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Clothes dryers are often an afterthought for consumers who spend considerable time investigating the best washing machines before buying an appliance. However, there are enormous variations in the features and options among top-notch electric dryers, given their overall convenience, time-saving benefits and modern fabric care capabilities. The one you choose could mean the difference between getting your laundry done in a jiffy or enduring a tiresome chore with an appliance you hate.

Years ago, electric dryers simply tumbled clothes in hot air to dry them. This spared homemakers from having to lug heavy loads of laundry outside to hang on clothes lines to dry. While they were certainly labor-saving devices, these early dryers were hard on clothes and offered few options for anything that could not withstand high heat. However, today's dryers offer remarkable advances in efficiency and more specialized clothing care features, so you can safely dry delicate fabrics, steam clothes to refresh and deodorize them, and even sanitize such things as teddy bears and athletic shoes without harming them, despite the fact they're often made of heat-sensitive synthetic materials.

We examined the best dryers for different households to help you find the ideal electric dryer for your laundry needs. For more information, check out our articles about dryers.

Best Dryers for Big Wash Loads

Electric dryers with big drums and enough durability to take on large loads of wet laundry can be a real boon for anyone who's ever had to tackle a mound of dirty clothes for a big family, piles of towels for athletes or a heap of heavy work uniforms.

A large-load dryer that can get clothes properly dried will ensure they don't smell like mildew or get crumpled and creased, which undermines the very reason you're using an electric dryer in the first place. Top-quality big-load dryers also help make clothes feel comfortable and look good without damaging any fabrics by over-drying the clothing.

Maytag

You can zoom through drying your wash with the efficient and powerful Maytag MEDB955FC electric dryer. This clothes dryer has a PowerDry cycle that blows hotter air than standard dryers and moves the airflow more effectively so your clothes dry quickly. This cycle is especially helpful for difficult and very wet loads. This Maytag dryer also has advanced moisture-sensing capabilities. An extra moisture sensor keeps track of how moist a laundry load is as well as the air temperature, which helps clothes dry more evenly. The Maytag MVWB955FC top-load washer is a good choice to pair with this dryer. With this washer, you get a generous 6.2-cubic-foot drum and, as with its matching dryer, speedy results.

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LG

The roomy and feature-filled LG DLEX7710VE electric dryer gives you a generous 9-cubic-foot capacity, so you can dry quilts, comforters, bedding, clothing and more in short order. It operates quietly, offers multiple drying programs, and even steam-sanitizes items that cannot be washed, like grimy stuffed animals. The dryer has a helpful sensor system that detects how much moisture is in the items you have put into it. For a top-load washer to go with this dryer, the LG WT7700HVA is a good choice. You get a large load capacity, 14 washing cycles and quiet operation with this appliance.

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Best Dryers for Overall Efficiency

Modern and efficient dryers are designed to make your hectic life a lot easier. These often include high-tech tools that unshackle you from the house even while doing laundry. With certain dryers of this type, you don't need to consult the manufacturer's customer service representatives if there's a problem, because you can troubleshoot problems with your smartphone. Others offer Wi-Fi controls so you can monitor and control your dryer remotely. These hands-off features let you get on with your work, studies, family life and more while still getting loads of laundry dry. These clothes dryers are also energy-efficient, which means you will not only save on your electricity bills but save a bit of the environment as well.

Samsung

The Samsung DV56H9000EW/A2 electric dryer can handle large loads of laundry in an energy-efficient way. You can put four standard-sized baskets of wet laundry inside this appliance's 9.5-cubic-foot interior at once, and the load will be dry in an hour. More good news is that this electric dryer uses 25 percent less electricity than standard dryers, thanks to its Eco Dry design. The Samsung electric clothes dryer has 15 drying cycles that include presets for air fluff, sanitizing, towels, wool items, permanent press fabrics and delicate clothing. The Samsung WA9000 is a fine top-load washer to partner with this dryer, providing 5.6 cubic feet of space inside, five wash cycles and 11 other options.

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Whirlpool

The Whirlpool WED8700EC is a smart dryer you can operate from your phone, making it easy to get a humdrum chore like laundry done while you are picking up kids from soccer or taking the dog to the vet. The Wi-Fi connectivity and Whirlpool's app allow you to put laundry in the drum and then head off for whatever tasks you need to do besides getting clothes clean. A good accompanying top-load washer for this dryer is the Whirlpool WTW8700EC, which has an impressive 26 washing cycles, a 5.3-cubic-foot interior and high efficiency.

