If you’ve been on the hunt for a washer and dryer, you probably know there’s a bit of a capacity race going on. Manufacturers want to give you the most cubic feet inside so you can cram as many pounds of clothes in there as possible. But lots of people don’t have room for cavernous appliances, and that’s where the compact machines come in.
Electrolux boasts that its little Compact Washer with IQ-Touch Controls featuring Perfect Steam has the most capacity for the style. But is it a mighty mite or just puny?
There’s no getting around the fact that Electrolux’s Compact Washer is a little nugget. At 33.5 inches high, 24 inches wide, and 25 inches deep, it’s dwarfed by standard size machines. It’s boxy in appearance, especially without an accompanying pedestal to raise it a little higher off the ground.
Inside is a stainless steel drum; blue baffles offer a nice little unexpected pop of color. The detergent drawer has three compartments, one for main wash, one for prewash, and a third with compartments for fabric softener and bleach. Located at the very back of the main wash compartment is a tab you flip down for liquid detergent and up for powder. Even with my freakishly small hands, it was a little hard to maneuver back there.
The LED display glows white, and there are lots of “IQ-Touch” buttons on the control panel. When a load is running, the start button and selected cycle light up purplish white, which is sort of pretty. (IQ-Touch is Electrolux’s name for its “always on” buttons, while its “Wave Touch” control panel turns off for a sleeker look when not in use.)
With 14 cycles, this compact washer rivals the capabilities of some of its bigger brethren. There are 18 IQ-Touch buttons, including ones for normal, delicates, sanitize, and heavy duty, which will likely to be among your most-used cycles. The buttons are pretty responsive, though I did have to sometimes punch a little more vigorously if my chosen cycle didn’t light up.
For those that want to go beyond the set-it-and-forget-it normal cycle there are lots of ways to customize.
For those that want to go beyond the set-it-and-forget-it normal cycle, there are lots of ways to customize. Hitting the temperature button lets you choose from eco-cold to cold to warm to hot, and you can go from no spin to max and set a soil level from extra light to extra heavy. Included in the instruction manual is a chart of what options work with all the cycles; you can’t have max spin if you’re washing delicates, for example. It’s supposed to keep you from messing up your clothes, but there are a lot of options.
The display is pretty well laid out, though I didn’t know what one of the rounded rectangles labeled “medium” was until I hit the soil-level button. Everything else was pretty intuitive. You’ll also see how much time a cycle will take as you add on different options. There’s a My Favorites button that automatically selects the three cycles you choose the most, but it seems superfluous. Sure, you might prefer your delicates to get washed in cold water with low spin, but it doesn’t take that much longer to punch those specifications in.
Fog of wear
In addition to its bundle of buttons, Electrolux added a few features that set its machine apart from other compact washers. You won’t find the sanitize feature — which heats the water up hot enough to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria and allergens — on many of these small appliances. There’s also a steam option to let you remove odors from dry clothes or boost a cycle’s stain removal powers. In addition to a special cycle for jeans, there’s also one just for wool. It finishes with a cold rinse to help sweaters keep their shape.
One feature that was missing was a drum light. Its absence wasn’t even noticeable when washing during the day, but I was switching out a load at dusk and nearly left a t-shirt behind, thanks to the shadowy interior of the washer.
Will it fit?
Although most Americans are used to bigger machines (some have twice the capacity of the Compact Washer), Electrolux’s appliance was still able to handle decently sized loads. I threw in 11 shirts (a mix of t-shirts, button downs, and blouses), two pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, a towel, and some miscellaneous items, including socks and hand towels, and it wasn’t overstuffed. Two sets of full-sized sheets also fit comfortably in the drum. The cleaning performance was impressive, and the ability to so specifically pick spin speed and temperature made a real difference with its gentleness on fabrics.
Another thing that really impressed me was the washer’s punctuality: It was done exactly when the displayed time promised. It’s not lightning fast, though. The normal wash is 49 minutes, sanitizing takes an hour and 42 minutes, and whites take 50. However, the fast wash is done in 22 minutes.
As can happen with front-load machines, the washer did develop a smell after a few weeks. There were times I found the door closed after a staffer had used it, which definitely contributes to the problem. The Electrolux has a special machine-cleaning cycle that’s supposed to help with the smell, but I didn’t really notice a difference after running it. Leaving the door open for a few days helped the odor dissipate, though.
The DT Accessory Pack
Electrolux offers a limited warranty that includes three-year coverage on parts and one year on labor.
The Electrolux Compact Washer is small but substantial. There are a lot of features in a little package that can fit almost anywhere you have a water supply. Electrolux says its 2.4-cubic-foot interior is the biggest in the market when it comes to compact washers, and while I couldn’t fit in two-weeks’ worth of clothes, it wasn’t as though I was washing a tea towel at a time.
Cleaning performance was solid, and the appliance offers a lot of ways to customize how you do your laundry. The steam and sanitize features aren’t something you’ll find on every full-size machine, either, so if you’re in the market for something small, somewhat expensive (it’s $899 at Home Depot), and full of features, Electrolux’s Compact Washer is a good choice.