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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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Comments
Profile photo of alfa
Member

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.

Member
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.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

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.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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.

Profile photo of Adrian Porter
Member

Hi wavechange,

We’ve been advising for a while that it’s better to get a separate washing machine and tumble dryer, if you have the space, and we still are. Reliability continues to be an an issue, plus, while washing power is comparable, it’s the drying speed and quality that often let down washer-dryers compared to dryers. As an example – a ‘fast’ washer-dryer can dry clothes at a rate of 30 minutes per kilo or a bit less. But the fastest tumble dryers will dry clothes in 15 minutes or less – half the time! Plus, the automatic programs in dryers don’t seem to leave clothes wet as often as washer-dryers do.

And I’m glad you liked the dung beetle fact (I had a feeling you might!). I actually ended up spending my lunch hour calculating speeds of various animals and other speed/distance-related facts, such as that Comet 67P would have flown over 687,857 miles in eight hours and twenty minutes, or according to Guinness World Records; the most dogs washed in eight hours is 185 (that’s about 24 dogs per kilo of washing dried once adjusted for 8 hours and 20 minutes).

…and while I wasn’t using my fact finding as an excuse to avoid any washing chores over lunchtime, I may have conveniently ‘forgotten’ to go to the gym that day. 🙂

Profile photo of
Member

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.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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.

Profile photo of
Member

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.

Member
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!

Profile photo of Adrian Porter
Member

28 years is certainly an excellent lifetime for a white good! Can I ask how old your washing machine is – and if you’ve had any problems with it?

Member
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!

Member
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.

Member
Wendy says:
23 February 2015

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.

Member
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!

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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.

Member
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.

Member
Paul says:
4 October 2015

Can you stop a washer dryer during the drying process?

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

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.

Profile photo of ElisabethHopson
Member

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.

Member
Amanda says:
7 July 2016

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.

Member
Marc hulland says:
18 February 2017

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!!!!!

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

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.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Why has the onus been transfered from government departments who had the power to dictate to any business – do this or else -to a -“do it yourself ” attitude thereby giving most firms the “license to kill ” any truth about their products in sales talk/media while it helps the audience figures of Which and a number of other UK public concern bodies it places the general public in a – divide and conquer position where individuals have to take action themselves only to be rebuffed by de-clawed ngo/services .The general public are thus weakened in their ability to obtain justice unless they get together like a Union and fight against it. At the same time Legal Aid has been made harder for those wanting to take firms to court . Justice ? as they say in America- Justice my ass. BY the way I got an -Internal Server Error – for posting that seems the server has been “programmed ” to dislike some of my posts.