Cheapism: Best budget clothes dryers

In today’s America, dryers have largely taken over the job that clotheslines and breezy days once did for free. Some of the flashiest models command more than $1,000, plus utilities. Entry-level dryers generally don’t offer as many cycle options or impress with their white, boxy appearance, but they provide essentially the same service for less than $500. The best ones sport some useful features and gently and reliably turn out toasty-warm heaps of clothes.

Here are four top picks from 

The Maytag Centennial MEDC300XW (starting at $448) has handy features you don’t always find in other cheap models, including an end-of-cycle buzzer and a light inside the drum. Most notable is a moisture sensor that stops the dryer automatically when a load is dry, saving energy and sparing clothes from unnecessary heat, so they don’t shrink or wear out so quickly. This dryer received a top score in one expert test for quickly and effectively drying a bulky comforter. (Where to buy) 

The Admiral AED4675YQ (starting at $324) comes from a line of appliances sold at Home Depot. This is a no-frills model with three temperature settings, 11 cycle options (such as wrinkle prevent and energy preferred), and a very low price tag. It simply does what it’s supposed to do with impressive speed, reviewers say. (Where to buy) 

The Amana NGD4600YQ (starting at $400) is a gas-powered dryer, unlike the other models on this list, which use electricity to warm the air. Although it costs a bit more than an electric dryer with equivalent features, it will pay for itself in areas where natural gas is cheaper than electricity. This dryer is also well-equipped relative to other inexpensive gas models, and reviewers observe that it’s surprisingly quiet. (Where to buy)

The Whirlpool WED4900XW (starting at $450) comes loaded with features and pleases consumers with its precision. Where most dryers with auto cycles monitor either moisture or temperature to determine when clothes are dry, this model measures both. It offers 13 cycles and four temperature options, as well as an interior light and a signal to mark the end of a cycle. (Where to buy) 

All the dryers listed here measure 6.5 to 7 cubic feet inside the drum. Users laud their capacity, declaring them plenty large for a full load. Each of the four models has a lint trap located on top, which some reviewers deem easier to clean than a filter inside the drum. Peeling off the lint after each load is essential to keep the filter from becoming a fire hazard and to improve efficiency, saving money on gas or electricity.

Electric dryers occupy far more laundry rooms than gas dryers and require a 240-volt outlet. If you have a gas hookup, as well, take note of local utility rates. A gas dryer may come at a higher price but cost less to run over time.

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