How to Clean Your Dryer the Right Way

There’s always a right way to do things and a wrong way to go with it, and when it comes to how to clean your dryer, this is no exception.  According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are 2,900 clothes dryer fires reported each year, causing an estimated 5 deaths and about $35 million in property loss.

how to clean your dryer

When cleaning your clothes dryer, you certainly want to ensure you are doing it the right way so your home doesn’t fall into these looming statistics.

Everyday Maintenance: Cleaning Out the Lint Trap

Most homeowners are aware that every time you run a load of clothing in your dryer, you need to clean out the lint trap.  Lint builds up in the lint filter, a removable screen that typically sits under the dryer door for easy access.

It doesn’t take very much to ignite lint and cause a dryer fire, so a thorough cleaning of the lint trap area once every two weeks is a smart idea for fire prevention.

Thoroughly clean this part of your dryer at least every two weeks.  Lint builds up quickly and if you have an old dryer, there’s a good chance that not all of it properly collects on the screen.  Remember that despite this tedious chore, a small spark is all it takes to set it on fire.

Basic Cleaning

After every cycle ran in the dryer, clean out the lint filter.  Pull the screen up and use your hands or a dry cloth to collect the lint.  Dispose of the lint and follow up with a dry cloth to pick up any lingering lint pieces.

Wash the lint filter with warm, soapy water and set it aside to air dry.  Be sure to use your cloth to wipe away any build up around the lint trap slot and on the screen itself.

Next, use a narrow hose attachment on a vacuum and clean out the lint your cloth could not reach.  Dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe the inside of the dryer’s drum.  Wipe the top surface of the dryer and the control panel, freeing it from dust and buildup.

Clean the Exhaust Duct

Lint can sometimes become stuck in the exhaust duct and this could lead to very serious house fires, causing property damage and potential injuries.  As a homeowner, you need to be cleaning your exhaust duct for your dryer at least every six months.

For the first task of cleaning the exhaust duct, turn off the gas and unplug the dryer and move it away from the wall.  Carefully pull the exhaust duct away from the dryer, disconnecting it so you are able to get in there and clean it out.

Using the hose attachment on your vacuum, clear away any lint buildup that became trapped inside of the exhaust duct.  Use a brush or a microfiber cloth to aid you in this task.

It’s suggested that if you have a plastic exhaust duct for your dryer that you replace it with a rigid metal one.  Plastic tubing, though quite popular for many years due to its cheap production cost, is no longer code in many buildings.

Lint trapped inside of a plastic duct can become incredibly hot and can catch fire because of this, which is exactly the reason why rigid metal ducts have replaced plastic.

If you’re uncomfortable with doing this, it’s best to leave it to the professionals so you don’t damage anything and end up having to pay for more repairs. A company like Early Times can clean your dryer vent fast and efficiently so you’ll have no worries of damaging anything.

Dismantling the Dryer

Before hooking the exhaust duct back to the dryer, use a screwdriver to take apart the dryer paneling.  Lint has a tendency to get everywhere, so use the narrow hose attachment and vacuum inside the machine, focusing on the part that connects to the dryer’s exhaust vent.

Make sure you clear out all of the crevices before installing the panel and the exhaust duct onto the dryer.

Reassembly and Test Run

how to clean dryer

Once you have made sure that your dryer is lint free and sparkling clean, it’s time to reassemble it.  First, install the panel back onto the dryer with a screwdriver.  Move the dryer back against the wall to its starting spot.

Next, reattach the exhaust pipe to its original position to the back of the dryer.

After the lint trap is completely dried from when you rinsed and washed it out earlier, place it back inside its slot in the dryer.  Plug the dryer back into the socket and turn the gas back on.

The next cycle you run should be more efficient than the dryer’s functioning before the deep clean.  Lint buildup can slow down a dryer’s efficiency and make its ability to dry clothes less effective.

Remember the Dryer Do’s and Don’ts

According to the United States Fire Administration, there are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes down to dryer safety.  Knowing these guidelines can help prevent fires, which have the potential of resulting in thousands of dollars of property damage to your home, injuries, and even deaths.

A deep clean is necessary for both fire prevention and dryer functionality.  Focusing on areas that lint tends to accumulate will help keep your dryer clean and maintain its ability to efficiently dry clothing.

Check the outside vent to ensure that no buildup of animal nests or debris is blocking the outlet.  Replace the exhaust duct with a rigid, non-ribbed metal duct if it hasn’t been already.  When going on extended trips that keep you away from home for long periods of time, be sure to unplug or disconnect the dryer.

A main problem to avoid when using your dryer is a loose lint filter, or one that is damaged or filled with lint.  Overloading the dryer could produce excess lint, and there are times when a filter cannot handle the amount of lint accumulated, resulting in a damaging house fire.

Also, don’t dry anything that contains foam, rubber, or plastic.  It’s better to let these items air dry because the application of intense heat could result in a fire.  It’s essential to remember that prior to throwing clothes in the dryer to check the labels to ensure proper care and maintenance of special items. This is especially important for items that recommended not placing them in the dryer.

Don’t put clothing in the dryer that had previously come in contact with flammable materials, like alcohol or gasoline.  Even though these clothing items may have been washed, the applied heat and lint build up could ignite and start a fire.  Instead, place clothing items in a well-ventilated room that is completely away from heat.

Keep Your Dryer Clean

Staying on top of the chore of cleaning your dryer can save you an immense amount of time down the road, assist in the efficiency of your dryer’s abilities and functionality, and most importantly, help prevent what could be a terrible and damaging house fire.

Once you get the hang of this chore and know your way around dismantling and reassembling your dryer and exhaust pipe, this common household task can be done in under a half hour.

By cleaning your lint trap after each cycle, clearing debris out of the venting every three months, and by regularly inspecting and removing lint from your dryer, you can avoid becoming a statistic in dryer fires.

As mentioned earlier, you can count on Early Times for all your dryer vent cleaning needs. We’ve been making homes cleaner and safer since 1985. Get a free quote now for your next dryer vent cleaning.

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