Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer Review

A space saver but lacks the efficiency of standalone devices

Verdict

If you're stuck for space and need a dryer alongside a washing machine, the Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer is a good option. It washes well, spins well and dries effectively, although the latter lacks the accuracy we'd like. As with all washer dryers, this product is more resource heavy than standalone products, so isn't as frugal to run as either a stand-alone washer or tumble dryer.

Pros

  • Good wash results
  • Good spin results
  • Solid drying abilities
  • Decent load capacity
  • Quieter than expected
  • FreshCare+ works well

Cons

  • Not very logical to use
  • Confusing icon graphics
  • Drying accuracy a little damp
  • Long, long run-times
  • Typically high running costs

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £649.00
  • 11kg wash capacity
  • 7kg dry capacity
  • A-class energy rating
  • 1600rpm spin speed
  • 17 programmes
  • Wash to Dry option
  • FreshCare+
  • 2-year warranty

What is the Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer?

Perfect for a larger family and households short on space, the Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ washer dryer has a huge 11kg wash load capacity and 7kg for drying. It offers a 17-strong programme list, A-rated energy efficiency and a Wash & Dry programme that aims to take 1kg of clothes from dirty to ready to wear in one hour.

Wash, spin and drying results are all great for a washer dryer, even if they don’t match the performance levels or low running costs of standalone appliances. This machine is far from easy to use, but if you must have a washer dryer and can fathom its logic, the FWDD117168W is a solid choice.

Related: Best washing machine

Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare Washer Dryer – What is it like to use?

If you don’t have space for both a washing machine and tumble dryer, Whirlpool’s FWDD117168W aims to bring you the best of both worlds in a single appliance. There are many such appliances on the market, but few offer Whirlpool’s epic 11kg wash load; fewer still combine that with the ability to dry 7kg of clothing too.

Add to this a 1600 spin speed, a good range of programmes and Whirlpool’s innovative FreshCare+ to keep your clothes fresh when the cycle has ended (assuming you can’t take them out immediately) and you have a whole lot of features for a single appliance. Given all that, its £649 asking price doesn’t look too bad either.

The chunky, rounded cosmetics are straightforward enough with door handles, soap drawer, pump filter and solid-feeling rotary controller knob all found in the traditional places. The door opens to reveal a good-sized if not cavernous porthole and drum. Given that this machine has to have all the drying gubbins in there as well, the drum is a little cramped and chance of getting 11kg of real-world cotton clothing in there is negligible. While the 11kg wash claim might be ambitious, the 7kg drying capacity ties up well with half-load washes.

The controller knob forgoes proper written programme names in favour of, frankly, baffling icons. Thankfully, the programme name does come up in the display as it’s selected. The display itself is white on a back-lit blue background; it’s nothing like the crisp white on black background shown on Whirlpool’s website. It isn’t the most premium-looking display, plus the viewing angle changes both the colour and contrast markedly as you approach. Buttons around the outside of the display select the options, although are again graphic icons rather than text.

The icon lineup includes what looks like a laboratory flask on the controller and five rows of dots – like a Star Trek warp-speed control on the options buttons. Any ideas? Same here. For the record, the flask is Synthetics and the warp is Intensive Rinse.

Don’t put the manual away yet, though: if you want to venture into drying or wash-dry combinations, the setup is far from intuitive. If, for example, you want to access drying only (perhaps you did the wash and then didn’t have time to hang it out), you have to select a wash programme, add drying and then use the cancel wash option. Confusingly, even then wash symbols remain illuminated on the display and the main wash logo flashes as the machine senses the load.

The combination of baffling icons, lots of features and some seriously strange logic make the Whirlpool far from easy to use.

Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer – What programmes does it have?

Normally a squint at the controller knob picture would give you almost all you need to know about a machine’s programmes. Not so here with the array of funky icons. From the top heading clockwise you have Mixed, Cotton, Synthetics, Jeans, Delicates, Wool (hey, we guessed that one), Eco Cotton and Whites, with a Spin & Drain option at the bottom. Only the Cotton and White programmes will take the full 11kg; the rest are half that or 1kg for Delicates.

Continuing round, the “warp into a spiral black hole” icon is Rinse & Spin. The Sports programme caters for 4.5kg of lightly soiled sportswear. That seems incongruous as surely sports clothing is highly likely to be heavily soiled with mud or sweat? The Duvet option caters for down-filled bedding and garments such as puffer jackets. The Rapid 30 programme is a half-hour wash for a 4kg lightly soiled load, and the Colours 15 cycle is a cold wash to keep that cerise shirt vibrant.

