How a European Washer & Dryer Work

European Washers and Dryers

European washers and dryers are generally made to conform to one primary problem: lack of space. The houses and apartments in Europe are often both older and closer together than those built in the United States (other countries such as Japan also have similar problems). This lack of space leads to smaller living quarters, which in turn leads to less space for large appliances such as washers and dryers. For this reason, European washers and dryers tend to be smaller than American versions, often coming as two parts of one appliance, and can only handle smaller loads. They are also designed with a greater focus on energy-efficiency and smooth operation.

There is also a difference as to the electrical current required by European washers and dryers, which is usually the 220-volt standard required by European appliances, along with the power adapters that work with European outlets. Additional adapters are needed to make such units function in America.

Cleaning Process

In process, there are also several key differences between European and American washer and dryer set-ups. European washers tend to heat their own water, while American washers bring in heated or cold water from the house's heating system. Being smaller, European washers can only handle around 9 to 13 pounds of clothes and are almost always front-loading, while American washers can often handle up to 22 pounds and come in many different designs.

The wash cycle and dry cycle of European appliances will also be longer than the American versions, since they have less space to do the same job and must take time to properly wash clothes, sometimes as long as two hours. A longer cycle also means that European models use more electricity but less water, although these differences are fading with the development of energy-efficient models.

The actual washing process also tends to differ. European washers tend to clean using friction or heat rather than the agitation methods preferred in American models, and roll in one direction while American models turn on multiple axis.


When it comes to dryers, the primary difference is in how long it takes clothes to dry. American models can again hold larger loads, but European models hold small loads and can take time to dry, which may at times hamper wrinkle control. However, European dryers can also be more flexible in terms of placement, and some use unique condensation methods for controlling vented air, so they do not require a vent leading outdoors.