A clothes dryer is a labor-saving marvel—ask anyone who ever had to hang wet laundry on a clothesline. It’s easy to find a basic dryer to tumble your clothes, but today, there are also feature-rich dryers with 10 or more cycles, lots of customizations, auto-sensing to tell when a load is dry, and lots of steam for sanitizing and unwrinkling. Dryers like these can make laundry day a breeze.
Although dryers are usually purchased with their matching washers, you don’t have to buy a matched pair. Instead, you have the freedom to choose the best dryer and the best washer for your family. Select machines in the same finish and you’ll barely notice the difference on laundry day.
When you’re thinking about purchasing a dryer, we’re ready to help with some ideas to think about and a list of our favorite models. Here’s a good place to start.
What do I need to know before I buy a dryer?
Whether you’re looking to buy your first dryer or to upgrade your current model, you have to make some decisions before you shop. Start by figuring out the budget, space constraints, capacity, available features, and type of fuel.
Yes, you need to decide whether to get a gas or electric model. At Reviewed, we believe that gas and electric dryers will give you identical results, so you’ll probably want to stick with the current hookup. Electric dryers usually require a 240-volt outlet. Gas dryers use propane or natural gas and also need electricity to rotate the drum. Over the life of the appliance, a gas dryer can cost half as much to run as an electric model. Of course, if you need to do a conversion, that can be expensive, and you’ll need to amortize the cost over time.
Standard dryers need a vent to divert moisture and lint out of the house. If you can’t drill a hole in the wall, consider a compact ventless dryer. At 24 inches wide, those have about half the capacity of typical dryers, but they fit into closets and other small spaces that a standard 27-inch dryer would never go.
How Reviewed tests dryers
We test every dryer in our laundry labs, evaluating how much water is removed from the laundry and measuring the amount of time it takes for each of the main cycles (Normal, Heavy, Quick, and Delicates) to finish.
In addition to measuring the dampness and cycle time, we look at a dryer's capacity. (The size of a standard dryer drum can range from 7.2 cu. ft. to 9 cu. ft.) And we take note of a dryer's ability to customize cycles and provide steam.
We also record the maximum temperature every dryer reaches as it tumbles. Temperatures over 150° can damage clothing and linens over time, so cooler is definitely gentler. Some dryers can run hot because they’re built that way. But if your dryer seems to be running hot (your clothes and linens are coming out scorched or torn), you may have a clogged vent. Because a dryer vent filled with lint can start a fire, make sure you clean your vent at least once a year.
Finally, we look at how easy the dryer is to use. We get hands-on with the controls, the door, the vent, and smart features. By combining performance scores with usability scores, we’re able to get a full picture of the dryer’s strengths and weaknesses.
Which dryer should I buy?
When you’re ready to buy a new dryer, consult this list. These are the models that did best in our tests:
Our favorite dryer, this Electrolux is attractive, easy to use, and provides plenty of cycles and options. In our labs, every test cycle got the laundry over 99% dry while running at a lower temperature than most dryers. Need steam? This dryer’s Perfect Steam feature makes wrinkled clothes nothing but a memory.
Because the controls are clear and a pleasure to operate, you’ll want to use them to personalize each load. The dryer drum offers LED lighting, so you’ll never leave a stray sock behind. Admittedly, the Normal cycle is slow, taking 90 minutes to complete, but when you’re in a hurry, you can use the fast cycle to get the clothes dry in 15 minutes.
Get the Electrolux EFME627UTT for $993 at Appliances Connection
A sleek, powerful dryer that is loaded with features, the LG DLEX9000V can dry the largest comforter with ease in its enormous 9.0-cubic-foot drum. Its performance is stellar on other items as well, getting all the laundry 99% dry in every single one of our test cycles. If you don’t like to iron (and who does?), you can make great use of its steam cycles.
This dryer also has a safety feature to help prevent a dryer fire: FlowSense lets you know when there’s an issue with the ventilation system outside of the dryer. That in itself could justify the cost of this model.
Get the LG DLEX900V for $1,615.10 at Appliances Connection
A gentle dryer, this Whirlpool’s temperature peaks at only 123°, yet its Normal cycle dried our test laundry in an amazing 38 minutes. Even its longest cycle (Normal with the Bedding/Bulky option enabled) completed in just over an hour, so your towels and comforters will be dry and ready to use quickly. When you need dry clothes in a hurry, the quick cycle gets them done in 22 minutes. You will be out of the laundry room in a flash.
When we tested it, we appreciated the intuitive controls on this model, because they are so simple and straightforward. On the left of the control panel, choose what you want to dry. On the right side, choose how you want to dry it. That’s all it takes.
Get the Whirlpool WED7500GC for $894.10 at Appliances Connection
The LG DLEX3700 makes sure that every basket of laundry gets fully dry in a single cycle, saving time and energy. With nine drying cycles on its dial, plus a downloadable option and a full range of settings on the control panel, this dryer allows full customization of every load. And once it’s dry, the bright lighting inside the drum ensures that you won’t leave anything behind.
Steam is no problem for this dryer. In our lab tests, it removed all the wrinkles from a creased cotton shirt in five minutes on the Steam Fresh setting. Steam Sanitary disinfects, which could be useful if your baby wears cotton diapers.
Get the LG DLEX3500W for $895.10 at Appliances Connection
Maytag Bravos XL MEDB835DC
If you don’t care about steam, we recommend that you take a look at this Maytag model. It can get a big, fluffy comforter 100% dry, a real accomplishment for any dryer. The generous 8.8-cubic-foot drum provides plenty of room for it to tumble. The XL MEDB835DC offers a wide variety of cycle choices. Most people rely on the Normal cycle, which we found can dry a load of laundry in 50 minutes. If your family wears jeans every day, you might find yourself experimenting with the Denim cycle. That’s one you won’t find on most dryers.
Though its 7.4-cubic-foot drum is not the most spacious on this list, the DVE54M8750V can easily handle all the laundry for a family of four. For bulky comforters, the Bedding cycle is the star, removing over 99% of the moisture in 46 minutes. The Normal cycle takes almost an hour longer, though it also gets the laundry fully dry.
This dryer is gorgeous in black stainless steel and its clear, easy-to-use control panel offers more choices than you might ever use, but that’s a positive. With 12 dry cycles, five temperature choices, and steam for sanitizing, wrinkle removal, and static control, this dryer lets you personalize every load.
Get the Samsung DVE54M8750V for $1,165 at Appliances Connection
The sibling of the Electrolux EFME627UTT, this dryer is just as user-friendly and gentle on clothes. The Electrolux EFME527UTT offers excellent drying performance, running cool to preserve clothing. It’s not speedy on most cycles—our tester called it “slow and low,” but for those rush loads, the Fast Dry cycle lives up to its name, taking only 18 minutes to complete.
With eight dry cycles and five temperature settings, this dryer offers plenty of ways to dry clothes. If you’re in it for the steam, Instant Refresh removes wrinkles and odors from an outfit in 10 minutes, so you can use it on a workday.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.