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While many people like to purchase a matching washer and dryer set for their laundry room, there are times when you might find yourself in the market solely for a dryer. Sure, you can get by without one if needed, but air-drying your clothes takes several hours—as opposed to the short and efficient cycles offered by today’s best dryers.
The good news is that there are dryers available at a wide range of price points, starting as low as $500. Inexpensive models are usually simple to operate with just a few settings, while more high-end appliances offer things like cycle customization or smart features. You’ll also find both electric and gas-powered dryers, each of which has its own benefits.
If you’re shopping for a dryer, we’ve outlined the most important considerations to take into account, as well as the best models available today based on our expert knowledge and testing.
The Best Dryers
Best Overall: Maytag 7.3-Cubic-Foot Stackable Electric Dryer
Best Basic: Maytag 7-Cubic-Foot Electric Dryer
Best With Steam Cycle: Whirlpool Profile 7.4-Cubic-Foot Smart Electric Dryer
Most Affordable: Amana 6.5-Cubic-Foot Electric Dryer
Best Upgrade: GE 7.8-Cubic-Foot Stackable Smart Electric Dryer
What to Consider
While buying a dryer is much less complicated than purchasing a washing machine (or dishwasher, or refrigerator, for that matter), there are still several considerations to take into account before buying. Here's a brief overview of the most important things to get you started.
Gas Versus Electric
Gas dryers require a gas line hookup, naturally, and electric dryers need a 208-volt connection. Gas models are typically more expensive up front, but save you money in the long run because they heat up faster and don’t need to run as long to dry clothing.
Long-time Popular Mechanics test editor Roy Berendsohn suggests: “Shop on the heavier-duty end of the spectrum (at least, if you’re washing and drying clothing for more than one person). Next, simpler is better with all appliances. Fewer bells and whistles means fewer parts to break. I’ve never seen a garment that a basic washer can’t wash or a basic dryer can’t dry.”
There are a wide range of features available on today’s dryers, so you’ll want to select options that are the most useful based on your laundry preferences. That may include a steam cycle, automatic moisture sensor, and smart features. Dryers that use steam efficiently remove wrinkles and static from clothes, and a good moisture sensor adjusts the cycle length so the appliance isn’t running for longer than necessary. Wi-Fi connectivity, which is becoming more common on washers and dryers, allows you to start and monitor cycles from your smartphone.
Venting and Installation
Most dryers will also require proper venting, meaning that unless it’s already built into your house or apartment, the installation of a dryer may require some construction so that moisture and heat can be safely removed from the home. If you don’t have the right venting and don’t want to install it, your best bet is a ventless dryer that collects excess water in a chamber that must be emptied after use.
“Pay attention to the dryer vent,” advises Berendsohn. “Buy yourself a dryer vent cleaning kit and clean the dryer vent before moving the new dryer into position. A dryer can only dry properly if it has sufficient air to move, and it can’t move that air if the vent is blocked. Also, clean the vent at regular intervals depending on how much laundry you do. I clean my dryer vent every four months.”
Finally, you will want to consider energy efficiency. One of the easiest ways to boost this is with a heat pump. Heat pumps take the moist air from inside the dryer, pull out the moisture, and send the hot air back in. This helps to significantly decrease the amount of energy used because it reuses hot air rather than pushing it all out and needing to create more. If you want to see exactly how much energy your dryer will use, look to the yellow label, which will also tell you how much it will cost you to run and how it compares to others in the market before you buy.
How We Selected
To find the best of the many dryers out there, we leaned on our experience testing and evaluating major appliances and deep knowledge on what to look for—and avoid—when making a purchase. To put together this list and compare models, we took into account efficiency, energy use, capacity, and special features, prioritizing models that are well-priced and backed by a solid warranty.
I’ve been writing about home appliances for close to eight years, and I’ve personally tested one of the dryers included on this list—the GE 7.8-Cubic-Foot Stackable Smart Electric Dryer, which is a high-end model with a wide range of settings and convenient smart functionality.
7.3-Cubic-Foot Stackable Electric Dryer
With a sleek design and wide range of cycle options, this Maytag Electric Dryer is a solid mid-priced option for any home. It has a sleek, modern appearance that comes in multiple finishes, and you can monitor your laundry through the clear door, which lets you see what’s going on in the 7.3-cubic-foot drum.
This electric dryer can be stacked with a compatible washer, and its Advanced Moisture Sensing technology helps to ensure your laundry is evenly dried. Other handy features include its Extra Power button, which extends time and tumbling on the cycle, and a Quick Dry cycle for small loads. Plus, the appliance is backed by a 10-year limited parts warranty.
The only thing that can be frustrating is that you have to hold the dryer’s start button for three seconds to begin the cycle.
7.3-Cubic-Foot Stackable Electric Dryer
Like Berendsohn says, there are fewer things that can go wrong with a basic, no–frills dryer, and this seven-cubic-foot appliance from Maytag is truly bare bones. It offers auto dry, timed dry, and air dry settings, as well as three temperature options, and that’s it.
