The One Feature of the Kenmore Elite Smart Washer and Dryer That Will Change How You Do Laundry

Smart Washer on the left, Smart Dryer on the right (Image: Kenmore)

When Kenmore offered to send me a smart washer and dryer to try out, I was skeptical, deeply skeptical. I believe my comment around the GeekDad watercooler went something like: “I need this because the washer and dryer were the last appliances in my house that I couldn’t yell at for being offline.”

And yet, a month later, I couldn’t imagine laundry day without the internet-connected pair. I’d go so far as to say it’s changed the way we do laundry in my house.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s first take a closer look at these two bastions of app-empowered cleanliness.

The Hardware

Kenmore sent over their Kenmore Elite Smart Washer and Kenmore Elite Smart Dryer in silver and chrome. I didn’t realize it was possible to be impressed by the finish of a washer/dryer until I saw these. With their blue LEDs and rounded corners, they’ll fit nicely into any modern decor. For me, they fit nicely into my garage… ah, the joys of having a home that’s a couple of decades old.

I was almost worried that they wouldn’t fit into the space that my old LG pair fit into. These are some seriously beefy units. The washer has a 5.2 cu. ft. capacity, which means it can devour an entire set of sheets as well as a comforter. There’s room enough that I don’t have to worry about everything being mashed together in oversized loads, with only the outside of the mass getting clean.

Both the washer and dryer are steam-enabled. Great for getting out wrinkles in the dryer and amazing for getting out stains without having to rely on spray detergents. I threw a new shirt in with my wife’s sweaters the other day and everything came out a nice shade of purple (oops). Tossing the sweater back in immediately and using the Steam Treat option was all I needed to reverse my mistake.

Both also have a ridiculous number of cycles and treatment options. In addition to your usual normal, heavy, delicate cycles, there’s one just for denim, one for workout clothes, one for kids’ clothes, and over a dozen more that are accessible via the app (more on that in a bit). I worked through as many of them as I could, but in a month of laundry, I still only touched on a handful (there’s a chart in the User’s Manual–I’d recommend getting acquainted with it).

The washer is equipped with Accela Wash, which powers through a normal load of laundry in 30 minutes or less. I figured that would equate to clothes that were a little less clean, but the opposite is true. I don’t think my clothes have been this clean in over a year. For example, my wife and I workout almost every day. It generates a lot of funky-smelling clothes. Our old washer would get things clean enough, but there would still be some residual odor. We put up with it, because, well, they’re workout clothes, we’re immediately funking them up again. But the new Smart Washer on the Workout Wear setting absolutely destroyed the funk. They come out of the dryer smelling… well, like nothing, which is exactly how we like our clothes to smell (random allergies make scented detergent verboten in our house). Funny how it takes a new washer to show you how awful the old one was!

The Smart Dryer is a little less flashy, because, after all, as long as things are dry at the end of the day, what more do you need from a dryer? I will say that the dual sensors of the unit ensure that our clothes come out perfectly dry every time (though for overly-bulky things like comforters, you’ll likely still need to do a touch-up cycle). Things don’t come out of the dryer rocket hot or feeling “just a little damp.” The 9 cu. ft. capacity ensures that there’s more than enough room to shove practically anything in there to freshen it up. I really like using the Steam Refresh cycle on things like comforters that don’t necessarily get super dirty but could use a bit of TLC once in a while. Also, this is a weird thing to love, but the lint trap is fantastic! It’s like a hinged lint-catching envelope and it is more effective than anything I’ve seen on any dryer I’ve ever owned.

While the dryer doesn’t quite keep up with the Accela Wash cycles, it is impressively speedy at drying. I was able to burn through a normal week of laundry, which would usually take all Sunday, in a couple of hours.

Part of the credit, though, has to go to the app.

The Software

If the Smart Washer and Dryer were less smart, they’d still be recommendation-worthy appliances. But the Kenmore app pushes them to the next level.

Just the tip of the laundry app iceberg (Image: Anthony Karcz)

Once you hook them up to your Wi-Fi (which takes a little bit of time, you’ve got to be patient on the initial Wi-Fi discovery and connection), the Kenmore Elite duo will communicate with the iOS or Android app on your smartphone. From here, once you’ve enabled the Remote Start option, you have access to a whole host of additional features.

You can schedule your washer or dryer to start or end at a certain time (but only within 24 hours, no setting up your sheets to be done when you get back in a week from vacation). You can choose from additional My Cycle options such as Small Load, Single Garment, and New Clothes. You can even set things like Wrinkle Free if you’re running late (and the dryer is still running, the units have to be powered on to take remote commands). If you don’t care about when your laundry is done, but want to make sure you spend the least amount of money possible per load, you can set your washer and dryer so that they activate when energy rates are lowest.

That One Thing…

But my favorite, and most used, feature of the app is the alerts. The Smart Washer and Dryer will let you know how much time is remaining in a cycle when you view their status in the app (though sometimes it’s reluctant to update, the app could use a bit of additional polish). But they’ll also ping you when your laundry is done! Like I said earlier, my “laundry room” is also my garage, so I frequently miss the ding when I’m on the other side of the house. Since I’m never away from my iPhone notifications, I always know the second I can drop my clothes in the dryer or start a new load in the washer. That, coupled with the Accela Wash feature, has sped up laundry day exponentially.

Final Thoughts

I tend to give a solid side-eye anytime a company takes something traditionally not-smart and turns it into an internet-connected device. For many things, that extra connectedness doesn’t do much more than drive up the price and provide an unprotected access point to your home network. However, with the Kenmore Elite Smart Washer and Dryer, that connectedness turns already top-of-the-line appliances into can’t-live-without appliances. After spending a month with the washer and dryer, I can’t imagine using a non-connected pair. It allows you to shift the schedule on laundry, something that you’re usually completely unable to manage without being home. Plus it gets my family’s clothes cleaner than they’ve ever been.

Now if only Kenmore could come out with a robot that would transfer the clothes to the dryer and fold them for me when they’re done, I’d have even fewer laundry worries.

You can pick up the Kenmore Elite Smart Washer and Dryer for $999 each on Amazon.

Thanks to Kenmore for providing units for review. Opinions are my own.

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