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Best Time-Saving Dryers for Busy Households

Time-saving electric dryers are versatile machines with a large selection of drying cycles, times, temperatures and options, which gives you a considerable amount of flexibility when drying clothing, bedding and other items. These dryers often have automatic features, such as moisture sensors to adjust the drying cycle times and temperatures for you. They also can handle bulky items with no trouble and have removable drying racks so you can safely dry expensive sweaters, stuffed animals, decorative pillows and athletic shoes. With all these choices, you can use your dryer for any size of load or type of fabric and set any dryness level, giving you speedy service so you can spend less time doing laundry and more time on other, more important things in life.

Kenmore

Laundry duty doesn’t have to eat up precious hours with the Kenmore 68132 dryer. With its helpful time-saving features, this durable dryer can help you get the clothes back onto hangers, sheets back onto beds, and even teddy bears sanitized and ready for a child to cuddle in short order. The first convenient factor you’ll notice is its size. This Kenmore dryer offers 8.8 cubic feet of interior space. You can dry whole baskets of laundry at a time in it, as well as bulky items like bedding. For a good accompanying washer, take a look at the Kenmore 28132. This top-load washer gives you 10 cycles, four soil levels, five wash and rinse temperatures, a deep wash that uses more water for extra-dirty clothing, and a presoak mode.

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Kenmore Elite

At a sizable 9.2 cubic feet, the Kenmore Elite 61633 electric dryer can hold large loads of wet laundry and get them nicely dried in short order. With this clothes dryer, you get 10 drying cycles and can choose either timed cycles that simply run for a set period or sensing cycles that monitor the moisture in laundry and adjust the time to the shortest operating interval needed to get the clothes dry. This will vary depending on the size of the load, the kinds of fabrics and the dryness setting you have selected. The Kenmore Elite 31633 is a great choice to accompany this dryer. It gives you an enormous capacity of 6.2 cubic feet and can clean 32 towels in one load.

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Best Dryers for Compact Spaces & Fixed Budgets

Many people who need a budget-friendly electric dryer need one that can take on quite a bit of wet laundry and still be trim enough to fit into a condo-sized laundry area. That sounds like a tall order, but there are top-quality dryers that meet those criteria on the market. You might not have an enormous laundry room, or you might need to keep washers and dryers in the basement in an unusually configured room, but don't worry – there are dryers that give you the flexibility you need to handle laundry duty even in cramped spots. And just because the price tag is low doesn't mean the manufacturer has skimped on features, since many of these dryers offer versatile options to get your clothes safely dried and back in your dressers and closets.

Amana

You will never wear down the fabric in your clothes by over-drying them with the Amana NED4655EW electric dryer. This 6.5-cubic-foot electric dryer has an automatic dryness control system that uses sensors to monitor the moisture inside the drum and automatically stops the drying cycle once clothes are fully dry. A great choice for a matching top-load washer is the Amana NTW4516FW. This is a compact and basic but still versatile washing machine that uses an agitator inside the drum to circulate the clothing, water and detergent to get clothes really clean.

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GE

The GE GTD33EASKWW is a robust and basic clothes dryer that can get that laundry-day work out of the way quickly. This dryer has a 7.2-cubic-foot drum, which is plenty of space for tumbling and drying large loads of wet clothes, sheets, towels and more. It offers an installation flexibility feature that does not always show up on standard electric dryers. This gives you as much as 120 feet of venting capability, which is considerable leeway for positioning your dryer. A fine matching washer to go with this dryer is the GE GTW330ASKWW, which offers 11 washing cycles, six wash options, three soil levels, and six wash-and-rinse temperatures.

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Best Dryers for Back-to-Basics Fans

Not everyone loves electronic control panels and fancy extras on their appliances. Some consumers simply want a good-quality clothes dryer that will take care of their laundry well but is not a high-end, complicated machine. For example, there are folks who want manual controls that are simple to understand, grasp and operate. Perhaps you just want a clothes dryer that provides basic drying options to take care of your laundry and you really don't have any use for frills or extras. The simplicity of back-to-basics dryers does not reduce their utility – these dryers are capable of more than just blowing hot air and can do things like handle delicate fabrics with ease.

