Knowing how to clean your clothes dryer will help you in more than one way. Lint-clogged dryers take longer to dry clothes, so you wind up paying for more electricity. Longer tumbling in the dryer is hard on your clothes, too, leading to pills on knits, fading, and fraying.
Then there’s the safety issue. Every year, dirty clothes dryers cause more than 15,000 house fires in the U.S.
Think cleaning your lint trap after every use is enough to keep your dryer clean and safe? Think again! Lint builds up in the exhaust hose as well as inside the dryer itself. So, while it’s a task that takes around an hour to do properly, it’s an important one to do once a year to keep your family safe.
How To Clean Your Clothes Dryer
1. Clean the exterior
Dryers build up a lot of dust and lint on the outside. To start a proper deep-cleaning of your dryer, unplug it and pull it out from the wall. Clean the exterior with a microfiber cloth and homemade all-purpose cleaning spray. Be sure to clean well around any knobs and buttons: grime tends to build up there and collect dust.
2. Clean the drum.
Pull out the lint trap and wash it in the sink with warm, soapy water. While it air dries, clean the inside of the dryer’s drum. Look for and remove any threads, pieces of tape or other items stuck in the fins of older-modeled dryers. To remove sticky or greasy messes, rub them with warmed olive oil then gently scrape them up with the edge of a spatula. Get rid of scuffs with a Magic Eraser or by gently rubbing with a paste of baking soda and water. Once you’ve removed messes, spray the inside of the drum with all-purpose cleaner and wipe it clean.
3. Clean the unit’s interior.
There’s no way around it: this step is harder than merely wiping a few surfaces. It’s also essential to removing any lint that’s built up in your machine. Rather than describing in detail the process of removing the screws and lifting the lid to get at the machine’s interior, here’s a video that shows how to do it.
If you’ve never done it before you’ll most likely be shocked by how much lint escapes the lint trap and finds its way inside the dryer unit itself. When I first cleaned my 6-year-old dryer, I had to pull out two buckets of lint when I first removed the lid!
4. Clean the hoses.
Remove the vent tubing from the back of the dryer and pull out any lint you can find. If there’s buildup on the walls of the tube you can vacuum it, but it’s often smarter to just replace the whole tube. That’s especially true if your dryer vent hose is one of the crinkly, foil types — they’re particularly prone to lint buildup and are highly flammable themselves!
5. Examine and clean the outside vent.
With the hose still off, reach inside the vent and remove any large chunks of lint you find, then use your vacuum with a dust attachment to remove the rest. Next, go outside and inspect the vent cover. Clean away any cobwebs or other debris that’s accumulated on the cover. Trim back any hedges that could keep it from properly venting, too. Once the vent is clean, go back inside to reconnect the dryer hose, plug it back in, and push it back into place.
To keep the dryer running well between deep cleanings, empty the lint trap after every load. Once a month, wash the lint filter with warm, soapy water and let it fully air dry to get rid of greasy residue that can clog the filter, then wipe the drum and exterior with all-purpose spray to keep them clean.
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