With apologies to Don Henley, no one loves dirty laundry, but we can hate it a little less thanks to the combi washer/dryer units just hitting the market.

Combining the washer and dryer was an elusive target, until now

By Andy Kriege, YSN

The washing machine is said to be one of the greatest inventions of all time, especially in relation to the household appliance industry. The automatic clothes dryer ranks up there as well, as it too took laundry a quantum leap forward.

That said, very little has changed in laundry technology over the last 50 years or so. But, spoiler alert, big changes are coming fast.

Back in the Day

Grandma’s traditional day for laundry was Monday. She called it “laundry day” because it took all day to knock out a week’s worth of wash.

In my grandmother’s day, laundry was a full-blown chore. Their farm didn’t get electricity until 1945, so for years grandma was among those who did the laundry on the front porch with a gasoline-powered washer. She then had to put her bloomers out on the line and leave the drying process to the Iowa breeze (which became the Iowa freeze in winter).

Household laundry has come a long way since grandma’s wringer washer and clothesline. But while both the washer and dryer have seen incremental improvements over the decades, it wasn’t until recently that a truly practical combination unit (the Holy Grail of laundry proficiency) was ready for the masses. 

Dialing the Right Combination

This Philco ad for a late 1950s gas model touts a 58-minute cycle for washing and drying a full load. “Put your clothes in dirty and take them out bright, clean and dry, all done,” was the dubious claim, and Philo pulled the product within a few years.

Combination washer/dryer units have been around in some form or another for decades, most notably in Europe where they have long been the only viable option for people housed in cramped quarters. 

Combo units have not sold well historically due to a host of shortcomings. Among the issues were long dry times and a very limited load capacity. In addition, they were inefficient energy pigs.

Putting these notable limitations aside, the combo pioneers were on to something. There were some real benefits to marrying the washer and dryer into one unit. Aside from the compact footprint, these units eliminated the need to transfer clothes between the machines, and the ventless construction made them easy to install virtually anywhere. 

The Revolution is Here

Combo units are now poised to take off thanks to new technology that has addressed the problems of dry time, capacity and efficency. The GE Profile UltraFast Combo is leading the charge in bringing an affordable and practical combination unit to the mass market.

According to Peter Pepe, VP of cloths care at GE Appliances (GEA), the UltraFast Combo unit has conquered just about every pain point associated with prior attempts at melding laundry pairs. “Laundry is a chore; our goal was to solve the big problems without creating new ones,” he said. “We wanted to be able to do a full-size load in two hours or less without having to do the transfer, and we have achieved those goals.” 

GEA’s Peter Pepe presented the all-new GE Profile UltraFast Combo unit at last August’s BrandSource Convention. The product has created a revolution in laundry evolution.

Pepe said the washer side of the equation was easy, as the technology was already in place. “The biggest challenge was getting the clothes to dry quickly and efficiently,” he noted. The machine uses a ventless heat pump and a high air-flow drying system that makes it one of the most energy efficient machines on the market. The ventless technology and 120-volt plug also allow for installation just about anywhere, whichadds to the convenience factor.

 “Americans like their capacity, so we gave them capacity without charging them time,” Pepe continued. “We tried to focus not just on the pain point of transferring laundry but on the entire process. We leveraged technology to deliver a better laundry experience and arrived at a fantastic product that is resonating well with consumers. I believe we now have a mainstream product.”

The Laundry Quandary is Over

Conclusion: After living together side by side for years, it was high time that the venerable washer and dryer got hitched and pooled their assets. If the early returns are accurate, the new unified appliance looks to indeed be greater than sum of the parts.

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