Clothes dryers should be effective, yet gentle on your wardrobe
In general, buying a dryer is much simpler than buying a washer; they're less complex and there are usually fewer options available. Since the washer is the more difficult decision, consider starting your research in our washing machines report (assuming you need both of these laundry appliances, of course). Several of the top-rated washers we identify there have matching dryers that are also well regarded. We discuss dryer options for all of our Best Reviewed washing machines in this report. However, if you don't need both, or getting a matched set doesn't fit into your budget, experts say that all a clothes dryer really needs to do is dry your clothes, without wearing them out too quickly.
You can get a decent, basic clothes dryer for $500, sometimes even less during sales, or pay more than $1,000. The most basic clothes dryers usually offer a decent enough array of features for most people, while higher-priced models add features such as additional drying cycles, steam options, and more exterior color options.
When it comes to choosing the best clothes dryer, consumers have two choices: gas or electric. Electric clothes dryers, which require a 240-volt wall outlet, are less expensive to buy than comparable gas dryers by anywhere from $50 to $150 on average. However, since gas rates are generally lower than electric rates, gas dryers are much cheaper to operate. ConsumerReports.org notes that over their expected lifetime, the savings in energy costs with a gas dryer will probably make up for the difference in purchase price.
Despite this, EnergyStar.gov says that about 80 percent of clothes dryers sold today are electric. That tracks with our own research and we found far fewer user or professional reviews for gas dryers. Tests show little difference in performance between gas and electric versions of the same dryer -- ConsumerReports.org no longer even tests gas dryers, noting that "…gas versions [of the tested electric dryers] appear in our Ratings because we expect them to perform comparably." In view of that conclusion, we include the corresponding gas dryer (or electric dryer in the gas category) for each model covered in our report.
What are your other laundry room needs?
While this report covers full-sized clothes dryers meant to pair up with a full-sized washing machine, your laundry room may be too small for that combination -- especially if you live in an apartment or condo. If that's your situation, we cover laundry centers -- models that combine a washer and dryer in one unit -- in our report on washer-dryer combos. Also, to press out the last of the wrinkles in your dress clothes, or to just put the finish on your look, check out our reports on steam irons and garment steamers.
Finding the best clothes dryers
We found current and credible professional reviews for all types of clothes dryers at Reviewed.com and ConsumerReports.org, as well as reviews for some individual machines at a few other sites. All of these sources do thorough, well-explained testing, and often come to the same conclusions, ratings-wise, for the same machines.
Owner-written reviews are just as useful for finding the best dryers, especially when it comes to gauging long-term durability and the manufacturer's response to complaints and warranty issues, considerations that aren't measured in professional tests. We found the best user reviews for washers at retailer sites such as HomeDepot.com, BestBuy.com, and Lowes.com. Occasionally, you see some reviews at these sites that originate elsewhere, notably the manufacturers' sites. However, we took the existence of these duplicate reviews into consideration to find those washing machines that score best with owners.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Electric Dryers | Best Gas Dryers | Buying Guide | Our Sources