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A washer and dryer go together like milk and cookies, bread and butter, shirts and shorts. When you're ready to replace older machines or add new laundry appliances to your abode, it can be agitating work to figure out the best washer-dryer combo to choose. Here are the key points to consider when making your buying decision.

Top-Load Washers or Front-Loaders: Which Is Right for You?

First, decide whether you want a front-load washer or a top-load washer. Some top-loaders have an agitator column in the middle, which helps cycle clothing within the wash drum. Those without an agitator are known as high-efficiency (HE) washers, which use different methods to shake things up while being gentler on delicates, among other advantages. Top-load machines cost less than front-loaders and tend to take less time to complete a cycle than their front-oriented counterparts.

Have a sore back? It can be easier to load clothes into a top-oriented washer, since you don't have to bend down. Front-loaders have been shown to clean better, use less water and energy, and spin faster, eliminating more water from the washer and cutting down on drying time. (The wetter your clothes are after the wash cycle, the harder your dryer needs to work.)

To give your front-loader a leg up, add a pedestal. This makes it easier to load clothes and most come with a drawer to store laundry room essentials.

Washer and Dryer Capacity: How Big a Machine Do I Need?

The size of your washer and dryer has many effects on your home, from water and power consumption to the types of items you can fit inside and how many loads you'll need to do for the same amount of clothing.

Start with the washer when choosing capacity. Compact to medium washers range from around 1.7 to 2.5 cubic feet, while large washers go up another 0.5 cubic feet. Extra-large machines are 3.1 cubic feet or greater. Smaller capacities work best for individuals and low-maintenance couples, while families and those who do several loads per day could benefit from extra-large-capacity washers.

Once you have chosen your washer, look for a dryer with about double the cubic foot capacity. When drying, this allows your clothes to expand back to their usual size. Don't forget to keep in mind the size of the space where you plan on placing your new top-load or front-load washer and dryer. A large-capacity washer and dryer take up about two to three more inches in width than the standard 27-inch machines. Also, give yourself six inches behind the washer for hose installation and one inch between your washer and dryer combo for optimal operation. Don't forget to measure your space before you buy.

Automatic Dispensers, Wrinkle Reduction and Other Special Laundry Features

Finally, the fun part: the features that make your washer and dryer the dynamic duo of laundry appliances.

Automatic dispensers release detergent, bleach, fabric softener and other laundry additives to the load at the proper point during the wash cycle, even retaining enough detergent to last up to a couple of months. If you're concerned about excessive noise, vibration reduction technology is a gift from the heavens, especially for high-spin machines placed on wood floors and other "echoey" or easy-to-scuff surfaces.

Wanna skip the ironing board? A brief cycle that refreshes clothes and releases wrinkles without the need for a full wash and dry is something to look for in your dryer, as is an option that tumbles clothes for a certain time period after the drying cycle ends in order to keep wrinkles from setting.

Finally, though there are many great features to explore depending on your needs, automatic temperature controls are a great convenience. They use interior sensors to monitor the temperature needs of a certain load, and the result is a practically perfect wash or dry.

To learn more about the convenient highlights of any particular washer or dryer, see the "Key Features" sections on any of The Brick's product pages.

Whether you're looking for a top-load or front-load machine, the right washer-dryer combo will make your life easier and your clothes more fresh and fabulous. Your laundry room will deliver not only clean pieces of clothing, but peace of mind.