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Best Electric Dryers

Updated August 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 21 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 131 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best electric dryers

    Last Updated August 2018

    For most of us, laundry day means putting your clothes through the washing machine and then the dryer. Fold or hang your garments and you’re done. It’s a far cry from the days of washing clothes in a bucket and clipping them to a line to dry in the sun. And one of the essential appliances that makes the job so much easier is an electric dryer.

    Whether you’re buying your first dryer or looking to replace one that has seen better days, you might be wondering about the latest and greatest features or whether to just choose the cheapest model on the showroom floor.

    BestReviews is here to help you decide. We’ve gathered information from experts in the home appliance field, as well as from owners of various brands of electric clothes dryers, and consolidated our findings into one handy, helpful, and unbiased shopping guide.

    If you’re ready to get your clothes dry, check out our five top recommendations in the above matrix. If you’d like to learn more about choosing and using an electric clothes dryer, read on.

    Hinge your dryer door opposite your washing machine door to make it easier to transfer wet clothes from the washer to the dryer.

    Electric vs. gas dryers

    The two basic types of clothes dryers are those powered entirely by electricity and those partially powered by natural gas. All dryers use electricity to turn the drum that keeps your laundry tumbling through the heated air.

    Most homeowners choose electric dryers despite the fact that they represent one of the biggest chunks of your monthly energy usage. Although there are excellent energy-efficient electric dryers, many tend to take a lot longer to dry your clothes than their less-efficient counterparts. Your overall cost savings may not be significant when compared to the much higher purchase price of an Energy Star-certified dryer.

    Electric dryers

    • Electricity warms the heating element and blows heated air into the drum.

    • Installation is easy: just plug the dryer into a 240-volt outlet.

    • These dryers usually cost less upfront but use more electricity over the long term.

    Gas dryers

    • Gas dryers warm the air with natural gas.

    • Installation is more complicated: gas dryers require a natural gas line and a standard 120-volt outlet.

    • These dryers usually cost more upfront but use less electricity over the long term.

    Electric dryer sizes

    There are two size considerations when choosing a dryer: the appliance’s inside capacity and its outside dimensions.

    • Inside Capacity: If you routinely do big loads of laundry, you’ll likely want a dryer with a large capacity. The largest capacity generally available is nine cubic feet, which is big enough to hold about 15 bath towels. Compact dryers with an average capacity of four cubic feet only hold about six bath towels. Most people choose a machine somewhere in the middle. The average dryer capacity is between 7.3 and 8.3 cubic feet.
    • Outside Dimensions: Measure your laundry room space before shopping for a dryer. The typical full-size dryer is somewhere between 25 and 35 inches deep, 25 and 30 inches wide, and 35 to 45 inches tall. Plus, you need at least one inch of space between your washer and dryer, six inches of clearance behind your dryer, and three inches of clearance between the side of your dryer and the wall.
    • Stacking: If you don’t have enough room to place your washer and dryer next to each other, consider stacking units. While all-in-one compact stacking units are commonly used in apartments and other small homes, you can find full-size stacking machines that are held in place with brackets.
    EXPERT TIP

    The rule of thumb is that a dryer’s capacity should be twice that of the washing machine. Dry fabric takes up a lot more space than wet fabric.


    Basic electric dryer features to consider

    Your dryer’s basic purpose is to generate hot air and tumble the laundry until it’s dry. Beyond that, there are a few other features to consider before you buy.

    Dial or digital

    Most inexpensive dryers have a large dial that you turn to the desired heat setting, along with an on/off button. You’ll find digital displays on most higher-end dryers, but neither option is necessarily better.

    When doing several loads of laundry, put the next load into the dryer as soon as one finishes. Your dryer stays warm and doesn’t have to waste energy heating back up.

    Timed heat

    You’ll usually find timed high-heat settings of 10, 20, 30, or 40 minutes, along with a no-heat “fluff” setting for when you need a little extra time before removing the load from the dryer.

    Moisture sensor

    Nearly all dryers now have moisture sensors that automatically determine the wetness of the laundry and adjust the drying time accordingly. This saves energy and reduces the wear and tear to your clothes.

    Clean the dryer lint trap after every load. Accumulated lint is a leading cause of dryer fires.

    Delicate setting

    The “delicate” or “permanent press” cycle is a low-heat setting for delicate fabrics.

