Gas or electric, plus
new dryer features
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 pieces, of course). In addition, we cover laundry
centers -- models that combine a washer and dryer in one unit -- in our report
on washer-dryer combos.
The most basic clothes dryers cost between $400 and $700.
Higher-priced dryers add features such as additional drying cycles or
stainless-steel drums. Stainless-steel drums can be less prone to rust than
porcelain or painted metal drums (which are found in basic dryers), but there
appears to be little difference between the two in actual drying performance.
Experts also offer the
following advice about choosing a dryer:
- Skip the matching washer. Aesthetics
is the only reason to choose a dryer that matches your washer. In fact, experts
say you may be better off buying an inexpensive dryer and investing the savings
in a better washing machine, because washers vary more in terms of features and
- Look for a moisture sensor. This
feature senses when the clothes are dry and shuts the dryer off automatically.
In addition to saving energy, moisture sensors reduce the
risk of overdrying, which can damage clothing. Most
clothes dryers include a moisture sensor, but some inexpensive models lack the
- Consider a drying rack. Many
owners say they love this extra, which keeps items from tumbling while the
dryer runs. Although the most commonly cited use is for drying sneakers, a rack
can also be used to protect bras and other delicates from damage.
- Think about your laundry-room setup. Measure the space to figure out how large a dryer you can
accommodate. Many dryers can be stacked with a front-loading washer to save
space, but you'll need to buy a stacking kit. Make sure you know where your
dryer vent port is and whether you'll be able to access it. If your laundry
room is close to living areas such as the kitchen or bedrooms, look for a quiet
- Check the power requirements. Electric
dryers generally require a dedicated 240-volt electrical outlet. Gas dryers
typically use a 120-volt outlet, as well as a gas hookup. Be sure to check the
manufacturer's specifications, and verify that you have the necessary outlets
and wiring in your home.
- Keep safety in mind. The
Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that lint trapped in dryer ducts can
lead to home fires. To avoid problems, experts suggest simple precautions.
Remove debris from your dryer's lint filter after every use. (If you use dryer sheets, you
should also scrub the filter monthly to remove buildup.) Inspect the dryer vent
and exhaust system regularly, and clean out any trapped lint. Experts recommend
using rigid metal ducts for dryers rather than the flexible foil or plastic
kind, which trap lint more easily.