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Will leaving a hair dryer plugged in increase the chances of a house fire?

Portable hair dryers are an essential part of getting ready for countless households. Throughout the decades, safety standards have emerged to help prevent accidents from the handheld appliance, such as overheating, fires and electrocutions. Using a hair dryer requires as much care as any other electrical appliance in the home to prevent the threat of a house fire.

Hair dryer safety

A hair dryer is an electrical appliance, and just like any other household appliance that plugs into a power outlet, it can become dangerous if not used with caution.

Using a hair dryer

A hair dryer takes air in through a filter and heats it inside the unit before blowing it out the tapered end toward your hair. Any heat source near your hair and skin should be used with care. To avoid mishaps:

  • Read all safety labels carefully.
  • Keep openings on the front and back of the hair dryer clear when in use.
  • Do not put anything into the dryer’s openings.
  • Use it in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not leave it on when you set it down in between styling.
  • Unplug it when you’re done.

Storing a hair dryer

When not in use, keeping a hair dryer in a safe spot can help prevent accidents. Here are tips for storing your hair dryer safely:

  • Turn it off and unplug it immediately when you’re done using it.
  • If you’re using it in the bathroom, move it to a cool, dry location away from water sources, linens and bedding.
  • Wait to put it away until it is completely cool.
  • Clean the back vent of lint, hair, dust and debris before storing.
  • Wrap the cord carefully, or use a cord-keeper hair dryer for streamlined storage.
  • Store it away from anywhere it can fall into water or heat sources.
  • Keep it out of reach of children.

How to choose the best hair dryer

The wide variety of hair dryers available can be daunting when looking for one that works with your budget and keeps you safe. Here are the best ways to find a safe and reliable hair dryer:

  • Replace old appliances. Older appliances, including hair dryers, can pose a greater risk with degrading wires and outdated parts. Pay attention to odd smells coming from your appliance, and replace it if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
  • Only buy from reputable retailers. Name brands with a track record of trustworthy products are more likely to produce reliable and safe blow dryers. Stick with names you trust.
  • Spend average market rates. When it comes to hair dryers, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, if a price seems too good to be true, it likely is. Stay within your budget, but don’t buy something because it is simply the cheapest option for sale.
  • Look for safety certifications. Quality hair dryers will undergo testing to meet industry fire and electrical safety standards. These may include UL (Underwriters Laboratories), ETL (Intertek) and CSA (Canadian Standards).
  • Hotter isn’t always better. Salon-quality hair dryers can reach up to 3,000 watts or more, but consumer products can deliver great results between 1,300 and 1,875 watts. 
  • Understand ionic, ceramic and tourmaline. Marketing speak can make any hair dryer sound tempting, but each of these terms means something different. Ionic hair dryers break up the water molecules on your hair, drying it faster. That also means they can damage your hair more easily. Ceramic hair dryers are more gentle because they deliver evenly distributed heat. Tourmaline dryers help hair maintain its shine and soft texture.

Can a hair dryer increase the chances of a house fire?

Unfortunately, yes. But there are several common-sense steps to take that drastically reduce the chances of a house fire or any hazardous accident. As long as you follow the above safety precautions, your hair dryer can remain a safe styling tool for at-home blowouts.


Q. Can a hair dryer set off a smoke alarm?

A. Yes, but only if you don’t clean it. If the hair dryer is malfunctioning, the heating element may produce smoke, which can set off a smoke alarm. Also, dust, hair or debris stuck inside of the filter can burn when the dryer is turned on, causing it to smoke. To be safe, clean the hair dryer’s filter regularly, ensure no hair or lint is stuck in any openings before operating the dryer and replace old or malfunctioning appliances.

Q. Can a hair dryer electrocute you?

A. Yes, but it won’t be fatal. Hair dryers are electrical appliances, after all. Since they are commonly used in and around bathrooms with water sources, they can pose a threat if dropped in water. If a hair dryer is plugged in and touching water, and you lift it out, it can electrocute you. If it falls into the water, do not reach for it. One study found that though the shock may not be fatal, electrical appliances still draw a charge when plugged in, and your body may be the only conductor to the ground. Unplug the hair dryer first before reaching for it.

What you need to buy for safe hair styling

Best hair dryers

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

For the fastest salon blowout at home, this hair dryer does the trick. It is quieter than other models, distributes heat evenly and helps prevent frizz. It also comes with attachments for specific styling goals.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Conair White Cord Keeper Hair Dryer

This is the best option for a cord-keeper hair dryer that’s easy to store. The folding handle makes it collapsible and travel-friendly. Ionic technology dries hair faster, and the cool shot button helps hold your newly dried style.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Conair Compact Travel Hair Dryer

This compact travel hair dryer comes from a reputable brand and offers the power of a full-size hair dryer in a small, foldable form. Use two heat and speed settings to achieve your ideal look. It can fit in suitcases and is lightweight for comfortable travel.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Remington Damage Protection Hair Dryer

This budget-friendly hair dryer promotes shiny, healthy hair with proprietary technology and a ceramic build. It has three heat settings, two speeds and two attachments. This is a high-value product from a reputable name brand.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best cordless hair styling tools

Laluztop Automatic Cordless Curling Iron

For a cordless curling iron, this model achieves a consistent curl without the hassle of manually curling each piece of hair. The cordless functionality is convenient, and this iron can last up to 45 minutes on a full charge.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

JMFONE Cordless Hair Straightener

This hair straightener is also cordless, offering easy maneuvering as you style your hair. The USB-C rechargeable battery lasts up to 45 minutes. The slim size is great for traveling.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Katy Palmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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