How to Clean the Dryer

An open dryer with clothes inside.

Did you know that an improperly maintained dryer could cause a fire? Lint build up in the dryer and its exhaust duct can cause many problems. It can block the flow of air, preventing your clothes from drying properly. It can create excessive heat build up and, potentially, a fire.

Fortunately, you can avoid all of these potential problems with a few preventative measures. A few precautions should be taken whenever you use the dryer. The first thing you should do if you have not already done so is to read the precautionary statements that are included with the dryer's manual.

Cleaning Steps

Maintain a clutter free zone around the dryer. Don't use the top of the dryer as a storage place. Allow empty space to exist around all of the dryer's sides, as well as the back of the dryer.

Avoid using the dryer for clothes that have been exposed to volatile chemicals including gasoline, cleaning solvents, cooking oils, and finishing stains or oils. Clothing with spills from any of these products should be hand rinsed before placing them into the washer.

Ideally, they should also be washed more than once. Moreover, it is best to hang them outside the home to air dry naturally. If you simply must use the dryer for these, place it on the lowest temperature setting. Remove the clothing immediately, and place it somewhere to cool down completely before putting it away.

Another important step to take is to remove any lint buildup from the lint trap after every use. Although the lint buildup may not be excessive, this excellent habit will keep you from ever allowing the lint to build up to a dangerous point. In fact, lint is often carried by campers to use as a starter for their campfire.

Annual Cleaning Steps

Man looking inside a dryer

Remove the lint trap from the dryer. Use an attachment from a vacuum cleaner to eliminate all signs of accumulated lint from the trap. Vacuum every area of the lint trap that is accessible. You can also use a lint brush to remove as much lint as possible, but it will not be as efficient.

Vacuum the floor beneath the dryer and the wall behind it to remove all traces of lint, dust, and dirt. To do this properly, you will need to remove the dryer from its location. Just pull it out far enough to allow you to complete the task. Exercise caution if you have a gas dryer and make sure that you don't disrupt the connection. If the floor is dirty, wet mop it now and allow it to dry before replacing the dryer.

Make a visual inspection of the exhaust duct. When you are inspecting and cleaning the exhaust duct, you need to unplug the dryer from the electrical outlet. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove all signs of lint accumulation from the duct.

Make a visual inspection of the exhaust hood that is on the exterior of the home. For this step, you will need to turn the dryer on and then go outside to look at the exhaust hood. An ideal time to do this check is when you have a load of clothes in the dryer anyway. Inspect it to ensure that the flaps are moving properly and are not being blocked by something such as a nest or debris. If the flaps are working properly, they will be moving without restriction. If the location of the hood makes it difficult for you to see the flaps, use a hand mirror to see what is happening. If something is blocking the duct, remove it when the dryer is unplugged.

If you do not have rigid duct material, then replace it. The plastic or foil accordion type ductwork traps lint more easily than a corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. They are also more susceptible to damage such as kinks and dents, which can reduce the air flow and increase drying time.

If you prefer, you can hire a professional to clean the dryer for you. If you decide to do so, have the cleaning service clean the interior of the dryer as well.

Your dryer places a big role in your laundry routine. Cleaning it properly will keep it rolling.