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Dryer Buying Guide

Here's how to compare different kinds of dryers, such as gas and electric, and prioritize your laundry preferences. With a little research, you'll find the best dryer for your home.

dryer buying guide

Consider Your Dryer Space

Stacked washer dryer laundry center in a laundry room

Before you buy, measure the space for the new dryer.

  • Width: Keep in mind that both washers and dryers need 1 inch of space between and on either side of the appliance for proper air circulation.
  • Depth: Add 6 inches of space for door clearance, dryer vents and hookups.

 

You'll also need:

  • A location that can support the installation of a dryer exhaust system.
  • A 3- or 4-prong power cord, depending on the configuration of your outlet.
Good to Know

If space is at a premium, go vertical with your washer and dryer. There are many viable compact laundry centers. And don’t forget that some front-loading washers and dryers stack to save space; 2-in-1 options are also available, meaning you can wash and dry in the same unit.

Gas or Electric

Stainless finish washer and dryer in a wood finish laundry room

Check your dryer connections. All dryers use an electric motor to tumble clothes and an electric fan to distribute heated air. The difference is the source of heat generation — some use natural gas, some use electricity. Your decision to purchase gas versus electric will depend on whether you have a gas line in your laundry area. If you want to change your dryer’s fuel source, you’ll need the help of a professional contractor.

 

Electric dryers use twice the energy of an ordinary household electric current. Most run on a 240-volt current to heat up coils and require a special 240-volt outlet in your laundry area.

Good to Know

The purchase price of a gas dryer can be slightly higher than that of an electric dryer, but it’s typically less expensive to operate. It usually takes only a year or two to make up the purchase-price difference due to energy savings.

Good to Know

Before you leave home, take note of whether your outlet requires a plug with 3 or 4 prongs, and pick up a new power cord when you buy your dryer.

Dryer Performance

Side by side washer and dryer in a laundry room with two girls holding laundry baskets

Door Mount: Choosing between a side-mount or top-down door comes down to personal preference. A top-down model provides a handy folding shelf, while a side-mount one makes for an easier reach. Some side-mount models are even reversible, allowing you to adjust the door’s swing so you can install your dryer anywhere you choose.


Top Mount Lint Vent: Positions you for easier cleaning than in-drum options.


Cycles: Today’s machines do more of the thinking for you. Go for cycles like:

  • Sensor Dry - A moisture sensor knows how wet your laundry is and adjusts the drying time according to your preference of damp or completely dry. This saves time and money on energy costs and prevents overdrying to extend the life of clothes.
  • Eco Cycle - This cycle significantly decreases energy use by accurately monitoring clothes’ dryness. Some models even have a monitor on their console that displays the energy use and efficiency of different drying cycles. A dryer with an eco cycle can use less energy when you pair it with a matching washer, compared to a conventional top-load pair.
  • Express Dry - This dry cycle uses large blowers for increased airflow so laundry dries faster.
  • Steam - Steam cycles can refresh an outfit, relaxing wrinkles and removing odors. During this cycle, a small amount of water sprays into the dryer drum after several minutes of tumbling with heat. Some dryers come with settings to periodically tumble, rearrange and fluff the load, keeping wrinkles from forming. The setting is adjustable based on the number of garments in the dryer.
  • Delicate - This cycle uses an ultra-low temperature to safely and gently dry lightweight garments and loosely woven fabrics. Your clothes will last longer and keep their color longer if you use the correct temperatures.
  • Sanitation - Bacteria and germs can easily find their way into fabrics. A dryer with a sanitizing cycle can help provide relief to children and adults with frequent allergies by using high heat or steam to sanitize items that can't be easily washed. A sanitation cycle eliminates up to 99.9% of common household bacteria.

Dryer Sizes

Side by side washer and dryer in a green laundry room

Capacity: Don’t judge how much a dryer will hold by words like "Super Capacity" – adjectives vary between manufacturers. Consider the cubic feet of the dryer and whether or not your king-size comforter (typically 4 cu ft or larger) can tumble comfortably inside.

Space: When space is at a premium, consider going vertical by stacking a front-load washer and dryer. If your space is flexible, front-loaders, front-loaders on pedestals and top-loaders are all smart options. Pay close attention to the depth and width of your laundry space. Front-loading machines are generally deeper, and top-loading machines are generally wider.

Dryer Features to Consider

Washer and dryer side-by-side in a purple laundry room

Digital Displays – Sleek and stylish, digital displays offer an updated appearance with the benefit of cycle countdowns and child locks.

NSF Ratings – The National Sanitary Foundation rates machines based on their ability to destroy allergens and bacteria on fabric.

Vent Blocking Indicator – This lets the user know it’s time to clean the dryer vent.

Drum Light – An illuminated interior helps you catch every last sock in the load.

Drum Rack – This is attached inside the drum for flat, heat-aided drying without the tumble.

Extended Tumble – By tumbling clothes at regular intervals, this feature keeps a load fresh and wrinkle-free if you can’t get to it right away.

Silent Operation – This allows users to mute the end-of-cycle signal on machines located close to living or sleeping areas.

Matching Set - Your washer and dryer are engineered to work together. If a washer has a higher spin speed, it means less drying time. Your matching dryer has special cycles and sensors to keep clothes from overdrying, helping them last longer.

Good to Know

ENERGY STAR® certified dryers use less energy and can save you money over time. Even better — they do it without giving up the performance and garment care features you want. Learn more about ENERGY STAR dryers.

Need help with an existing washer and dryer? Learn how to maintain your current appliances or shop for electric or gas dryers.