You probably clean your clothes dryer’s lint screen after each load of laundry. That’s enough to keep lint from building up and causing trouble, right? Not quite. While the lint screen catches most of the lint that passes through your dryer, some gets past and into the vent that expels the hot, wet air from your home. Inside the vent, this stray lint can build up over time, increasing the drying time for your clothes, running up your electric bill and potentially creating a fire hazard.
Don’t test your luck with a vent full of lint. Here’s how to keep your dryer vent flowing free and clear.
- Screwdriver or nut driver
- Dryer vent brushes
- Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment (optional)
Step 1: unplug the dryer
Begin by pulling your dryer one or two feet away from the wall and unplugging it. If your appliance runs on gas, you’ll need to carefully disconnect that also.
Step 2: disconnect the vent and clean around it
Locate the clamp that’s the attached to the vent on the back of your dryer. Remove the clamp with a screwdriver or nut driver, and slide off the vent. Reach inside the opening and remove any lint you find. Vacuuming inside with a hose attachment may be most effective.
Step 3: clean the vent from inside the house
Typically, the dirtiest sections of the dryer vent are those at each end. Use a dryer vent brush to clean as far inside the vent as possible and remove the accumulated lint. A brush with a long and flexible handle will allow you to clean the farthest inside the vent. Simply work the brush as far into the vent as you can, then pull it back to drag out the lint. Following up your brushing by vacuuming inside with a hose attachment will help remove any remaining lint and debris.
Once finished, reattach the vent to the dryer and reinstall the clamp. Then, carefully push the dryer back into place without crushing the vent against the wall.
Step 4: clean the vent from outside the house
If you live in a freestanding home, you can likely access your dryer vent from outside. If so, remove your outside vent cover by unscrewing it and working away any caulk with a utility knife. Use the same brush (and vacuum, if desired) routine as you used indoors to clean from this end. Make sure to clean the vent cover as well.
Before the cover is replaced, plug the dryer back in and run it on its “fluff” setting for a few minutes to blow out any loose lint. After 10 minutes or so, turn off the dryer, reinstall the outside vent cover and recaulk around the edges.
Step 5: wash the lint screen (optional)
As long as you’re cleaning the vent, you may also want to run your dryer screen through the dishwasher. This will clean off the fabric softener and dryer sheet residue that can build up and restrict airflow. Use fabric softener sparingly and avoid dryer sheets to help prevent this problem.
Be sure to clean your dryer vent at least once a year or as often as every season if you do lots of laundry. With your vent clean, your dryer can continue to do its work at maximum efficiency and safety.