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The Ultimate Guide

Introduction

5 Apartment Washer and Dryer Options

Man doing laundry at home

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Apartment living definitely has its strong points but going to the laundry room isn't one of them. Communal laundry facilities in apartment buildings are inconvenient and often poorly maintained. Commercial neighborhood laundromats are increasingly hard to find and expensive to use. So it's natural to want to wash and dry your clothing in the convenience of your own home. Fortunately, there are some options that let you do just that.

Apartment Washer Options

Portable Washing Machine

A portable machine is smaller than a stationary machine, generally ranging from 1.6 to 2.6 cubic feet in capacity, though ultra-compact 1.0 cubic foot models and larger 3.0 cubic feet models can also be found. To understand the capacity, a 1.5 cubic feet machine will roughly hold two pajama tops, one pajama bottom, two sweatshirts, one pair of jeans, two shirts, and one dress.

All portables are top-load machines. Portable washers have rollers, casters, or other means of moving the unit around inside the apartment. Special connectors allow you to attach the washer's supply line directly to a sink faucet, much the way portable dishwashers work.

You must hook up the machine each time you want to use it. Many owners keep the quick connector attached to the faucet at all times. But during use, the washing machine hose does need to be attached to the connector, and the discharge hose needs to be expelling water into the bathtub or sink. This renders both the sink and tub unusable for that period.

Pros
  • Compact

  • Easy to move around

  • Transferrable to next apartment

Cons
  • Must be hooked up and unhooked with each use

  • Small capacity, no more than 2.6 cubic feet

  • Discharges into tub or sink

Combination Washer and Dryer

If you're interested in true minimalism and efficiency, a combination washer and dryer might be right for your apartment. Efficiency is literally built into this machine: Clothes that have been washed remain in the machine and seamlessly pass to the drying cycle. These machines also do have wash-only and a dry-only option.

Saving space is the main benefit of combination washer/dryer machines since you have only one machine, not two. With many combo units, you'll still need the same hookups as with standard washers and dryers, though: power, hot and cold water, and a 4-inch drying vent. Some combo units have a no-vent dryer option. This allows the machine to be located anywhere, with no need to vent the dryer to the exterior.

Prices of combination washer/dryer machines tend to be fairly steep—most run between $1,000 and $2,000.

Pros
  • One machine, not two

  • Small footprint

  • No need to transfer clothes from unit to unit

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Small to moderate capacity

Conventional Stationary Machine

Technically, it should be possible to install a stationary machine in an apartment that does not have hook-ups. Although stationary machines discharge water most efficiently when attached to a dedicated drainage waste line, there is always the option of discharging into a laundry sink or bathtub. The power source is the conventional 120-volt three-pronged outlet found in most apartments, so you can plug them in anywhere.

Water supply is the main drawback of stationary washing machines. In the absence of dedicated hot and cold water hook-ups, the other option is to connect the water supply lines to the supply valves located under a kitchen or bathroom sink. Because washing machine hoses are threaded differently than sink supply lines, this is generally not a practical option.

Conventional washing machines are usually not practical unless you have an agreeable apartment owner who is willing to add the plumbing connections necessary.

Pros
  • Large capacity

  • More features than portable machines

  • Easy to resell

Cons
  • Uses up lots of space

  • Hookups difficult

  • May not be allowed by contract

Apartment Dryer Options

Drying clothes is an easier task in an apartment since there are no plumbing hookups to worry about. There are two options: a compact electric dryer running on conventional 120-volt power or line-drying by hanging up the clothes.

Tip

Conventional stationary dryers are likely not an option. Standard electric models run on 240-volt power, while gas models require a natural gas hook-up. Neither are present in most apartments not meant for washer/dryer hookups.

Compact Electric Dryer

Mini dryers in the range of 2.6 to 3.6 cubic feet are available, and they plug into conventional 120-volt outlets. Most dryers do need to vent the hot, moist air, however, so they must be located near a window. You should not vent the dryer directly into your apartment.

Some compact dryers have optional wall-mount brackets, allowing you to place the dryer above the washer and save valuable floor space. Dryers should always go over washers, as these appliances are lighter in weight than the washers.

On the downside, compact dryers draw less power than a stationary dryer and therefore require more drying time. Venting through a window means keeping the window partially open, which can a problem during cold winter months.

Ventless Clothes Dyers

Non-venting dryers recycle expelled hot air to use in the dryer again. Extracted, condensed water ends up in an internal tank or is drained externally. Non-venting dryers are slow and are more expensive—three or four times the cost of vented dryers.

Pros
  • Compact

  • Connects to 120 V outlet

Cons
  • Vents through windows

  • Optional ventless units take 2 to 3 times longer to dry

Line-Drying Indoors

Many apartment dwellers who have their washers avoid purchasing a dryer because of the venting problem, instead opting to line-dry their clothes indoors.

Indoor line-drying is entirely feasible on a small scale and is made simpler when you begin with a portable drying rack. Because of drips, remember to place the rack on waterproof flooring (most bathroom floors and some kitchen floors will be waterproof).

A modest amount of clothing, thoroughly spun out by the washer and strategically placed on a drying rack, can dry overnight in a warm apartment.

Pros
  • Very inexpensive

  • No machines to install

  • Green and environmental

Cons
  • Very slow

  • Dripping on floor

Legal and Contractual Considerations

After your apartment application was approved, both you and the owner or the owner's agent signed an apartment lease agreement. Begin by carefully checking your written agreement, which may address the washing machine issue in one of three ways:

Washer and Dryer Expressly Allowed

When the installation of a washer or combo is allowed in an apartment, it will be spelled out in exact terms, not implied. Rental agreements rarely include this as a standard language. Washing machine provisions will likely be found in the form of an addendum or clause that both the renter and the landlord/owner have agreed to.

Washer and Dryer Expressly Not Allowed

When washing machine installation is not allowed, again this restriction term will be clearly expressed and not implied in the contract's language. A similar example is a familiar clause written into contracts that forbid water beds in rental properties.

Contract Is Silent About Washers and Dryers

More common, though, is a lease agreement that has no literal mention of allowing or disallowing washers and dryers. The lease may, however, mention events that could be related to these appliances, such as restrictions against flooding, repairs, and alterations to the apartment.