Best Washing Machines for Apartments 2011
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Best Washing Machines for Apartments 2011

Find the best small washing machine for your apartment. Compare capacities, features and price.

Apartment dwellers have one thing on their minds when purchasing a new appliance: Will it fit?

Sure, you'll want to consider price, durability, warranty, noise level and other important factors, but if your brand-new, top-of-the-line washing machine is too big for the laundry nook in your cramped place, it's no good to you. Here's a look at some of the smallest and most efficient new washers on the market - some of which are designed with small apartments in mind.

Portable washing machines

The Haier Portable Washing Machine can be stored in a closet, then wheeled out and hooked up to your sink when you need to run a load of laundry. At 17.25 inches long, 17.59 inches wide and 29.88 inches high, it features a 6.6-pound load capacity and four different cycles.

The Summit Portable Washing Machine is 21.5 inches wide and boasts a larger load capacity of 11 pounds. However, it retails for more than twice the price of the Haier.

Taking portable to the extreme, the Wonder Washer (as seen on TV!) is just a little bigger than a large blender. It doesn't have hookups to a water source; you have to fill the basket yourself from a sink or tub faucet. Likewise, you have to empty it when the cycle is done, which can be unwieldy with the weight of the water plus your clothes. Then, you'll still have to rinse and wring out your garments by hand. Its capacity is only big enough for a day's worth of clothes for one person, and large, bulky items such as towels, sheets or jeans aren't recommended. The price is in line with similar-sized small appliances.

Don't confuse the Wonder Washer with the Wonder Wash, which has just as small a load capacity but doesn't use electricity! Simply put your dirty clothes in its plastic tub, add water and detergent, close the lid and turn the crank. It doesn't get any greener than that.

Compact washing machines

Most manufacturers offer compact versions of their full-size washers to meet the demands of the apartment and condo market. For example, LG makes a model with a 22-pound load capacity in a 24-inch cabinet. Prices are in the same general range as full-size models.

Stackable washers and dryers

Frigidaire's Energy Star-certified laundry center, with a 27-inch-wide washer on the bottom and dryer on top, gets good reviews from consumers. Be advised that you'll need the ability to vent the dryer. Expect to pay about the same as you would for two separate appliances.

GE makes a Spacemaker stacked pair that's only 24 inches wide, but you sacrifice some load capacity.

Washer/Dryer combos

The ultimate space-saving laundry device is the washer/dryer combo, an innovation that has yet to catch on because of its high price tag and ultra-long cycle time (up to 6 hours). It's an option for those who don't have the means of venting a traditional dryer, but its drawbacks include less-than-stellar dryer performance.

Do be sure to check your rental agreement before you shop for any type of washing machine to make sure your lease allows one, particularly if your water fees are paid by your landlord.

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