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How to Clean Your Dryer and Prevent Fires

well organised laundry room with wooden planked walls and a large white dryer in the foreground

If you didn’t already know that timely cleaning and maintenance of your dryer can prevent dryer fires, now you do! Unfortunately, not a lot of people are aware of this and therefore, allow lint to accumulate into little bunnies within the appliance, thus increasing the risk of a fire hazard. 

One of the most common misconceptions, however, is that merely cleaning the lint trap after every use or routinely is enough to eliminate the risk of a dryer catching fire. While this is certainly something that you should be doing, it will only reduce the possibility of a fire because lint is not confined to the lint catcher. These flammable fibres accumulate in internal areas such as the vent hose and around the internal components and base of the dryer. For these reasons, learning how to clean your dryer is critically important! Additionally, regular maintenance also ensures proper functioning of the appliance which, in turn, eliminates energy wastage that drives up your utility bills.

So, today, Maid For You is going to explain the safe and proper way to clean your dryer so that you don’t have to worry about it being a fire hazard in your home! Read on.

What You Should Know Before Cleaning Your Dryer

man in blue shirt cleaning lint trap in a front load dryer

To ensure that the cleaning process is carried out correctly, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you begin with the first step: 

Check the Manual

 The user guide typically provides directions for cleaning different components of the dryer; therefore, it is advisable to check the manual for specific cleaning instructions before you begin.

Understand the Difference Between a Lint Screen and Dryer Vent

The vent and lint screen are often mistaken as the same thing; however, they are separate components that must be cleaned individually. The lint screen and trap is generally located inside the door, towards the top of the dryer while the vent can be found at the back of the appliance.

Invest in the Right Cleaning Tools

 To clean your dryer efficiently, having the right tools is important. While most of the equipment required for the job can be found in the average household, some items like a dryer brush can be bought at a plumbing and/or hardware store. 

Things You’ll Need

man showing full lint trap of a dryer

Here are the tools and cleaners you will need to clean your dryer:

  • Vacuum cleaner + crevice tool
  • Soft brush
  • Microfibre dust cloths
  • Dryer brush
  • Screwdriver 
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Multipurpose cleaner

NOTE: If you don’t have a dryer brush, you can use a vacuum cleaner with a long, flexible hose.

Steps to Clean Your Dryer

man holding filter trap in front of dryer

The process of cleaning a dryer is pretty straightforward, however, it is important that you pay close attention to the steps below to ensure that you are doing everything carefully and efficiently. Now, let’s begin!

Step 1: Follow All Safety Measures

First things first; turn off the dryer and unplug the appliance. If you have just used the dryer, be sure to wait for it to cool down completely before you attempt to clean it. This should take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. For a gas dryer, you will need to turn off the gas supply from the main valve before proceeding to clean the appliance.

Step 2: Clean the Lint Screen

Pull the lint screen upwards to remove it from the lint trap. Brush off accumulated lint and observe the screen for visible dirt or stains; if needed, wash the lint screen with warm water and liquid dish soap. You can use a soft cleaning brush to gently scrub away dirt and stains before rinsing it thoroughly under running water.

Step 3: Clean Out the Lint Trap

The lint trap is the cavity that holds the screen in place. This narrow space is prone to lint because when the screen is covered in fuzzy fibres, some of it falls off and accumulates in the cavity. For this, cleaning with a narrow dryer brush is very useful, however, as an alternative, you can vacuum the space using a crevice tool instead. Whichever way you choose to clean out the lint trap, be sure to do a thorough job and look inside (with a torch, if needed) to double check that there is no lint hiding anywhere in the corners.

Step 4: Clean the Vent + Hose

For this, you will have to pull the dryer out away from the wall until you have enough space to get behind it and work efficiently. Start by disconnecting the vent hose from the back of the dryer which may be clamped or screwed on. Use a dryer brush or vacuum cleaner to clean out the cavity where the hose attaches itself. For the flexible hose or tubing, a dryer brush is recommended to remove lint and debris that may be clogging the duct. Alternatively, you can also use an appropriate vacuum attachment that is long and flexible to clear out the exhaust hose. 

Step 5: Clean Internal Parts

At least once a year, it is advisable to open the back panel of the dryer, and clean the base and internal parts which also accumulate dust and lint. It is fairly simple to unscrew and remove the rear panel; thereafter, you can use a microfibre dust cloth or vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool to remove lint and dust from inside. Be sure to wipe down the panel on both sides before you screw it back on.

Step 6: Wipe Down the Exterior

Before you reconnect the vent hose and push the dryer back in place, clean the exterior surfaces by giving them a quick wipe down using a dust cloth. If there are stains and detergent spills present on the exterior, dampen the cloth or use a multipurpose spray to clean off stubborn buildup.

Step 7: Clean the Drum

For a routine clean, wipe the inside of the drum with a clean, damp microfibre cloth. If the interior appears dirty or stained, perhaps a deep clean is in order. To do this, start by inspecting the fins or bumps where lint, hair, and thread tend to accumulate. You can pull out clumps with your fingers or use a toothpick to dislodge the debris and then remove it. For the interior, spray a small amount of all-purpose cleaner onto a clean cloth and give the inside of the drum a thorough wipe down. Finish off by wiping over the interior surface with a damp cloth to rinse off any residue left by the cleaner. 

When you are finished, reconnect the vent hose, put in the lint screen, push the dryer back in place, and plug it into the wall socket. 

With the seven steps above precisely followed, you can clean your dryer fairly quickly and easily! Above all else, it is imperative to understand the importance of cleaning your dryer using the guide above at least one or twice a year (depending on usage and lint buildup) to prevent fires in the appliance. 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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