Under 2 hours
Dirty or clogged dryer vents and ductwork don’t just reduce your dryer’s performance. The combination of heat and accumulated dryer lint and dust can lead to a fire hazard. In fact, clogged clothes dryervents cause thousands of fires per year in the United States. Learn how to clean a dryer vent at least once a year to keep your home safe and ensure that laundry day runs at peak efficiency.
Tip: Check for warning signs of clothes dryer lint buildup such as laundry taking longer to dry, the clothes dryer becoming hotter to the touch or a burning smell becoming noticeable in the laundry room.
Disconnect the Dryer
- Before dryer vent cleaning, locate the vent, which should be easily found at the back of the dryer. Also locate the dryer exhaust vent at your home's exterior.
- The first step on how to clean a dryer vent is to unplug the dryer. If you have a gas dryer, turn the supply valve off while cleaning.
- Pull the dryer away from the wall about a foot to begin cleaning your dryer vent.
- Disconnect the dryer duct from the back of the dryer. You may need to use a screwdriver to disconnect the vent clamp.
Tip: Some types of flexible dryer hose made of plastic, vinyl or foil are more likely to become clogged and cause fires, so replace them with ductwork that meets your local building codes.
Vacuum Out the Vent
- While wearing safety gloves, remove lint from the hole at the back of the dryer.
- Cleaning lint from a dryer duct requires a vacuum. Use the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner or shop vac to clean in and around the hole at the back of the dryer.
- If you can detach the length of duct where it meets the wall, do so. It will make cleaning it easier.
- Cleaning a dryer duct isn't difficult. Remove lint from the duct by hand and then vacuum the inside of the duct. Use hose extensions, if available, to vacuum out as much of the duct as you can.
- Go outside the house and remove the exterior vent cover.
- Clean out the dryer vent from the outside using a vacuum.
Tip: Some homeowners use a leaf blower to expel dust through the vent from inside, but this tends to be a less efficient system for most homes.
Brush Out the Vent
- If your dryer vent is too long to efficiently use a vacuum to remove the lint, buy a dryer vent kit for an alternate method. These kits contain flexible brushes with extensions that can be used comparably to drain snakes and more thoroughly clean the vent’s interior walls.
- The first step to cleaning a dryer duct is to feed the brush into the duct and move it back and forth while slightly rotating it.
- Extend the brush as needed and continue until the vents are free of dust and lint.
Tip: Determine whether the interior or exterior opening of your house is higher and begin brushing on the higher side, so gravity will help loosen the lint.
Reconnect the Dryer
- When finished cleaning, inspect the ducts to make sure that they are undamaged and up to safety codes. Replace ducts if needed.
- Reattach ductwork and vent cover. If necessary, seal sections of ductwork with UL-listed metal foil duct tape.
- Push the dryer back into place and plug it in or turn the gas valve back on.
- To test the dryer, run it for 15 to 20 minutes on the fluff or air dry setting to make sure all the connections are strong and to dislodge any remaining debris.
Tip: If the above vent cleaning steps are insufficient, consider hiring a dryer vent cleaning service.
Take Steps to Avoid Lint Buildup
Reducing the amount of dust and lint in and around your dryer may reduce how often you need to clean the dryer vent.
- Regularly sweep and dust the area around the dryer.
- Remove the lint trap filter and clean it out before every cycle. It’s quick, easy and makes a big difference in your dryer’s performance.
- On a regular basis, remove the lint screen and vacuum in and around the lint filter housing with the hose attachment of the vacuum cleaner.
- Dryer sheets can leave residue on a lint screen that can build up over time. If the lint screen is clogged, use a scrub brush to wash it in warm, soapy water, rinse it with clean water and dry it off with a towel.
It's important to remove lint regularly to avoid lint buildup. Cleaning lint from a dryer ultimately protects your home from house fires as well. Not only can the lint catch fire due to buildup, but if a fire were to start due to other circumstances, the lint would provide fuel, causing the fire to grow. Cleaning a dryer vent not only keeps your home safe, but keeps your dryer working properly and efficiently.
A clogged clothes dryer may not just be a fire hazard, but can cause your energy bills to increase by requiring longer drying times for your laundry. Knowing how to clean a dryer vent can protect your house, save some money and make your clothes look better.
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