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Is your washer-dryer faster than a dung beetle?

Washing machine

One of the washer-dryers in our most recent tests takes more than eight hours to dry clothes. How long would you wait for dry laundry? And what’s it got to do with dung beetles!?

Eight hours and twenty minutes. That’s how long it took a washer-dryer from our latest round of tests to dry 8kg of clothes. Admittedly, that’s a massive capacity for a washer-dryer , but that’s still no excuse.

There’s quite a lot you could do with that time. You could, for instance, fly from London to Chicago, or travel by train to Berne in Switzerland.

To pass the travelling time, you could get most the way through the first five Rocky movies (though you may have to fast forward through a few of the montages).

Slower than a dung beetle

Thanks to a study published in the Journal of Zoology which recorded the speed of a ‘roller’ dung beetle, there’s another comparison I can draw.*

I was able to calculate that an (impossibly indefatigable) dung beetle could push a ball of you-know-what from the London Eye, over Westminster bridge, along Birdcage Walk and proudly deliver the poo ball to Buckingham Palace – all in the same time it takes the aforementioned appliance to dry clothes.

Wet clothes in a washer-dryer

And the long drying time is only half the story. What actually happened in our tests is that the automatic drying program, which should keep churning clothes until they are dry, stopped at around four hours – the clothes were still sopping wet.

So we had to add another four hours using the manual timer setting, in order for the clothes to come out dry. Washer-dryers leaving clothes wet is a gripe we hear about – and we penalised this model for leaving clothes wet.

Measuring drying speed

We assess drying speed by working out the ‘minute per kilo’ rate. This means if a washer-dryer that has a drying capacity of 4kg takes two hours to dry a full load of clothes, it has a speed of 30 minutes per kilo. If a 6kg capacity machine takes two and a half hour hours to dry a full load, that means it is drying at a rate of 25 minutes per kilo – that’s faster than our 4kg machine.

That means we’d praise the 6kg machine as speedier than the 4kg, even though the total program time is 30 minutes longer than the 4kg capacity model. By using this rate of drying, it means we can compare machines of different capacities against each other.

To put this 8kg washer-dryer into perspective, the drying rate is over 60 minutes per kilo. That’s terribly sluggish and made more noticeable by its massive capacity, resulting in a total drying time that is longer than your average working day.

Do you dry in a washer-dryer?

We know that not everybody uses their washer-dryer to dry clothes. Reasons include the frustration of clothes being left wet, the cost of the drying cycles and of course – long drying times.

So what are your washer-dryer woes? Do you use the drying function?

*Published in Journal of Zoology, vol. 248 issue 4. Ball rolling speed recorded as 0.063 m/s – over eight hours and twenty minutes, that’s 1.9km (1.89km actual). Walking distance from London Eye to Buckingham Palace (Birdcage Walk route) is 1.9km according to Google Maps (walking setting used).

Do you use your washer-dryer to dry clothes?

No - I don't have a washer-dryer (61%, 470 Votes)

Yes - frequently (20%, 152 Votes)

Yes - rarely (10%, 78 Votes)

No - I avoid the drying function completely (10%, 75 Votes)

Total Voters: 775

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Seems like washer-dryers haven’t improved much then !!!

We had one some years ago and used the dryer function once. We reckoned the clothes were wetter than they started after about 4 hours.

Not having anywhere to put a dryer near a water outlet, we managed without a dryer for a long time. A couple of years ago, after reading positive reviews, we bit the bullet and bought a Siemens condenser dryer. Apart from sheets and quilt covers turning into sausage rolls, it is excellent and dries washing in no time.

Lessismore says:
21 February 2015

I hate drying my washing in the machine. It is much nicer dried outdoors if you can – and cheaper.

I’m dreaming of the time that I will be able to haul my washing out on a line on a pulley out across the garden from a window. Have you seen the washing in Hong Kong hanging to dry from what look like horizontal flag poles?

I often use the washer dry on a 15 or 20 min dry which basically just creates steam and then all the washing can be hung up to dry. This means that ironing is easy if it is actually necessary.

