Tips for Cleaning Your Clothes Dryer

Senior man cleaning the lint from the trap in front loading tumble dryer

Thoroughly cleaning your dryer might not seem intuitive since you generally only fill it with clean laundry. But like all appliances, a well-maintained clothes dryer which includes periodic cleaning will ensure that the machine lasts as long as possible. 

Even more importantly, cleaning and proper maintenance of your dryer helps to ensure safety from fires. 

There is no hard and fast rule about how often to clean your dryer, but if you do a lot of laundry, you may want to clean your dryer as often as three to four times a year to ensure it continues to operate at a peak level of efficiency. 

You can clean your dryer and exhaust hose yourself easily, but for safety’s sake you must disconnect the electricity or gas before attempting any kind of dryer maintenance. 

In some cases, people decide to clean the dryer vent on their own, especially if it is easily accessible. However, hiring an HVAC professional to take care of the issue ensures a job expertly and safely done. This should be done once a year.

As with any appliance repair or maintenance, it’s important to consult your owner’s manual for instructions and safety tips for your model.

After Each Use

It’s important to clean the lint screen after every use of the dryer. Maintaining a clean lint screen dramatically reduces the risk of lint finding its way into the nooks and crannies that it’s not supposed to be in. Accumulated lint can also result in preventing the dryer from being able to exhaust hot air from the dryer. This could cause the dryer to overheat and eventually even cause a dryer fire.

Gently scrape off the lint from the screen and replace. If you use dryer sheets you may want to wash the lint screen every couple of weeks with a scrub brush and soap and warm water. 

Some experts suggest limiting the use of dryer sheets. Dryer sheets can make your clothes smell fresher, but they can also contribute to built-up lint in a dryer vent. There are a number of environmentally friendly alternatives to dryer sheets.

Once a Month

Wipe Down the Dryer Drum: If you use dryer sheets and fabric softener, they can leave a residue, clog your lint trap and add a film to the inside of your machine. Spray a solution of half and half white vinegar and water to mist the inside of the drum. Wipe it down with a microfiber cloth, leaving the dryer door open for it to air dry.

As Needed or Seasonally

Exhaust Duct: Unplug the dryer and disconnect the exhaust duct. The exhaust duct could be full of lint and debris. Getting rid of this lint will improve the efficiency of your dryer and greatly lower the risk of fire. 

Remove as much of the debris from the dryer’s exhaust duct as you can by hand.

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the remaining bits of lint and debris from the opening that connects to the dryer duct.

More information about inspecting and cleaning the exhaust duct is available here.

Back Panel: Before you reattach the exhaust hose, unscrew and remove the back panel of the dryer. Vacuum up any lint you discover within the machine. Use a small nozzle vacuum attachment, to reach into the small crevices. Screw the panel back in place and reattach the exhaust hose.

Lint Screen and Trap: Take the lint screen out of the lint trap and remove any lint that has built up on it. Vacuum the screen and the lint trap that holds it using a narrow nozzle attachment. If possible, unscrew the trap, lift it out, and vacuum the space beneath it. Then, wipe the trap and screen down with a slightly damp cloth and replace.

The Moisture Sensor: The moisture sensor, which is on most modern machines, tells your dryer when the clothes are dry. But if it’s covered in lint it can’t do its job, which can lead to your dryer turning off before everything is dry. Wipe the bar down with rubbing alcohol to clean it to keep your dryer running smoothly. Sensors are usually found near the lint trap or at the back of the machine. They look like two long, silver strips of metal surrounded by or mounted on plastic. But check your owner’s manual to be sure of its location.

The Drum: Vacuum the inside of the drum to remove any dust or debris. Wipe out the drum using an all-purpose cleaner or a half and half solution of vinegar and water and a cloth or paper towels.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can open the panel surrounding the drum and then clean out any lint that has built up around the drum. Check your owner’s manual to see how your particular make and model opens up. Look for screws around the lint filter. With the screws undone, the panel can be removed. With the drum exposed, remove lint and lost items by hand or with a vacuum.

Once you’re done, snap the panels back into place and then replace the screws.

The Exterior: You can clean the exterior of your dryer with an all-purpose cleaner or use a half vinegar, half warm water mixture. Spray the dryer or rag with your cleaner and wipe down the exterior completely. The dryer’s base and the lid are the most prone to gathering grime and lint so spend a little more time cleaning those areas.

Having completely reassembled the dryer, you can plug it back in. Now your dryer should now run like a new machine, drying your clothes more efficiently and leaving them fresher!

A Word About Fire Safety

The National Fire Protection Association has provided a list of dryer safety rules to help ensure safe operation of your dryer.

When your appliance needs professional care, call the experts at C&W Appliance Service. Call us at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form.

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