    Door

    Almost all dryers let you hinge the door to open from either the left or right side, depending on the configuration of your laundry room. There are also models hinged to open top down. While these give you a handy spot for folding clothes, they also make it a little harder to reach into the machine.

    EXPERT TIP

    Measure carefully before buying a dryer. It needs several inches of clearance on each side for ventilation and safety.


    Advanced electric dryer features to consider

    Once you move beyond the basics, you’ll find a wide range of upscale features to factor into your decision.

    Drying rack

    Clip the rack into the center of the dryer drum, and you can use it to dry tennis shoes, delicate sweaters, or any other item you don’t want tumbling around.

    Steam

    This handy feature releases a small burst of steam while the clothes tumble, helping to remove wrinkles and odors.

    If you wash a lot of clothing with metal zippers, rivets, or buttons, consider a dryer with a stainless-steel drum. It doesn’t scratch the way ceramic-coated metal drums do.

    Sanitize

    This super-high-heat setting kills bacteria in your laundry, helping to reduce the risk of illness or allergies. It’s a great feature if you wash reusable diapers, pet bedding, or a lot of clothes that have been worn for outdoor activities.

    Detangle

    At the end of the drying cycle, the dryer slowly reverses direction, helping to unwind sheets, towels, and other large, long items that tend to twist during the drying process.

    Smart dryers

    As with most other appliances, “smart” features are entering the laundry room. You can monitor and control your smart dryer from your phone, as well as monitor its energy usage. You’ll even get an alert when your clothes are dry and ready to be folded.

    Check the energy rating of the dryer. The more efficient the dryer is, the lower your electric bills will be.

    Express dry

    This cycle uses larger fans to speed up the drying process.

    Wrinkle guard

    If you can’t remove your laundry right away, this feature periodically gives the load a tumble, helping to reduce wrinkling.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Electric clothes dryers require a designated 240-volt outlet, not the standard 120-volt household outlet.

    Electric dryer prices

    Shopping around can definitely uncover bargains, but, in general, you can expect to spend between $300 and $1,100 for an electric dryer. At the low end of the range, you can find a bare-bones, basic dryer. The most expensive models are energy efficient and include all the bells and whistles. For most people, the sweet spot is in the $500 to $700 range, where you can find quality brands with dependable performance and plenty of nice features.

    Tips

    It isn’t rocket science, true, but the following tips will help you make the most of your electric dryer.

    • Don’t overload the dryer. Clothing packed too tightly is going to take longer to dry and come out wrinkled.

    • The drum should be one-half to three-quarters full. It isn’t efficient to run your dryer for just one or two items.

    • Shake out your clothing before putting it in the dryer. This cuts down on wrinkles and helps clothing dry faster.

    • Use high heat for towels, sheets, and heavy clothing like jeans. Use the lower heat setting for your dress clothes, synthetic fabrics, and anything delicate.

    • Don’t add a wet item to a partially dried load. This throws off the moisture sensor.

    • Don’t open the dryer door until the cycle is complete. Doing so releases the hot air inside and forces your dryer to use more energy.

    • Remove your clothes as soon as the cycle is complete. The clothes will have fewer wrinkles.

    • Clean the lint trap after every use. Also clean out the hoses and the back of the machine at least once each year, more often if you use your dryer very frequently.

    The average life expectancy of an electric dryer is about 13 years, but it can be worth trading up to a more energy-efficient model sooner if yours has seen a decade of use.

    FAQ

    Q. Does my dryer have to be the same brand as my washer?
    A.
    While it looks nice and is very convenient to buy a matched washer/dryer set, it’s not absolutely necessary. Go ahead and mix and match if you like. You might have to if your old washer is still in good condition but you need a new dryer.

    Q. Are there Energy Star-rated dryers?
    A.
    Yes, there have been dryers with Energy Star ratings since 2015. It means the dryer uses at least 20% less electricity than the energy-efficient setting in a standard dryer. You’ll pay a hefty price for these dryers, however, which may offset the energy savings.

    Q. Do dryers come in different colors or finishes?
    A.
    Absolutely! You’ll find dryers in black, red, cream, blue, and many other trendy colors, as well as stainless steel or matte finishes. You’ll pay more for these dryers, however.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Michael
      Michael
      Writer
    • Michelle
      Michelle
      Writer