Frigidaire

The roomy Frigidaire FFRE1001PW has a 7-cubic-foot interior, so it can handle exceptionally big loads of laundry in little time. It has 10 drying cycles, so you can take care of clothes as well as wet towels, bedding and delicate fabrics that need low heat. A good matching washer for this dryer is the top-load Frigidaire FFTW1001PW. This is a robust washer with a stainless steel drum for durability and an automatic water-level sensor so you get just the right amount of water for a load of laundry.

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Hotpoint

The Hotpoint HTX21EASKWW is a spacious and robust back-to-basics clothes dryer that offers few frills, but lots of good, even drying for those loads of laundry you face very week. This electric dryer gives you a roomy 6.2-cubic-foot drum made of aluminized alloy to enhance the energy efficiency and resist metal corrosion. You get three heat selections for drying cycles: cottons, casuals (this encompasses man-made permanent press fabrics and items that require sensitive and gentle handling) and delicate items. The Hotpoint HTW240ASKWS is a good accompanying top-load washer with 10 washing cycles and a 3.8-cubic-foot washtub.

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Dryers: What Features to Look For

We researched favorite name-brand dryers on the market today and looked for characteristics that would help you find the best dryer for your needs. The best modern dryers offer much more than the previous generation, adding useful things like brief bursts of steam to reduce wrinkles and eliminate odors.

Some of the latest technology also implements a wrinkle-reducing program of intermittent tumbling after a drying cycle is done to keep any wrinkles from setting in. This makes it easy to load your dryer and leave the house without worrying about finding a crinkled clump of laundry upon your return. Some dryers also allow you to delay the start of a load so you can time it to finish just when you or someone else gets home.

The best dryers have a generous selection of cycles so you can customize your drying needs. If you are drying a load of towels or routinely dry large loads for a big family, you should be able to easily select the cycle that will facilitate whatever load you throw in. The best dryers include drum lights so you don’t leave any stray socks behind. Your dryer should make it easy to situate the door hinge on either side of the appliance so you can configure your laundry space any way you like. LED displays make it easy to see when your load will be done, and child locks could help protect youngsters.

Many modern dryers also include noise and vibration reduction systems, which helps if you have a baby in the house who needs to nap or someone has to study at particular times. Some electric dryers are so quiet you may forget they're even running. Luckily, most have an end-of-cycle signal just in case the quiet operation has lulled you to sleep.

Although there are many modern features on top-notch clothes dryers, traditionalists need not despair. For people who prefer to keep it simple and just want a dryer that does the basics, with easy-to-use control knobs and maybe a few extras thrown in, there are plenty of those models available as well.

What Else Is Important in an Electric Dryer?

Design & Appearance
Whether you are looking for an ultra-modern design or something more traditional, a dryer should look nice and complement the room it occupies. It's also helpful if you have a washer-dryer combination that match in appearance so the overall aesthetic isn't ruined.

Many people still do laundry in the basement, but people increasingly have washers and dryers where everyone can see them, and kitchens are a popular spot. In cases like that, you want something that blends in nicely so the room still looks good.

Even more importantly, the design should be practical and straightforward. For instance, a well-designed machine makes adding steam or activating wrinkle reduction easy. With an intuitive electronic control panel, you can set your dryer to a level of precision that homemakers of yesteryear would envy.

Energy Efficiency
In the past, energy efficiency was not a high priority among the majority of dryer manufacturers. But it has become increasingly important in recent years, and companies have begun developing dryers that cut down on the use of electricity, saving you money on utility bills.

Top-quality clothes dryers have advanced sensor systems that monitor the moisture content in clothing and stop the cycle when your clothes are dry. This results in significant energy savings. Some models also offer energy-savers like lint filters and duct-clog monitors. Keeping those airways clean makes dryers much more green, which can in turn save you green. In addition, lint clogging anywhere in the system can be a serious fire hazard, even when the machine is not in use, so these particular features are especially worthwhile.

Dryers have come a long way from their clothes-ruining past. Designers have put a lot of thought into making sure the latest machines take great care of your clothing, no matter the fabric, and do much more than that. Look to our lineup of the top clothes dryers to find one that fits with your decor, budget and lifestyle. When you have found a dryer that works for you, be sure to check out our articles on top-load washers to find a washer that goes perfectly with your new dryer.

Contributing Reviewer: Linda Thomson