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 $500 to well over $1,000, depending on capacity and features. Here’s how to find the best dryer 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 six 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 check 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 these stories on compact washers and dryers


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

Interactive Video Buying Guide

For more, watch our video below. You can skip to different chapters depending on what you want to know. 

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.

Count the Towels in Your Basket

A clothes dryer's drum capacity is bigger than the capacity of its matching washer. That's because wet laundry needs room to expand as it dries. A dryer with a claimed capacity around 9 cubic feet, the biggest we've tested, should fit 17 thick full-size bath towels. A compact dryer, on the other hand, typically has a claimed capacity around 4 cubic feet, and should fit about six of these towels. You'll see the claimed capacities noted in the dryer ratings. We do not include it in the overall score. 

Four Fabulous Features

There are a number of features to choose from. Here are four to look for.

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