Cleaning Dryer Vents

by April Reinhardt
(last updated February 27, 2017)

Did you know that the most common cause of clothes-dryer fires is lint buildup? When there is not enough air circulation from the dryer vent to the outside of the building, it is because of lint buildup in the venting tube. Lint is extremely combustible, and especially the type found in dryer vents. Residue from fabric softeners combines with heat and moisture to make a volatile lint mixture.

Lint buildup also prevents clothes from drying in one cycle. If you find that your load of towels simply won't dry like they did when you first installed your dryer, it may be time to clean the lint buildup from your dryer vent to promote adequate air circulation. Follow these simple steps to clean your dryer vent:

  1. Always unplug your dryer before cleaning the dryer vent. If you have a gas dryer, turn off the gas.
  2. Pull the dryer away from the wall and loosen the vent clamp and slide the vent off of the dryer vent lip.
  3. Put your hand into the vent hole on the back of the dryer and pull out all of the lint. After you use your hands to remove all of the lint, use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to clean out the rest.
  4. Next, put your hand into the vent tubing and pull out all of the lint that you can reach. If there is more that you cannot reach, unbend a wire hangar and use it to pull the lint from the tube, taking care not to puncture the tubing. Use your vacuum cleaner hose to suck out the rest.
  5. Reattach the tubing to the backside of the dryer and slide the dryer back to its original position.
  6. Go to the outside of your house and remove the vent from the wall. You may need to loosen caulk or screws to remove it. The vent has a sleeve about a foot long. Remove the entire unit.
  7. Clean all of the lint from the unit, then reach into the hole on the wall as far as your arm will go and pull out all of the lint buildup.
  8. If there is more lint beyond your reach, use the same wire hangar you used before to pull it out. Use your vacuum cleaner hose to suck out the rest.
  9. Open your dryer lint screen housing and clean the lint screen. Open your dryer and look inside to see if any residual lint came into the unit while cleaning the vents.
  10. Plug the dryer into the electrical outlet and turn on the gas.
  11. Run the dryer for ten minutes on the air fluff cycle.
  12. Check the dryer vent hole on the outside of the house for any lint buildup. If everything is clear, reinstall the sleeve unit.

Cleaning your dryer vent doesn't take much time, and may save you money and energy, as well as future fires.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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