If you’ve ever smelled smoke from your dryer or noticed that it takes too long to dry clothes, you might already know how to clean your dryer vent. If not, remember that routine maintenance is needed to keep your dryer safe and efficient.
Why should you clean your dryer vent?
To prevent dryer fires, for starters! Lint builds up in the venting system over time. Mix those fine fibers with heat from your dryer, and you’ve got the perfect fire starter.
According to the US Fire Administration, dryer fires are responsible for approximately five deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property damage yearly.
When and How to Clean Your Dryer Vent Properly
We recommend cleaning your dryer vent every six to 12 months, depending on your use. Add it to your list of annual home maintenance chores, so it doesn’t get put on the back burner. You can have your vent professionally cleaned or use these DIY dryer vent cleaning instructions.
How to Clean Your Dryer Vent in 3 Easy Steps
Step #1: Clean the Lint Trap
Peel the lint off the lint trap and throw it away. If you’re not in the habit of doing this after every load of laundry, you should start now.
Next, hold the lint trap under running water. You may notice water pooling on the screen even though you can’t see any visible blockage. This is wax left behind by dryer sheets and fabric softeners.
Use warm soapy water and a soft brush to remove this residue. Rinse the trap well and make sure there’s no more pooling. Let the trap dry thoroughly before replacing it.
Step #2: Clean the Lint Trap Vent
While the lint trap is drying, use a long wire appliance brush to grab lint hiding in the lint trap vent or housing. You can bend the appliance brush to get into all the nooks and crannies. We recommend making several passes with the lint brush to ensure you’ve removed as much as possible.
Then, use a long, narrow vacuum hose attachment to suck away what the appliance brush may have left behind. If you clean your dryer vents every six to 12 months, this step won’t be a hassle next time.
Step #3: Clean the Dryer Vent
On to the most important step to note when you need to learn how to clean your dryer vent: cleaning the dryer vent duct. Move the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the power. Give yourself plenty of room to scooch in there and move around. Disconnect the duct from the wall.
Grab your appliance brush again and get to work!
›For Foil or Plastic Ducts: If your dryer duct is plastic or foil, gently spin the brush inside the duct to remove the lint buildup. Don’t be too forceful, as these flexible ducts could get damaged.
›For Metal Ducts: Metal dryer ducts can handle a bit more force. Attach an electric drill to the end of the brush to speed up the cleaning process.
Clogged Dryer Vent Symptoms
Now that you know how to clean your dryer vents properly, it’s time to learn the signs and symptoms of a clogged vent.
Dryer Takes Too Long to Dry Clothes
The vent system is basically like your dryer’s lungs. If the ducts are clogged with lint, they can’t take in air. In turn, it won’t be able to dry your clothes as efficiently. Inspect the vents for blockages if you notice your dryer takes more than one cycle or ends a cycle with damp clothes.
Dryer Vent Hood Flap Won’t Open
An outdoor vent hood flap that won’t open properly is another sign you must clean your dryer vent. You may also notice lint and debris spilling out from the vent opening. Check the external opening as part of your annual cleaning routine.
Burning Smell Coming from Dryer
Perhaps the most tell-tale sign you need to clean your dryer vent is if your dryer smells like smoke or burning. Turn the dryer off immediately and disconnect it from the power source.
How to Prevent Lint Buildup
To prevent lint build-up in a dryer, there are a few steps you can take. First, make sure to clean the lint screen or lint filter before every load of laundry. This will remove any lint or debris accumulated after the last load. Additionally, you can vacuum around the dryer’s exhaust vent, the pipe that leads to the outside of your home, to remove any lint that may have accumulated there. You should also have your dryer vent professionally cleaned every year to ensure that it is free of any clogs or blockages. Finally, consider using a dryer lint trap kit, which captures lint before it has a chance to enter the exhaust vent. By following these steps, you can help prevent lint build-up and keep your dryer running efficiently.
Dryer Safety Tips
- Always unplug the dryer before performing any maintenance or cleaning.
- Clean the lint screen or filter before every load of laundry.
- Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of clutter.
- Do not leave the dryer running when you are not home or unable to monitor it.
- Do not dry items that have come into contact with flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, or cleaning products.
- Do not use the dryer to dry items previously wet with flammable liquids.
- Clean the dryer vent every year.
- If you notice any unusual smells, noises, or issues with your dryer, stop using it immediately and have it inspected by a professional.
If you have more questions or need assistance with other issues with your dryer, call a dryer repair expert near you.