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 energy efficiency.
  • 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 feature.
  • 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 dryer.
  • 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.

Clothes Dryers Runners Up:

Maytag Centennial MEDC200XW *Est. $400

2 picks including: HomeDepot.com, J.D. Power & Associates…

Kenmore 6800 *Est. $800

2 picks including: J.D. Power & Associates, Sears.com…

LG DLG4802W *Est. $800

1 pick including: HomeDepot.com, J.D. Power & Associates…

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Maytag MEDC200XW MEDC200XW Front Load Dryer
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $592.79   
Average Customer Review:  
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LG DLG4802 7.1 Cu. Ft. Large Capacity Gas Dryer with LED Display and Rear Controls, White
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $939.99   
Average Customer Review:  

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