Given that the lack of private outdoor space is becoming a growing aspect of metropolitan habitation the ability to complete the laundry indoors is a significant consumer desire.

What amazes me is that many of those who do have an outdoor space where they could stand a clothes drying rack or put up a washing line don’t do so. Exposure to the sun and air does wonders for the washing – and, truly, it’s not always raining. Obviously, people’s working arrangements do have a major bearing on this which means the industry does need to come up with efficient appliances for doing the whole job allowing people to opt in or out of the full drying function.

I did not buy a washer-dryer because Which? warned us that they were generally very unreliable, and that having a washing machine and a tumble drier was a better bet. I did buy a tumble drier but put it in the garage. It was not very effective and it was inconvenient to have to go to the garage to check on progress. I rarely used it, instead doing the washing when the weather looked suitable for drying. I also have a decent airing cupboard. For clothing etc that is going to be ironed, I do this straight after washing. That means I don’t need to use a steam iron and whatever has been ironed is nearly dry.

I have found Adrian’s Conversations very interesting and a couple of them have encouraged me to do quite a lot of reading around the subject. It’s an interesting piece of lateral thinking to draw a comparison between the time taken by a washer-dryer to complete its cycle with the distance a dung beetle could, in principle, push a dung ball during this time. Having read the paper cited by Adrian I have learned that male and female dung beetles are, on average, very similar in performance, despite the fact that the male dung ball is typically nearly 20% larger in diameter than that produced by females. It was also gratifying to learn that the authors of the paper had the courtesy to thank the person who provided the cattle dung for the study.

I think I should now get on and hang the washing out to dry, since it is now sunny.

We’re on out third washer-drier in about ten year. In the first two John Lewis badged machines the drying function failed in warranty and was fixed, but never performed satisfactorily after that and we replaced them when the drying function failed completely. A recurring problem was the internal airways clogging up with lint which required an engineer to to sort out. Twice bitten? When it cam to the third one we were assured that such problems are behind us and modern machines are much more reliable. We got a Which? best buy AEG model but, as night follows day drying performance started to degrade after three years or so. We vowed never to get a washer-drier ever again but as it washes perfectly well we decided not to replace it but made space for a separate heat-pump Bosch drier, which is giving us excellent service.

Nick – In an earlier Conversation, a service engineer mentioned that a build up of lint in tumble-dryers has been the cause of fires, though I have no idea how common this is. It’s obviously important that the lint filter is cleaned regularly to discourage build up of lint inside the machine.

If it requires £100 worth of service engineer every couple of years it makes the cost of ownership ridiculous unless there really is no alternative.

Jon Godwin says:
21 February 2015

We are lucky enough to have both a tumble drier and a washer-dryer machine (both Bosch). The tumbler is now about 28 years old and is still very effective, although the dryness sensors stopped working a long time ago and so we just use it on a timed programme. The washer-dryer is a condenser type and is noticeably less effective, as they usually seem to be, so we usually use the old tumbler instead. Of course, there is nothing like hanging things up on a line in the sunshine when possible!

Jon Godwin says:
22 April 2015

The Bosch washer-dryer is 7 years old and still works perfectly. It replaces a previous Bosch washing machine which served us well for about 20 years and was unfortunately thrown out by a tenant who wanted a dryer function and replaced it with an Indesit model which completely failed within two years!

Miss Elliott says:
23 February 2015

I have a Bosch washing machine only, no tumbler and my (spun) laundry dries pretty quickly in the utility room, the garden, or even over the upstairs banisters. If I were to buy anything for drying, it would not be a tumble dryer but a heated electric airer.

I don’t have room for separate machines so have to use a washer-dryer. When I use the dryer function though I NEVER use the auto sensor dry functions. They don’t work, it’s a waste of time and will go for hours without drying.

But I have no trouble at all using the manual dry. Normally 90 mins on manual dry is sufficient for an average- full load. I’m using a 4 year old Hoover machine, not sure model number.

