fast when the dryer is on. This means that on a summer day, the AC needs to do double-duty when the dryer is on. And in fact, I sometimes choose not to do laundry, because I just can’t handle the heat that the dryer generates.

Doing a Load of Laundry Takes Longer

For my former standard dryer, a typical dry cycle was 40 to 60 minutes. For my compact dryer, the standard dry cycle is 1 hour and 40 minutes. Yep, that’s a lot longer.

So, while wash cycles seem to last the same amount of time as a standard washer, dry cycles take a lot longer. And for something bulky like a blanket, be prepared to spend a lot of time waiting around. In fact, I’ve mostly decided to take larger items like blankets and comforters to the local laundromat.

You Can Use Pedestals

The good news: you can use pedestals with compact washer and dryers, and I absolutely love mine. It helps keep the units at a more manageable height (so there's less bending), and it’s a great spot to store all of your laundry supplies.

There Aren't As Many Options

Because this is considered a specialized category of washer and dryers, you definitely don't have as many options to choose from. Most brands don’t offer a compact option, so you're definitely choosing from a smaller pool. For those of you who feel overwhelmed by too many choices, this could be a good thing.

They're a Bit More Expensive

Even though these laundry units have a smaller footprint than standard models, they unfortunately don't have a smaller price tag. Again, because they're more specialized and aren't as readily available, they do cost a bit more. Sometimes up to twice as much as a standard washer and dryer.

The Verdict

Compact washer and dryers are an awesome option for those of us that simply don’t have the space for standard models or live in an apartment building. When my choice was either a compact washer and dryer or no washer and dryer, I’m definitely happy that we went for a compact model. However, if you have space for either a standard unit or a compact unit, I would definitely recommend sticking with a standard.

25 Efficient Laundry Room Ideas

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Contemporary Palette

This spacious, transitional laundry room offers plenty of room for functional and stylish design ideas to form. Designer Traci Zeller adds drama to the room through a black-and-white color scheme and checkerboard tiled flooring. Glass decanters serve as attractive storage containers for detergent, clothespins and other laundry essentials.

From: Traci Zeller

Custom Design

Designer Shane Inman takes advantage of floor-to-ceiling wall space with louvered cabinetry and pull-out drawers in this galley-style laundry room. Custom industrial-inspired butler doors take up minimal space and introduce an interesting design element into the space.

Bright Transformation

To transform their dingy and outdated laundry room into a bright and modern-day utility space, design blogger Erin Loechner and her husband, Ken, renovated the entire room from top to bottom sans contractor. They added wood-paneled walls, enclosed shelves above the washer and dryer, tiled flooring, a concrete vanity countertop, custom pendants and handcrafted details, like leather cabinet pulls. Now, the space appears stylish and homespun but 100 percent functional.

Concealed Storage

Storage is essential in any home but can be even more crucial in a laundry room. Designer Sarah Richardson doesn't want to take away from the floor space, so she designs the storage as close to the ceiling as possible. The shelved cabinets run horizontal above the washer/dryer unit and provide the perfect place to hold towels and other laundry essentials.

Double the Function

With not just one washer and dryer but two, designer Shane Inman ensures a low turnover rate for laundry in this household. By encasing the units below a stone countertop and adding storage cabinets above, the room instantly expands its functionality and efficiency.

Closet Laundry Station

Rather than skimping on an in-home laundry facility, city-dwellers Jeremy and Amanda decide to turn a closet on their second-story loft landing into a laundry room. To make up for the use of storage space, the room is designed with contemporary cabinetry to conceal all the essentials. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn even manages to fit an 8-foot folding station into the space.

Pet-Friendly Space

A laundry room is the perfect place to set up a cozy corner for the family pet and all of his toys and supplies. In this room, the laundry station is confined to one side, while the rest of the space serves as an informal mudroom with a spot for leashes, toys, hats and shoes. And for added style with practicality, the vinyl flooring makes pet messes, shoe prints and other accidents a cinch to clean up. Photo courtesy of Armstrong

Clean and Pristine

Following the same aesthetic as the rest of the home, the designers at Fiorella Design use a sleek color palette and a striking minimalist approach to bring a contemporary look to this laundry room.

Homespun Laundry Look

This charming reach-in laundry station boasts simple farmhouse appeal through its collected accessories and homespun look. Rather than stow away all of her laundry necessities, Linda Macdonald keeps them all within reach in stylish decanters, baskets and vintage buckets above the washer and dryer.

