Clothes Dryer
Buying Guide

A line of dryers in a store display.
Clothes Dryer Buying Guide

Find the Right Clothes Dryer for You

Clean sheets, soft towels, and fresh clothes free of wrinkles can’t be taken for granted. A reliable clothes dryer that gets the job done and lasts for years is what you need. A dryer can cost anywhere from $500 to more than $1,400, depending on capacity and features. Here’s how to find the best one for your needs.

For related information on washers visit our Washing Machine Buying Guide and Ratings.


Size Up Your Space

Most dryers are 27-inches wide, but increasing capacities may mean a dryer is two to three inches wider. Measure the space you have to work with and allow at least five inches behind the dryer for venting. Measure the doors into your home and laundry room, and any other possible tight spaces you may have to maneuver through. Note the machine's height if it will be under a counter. We list dryer dimensions in our Features & Specs tab in our Clothes Dryer Ratings, and note which can be stacked with a matching front-loader. If you’re placing the machines near bedrooms or the family room, consider ones that scored very good or better in our noise tests. You’ll know they’re working but they shouldn’t disturb you.

For a good washing and drying pair read, "The Best Matching Washers and Dryers". If space is tight, take a look at this story on compact machines. 


An illustration showing how many inches to keep between your new dryer and the wall, and your new dryer and a washing machine.
Illustration: Chris Philpot

Count the Towels in Your Basket

As washing machine capacities have grown larger, so have dryers (for more visit our Washing Machine Ratings). But not everybody needs a dryer that holds up to 24 full-size bath towels, which is what a dryer earning an excellent capacity score in our Ratings should fit. A dryer that gets a very good for capacity holds around 17 to 21 towels, and a dryer scoring good can fit around 14 to 17. The smallest capacities tested can hold about seven of these towels. If you plan on drying lots of big, bulky items choose a dryer that scored very good or excellent in capacity.


Decide Between Electric and Gas

Electric dryers are the big sellers. Decades of testing revealed that electric and gas dryers perform similarly. We now only test electric models, but their gas versions appear in our Clothes Dryer Ratings because we expect them to perform comparably. An electric dryer requires a 240-volt outlet. For a gas dryer you’ll need a 120-volt outlet and a gas hookup. Gas dryers cost about $50 to $150 more, but you’ll probably spend less on energy and more than make up the difference over time.


Four Fabulous Features

There are a number of features to choose from. The more features, the higher the price. Here are four features to look for.