Did you know that a significant cause of house fires is the result of a dirty or clogged dryer vent? Not only is a lint filled dryer vent unsightly, but it is also a fire hazard. Learn how to clean a dryer vent to remove lint buildup inside the laundry room and in the outside vent.
Thousands of dryer fires are reported to the U.S. Fire Administration every year. While building codes require that dryer vents and ducts meet specific safety standards, keeping them clean and lint-free is the responsibility of the homeowner.
We often overlook dryer vent cleaning while performing home improvement projects. This area is generally unseen and is easy to miss. Not only is a clogged dryer duct unsafe due to the build-up of flammable lint, but it also wastes time and money. A dryer that is not working efficiently has a much longer drying time.
Cleaning Your Dryer Vent
You may not realize it but it is important to clean your washer and dryer periodically both for safety and sanitary purposes. Just because your washer cleans clothes doesn’t mean the appliance itself is clean.
A smelly washing machine may lead to smelly clothes and no one wants that. Likewise, the dryer needs occasional attention, too. Using a little apple cider vinegar for laundry is a great way to eliminate odors both from clothes and the washer.
There are several locations where dryer lint builds up, beginning with the lint screen and ending at the outside exhaust vent. We’ll show you how to clean the clothes dryer lint filter, ductwork, and vent using safe and effective measures without calling in professional cleaning services.
Cleaning the Lint Tray of Your Dryer
The first step to take when cleaning lint from the components of your dryer is to clean the lint screen. While the tray requires cleaning each time you dry clothes, it’s also an essential part of the overall lint cleaning process.
Lint Screen Cleaning
Remove the lint screen from your dryer. The lint tray is usually located in the front area after you open the door, on the top side of the dryer. Use your fingers to roll away all lint from the screen and dispose of in the garbage.
Use the vacuum cleaner hose attachment to suck out any loose lint from within the screen compartment. Insert the screen back into the lint tray compartment.
Wet Cleaning a Lint Filter
After cleaning the dryer screen to remove large bits of lint, consider giving it a heavy-duty clean with soapy water to ensure optimal performance.
Remove the lint screen from your dryer. The filter is located inside the door section or on the top of the machine. Pour hot water into a small container and add a couple of drops of liquid dish detergent.
Dunk the nylon brush into the soapy water and use it to scrub away lint particles from both sides of the lint screen. Rinse the filter thoroughly under a water faucet or faucet sprayer and dry the screen entirely with a soft towel before replacing it in the lint filter compartment.
How to Clean a Dryer Transition Duct Hose
The dryer vent hose is generally a flexible tube located at the back of your dryer, which connects to the duct in the wall. Over time, this becomes filled with lint, and removal is necessary using a vacuum cleaner or dust brush.
Unplug your clothes dryer from the outlet and pull the dryer away from the wall to allow enough room for rear access. If you have a gas dryer, use extra care while moving the dryer. Inspect the screws that hold the venting tube to the wall behind the dryer and use the appropriate screwdriver to remove them.
Remove the hose from the back of the dryer and carry it outside for easy cleaning. Use the vacuum cleaner hose to suck loose lint from inside the exhaust tube. To remove lint trapped within the hose, use a flexible and extendable dust brush to brush away lint from the inside walls.
If no further duct cleaning is required, reassemble the hose back onto the dryer and wall. If you are doing a thorough cleaning of the dryer vents, set the hose aside and move on to the next step.
Ways to Clean a Dryer Duct
The dryer duct is the tube that runs through your home to exhaust warm and moist air from your dryer to the outdoors. After you clean the dryer hose that runs from the dryer to the wall, use a cleaning kit to clean the vent duct.
Dryer Duct Cleaning
One of the best ways to clean a dryer duct is to pull the clothes dryer away from the wall to allow easy access to the duct. For easy cleaning, purchase a dryer vent cleaning kit from your local hardware store.
It consists of a six, two-foot-long flexible segments and a lint brush. They are inexpensive and fit inside most standard power drill chucks.
Insert the end of the vent brush into the duct and spin the rod clockwise while pushing the brush as far as possible into the ductwork. The brush spins the lint free and out the other side of the vent.
Now all you have to do is clean up the lint pile outside, reassemble the vent hose to the wall and back of your dryer, push the dryer back into its place, and plug it in. Now that your dryer is up and ready to go, use a homemade washer machine cleaner to clean the washing machine.
It’s a great opportunity to eliminate stains that may have developed inside the dryer drum, too. Getting pen ink out of a dryer or removing gum is relatively easy if you have the right tools and a little time.
How to Clean a Dryer Vent
The final step is cleaning your dryer vent duct on the outside of your house. It is located on the outside wall in the general vicinity of your dryer. The vent is either plastic or metal and usually has a damper that activates when the dryer is on.
Remove the cover of the vent, using a screwdriver if necessary. Insert a long wire brush into the opening of the vent and give it a twist and turn action while pulling it back out to free up lint. If you do not have a brush, use your hand to pull away loose lint. Replace the vent cover and screws.
Cleaning a Dryer Duct from the Outside
If your dryer ductwork exits the home over a flower garden or other area that you do not want getting filled up with lint while cleaning, clean the ductwork from the outside-in. Keep in mind, cleaning it this way makes a mess in the laundry room.
Pull the clothes dryer away from the wall and unplug it. Use a screwdriver to remove the interior venting hose from both the back of the dryer and the wall and set it aside. Place a large cloth on the floor beneath the wall duct to catch a majority of the lint.
Go outside and locate the exterior vent. Use the correct screwdriver to remove the cover of the vent and place the lid and screws in a safe place. Place the vent brush into the duct and spin it clockwise.
Continue rotating the lint brush while pushing it deeper into the vent until it pushes all of the lint into the laundry room. Replace the vent cover and head inside. Hopefully, most of the lint fell out of the vent onto the drop cloth, making it easier to dispose of in a garbage bag.
Replace the venting tube into the wall duct and back of the dryer. Push the clothes dryer back into its proper place and plug it in.
Increasing the Performance of Your Clothes Dryer
Using the right dryer vent cleaning tools is an essential step in maintaining your dryer, but there are other things to do to ensure you get the best performance out of it while keeping your home safe from fire hazards.
DIY Clothes Dryer Maintenance
There are several indications that your dryer is not working correctly. A dryer that takes longer than usual to dry clothing and clothes that are still damp after running a full cycle are tell-tale signs that there is something wrong with the venting system or it’s time to clean dryer vents.
Always clean the vent screen after each load of laundry. A heavily clogged filter makes the dryer work harder and causes overheating. Avoid using fabric softener or dryer sheets if possible.
Over time, they leave a film in the dryer and block the holes in the lint filter, making it challenging to remove lint. Check the venting tube regularly to ensure that it isn’t kinked or damaged and that it is still appropriately secured at the back of the dryer and wall.
Do not set items on top of your dryer to prevent overheating the blower. Use foil tape rather than duct tape to secure dryer vents to avoid failure due to extreme heat. Sweep along the sides and behind the clothes dryer regularly to remove lint and dust. Pull the dryer out and sweep or vacuum the area and crevices beneath it.
While you may think that cleaning the dryer lint screen is good enough, lint debris builds up at varying points in the dryer exhaust system. This includes the ductwork in your laundry room and the outdoor vent pipe. Keeping your dryer lint trap, duct, and exterior vent lint-free not only makes the drying cycle more efficient but prevents a fire hazard.
We’re happy that we could show you how to clean a dryer vent so that it runs more effectively and keeps your home safe, and we’d love it if you’d share out dryer vent cleaning tips with your friends and family on Pinterest and Facebook.