How To Clean Messes In The Dryer

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Usually, when a person needs to know how to clean messes in the dryer, it’s because they’ve washed and dried an entire load of laundry only to find everything has come out with unexpected stains. Fear not.

Whether you’ve discovered gum in your dryer or candy, or even a broken pen, melted crayons or lipstick, all is not lost. You’ll even find help dealing with exploded feather pillows, fabric dye stains, and strange black scuffs in the dryer drum. So, read on.

How To Clean Messes In The Dryer

How to clean messes in the dryer

Ink Pen or Marker

Even though it might look like a nightmare inside of your dryer, removing ink stains is pretty easy: dampen an old cloth with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and wipe the ink away.

If there are several spots, you’ll want to use more than one cloth. Otherwise, you’ll just wind up smearing the ink everywhere.

It’s important to remember that rubbing alcohol is highly flammable, so once you’ve removed the ink be sure to wipe the inside of your dryer’s drum with a clean cloth dampened with plain water.

To get the mess off of your laundry, see these tips on how to remove ink stains from clothing.

Gum or Candy

Removing gum from the dryer, or melted candy, is a straightforward process.

  1. Scrape what you can from the dryer drum using the side of a credit card or a rubber spatula.
  2. Next, place an ice cube over the residue and let it sit for two minutes to harden it up. Break or scrape away as much as you can.
  3. If a mess remains, wet a dryer sheet (or moisten a washrag with commercial fabric softener) and let it sit on the gunk for 20 minutes. The surfactants in the softener will help break down the stickiness of the mess, so you should be able to scrub away the rest.
  4. Wipe the inside of the dryer clean with a damp, soapy cloth to remove any sticky residue, then repeat with a clean, damp cloth.

Melted Crayons, Lipstick, or Chapstick

Cleaning up melted crayons in the dryer involves the same steps as cleaning melted lipstick or chapstick in the dryer drum. That’s because they all share a similar waxy base.

  • Take out all of the clothing and run the empty dryer for a few minutes on high heat to soften the mess. While the dryer is still warm, use the side of a credit card or a rubber spatula to scrape up as much of the mess as you can.
  • Next, apply a few drops of olive oil to the corner of a microfiber cloth and begin wiping away the remaining residue. You’ll want to rotate your cloth and add additional olive oil, so you aren’t spreading the mess around.
  • Once the mess is gone, you can get rid of any lingering oil by cleaning the dryer drum with a rag dipped in warm, soapy water. Finish by wiping with a clean, damp cloth.

To get melted crayon or lipstick out of clothing, squirt liquid dish soap onto the spot and work it in with an old toothbrush. Wait 15 minutes then rinse with warm water. Launder the clothing immediately using oxygenated bleach (like OxiClean) and the heavy soil setting, using the hottest water the fabric allows.

Exploded Pillows

It’s an excellent idea to wash pillows every season to reduce dust mites, kill mold spores, and keep them fluffy. If one explodes, however, you need to clean the mess before continuing with laundry. Allowing pillow filling to remain stuck inside your dryer can cause a fire.

  • Scoop up as much of the mess as you can with your hands. Use your vacuum cleaner or a small hand broom to get up the rest.
  • Remove the dryer’s lint screen and use your fingers to pull out any more pillow filling you find in there. Then, insert a flexible dryer vent brush into the opening and scoop away as much as you can. (Those brushes are excellent for cleaning refrigerator coils, too.)
  • Unplug the dryer and pull it away from the wall.
  • Remove the dryer hose and use the flexible brush to clean it outside.
  • Reach into the back of the dryer and pull out any additional pillow filling or lint you find.
  • Repeat with the dryer vent on the wall.
  • Reconnect the hose, plug the dryer back in, and push the dryer back into place.

Clothing Dye

New jeans aren’t the only clothes that leave dye residue inside the dryer. Tie-dye and other home-dyed fabrics can leave streaks in the dryer drum, too.

Wipe the inside of the dryer with a paper towel dipped into rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. Repeat, using fresh towels as needed, until no more dye comes away.

If spots remain on the dryer drum, cover them with a damp dryer sheet for 30 minutes then use the sheet to scrub away any remaining dye.

Wipe the inside of the dryer drum with a clean, damp cloth to make sure all of the residue is gone.

Black Scuffs

If you’ve washed your houseshoes or slippers hoping to deodorize your smelly shoes, you may find black scuff marks on your dryer drum. Don’t panic!

You can get rid of them with a Magic Eraser or even the eraser on the end of a pencil — just rub. Be sure to wipe the dryer drum with a clean, damp cloth before running another load in it.

Remember: even without stains, your clothes dryer needs a thorough cleaning inside and out at least once a year. Here’s how to deep clean your dryer so it works better and doesn’t pose a fire risk.

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How to Clean Messes in the Dryer

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2 Comments

  1. What is a magic eraser

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Leann,
      A “Magic Eraser” is the product name for a melamine sponge marketed by Mr. Clean. You can also use regular, generic melamine sponges which cost much less. Unlike cellulose or natural sea sponges, melamine foam sponges have very tough 3-D fiber structures yet also feel soft. Their structure gives them excellent yet gentle scrubbing power, so they are fantastic at removing difficult scuffs and grime that other types of sponges or cloths can’t tackle.

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