Jeannette Inger says:
24 February 2015

I’m on my second washer-drier in 15 years, both Hotpoint Aquarius. Must admit the newer one I have now is a lot better at drying than the first model I had. My main gripe is that Hotpoint have failed to stop the washers from chewing clothes and it doesn’t matter how much or little I load into the washer, I still get holes in strange places on random occasions. Anything I can’t risk getting a hole in has to be washed by hand in my house. The drying time on my washer drier is about 90 mins on top of my 60 minutes ‘quick’ wash but that’s only when I put the clothes on a long spin after the quick wash before setting it to dry. If I don’t give it an extra spin, then it can take a good 4 hours for the clothes to dry!

I wonder how much tumble driers wear clothes. What is collected on lint filters is obviously from the fabric. Pointed collars on men’s shirts can become worn very quickly. If a washer-dryer can take up to 8 hours 20 minutes to complete a cycle, that could result in quite a lot of wear.

David Wheeler says:
9 March 2015

I have found my Miele washer-dryer to be invaluable, living as I do in an upstairs flat without a garden.

I wash towels, and whites, during the night as the electricity is 3 x cheaper with Economy 7.

It does use a lot of water and power but getting up to find the washing sorted is worth the extra expense.

I find it would overdry shirts, so now do these on the minimum setting, Smoothing+ and if I hang them promptly they rarely need ironing.

Paul says:
4 October 2015

Can you stop a washer dryer during the drying process?

There is a danger of overheating and fire if a dryer or washer-dryer is stopped during the drying process. See the whitewoodshelp website for more information.

I am researching washer dryer cycle times as I am buying a new machine for my son (1st home!).I am staggered by the cycle times being quoted for virtually every type of washing machine. This is totally unacceptable waste of human time and 1trawl through the Internet shows that most people are fed up with complacency shown by manufacturers towards their customers need for faster cycle times, particularly at 40 degree washes. Some poor Mums are at their wits end with their washing machines, some are reverting back to hand washing ! This is the 21st century in case the manufacturers haven’t noticed and progress on this issue of cycle times for both washing and/or drying is critical for the vast majority of us. Washing on a 30 degree wash will not kill off bacteria in clothes and is only marginal for 40 degree washes,many of us work in food environments where higher standards are needed, so cycle times are highly important. Time for some serious discussion as to what customers want not what manufacturers want to give us. Would like to see minimum cycle times for each temperature range given for every machine produced by law. Progress urgently needed.

Hi all. We bought a Indesit Washer/Dryer combo. Can someone please help me. How do I wash clothes at a cold temp with the least amount of minutes. I know you need to have the temp knob turned to the snowflake but which number do I turn it to so that I does not was for 3 Hours. I am desperate.

Brand new indesit w/d delivered today ! They claim it washes and dries in 35 mins…up to 0.5 kilo…my a**e! Ringing wet!….put on again on just dry for 40 mins……still wet! I am going to chase my money as this is against the trade and descriptions act!!!!!

Which? review:
Indesit XWDE751480XW Today’s best price: £348.00 Don’t buy We’re disappointed with this Indesit. It’s poor at washing cottons, drying times are too long and its drying sensors aren’t accurate enough. A definite Don’t Buy.

Read more: http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/washer-dryers/article/recommendations/which-dont-buy-washer-dryers – Which?

Is this is yours? It pays to subscribe to Which? to get some guidance on major purchases at least. If you have followed the instructions to the letter that match the claim made then you have a right to reject the appliance under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Aimed at the retailer:
“21. The goods must be of satisfactory quality
What counts as satisfactory is determined by what a reasonable person would think is satisfactory, looking at all the relevant circumstances. These include, but are not limited to:
 any description of the goods including what the consumer was told about the goods by you or your employees
 the price paid for the goods, and
 any public claims made about the goods by you or the manufacturer, (for example, in advertisements or on the labels of the goods)”
“If the rights aren’t met, you will have breached the contract and the consumer is entitled to certain forms of redress, such as rejecting the goods, having the goods repaired or replaced or getting some money back.”
Remedy”Reject the goods for a full refund(1st30 days only)”
You might have to give the retailer the opportunity to prove the machine does perform as advertised – ask them round to do a wash. check exactly what the claim is however – wording can be ambiguous.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

We have a smeg condenser dryer. Usually we have always had a vent dryer before which dried in no time.the smeg we have takes hours to dry even a couple of items and the drawer that collects the water during drying hardlyhas any water in it one minute and fills within seconds on another dry. It’s so frustrating. Wish we had never bought it. I washed a feather pillow , it took 2days to dry it. Jeans take 3hrs or more to dry. What can I do to make it dry any quicker?