To wash then dry automatically, there are two dedicated programmes catering for a 1kg load in 45 minutes and a 2kg load in 90 minutes. However, you can add a drying option to the end of every programme save Duvet and Rapid 15 by pressing the “sun” symbol options button. This adds a drying cycle with four levels of drying to choose from: iron, laundry, cupboard and extra dry; there’s a timed-dry option, too.

Obviously, doing a combined cycle brings down the maximum capacity you can wash to 7kg or less depending on the cycle, but it’s rare to have drying available across so many wash programmes. These combined programmes aren’t quick, though. Well over 4 hours is the norm across most programmes, with the Cotton Eco 60 + Cupboard Dry breaking duration records here at the Trusted Reviews test centre with a spectacular 9hrs and 20mins.

Other options on buttons around the display include a T-shirt with an anticlockwise arrow, which is Whirlpool’s FreshCare+. Assuming you can’t remove your washing from the drum immediately after the wash is finished, the system uses a series of gentle drum movements alternated with steam jets at regular intervals to circulate the air in the drum. This, says Whirlpool, creates the perfect level of humidity to keep your garments fresh for up to 6 hours while they wait to be unloaded.

The warp icon is intensive rinse, the Usain Bolt symbol is rapid wash to reduce run-times by up to 50%, and the clock with the clockwise arrow is a delay start timer. The spiral black hole symbol is spin speed, the giant “C” adjusts wash temperature, and the builder’s bucket with debris in and line through cancels the wash part of a wash + dry programme set up to achieve a dry-only cycle. The key is a child lock… Okay, we got that one without the manual.

Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer – How noisy is it?

The Whirlpool’s energy label would have us believe the noise is 54dB for wash, 63dB for drying and 83dB for spin. Compared to many modern machines that would be a bit noisy, noisy and loud respectively. Thankfully, the real-world results are nothing like those figures; the FWDD117168W is much quieter.

The wash generally sloshed along at around 50dB with the double-skinned door – typical of washer dryers – helping sound insulation. At the very end of the spin phase, when the machine had worked up to the full 1600rpm, we measured a respectable 78db. This isn’t super-quiet, but it’s certainly nothing like 83dB, which is nearer what we’d expect from a large vacuum cleaner.

Most impressive was drying, with the general noise burbling along at a very hushed 46-47dB. Those numbers are way off the energy label’s maximum figures, but we like to give you an average of what you’ll hear throughout the cycle, not simply the loudest noise measured. That might just be valve opening or programmer relay click, which only happens briefly.

The upshot is that this Whirlpool is reasonably quiet, despite what the energy label tells us.

Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer – How well does it wash?

Our first test is a full-load Cotton programme at 40ºC with a test stain strip featuring 24-hour dried-on blood, coffee, turmeric, ketchup, cranberry and engine oil. For real-world cotton washing, we use 80% of claimed maximum capacity and a mix of T-shirts, shirts, blouses, tea towels, bed linen and hand towels. For the Whirlpool that would be a mountainous 8.8kg pile of washing.

It wasn’t a great surprise that this lot didn’t fit into the drum. To get the door closed without it being pushed back open, we had to reduce the load to 7.2kg. That would be our usual maximum capacity for a 9-10kg machine, suggesting Whirlpool’s claimed 11kg is a little on the ambitious side. Although, 7.2kg of washing is still a huge load.

The display indicated the programme would take over four hours, but after a little measurement, thanks to Whirlpool’s 6th Sense technology, the wash actually took around 3hrs 10mins. Still not sharpish for a standard Cotton wash, but nothing like as lengthy as many machine’s Eco Cotton cycles.

The stain results were good, if interesting. The easier blood, coffee, ketchup and cranberry had all been removed completely, without so much as a shadow stain left behind. That’s a great result. With that sort of result, we’d have expected the trickier turmeric and impossible engine oil to be significantly faded, but they weren’t. Both stains were clearly visible after the fact and very bold with it.

We retried the test a few times with similar results and debate ensued across the team. On one hand, the turmeric and engine oil stains were relatively poorly addressed, so does this mean the machine isn’t great at stains? The regular stains were very well cleaned, so does this suggest exactly the opposite? The conclusion was pragmatic in that Frankie pointed out that she had never had the need to clean either turmeric or engine oil from clothes, but her other half (a cab driver) could throw ketchup down his T-shirts daily.

