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What Is a Built-In Washing Machine?

By Judith Smith Sullivan
Updated May 16, 2024
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A built-in washing machine, sometimes called an integrated washing machine, is installed into cabinets in the room in which it is located. It is either a small washer and dryer combination unit, typically installed in the kitchen, or a full-size unit that is built-in to custom cabinetry. A built-in washing machine and dryer combination can fulfill both practical and aesthetic needs.

Washer and dryer combinations are usually installed because of a lack of space. Typically, they are not as convenient as full-size washer and dryers because the load capacity is much smaller. Even so, they are more convenient, and possibly more economical, than using a laundromat or laundry service.

Combination units generally use electric power and do not require the vent of a traditional dryer. The drying unit pushes warm air into the laundry chamber and pulls it out again as it becomes moist. The moisture in the air condenses and drains through a water line. A built-in washing machine and dryer can be installed in any area with electric and plumbing outlets.

Much like a dishwasher or wine cabinet, a built-in washing machine is often placed in the kitchen under the countertop. Usually, it matches the color and finish of the other appliances. It is not easy to remove, however, and is considered a permanent fixture.

A full-size built-in washing machine and dryer are usually installed in a laundry room. Due to their size, they require a great deal of space. They must have hot and cold water outlets as well as a vent to the outside for the dryer. All the features of a traditional washer and dryer are included, but the machines are covered by cabinetry that coordinates with the room to display a streamlined design.

The advantages of integrating a washing machine are purely aesthetic. It is attractive and hides the appliances from view. Performing maintance tasks on built-in washing machines, however, is difficult because they are completely covered. Also, cabinets large enough to contain a washer or dryer are not readily available and usually must be custom built. This makes integrating a washing machine very expensive.

One advantage is that it is possible to create counter space on top of the units. If both the washer and the dryer are front loading, counter space is created on top of the washing machine unit. The counter can be used for folding and sorting laundry as well as storing detergents and other washing accessories.

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