You may not realize it, but as a result of wear and tear, tiny fibers break away from your clothes every day. Most wind up trapped between the threads and strands of your clothing. It’s not until they’re run through the washer and dryer that they’re finally shaken loose. The water lifts fabric particles to the surface, where they’re pulled free by the airflow and tumble action inside the dryer.
Most of these particles are caught by the lint trap. However, some slip through gaps in the dryer and cause obstructions. If they’re not cleared away, they wind up blocking airflow and ratcheting up your energy bills. In worst-case scenarios, they can even cause a fire as lint is highly flammable. If it comes into contact with the heating element or a spark from the motor, it could trigger a disaster.
Fortunately, there are simple precautions you can take to improve safety and reduce energy costs. If you don’t know how to clean a dryer, this guide will walk you through the steps.
How to Clear the Lint Screen
Always clear your lint screen before you run your dryer. No tools or supplies are required. Pull it out and wipe away the lint with your fingers. However, to remove residue from detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets, you’ll need to scrub it down with soap and water every six months.
Wet both sides of the screen and scour it with a soft brush, such as a toothbrush. Wait until it has dried completely before putting it back. In the meantime, clear out any leftover fiber inside the trap itself. Insert a lint brush and twist it around to gather up any loose particles.
How to Clean a Dryer Drum
For your safety, always unplug your dryer before cleaning it. If you have a gas dryer, make sure the gas has been shut off before you start. But first, gather your supplies. You won’t need anything more than common, household cleaners, such as:
- Soft rag or microfiber cloth
- All-purpose cleaner
- Soapy water
- Rubbing alcohol
Once the dryer’s been disconnected, spray the drum with cleaner and wipe it down. Pay attention to the seams and dryer fins. Lint often ends up trapped there. If you can’t wipe it away, pry it loose with tweezers. If you’re using vinegar, be sure to dilute it: one part vinegar to one part water. Apply with a spray bottle if you can. Otherwise, wet the rag first, then clean the drum.
For stubborn stains, use rubbing alcohol. For major stains, soak some old towels in a mix of water and bleach (the ratio should be 3:1) and run them for 30 minutes on the fluff setting. Wring the towels first before loading them into the drum.
Occasionally, you’ll find clumps of grime or other substances (e.g. chewing gum, lipstick). To avoid scratching your dryer, scrape these away with a plastic spatula, not a metal one.
Don’t run your dryer immediately after cleaning it. Before plugging it back in, leave the door open for a few hours to let fumes and moisture dissipate.
Depending on how often you use your dryer, your drum may need to be cleaned once a month. However, for most households, 3-6 months is fine.
How to Clean a Vent Hose
The heating element relies on air flow in order to dry your clothes. As a result, if your clothes are still damp at the end of the cycle, your vent hose is likely clogged. Start by disconnecting the dryer and pulling it away from the wall to reach the vent. Next, unscrew the hose from the back of the dryer.
Though you’ll be able to remove some of the lint by hand, you’ll need a long-handle brush to clean it out entirely. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one in a vent-cleaning kit (available online). Insert the brush and rotate slowly to gather up as much lint as possible. After it’s been swept out, use a vacuum to clean up any loose debris.
Once the hose is clear, go to the exhaust vent outside and repeat the process. Trim any plants growing underneath the vent as well. You don’t want them to cause an obstruction. Finally, reattach the vent hose and push the dryer back into place.
Vents generally need to be cleaned every 6-12 months. It’s important to remember that an obstructed vent doesn’t always prevent clothes from drying. Therefore, pay attention to the length of your drying cycles. If they’re getting longer, it’s probably time to clean the vent.
How to Clean a Dryer Motor & Fan
Lint that’s been squeezed out of the drum often ends up collecting around the fan and motor. While not every homeowner feels comfortable opening their dryer, the procedure is simpler and safer than it appears. As usual, unplug the dryer first. Then unscrew the back panel. There may be a catch holding the panel as well. In some models, you may have to insert a flat screwdriver to release it.
Once the panel’s off, use a shop vacuum to clear away any dust and lint that’s accumulated inside. However, be careful not to disturb the wiring. After the inside is clean, wipe down the back of the panel with a damp cloth. Once it’s dry, reattach it.
Fortunately, lint doesn’t build up quickly inside your dryer, so it only has to be cleaned once every 6-12 months. A good rule of thumb is to assume that every time your vent needs to be cleaned, the inside does as well.
Protecting Your Dryer
Now that you know how to clean a dryer, you can expect it to keep your clothes fresh for years. But the rest of the house isn’t so lucky. Contact Homesential today and learn how our bundled home protection plans can keep the rest of your home functioning just as safely.