Maximum Exposure

Organization solutions don't have to be costly. Ikea's organization system comes with adjustable shelves, a folding table, drying bars, moveable clothing racks and hampers that create an airy space. A clean table above the front-loading machines makes pre-sorting dirty clothes quick and convenient. Photo courtesy of Ikea

Unexpected Storage

A washer/dryer pedestal with built-in storage drawers ensures every inch of valuable space in the laundry room is used. In addition, wall-to-wall cabinetry guarantees there's a place for everything. Design by Shane Inman

Organized and Elegant

Galley-style laundry rooms make practical sense. When the sink and washer are along the same wall, it's easier and less expensive to run plumbing lines. Wood-finished cabinetry helps integrate a workspace into the rest of the house when hiding it away is not an option. The glass-fronted cabinets make it easy to find supplies and help make the space a bit more elegant than a standard laundry room. Photo courtesy of Whirlpool

Ample Space

This space proves to be far more than just a laundry room; it also serves as a multifunctional home office and hobby area too. The large L-shaped countertop remains clear for folding laundry and taking on other housekeeping tasks. Plus, storage cabinets above and below the countertop provide the perfect place to store cleaning supplies, extra linens and children's messy arts and crafts supplies. Design by Castle Rock Design Group

Hidden (Dirty) Laundry

For apartment dwellers and those with limited space, a hideaway laundry room is the best option. Compact washer/dryer units make it easy to conceal the laundry room. With a sliding door, even a small hallway closet can be converted without impeding traffic. Wall shelves and between-machine storage bins make for an organized, self-contained utility space. Photo courtesy of Whirlpool

Serene Cleaning

Sometimes laundry rooms don't even look like laundry rooms at all. This serene space embraces a soft color palette and feminine cottage-style decor. The environment would make laundry feel less like a chore and more like a tranquil getaway.

Tucked Away

Oftentimes, homeowners find they don't need a room solely devoted to laundry. This spacious bathroom dedicates a small nook to the washer and dryer, a folding station and some overhead storage cabinetry. Design by Nancy Leffler Mikulich

From: Nancy Leffler Mikulich

Warm and Inviting

This may be a hard-working laundry room, but it feels anything like one. RMS user MrPeabody prevents a pure "utility" atmosphere by integrating the home's rustic architecture, wooden ceiling beams and warm pendant lighting.

Moving Upstairs

Traditionally, laundry rooms are located adjacent to the kitchen on the main level. Recently, though, larger second-story laundry rooms are becoming more popular. This sizeable utility room features all the desired amenities with a crisp, clean color palette. Design by Hillary Reed Interiors, LLC

Shared Spaces

A surprisingly common companion to the laundry room is the home office. Designer Amy Bubier creates a built-in desk nook on the opposite side of the concealed washer/dryer unit to take advantage of all the space offered.

Ultimate "Do" Room

Featuring a laundry area, workspace and wash station, this super utility space is truly the ultimate "do" room. It offers plenty of countertop space to complete laundry-related tasks, plus a quiet place for both kids and adults to work. Design by Hillary Reed Interiors, LLC

Elegant Expansion

This large laundry room offers an expansive run of custom cabinetry in elegant natural wooden and stone materials. Design by Pacific Dimensions, Inc.

Feminine Touches

RMS user Sassy0239 wanted to transform her contractor-grade laundry room into a stylish and feminine utility space representative of her style. She repainted the walls, replaced the traditional metal shelves and added chic, budget-friendly baskets and storage accessories to make up for the lack of cabinetry. Now, she has a pretty laundry room she actually enjoys doing laundry in (kind of).

Retro Hues

The designers at Color Design Art prove that laundry rooms don't need to be cold and sterile. In this retro utility room, bright-red appliances, colorful artwork and contemporary black cabinetry bring a different feel to the laundry room.

Organized Storage Systems

Laundry rooms can be as tiny as a closet or as large as a garage. But no matter if they are L-shaped, U-shaped or galleys, efficiency and organization are key. This modular solution is designed to put all supplies at arm's length. In a crisp, clean white finish, the system includes adjustable shelves and a wardrobe valet that effectively uses wall space atop and around the appliances. Photo courtesy of ORG

Unwind and Unload

Front-loading appliances provide extra stacking space atop the machines. This colorful room with generous storage space, an easy-to-clean, marble-topped table and a built-in television with DVD player, makes laundry time less of a chore. Photo courtesy of Bosch

Here are some great compact washer and dryers worth checking out:


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