When space is tight, your options narrow when it comes to finding laundry appliances that fit. A matching compact washer and dryer may work if you have enough room to stack them. If not, then a machine that’s a washer and dryer—all in one—may be worth a look. Recently, Consumer Reports gave all-in-one machines a whirl and found that they have their advantages and disadvantages.

The LG WM3997HWA, $1,740 (shown at top), is both a front-loading washer and a ventless electric dryer. LG also makes the Kenmore Elite 41002 all-in-one washer/dryer, $1,500. The LG and Kenmore machines are very similar to each other, and they're the only full-size all-in-one models sold in the U.S. They're both 27 inches wide— standard width for a conventional washer—and take up about as much space as a typical front-loader.

More for Your Laundry Room

All-in-one models are designed for smaller places like apartments and condos, where they can be installed in a kitchen or bathroom. “The combination of the ventless operation and only needing a standard 120V outlet means you can put this washer anywhere you have a 120V outlet and the required space,” says James Peters, Kenmore’s laundry product manager.

But apartment and condo dwellers aren’t the only ones who might try these multitasking machines. “In a small home, a laundry room is wasted space,” says Karl Champley. The Los Angeles-based kitchen designer and general contractor hosted "Wasted Spaces" on the DIY TV network for a decade. In a small house, Champley suggests turning the laundry room into storage space and installing an all-in-one washer/dryer in the kitchen.

The Results of Our Tests

Toss your laundry into the LG WM3997HWA or Kenmore Elite 41002, push a few buttons, and the machine starts washing. It then goes straight into dryer mode if you've selected that option, giving you the ability to wash and dry your clothes in one move. 

Washer: In our tests, the washer scored Excellent overall. It was top-notch at cleaning, gentle on fabrics, and superb in energy and water efficiency, using about 10 gallons to wash our 8-pound load of cottons, an average-size load. Vibration wasn’t a problem in our tests, and this machine is relatively quiet.

As for the wash time, it's 100 minutes using the cotton-normal wash cycle on heavy-soil setting and the TurboWash option. Use the normal-soil setting and you'll save time. There are 14 wash cycles, and there's a steam option to boost stain removal. Claimed capacity is 4.3 cubic feet, which is comparable to some of the front-loaders in our washing machine ratings

Dryer: Scoring Poor overall, this ventless dryer takes around 3 hours to thoroughly dry an 8-pound load of cottons. That means washing and drying a load that size takes over 4 1⁄2 hours. Most dryers we test have moisture sensors, but this one doesn’t. The sensor detects when clothes are dry and shuts off the machine, saving time, energy, and wear and tear on fabrics. This machine is quiet in dryer mode, which is a plus. Note that during drying, most of the condensation is removed via the drain line, but some moisture vents into the room from both the front of the machine and the back panel.

The machine's drying capacity is similar to a compact dryer's, which is why the LG manual states that if you're using the machine to dry laundry, cut a full wash load in half for “effective drying.” Put another way, by both LG and Kenmore, the capacity for washing clothes is twice the capacity for drying: “If you wash a full load, you should remove half the clothes before drying,” says Kenmore’s Peters.

“These machines aren’t the perfect solution, but they’re better than hauling laundry to a laundromat,” says Emilio Gonzalez, who runs Consumer Reports' tests of laundry appliances. Gonzalez wonders whether the entire machine will stop working if either the dryer or the washer breaks. “This depends on the extent/type of malfunction, hardware vs. software issues, and specific issue, in either scenario,” says Taryn Brucia, director of public relations for LG.

How to Install an All-in-One Washer/Dryer

• Integrate the machine into the space, choosing a finish that complements the surroundings. The LG comes in white; the Kenmore is available in white and metallic silver.

• Ample counter space above the all-in-one washer/dryer is ideal, says Champley. This allows you to move the freshly laundered items straight to the counter to fold.

• Ventless dryers require a little space around them to allow for in-room circulation. You can install them in small areas or closets, but the closet door should be left open when drying, says Peters of Kenmore.

• Location near a sink or drain is key. As with any washer and many ventless dryers, the wash water and the dryer's condensation flow through a hose that feeds into a sink or drain.

Kenmore Now and Then

Two Kenmore all-in-one washer dryers.
A vintage ad for the Lady Kenmore next to the new Kenmore Elite 41002.

The Kenmore Elite 41002 all-in-one washer/dryer isn’t a new concept for Kenmore. In the 1960s, Sears ran the ad above for the Lady Kenmore washer/dryer combination. The claims for the Lady Kenmore model were straightforward. We especially like the one that states the obvious, reminding consumers that this combo washer/dryer “uses ½ the space of separate units.”

More Laundry Room Options