How to Clean and Maintain Your Dryer to Avoid a Fire
A few simple tasks could help you avoid a disaster.Jill Nystul · March 29, 2017
Today’s post comes straight from the file of “stuff I should probably be doing more often.” I want to talk about your clothes dryer, and how to clean and maintain it properly. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually a safety issue! The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that poorly maintained dryers cause nearly 3,000 house fires each year. So hopefully we can all learn something today that will help us avoid a similar fate!
The way you use (or don’t use) your dryer can make it less efficient and even run up your energy bill. Find out which common dryer mistakes may be to blame!
It’s actually quite easy to keep your clothes dryer running in tip-top shape, and there are more reasons to do it than just avoiding a fire! A well-maintained clothes dryer will dry your clothes faster and requires less energy to operate, which saves you time and money. There are a few easy tasks that will help keep your dryer clean, and I’ve divided them up based on how often you should do them. So let’s get started! :-)
After Every Use
You should clean the lint trap in your dryer before or after each use. It’s a good habit to get into, even for small loads. If you make it a habit, you’ll be much less likely to accidentally forget about it.
Once A Month
Removing the lint from your lint trap is important, but it won’t get it completely clean. All sorts of things can build up on the trap over time, including fabric softener residue and detergent residue. These residues trap some of the lint and can form a film that makes it hard for air to pass through.
So once a month, it’s a good idea to remove your lint trap and give it a good wash. Gently scrub it with soap and warm water, and rinse it well. Let the trap dry completely before replacing it in your dryer.
Once A Year
Once a year or so, you should perform a more thorough inspection/cleaning of your dryer. (Be sure to unplug your dryer before performing any interior maintenance!) You can usually pop off one of the panels with a screwdriver. Then you’ll want to use your vacuum to remove any dust and lint hanging around, but steer clear of wiring, belts, and other mechanical parts.
You should also check the exhaust hose to make sure it’s clear of dust and debris. A shop or house vacuum cleaner can help reach inside and usually does a good job of removing the lint.
If you’re not sure you’re up for it, you can always call an appliance repair specialist in to do it for you. Preventative maintenance is always going to be cheaper than large repairs, and definitely cheaper than dealing with a house fire, so it’s an investment worth making!
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for heat settings and clothing amount. Overfilling your dryer can actually cause it to overheat.
Buy an inexpensive cleaning brush or kit to help clean out your lint trap and the area underneath your dryer.
Be aware of the signs that your dryer could use a tune-up. Signs include:
Clothes coming out of the dryer feel very hot.
The outside of your dryer is hot.
Your laundry room seems humid.
A burnt smell.
The exhaust flow is weak.
Now you can sit back and enjoy peak performance, efficiency, and safety from your clothes dryer!