Of course, if you did have those tougher stains, a stain agent and bio powder would make far more of an impact. Overall, then, we concluded very good wash results, especially for a washer dryer.

The very same could be said of its spin-dry performance. Full loads regularly hung on to only 34% of extra water weight after a 1600 spin, with half-load around 30%. Those figures would be respectably good for a washing machine but are outstanding for a washer dryer as they traditionally have a more compromised drum design for spinning. A great spin dryer, too, then.

Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer – How well does it dry?

Bringing the load down to 7kg of wet cotton clothing saw the Whirlpool’s drying abilities shine. Like most washer dryers, the drying function is neither quick nor very energy-efficient compared to freestanding units, but it was effective and fairly accurate.

Due to the way the machine does a dry-only cycle (creating a Wash + Dry programme then cancelling the wash – go figure), it’s difficult to determine the length the dry-only cycle should take as the display still suggests a total run-time until some way into the dry phase. Thankfully, our 7kg test load wasn’t anything like the 4 hrs 10mins the machine stated for Cotton 40 Wash + Dry; with the machine declaring the load was cupboard dry after just shy of 1hr 40mins.

The moisture retention was heading towards 3% above pure dry weight and we’d actually class that as iron dry. Several runs later with differing load sizes showed the Whirlpool was very predictable in its results and invariably delivered clothes just a little damper than what you might expect. That is easy to navigate as you simply select the next highest drying level, made even simpler with four options from which to choose. Pretty good drying as well then.

Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer – How much will it cost to run?

Good wash, spin and drying results in a single appliance are all well and good, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The Whirlpool’s cycle times and water use are on the lengthy and thirsty side of average and the energy figures are rather painful, particularly if you go anywhere near the drying options.

When the majority of washers we test are A+ or better, seeing an A-rating and around 1.5kW of energy use for a full-load cotton wash is a little eye-opening. That’s around 23p compared to a more usual 17-18p per wash, but the difference will add up over a year. Water use is a little above similar-sized, low-cost washers at around 85-90 litres per full load. For comparison, A++ machines would drop that to around 60 litres. Thanks to Whirlpool’s 6th Sense however, those energy and water figures do reduce with load size, so half-loads are an okay option here.

Hold onto your wallets, though, because the drying costs look very painful compared to a modern heat-pump dryer. A full 7kg load to Cupboard dry (set to Extra dry) was approaching 3kWh (45p), although a more manageable 4.2kg load rolled in at 1.8kWh. That’s close to double the running cost of a heat-pump machine, but you could easily pay the Whirlpool’s asking price for just such a dryer alone.

Most of the wash to dry programmes simply added the two energy use figures together into one rather expensive whole. Yet the two dedicated small-load wash to dry programmes didn’t look so bad. A 2kg load on the Wash + Dry 90’ cycle used 45 litres of water and around 1.5kW of electricity.

Annual running costs are going to be a variable feast, and for best results make sure you have a clothes line handy for all but emergency drying sessions.

If you did 200 full loads and 40 half-load Cotton 40 washes per year, it would use around 340kWh and a significant 20,000 litres of water. At 15p/kWh and £3.50 per cubic metre water and waste, that would be a running cost approaching £120 per year. That’s pretty high by modern washing machine standards; and only a low average against A-rated washers.

If you added a Cupboard Dry dry to those 40 half loads (which would be about 7kg wet or the max load for the dryer) it would add a further 120kWh or around £20 to your annual running costs. If you dried every load (halving the full-load washes to dry), it would then add around 1200kWh or £180 per year. So, your total 240 loads wash to dry would set you back well over £300 a year. Ouch.

Related: Best tumble dryer

Should I buy the Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ Washer Dryer?

If you really need a dryer as well as a washing machine and are stuck for space, Whirlpool’s FreshCare+ washer dryer is a good option. It washes well, spins well and dries effectively – but not as accurately as we’d have liked. Like all washer dryers, you have to throw a lot more resources at them, so it isn’t as frugal to run as either a stand-alone washer or tumble dryer.

Our major caveat comes with its complex and logically challenged operation. It really is confusing, and even following several weeks of use we still hadn’t really fathomed the nuances of its peculiar operational logic. Simply getting the machine to dry involves setting a wash programme, adding a drying option and then cancelling the wash phase; plus the reliance on graphic icons alone doesn’t help matters one bit.

The Whirlpool FWDD117168W FreshCare+ is a solid option if you need a washer dryer, but don’t expect the finesse or frugal running costs of Whirlpool’s better stand-alone washing machines or tumble dryers.

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