Follow these steps to clean your clothes dryer and keep it in top working condition. Your clothing will dry faster, using less energy. You’ll also reduce the risk of your dryer causing a fire.
Yep. Dirty dryers are serious fire hazards. Every year, lint-clogged dryers and dryer hoses are to blame for more than 15,000 house fires in the United States.
While cleaning the trap after every load helps reduce this risk, lint still builds up in the vent and hose, and even inside the covered parts of the machine.
The good news is that it only takes about an hour to deep clean your dryer, and the energy savings, better performance, and improved home safety are worth it.
Steps to Clean Your Dryer
1. Unplug the Machine and 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 knobs and buttons, too, since they both collect grime.
2. Clean the Lint Trap
- Pull out the lint trap screen and wash it in the sink with warm, soapy water. Rinse it well and let it air dry.
- While the lint trap is drying, use your fingers to pull out any clumps of lint, thread, or other things the screen didn’t catch.
3. Clean the Dryer Drum
Some dryers have fins (or bumps) inside the drum. A lot of times, things like thread or clumps of pet hair get wedged in the crevice under the fins.
- Remove stuck threads and hairs. Look in your dryer and pull out anything wedged in the fins. If you can’t get the mess with your fingers, scrape it out with something like a rubber spatula or old credit card that won’t damage the dryer drum.
- Clean stubborn messes in the dryer drum. Rub sticky spots with warmed olive oil then gently scrape them with the edge of a rubber spatula to remove grime. Remove scuffs with a paste of baking soda and water.
- Wipe the drum interior. Once you’ve removed stuck-on messes, spray the inside of the drum with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe it clean.
4. Deep Clean the Rest
If you’ve looked behind the back panel of your dryer, you’ll be shocked by how much lint finds its way inside. When I first cleaned my 6-year-old dryer, I pulled out two buckets of the stuff.
- Clean the vent hose. Remove the tubing from the back of the dryer and pull out any lint you find. You can vacuum inside the vent hose or use a leaf-blower to clean it.
- Take off the back panel. Remove the screws that secure the rear panel of your dryer. Stick them in a cup, so you don’t lose them while you work. Clean any lint you find without disturbing wire connections. Use a damp cloth to clean the inside of the back panel and let it dry before reinstalling it.
5. Clean the Vent on Both Sides
- With the hose still off, reach inside the vent opening and remove any large chunks of lint you find. Use your vacuum cleaner to remove the rest.
- Next, go outside and find the dryer vent. Clean any cobwebs or debris. Trim any hedges that might prevent the dryer vent’s flap from opening when it runs.
- Finally, go back inside to reconnect the dryer hose, plug your dryer back in, and push it back into place.
Tips to Keep Your Dryer Clean
After every load: Empty the lint trap. Do NOT use a fabric softener sheet to scoop out lint. Those sheets have an anti-static coating that repels lint, making your screen ineffective.
Once a week: Clean the inside of the dryer drum with a disinfecting wipe. Inspect the fins for tangles of thread or hair and remove them. Clean the outside of the dryer using an all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth.
Once a month: Wash the lint filter monthly with warm, soapy water and let it air dry. This habit keeps the screen from developing any residue that can clog it.
Once a year: Perform the deep-cleaning and vent-cleaning steps above annually, so your dryer remains efficient and safe.