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Unless you’re a daily wardrobe recycler, your clothes dryer is probably working overtime these days. The past year has altered our lives, and with it, our laundry habits. In fact, in a recent Consumer Reports member survey, 14 percent of respondents said they used dryers more during the pandemic.
“The usage—and sale—of dryers increased during the pandemic as fewer people visited laundromats and dry cleaners, and more people stayed home due to COVID,” says Mark Allwood, Consumer Reports’ senior market analyst who tracks dryers.
Sales increased to an estimated 8.1 million, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year, according to CR analysts. In the last quarter, an estimated 2.2 million dryers were sold, a 6.6 percent increase over the same period in 2019 (likely connected to the quarter’s 16.7 percent increase in washers).
One interesting tidbit: Not only are dryer sales up, says Allwood, but demand for dryers with sanitizing cycles is, too. Concerns about COVID-19 have led consumers to seek out dryers (and washers) with cycles that manufacturers claim will eliminate germs and bacteria. (Consumer Reports doesn’t test sanitizing cycles in dryers. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines advise washing laundry of COVID-stricken people at the warmest setting the fabric allows, and drying it thoroughly.)
Even if you’re not looking to switch to a dryer with a sanitize cycle, dry-clean-only business attire giving way to sweatpants and slipper socks may have done a number on your dryer (and, ahem, your personal style). If your dryer is on its last tumble, our ratings can help you zero in on a great new model.
In our labs we dry different size laundry loads and fabric mixes (like cotton/polyester blends and synthetic delicates) to determine a model’s performance. A dryer’s controls and ergonomics, such as ease of loading and unloading, determine its convenience score. The sound quality and volume of an 8-pound laundry load define its noise level, as judged by an expert panel.
Here are the top gas, electric, and compact dryers from our tests. (CR tests electric dryers, but decades of research and testing confirm that gas dryers compare favorably with their electric counterparts.) For more information, see our dryer buying guide and comprehensive dryer ratings for details on all the models we test.
Best Dryers From Consumer Reports’ Tests
Consumers prefer electric dryers over gas dryers 82 percent to 18 percent. You’ll find both types of dryers, as well as compact models, in our ratings, with prices from $500 to $1,900. LG dominates our electric and gas dryer ratings, but there are plenty of other models that score well in our tests.