Are you interested in adding a washer or washer/dryer combination to your apartment? If so, you're not alone. Laundromats–boring, overly fluorescent, and never a good bargain–have few benefits. The laundromat industry is in steep decline and for most apartment dwellers, its demise cannot happen fast enough. But first, it's necessary to buy a washer and get it up into the apartment. Can it be done and if so, how do you do it?
Are You Legally Allowed to Do This?
After your apartment application was approved, both you and the owner or the owner's agent signed an apartment lease agreement. Begin by consulting this agreement, which can go any of three ways:
- Expressly Allowed: When installation of a washer or combo is allowed in an apartment, it will be spelled out in those exact terms, not implied. Rental agreements rarely include this as standard language and would likely be in the form of an addendum or clause that both of you agreed to.
- Expressly Not Allowed: When the installation is not allowed, again this term comes into play because this is expressed (not implied) in the contract's language. One similar and familiar example is the clause written into contracts forbidding water beds.
- Silent: More common, though, would be a lease agreement that does not mention installation of washers or dryers but does mention events that might be attendant to these appliances, such as restrictions against flooding, repairs and alterations.
What Kind of Washer to Buy?
Portable washing machines are essentially the only way to add a washer to your apartment, since they are designed to work around an apartment's limitations.
A portable machine is smaller than a stationary machine, generally ranging from 1.6 to 2.6 cu. ft. in capacity, though ultra compact 1.0 cu. ft models and larger 3.0 cu.
ft. models can be found. All portables are top-load machines and have rollers, casters or other means of moving the unit around once it has been brought into the apartment.
To put capacity in real-world terms, a 1.5 cu. ft. machine will roughly hold two pajama tops, one pajama bottoms, two sweatshirts, one pair of jeans, two shirts and one dress.
Special connectors allow you to attach the washer's supply line directly to a sink faucet. One downside is that 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 laundry sink. This renders both the sink and tub unusable for that period.
Conventional Stationary Machine
Technically you should be able to install a stationary machine in an apartment that does not have hook-ups. Stationary machines discharge water most efficiently when attached to a dedicated drainage waste line. But they always have the option of discharging into a laundry sink or bathtub. The power source is the conventional 120V three-pronged outlet, found in most apartments.
Water supply is the issue, though. In the absence of true hot/cold water hook-ups, the washer's hot and cold water supply lines would have difficulty connecting to the supply valves located under a bathroom or kitchen sink. Washing machine hoses and sink supply valves are threaded differently, so they would not connect.
In the end, your best choice may be a portable washer.
How to Dry Your Clothing
Compact Electric Dryer
Mini dryers in the 2.6 cu. ft. to 3.6 cu. ft capacity range plug into conventional 120V outlets (not the 240V outlets of stationary dryers). These dryers do need to vent the hot, moist air, so they must be located near a window. You should not vent the dryer 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 they are lighter than washers.
On the downside, compact dryers, which draw less amperage than stationary dryers, require more drying time. Venting through a window means keeping the window partially open, a problem during cold winter months.
A special type of non-venting dryer is available. Using heat pump technology, it recycles expelled hot air to use in the dryer again, rather than wasting it. These dryers are three or four times more expensive than venting dryers.
Line Drying Indoors
Many apartment dwellers who have their own washers avoid purchasing a dryer because of the venting problem, instead opting to line dry indoors.
Indoor line drying is entirely feasible on the 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 will be waterproof). A sparse amount of clothing, thoroughly spun out by the washer and strategically placed on a drying rack, can even dry overnight in a warm apartment.