If you’re looking to know how to clean a dryer vent, we’ll guide you through the entire cleaning process step by step. Remember that a dirty dryer vent doesn’t just reduce your appliance’s performance, it’s also a fire hazard.

That is to say, extreme heat, accumulated dryer lint, and debris can lead to a house fire – an occurrence that unfortunately is not uncommon in the United States. Cleaning a dryer vent at least once a year as part of your home maintenance checklist will keep your house safe and add to your machine’s energy efficiency.

How do you know if your dryer vent is clogged?

cleaning dryer

There are a few warning signs that indicate a clogged dryer vent duct. These include:

  • A burning smell upon running the dryer – whether it’s a gas dryer or an electric dryer.
  • The clothes do not dry completely or take longer to dry than they should.
  • The dryer unit or the clothes are extremely hot to the touch when the drying cycle ends.
  • Your laundry room becomes humid on running the dryer. 
  • The lint filter is clogged more than usual.

Read more: Plumbing tips for laundry rooms

How often should you clean your dryer vent? 

While the rule of thumb is to clean your dryer vent and ductwork once every 12 months, you may need to bring out your dryer vent cleaning kit more often if you have a large family or pets. 

How to clean your clothes dryer vent?

A DIY cleaning job is cheaper and more satisfying than hiring a professional. You’ll require some basic tools and supplies such as a vacuum cleaner with a long hose attachment, a dryer vent brush kit, a screwdriver, and UL-listed metal foil duct tape.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.

Unplug the appliance

For your safety, the first step is to cut power to the clothes dryer. Unplug the unit so that it doesn’t draw any electricity. Carefully, pull the dryer a bit from the wall to allow sufficient cleaning space. 

Locate the vent

The thick silver or white vent hose you see at the back of the dryer is the part that needs cleaning first. It’s generally about 4 inches in diameter. The vent material could be vinyl, aluminum foil, or rigid aluminum piping.

Follow the flexible vent hose along the transition vent pipe to the place where it exits your home. You may see circular brackets holding together the entire arrangement.

Disconnect the hose from the wall

Before you begin the cleaning project inside the house, spread a drop cloth or a garbage bag to catch any debris, hair, lint, dust, or dirt. Use a screwdriver to carefully unscrew the clamps that attach the dryer vent hose to the wall. Similarly, detach the vent hose from your machine by loosening the brackets. 

Vacuum-clean the hose

vacuum cleaner

Use a hose attachment on a vacuum cleaner or shop vac to suck out the lint, dirt, and hair from the hose – working from both ends of the hose. For a serious clog, you may consider using an auger snake clog remover.

And, here’s a cleaning hack: if you do not have a vacuum cleaner, you may even use a leaf blower to push out the excess debris from the hose. The garbage bag will be handy in preventing any mess at this stage.

Clean out all obstructions

You can use a dryer vent cleaning brush (a multi-sided brush attached to a telescopic pole) to remove any residual obstruction. Move the brush through the entire vent hose to scrub away any greasy debris or stuck-on dirt. Remember to clean the exterior vent too.

Wash the vent cover

Remove the vent cover on the dryer with a screwdriver and dip it into hot, soapy water. Rinse the cover and dry it with a microfiber cloth or air-dry it. Keep in mind that a clogged dryer vent cover can overheat and burn the internal mechanisms.

Reattach the vent cover and hose 

Reinsert the vent hose and tighten the clamps. Then, reattach the vent hose to the exterior ventilation pipe. You may seal the seams with foil duct tape. Slowly slide the dryer back to its original position. Wipe away any residual dust to ensure that the ventilation system is spic-and-span.

Reconnect the dryer

Plug the dryer back in. Run the dryer on the air-dry setting for approximately 20 minutes. Turn it off and then replace the outside vent cover.

Safety tips to keep your dryer cleaner and safer for long

Laundry room and washing machines
By in-house architect Edna Ramirez
  • If you want to keep your dryer exhaust vent clean for a longer time, clean the lint trap every time you run the dryer – especially if you use dryer sheets.
  • Instead of flexible foil, plastic, or vinyl ducts which are more prone to clogging, use a rigid metal duct. 
  • Keep vents clean and debris-free.
  • Do not run a dryer unattended or when you’re planning to leave the house. A dryer fire can wreak havoc.
  • Give the dryer sufficient room to function properly. Do not clutter up the place. 

Dryer vent maintenance tips

It takes regular dryer maintenance to keep your machine clean, running smoothly, and safe.

  • Remember to clean your dryer vent once a year. If you cannot cut through the lint and debris, it’s best to hire a professional.
  • Since fabric softeners and dryer sheets can clog the lint filter, leaving behind potentially flammable chemicals, you may want to put them in the dryer less often.
  • It’s best to dry heavy bedding such as duvets and bedspreads out in the sun on a clothesline.
  • Use a lint remover for pet hair on your clothes before washing them to reduce lint buildup.
  • Clean the lint filter after every use. 

Last thoughts

Tackling the clothes dryer vent the right way will not just keep your machine going for long, but it will also prevent fire breakouts. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, clogged dryer vents are a leading cause of domestic fires. 

Maintaining a clean dryer vent ensures the smooth running of your appliance, a spotless lint screen, and quicker drying time. Most importantly, it decreases the risk of house fires. 

Read more: Financing your appliances

How to clean a dryer vent in minutes was last modified: December 8th, 2022 by Ramona Sinha
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