The Best Laundry Centers of 2018By Jonathan Chan
In the age of tiny houses and more space-efficient living, stacking a washer and dryer is a surefire way to make more room in your abode. However, if you want to stack a dryer on a top-load washer, your options become much more limited. Laundry centers fill this need by having a top loader and dryer built right into a steel frame. We spent a month testing the top three laundry centers on the market and found the Whirlpool WET4024HW (available at AppliancesConnection for $994.00) to be the best fit for most people.
To come to this conclusion, we focused on testing cleaning performance, drying performance, space efficiency, and usability. While the WET4204HW is the best laundry center we tested, we still think getting a stacked compact washer and dryer is a better solution for most people.
Here are the best three we tested ranked, in order.
Updated November 01, 2018
Whirlpool WET4024HWBest Overall
The Whirlpool WET4024HW's test results put it at the top of our list. This model has a 1.5-cu.-ft. washer and a 3.4-cu.-ft. dryer and both exceeded our expectations. A 1.5-cu.-ft. washer drum is lower than most people are used to, even compact washer owners. However, during testing, we found the washer could handle a basket of laundry without any issues. It is an issue if you want to clean comforters or bulky items, but we feel the trade-off of cleaning power is worth it. Out of the three laundry centers we tested, the WET4024HW removed the most stains.
You can even watch the washer doing it too since it has a glass lid with soft-close hinges. We also liked the fact that this was the only laundry center that gave a clear indication of how long cycles lasted.
Regarding usability, this laundry center gave us the most bang for our buck. It has soft-close hinges, a timer, and it saved the most space. The WET4024HW fulfills all the criteria we sought. The control panel is clearly labeled and uses precise buttons, and it saved the most space. Finally, it cleaned and dried our laundry consistently.
How We Tested
Hi, I'm Jon Chan, the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. In my six years working here, I've tested well over 150 washers and dryers and handled about 10 tons of laundry. I've tested washers with sinks, built-in detergent tanks, and even a washer/dryer combo unit that can run off a faucet.
When I'm evaluating a laundry machine, I'm looking for value, performance at its core functions, and ease of use.
Kyle Hamilton did the bulk of testing, but I oversaw all the tests and analyzed the data.
When it came to the laundry centers we did a modified version of how we test standalone washers and dryers. For the washer portion, we tested the Normal, Heavy, Delicates, and Quick cycles. We chose these cycles because they are not only the most used cycles but can also provide a more detailed picture about performance. For example, the Whites cycle is typically a Normal with higher heat.
We tested the Normal and Delicates cycles using stain and mechanical action strips. Stain strips are bolts of cloth that are mechanically dipped in common household substances like oil, sweat, cocoa, pig's blood, and red wine. These stains are highly controlled–the blood comes from a specific breed of pig, the wine comes from a single vineyard, and the cocoa beans hail from a single lot. The mechanical action strips measure wear and tear. Each square contains a set amount of threads to create a level comparison.
The stain and mechanical action strips and mixed in with our testing laundry, consisting of towels, pillowcases, and bedsheets. Our testing loads are always in the same order and placed in the same relative place inside the drum. The first item to go into a top-load washer is a pillowcase and it always goes in the lower quadrant of the drum, so forth and so on.
We do the same thing for the Heavy and Quick cycle but do not include mechanical action strips. Our thinking is that if you want a harsher or faster washer, you should not expect gentle handling.
Each wash is weighed before it is placed in the washer. This practice is done for two reasons: we want to know if a washer is good at spinning out excess water and how much detergent to add. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers approves the detergent we use and it's a formula that only changes once in a blue moon. We also regulate the water that we use. The hot and cold water that we pipe in is monitored by a smart faucet that keeps the temperature 120°F and 60°F respectively, within a 2°F margin of error.
After a cycle is finished, we remove the laundry and weigh it again. Using the before and after weight, we calculate how well a washer can spin out excess water. If a washer does a poor job that can mean it didn't rinse properly and will increase drying times.
The final step is to evaluate the strips. We use a photospectrometer to look at the stain strips. This device can detect minute changes in color. Since we know the color value of a strip without any stains on it, we can determine how much of each stain is lifted. For the mechanical action strips, we count how many threads have come loose. Any thread that can be gently pulled more than two millimeters away from the fabric is counted.
The dryer testing was more straightforward. We placed the wet laundry that the washer produced and placed it into the dryer to see if it could get the test laundry to a usable or wearable state. The results were on a pass or fail basis and determined by hand. The reason we did not use our standardized methods for the dryer was because we decided that a laundry center, which is a single unit, should be able to dry the wet laundry that it produces.
What You Should Know About Laundry Centers
Our feelings about laundry centers
Laundry centers occupy a very niche space. We'd only recommend a laundry center to someone who was looking to save space and can't do without a top loader. It's one of the reasons why we favored the 24-inch-wide Whirlpool over other models–it saved more space while getting more cleaning performance.
The Frigidaire FFLE3900UW is 27 inches wide and 76 inches tall. If you have an extra inch of height to spare, you could stack a full-sized LG WM3270CW and its accompanying dryer. The pair will cost you about a $100 more but will provide superior washing and drying in one third the time. Granted the LG requires an extra two feet to have the door completely open, however, you'd need something similar to get your clothes out of a laundry center.
What we're saying is that laundry centers are great in very confined spaces. If you can fit a stacked full-sized or compact washers, you'll get more for your money.
Setup and Design
It should be noted that laundry centers require a 220V hookup to work–the same as a regular dryer. If you only have a regular 120V plug, there are several compact combo units that can oblige you.
Typically laundry centers are no frill machines. The ones we tested did not have a detergent dispenser, only one had a timer, and none had lights in the dryer.
Other Laundry Centers We Tested
Where To Buy$1,193.00 AppliancesConnection Buy $1,198.00 Home Depot Buy $1,199.99 Best Buy Buy $1,901.49 Walmart Buy
The GE GUD27ESSMWW is designed like a workhouse. The 3.2-cu.-ft. washer contains a corkscrew pole agitator that beats stains out of clothes. At first, we were worried that the GUD27ESSMWW would tear our testing laundry to shreds. However, every wash cycle that this machine has comes in a heavy, normal, or light setting, allowing you to soften the blow whenever you deem fit.
That theme of adjusting as you see fit is throughout this GE. Of all the laundry centers tested, we found the GUD27ESSMWW to be the most customizable. It had five water level and six temperature settings. It also had a Deep Rinse feature for when you want to make sure extra soil and additives, like fabric softener, to get washed away.
The dryer wasn't bad either. It was slow but consistent. For all these positives, the GE didn't claim the top spot. It came down to two reasons: cleaning performance and efficiency. The GUD27ESSMWW did not remove stains as well as the Whirlpool. A pole agitator combined with high water usage is effective against large particulate stains like dirt but less effective against set-in stains like grease. And while the GUD27ESSMWW does cost less per cubic foot, it takes up a lot of room.
The Frigidaire FFLE3900UW proved to be a good washer, removing more stains than the GE GUD27ESSMWW. However, that's only half the equation and the dryer gave us a tad of trouble. It wasn't able to dry laundry to a wearable state consistently. We also did not like the fact that the advertising for this model claims fast washing and drying but did not deliver. The Normal cycle clocked in on average at 88 minutes, much longer than the average top loader. Proper stain removal did not make up for the slow cycle times and weak drying scores.