David says:
21 January 2018

I have had 3 washer dryers and the first two were both Ariston and current one an AEG. They all took a long time to dry and neither brand could fully dry a set of king sized bedding even with a much larger drum capacity on current machine. The fabric in the middle of the drum never gets the warm air to completely dry the clothes. Sensor dry is false as it senses the outer fabric against the drum which gets warm and dry. Fabric in the middle is often wet and radiator drying is required to finish them of. No washer dryer can ever fully dry a load in 2 hours. The best option is to air dry outside when suitable. Choose a washer dryer with a very fast spin to extract most water from heavy items such as towels and jeans. If no space to hang outside take half the load out of the machine and run two separate drying cycles and hang the finished items on a clothes airier to completely dry them.

Anonymous says:
26 November 2018

In the US, the washer-dryer dries my clothes in 45-60 minutes with 4-6 kg laundry (even heavy items such as towels and jeans). I am so frustrated with UK washer-dryer machines because it takes 4-5 hours just to dry my clothes. Moreover, my clothes are damaged so badly by long hours of drying cycles. I just don’t understand why UK dryers uses “water” to dry clothes – this does not make any sense. Engineers should use their brains. Also, washing cycle of US laundry machines take only 45-60 minutes with two rinse cycles, while UK laundry machines take 2-4 hours just for washing. The total washing & drying cycle in the US is just 2 hours, but it takes 8 hours in the UK! How can UK people spend so much time for just washing??? I miss my efficient US laundry machine…

I think the reason is that in the UK most households have someone who will do all the laundry, iron it, air it, fold it, put it away in the cupboard, and not really mind how much time that takes. The labour is its own reward.

Anonymous asks why clothes dryers use water to dry clothes. In condenser dryers,water is used to cool the condenser to remove moisture before the air is recirculated. The alternative is to use a vented dryer, which does not require water but the dryer must be next to an external wall and a hole in the wall for a vent.

Some years ago, I had a washer/dryer and completely understand your frustration Anonymous. I swear clothes were wetter after a several hours of so-called drying.

I gave up and used a dehumidifier.

I now have a separate washing machine and a Siemens condenser dryer. Clothes dry quickly and water is collected in a tray (much like a washing machine detergent dispenser drawer) that then has to be emptied. It is a perfect solution when you can’t have access to a water outlet. My only gripe with the dryer is that the drum only turns one way so large items can end up in a roll.

John, 🙄 you are obviously not in charge of doing the laundry !!!

I dare not alter any of the programmes on the washing machine so I have to content myself with doing most of the ironing and buying the ingredients for the washing machine – but even that is problematic [a good brand name for a laundry appliance, perhaps] if I deviate from the specifications [to catch a special offer, for example].

My speciality in the ironing department is fitted sheets; two of those and most of the day has gone. Result!

Sounds like someone tries to keep you occupied.😆 😅 😂 🤣

I will let you into a little secret……..fitted sheets iron themselves when you put them on the bed.

Yes – I tried that once . . .

I have been informed by her Ladyship that un-ironed sheets do not look smart enough in the airing cupboard. It is not my place to disagree so I endeavour to give satisfaction.

My tip is – when ironing the inside of a fitted sheet and after pressing the sides and ends strictly parallel and correctly creased, keep them in place with clothes pegs for when turning and folding the sheet to iron the top side – taking care, of course, to prevent the elastic corners from cockling-up and spoiling the appearance. I have been advised that the continuous study of simple functions invariably leads to enhanced performance and job satisfaction.

Miele B 995D Rotary Ironer does a really good job. Damp sheets folded over and run through a couple or so times job done.

I have reviewed it in the Member Community forum along with the Miele Fashionmaster