This dryer truly couldn’t be easier to operate using the three knobs on the control panel, and you won’t have to worry about navigating a complicated menu or having high-tech features malfunction.
In terms of other features, there’s a top-loading lint filter, which some people find easier to access, and its side-swinging door is reversible, allowing you to adjust the orientation to fit your space. Maytag also backs the appliance with a 10-year warranty on the drive motor and drum. If you’re someone who likes to stack folded laundry on top of your dryer, be aware that the top of this appliance is slightly sloped, which may cause items to slide off.
Profile 7.4-Cubic-Foot Smart Electric Dryer
You can get rid of tough wrinkles with this 7.4-cubic-foot electric dryer. It has several different steam cycles, including one that tumbles clothes with steam after the cycle ends to prevent wrinkles if you don’t unload the machine right away. Another helps remove creases from clean clothes without needing to rewash them.
The dryer offers moisture-sensing technology to help prevent clothes from overdrying, which can be tough on fabric over time. We also appreciate the setting that cuts down on static. In terms of advanced features, it has Wi-Fi connectivity and voice controls, along with a hamper-style door that prevents laundry from falling on the floor as you load or empty.
Overall, this dryer is a great option for anyone who frequently steams or irons their clothing. The only downside (though likely not a dealbreaker) is that the lint trap is a bit small.
6.5-Cubic-Foot Electric Dryer
This 6.5-cubic-foot Amana certainly isn't the fanciest model out there, but it is reliable and a decent size for the price.
The dryer features 11 different cycles so you can find the ideal setting for everything from small delicates to large, fluffy towels, and it’s all controlled via a single dial on the top of the appliance. The wrinkle-prevention setting mitigates the need to iron, and the dryer has a reversible swing door, as well.
While this dryer does have a slightly smaller capacity than many other models, it’s still spacious enough for average-sized households, plus it comes in both electric and gas models. The only downsides are that it doesn’t have a light inside the drum or an end-of-cycle signal to let you know when laundry is finished.
7.8-Cubic-Foot Stackable Smart Electric Dryer
In terms of appearance and performance, this electric dryer from GE is a clear winner. It has a spacious 7.8-cubic-foot capacity that can accommodate even the largest loads, and its sleek, modern design will be an asset to any laundry room.
The stackable dryer has a stainless steel drum and reversible door, and if you have a matching washer, the two units will wirelessly communicate, automatically selecting the appropriate settings for each load.
Static reduction technology uses a gentle mist near the end of the cycle to keep your clothes from sticking together, and you can even use the “damp alert” feature for delicate items, which alerts you when they’re the ideal dampness level for ironing.
There are also 12 drying cycles to choose from, including options for sanitizing, wrinkle care, and steaming, and it even has built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor its progress right from your phone.
7.2-Cubic-Foot Gas Vented Dryer
If you already have a gas line in your laundry room, this GE dryer is a cinch to set up. It’s designed to run on propane (though there is an electric model available, too, if you prefer), and it can be vented up to 120 feet, allowing more flexibility in your installation.
Unlike more expensive models, this basic dryer only offers four cycles: cottons, casuals, timed dry, and delicates. There are multiple settings within each category, including options for more or less dry, and you can also adjust the cycle temperature as needed.
One unique feature about this dryer is that you can adjust the volume of its end-of-cycle signal—or turn it off completely. This definitely comes in handy if you want to take your laundry out right away, as you can turn up the volume to make sure you hear it buzz.
7-Cubic-Foot Electric Dryer
Hamper-style doors are an often sought-after feature on dryers. This type of door folds down, instead of swinging to the side, which helps prevent clean laundry from falling on the floor as you’re loading or unloading. And if that’s a must on your list, this 7-cubic-foot electric model is a worth a look.
Despite its low price, the appliance features a digital control panel, plus a wide range of cycles. In addition to standard timed dry and air dry, there are settings for delicates, bulky items, and towels, as well as an auto-dry feature that uses a built-in moisture sensor to prevent overdrying. The appliance even has a button that lets you mute the end-of-cycle signal, which is a nice extra.
Pet Pro 7-Cubic-Foot Electric Dryer
If your dryer lint trap often ends up caked with pet hair, this electric dryer has a few features we bet you’ll find invaluable. For starters, there’s a setting that adds a period of no-heat tumbling at the end of the cycle to help remove more pet hair. It also has an extra-large lint filter that captures pet hair, preventing it from ending up back on your laundry. And, if you don’t have time to unload when clothes are done, there’s a setting to help remove wrinkles.
The dryer comes in a white or black finish—just keep in mind that while the black finish is sleek and modern, it shows dust and lint easily, which may make the top of the appliance look dirty.
9.0-Cubic-Foot TurboSteam Electric Dryer
Large households will benefit from a dryer like this one, which has an extremely large 9-cubic-foot capacity. It can hold a full set of king-size bedding in a single load, and it even has an ergonomic angled door that makes it easier to unload.
This extra-large electric dryer offers 14 different cycles, including a Sensor Dry option that automatically adjusts drying time based on the amount of moisture to help save energy. While there's a lot to like about this dryer, considering its price point, we wish it offered smart features.
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