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How to Clean a Dryer Vent the Right Way—and How Often You Should

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How to Clean a Dryer Vent the Right Way—and How Often You Should

For most of us, the age-old expression “out of sight, out of mind” applies when it comes to dryer vent cleaning. It’s easy to forget that lint and debris collect in exhaust pipes over time, but keeping your dryer vent clean is an important chore to add to your to-do list. Dirty dryer vents not only impede your dryer’s ability to dry your clothes but are also one of the leading causes of house fires. We turned to a cleaning expert to find out how to safely and effectively clean your dryer vent and how often to tackle this laundry room task.

How to Clean a Dryer Vent

Ready to clean your dryer vent? Follow the method of Melissa Maker, cleaning expert and founder of Clean My Space, below.

Materials Needed

  • Vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • Lint brush
  • Flashlight
  • Vent cleaning brush
  • Screwdriver
  • Dustpan and broom

Instructions

  1. First, unplug the dryer to ensure safety. Pull the dryer away from the wall to access the vent easily. Remove any lint or debris from the area around the dryer.
  2. Loosen the clamp securing the vent hose to the dryer using a screwdriver. Gently pull the vent hose off the dryer’s exhaust outlet.
  3. Shake out any loose debris from the vent hose. To remove stubborn lint buildup, use a vacuum cleaner with a narrow attachment or a lint brush.
  4. Check the dryer’s exhaust opening for any blockages or buildup. Use a flashlight to look inside and ensure it’s clear of lint and debris.
  5. Use a vent cleaning brush to reach deep into the vent opening and remove any accumulated lint or debris. You may need to use gentle pressure and a twisting motion to dislodge stubborn buildup. 
  6. Once the vent is clear, slide the vent hose back into the dryer’s exhaust outlet. Then, tighten the clamp securely using a screwdriver to ensure a snug fit.
  7. Once the hose is reattached, check for any gaps or leaks around the connection. Ensure the clamp is tightened sufficiently to prevent air leaks.
  8. Plug the dryer back into the power outlet, turn it on, and run it for a few minutes to make sure the air is flowing properly.
  9. Lastly, inspect the area around the dryer for any remaining lint or debris. Use your vacuum or broom and dustpan to clean up any mess, then return your dryer to its original position.

Don’t have a vent cleaning brush? You can also use a dryer duct cleaning kit and power drill to reach deep into the vent and clean.

How Often You Should Clean a Dryer Vent

You should plan on cleaning your dryer vent at least once a year. Cleaning your dryer vent regularly will keep your dryer running smoothly and ensure your laundry room doesn’t become a fire hazard, says Maker.

Signs You Need to Clean Your Dryer Vent

Even with annual cleanings, you may find that your dryer vent needs additional maintenance. If you start to notice that your clothes are taking too long to dry or your laundry room is feeling increasingly humid, chances are it’s time for a cleaning. 

Another tell-tale sign that your dryer vent is becoming clogged is that your dryer is hotter than usual, and your clothes come out particularly hot. You might also notice more lint coming out of your dryer than usual. These are signs that you may have a dryer fire hazard on your hands.

Tips for Keeping Your Dryer Vent Clean

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your dryer vent clean, preventing blockages, and avoiding potential fire hazards. “Additionally, it decreases drying time, saving energy and prolonging the lifespan of your dryer,” says Maker. “Neglecting vent maintenance can also cause your dryer to work harder, leading to potential breakdowns and costly repairs.”

The most effective way to keep your dryer vent clear between annual cleanings is to remember to empty your lint trap every time you run the dryer. This goes double if you use dryer sheets. Lint traps can also be installed on the hose of your washing machine to help remove lint before your clothes ever hit the dryer.