Taking time to clean your clothes dryer will save you money and maybe your home, too. In addition to causing nearly 13,000 residential fires annually, dirty clothes dryers run up utility bills because they take longer to do their job. Clean your lint trap with every use, and once a year clean your dryer using this deep-cleaning checklist to protect your home and your wallet.
How To Clean Your Clothes Dryer
1. Clean the exterior: Dryers, by their very nature, build up a lot of lint and dust on the outside. Wipe yours clean with a dry microfiber cloth to remove lint before spraying on your favorite cleaner and wiping it dry with a clean cloth.
2. Clean the drum: Using a mild cleaner, wipe down the inside of the dryer drum. Be sure to look for and remove any threads, pieces of tape or other items stuck in the fins of older-modeled dryers.
3. Clean the interior:
- First, unplug the dryer (electric or gas). If it’s gas-operated, shut off the gas, too. This is an absolutely critical step.
- Pull out the lint trap and clean it in the sink using hot, soapy water and a soft-bristled brush. Make sure to rinse until the water freely flows through the screen. Do not return it to the dryer until its completely dried.
- With the lint screen removed, use your vacuum cleaner’s hose and crevice attachment to clean as far as you can into the lint trap.
- Pull the dryer out from the wall as far as the vent tubing allows (about 2 feet). Slide the vent off from the back of the dryer, then reach into the hole and pull out all of the lint you can find. If your vacuum can reach, use that.
- Every two to three years you should unscrew and remove the back of the dryer so you can vacuum away any lint that’s built up. It will surprise you how much collects there!
- With the vent tubing still off, reach into the tubing and pull out any lint you can find. A vacuum works nicely on this part, too.
- Look through the vent hole that goes through the wall to the outside of the house. If you have the tools to blow it out, do so. Otherwise, vacuum if you can reach it or use your hand and a sturdy cloth to remove any lint buildup.
- Go outside and locate your dryer’s exhaust vent. Remove its cover, if any, and clean out all of the lint through the vent to the point where it enters the house.
- Back inside, reconnect the vent tubing to the exterior vent and to the back of the dryer. (Now is a good time to give the floor beneath your dryer a good hand-mopping, too.)
- Push the dryer back in place, and plug it in. (Gas dryers: turn the gas back on.)
- Turn the dryer on to the “fluff” or “no heat” cycle and run it for about 10 minutes. This will dislodge some more lint, so go back outside when the cycle is finished and remove anything that came out. Reattach the cover to the exterior vent and you’re done.
Although I haven’t tried it, I’ve heard good things about this rotary dryer vent cleaning system which attaches to a standard cordless drill. My vacuum came with a flexible attachment specifically for cleaning dryers and ducts, so I just use that.
While you’re at it, consider cleaning your washing machine for best performance, too.
Equipment You May Need: