A clothes dryer produces a significant amount of heat. In some larger dryers and commercial units, the internal temperature reaches over 170 degrees. To hit this temperature, the heating filament must push over 200 degrees. This generating of heat is critical for drying clothes, but it also creates a major fire hazard. Without properly cleaning, a dryer has a huge potential to cause a fire, which is why it is so important to know how to clean a dryer. This isn’t difficult, and you can clean your dryer easily with just a few steps.
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About Clothes Dryers
Unless you live in a hot, dry climate, drying your clothes outside via the old fashion close line is not a routinely viable option. This also exposes clothes to potential dander and other allergy inducing things, which isn’t good if you suffer from seasonal allergies. With a clothes dryer you’ll never run into this problem and you’ll always have something on hand capable of drying a large amount of clothes in a short amount of time. You just need to know how to clean a dryer to keep you safe.
As a dryer runs, it will collect lint. You may have wondered why all the lint collects in a lint trap instead of sticking throughout the dryer, but there is a simple explanation behind this. No air is allowed inside of the dryer. At least, no air from the outside. An inflow of oxygen would increase the chance of fire, as fire does need oxygen to start (it’s also why your dryer stops spinning when you open it).
With a dryer, the heated air is forced into the dryer through the series of holes or vents around the dryer. If you have a smaller dryer, these holes are located both in the rear of the appliance and in the door. In a commercial dryer these are located throughout the spinning drum.
However, air cannot continually push out of the holes to dry the clothes. The current air needs a release; otherwise the dryer would continue to build pressure until it burst. This is where the lint trap comes in. Air is forced out through the lint trap. The lint trap runs through to the rear of the dryer and connects to the vent that takes the hot air out of the appliance and pushes it outside.
Photo credit to The Spruce
Benefits of Preventative Maintenance
All of the heat inside of a dryer is pushed out through the lint trap and the vent connected to it. No matter what kinds of clothing you’re drying, lint will always collect (some more than others, depending on the fabric). Other items, such as pet hair, will also collect in this area of the lint trap. As the lint trap collects, it makes it more difficult for the hot air to push through. It’s like a filter inside of an HVAC system.
As the filter collects dirt and other debris, it becomes a challenge for the treated air to push through, which forces the furnace or AC to work harder. In this case, the hot air may linger longer inside of the dryer.
When the hot air lingers inside of the dryer for longer, it increases the chance of fire. You have hot air lingering around lint and easily combustible materials. If any kind of air flow were to hit the dryer at peak heat (such as opening the door mid cycle) there is a greater possibility of a fire.
Fires don’t just happen inside the dryer. It can also happen with the vent connected to the outside. Lint can collect here inside this vent. There is already available oxygen, so this ingredient for fire is readily available. It doesn’t have the excessive, continual heat, but as the vent is usually made from aluminum, and there is a constant heat.
As more and more lint builds up, there is a greater chance for this heat to turn hot enough to start a fire and for the lint to expand the fire quickly. If a fire starts inside the vent it can travel outside, into the house and into other areas. All of this can be avoided if you know how to clean a dryer. You don’t need any special appliances or devices to clean out your vent. It takes a few minutes of your time (and possibly enough strength to push your dryer a few feet).
How to Clean a Dryer to Prevent Fires and Malfunctions
The big reason why you want to clean your dryer is to prevent fires. From time to time you might need to perform a deep clean if you accidently left a pen in your pocket or if a stick of gum somehow ended up in the dryer. This creates a mess that requires you to address the issue, although usually the other clothing absorbs the ink and the gum, so you likely must deal with cleaning it out of your other clothes and not the dryer! In general though, once you know how to clean a dryer you’ll find it is easy to do.
Stop and Unload
Before you begin the process, you need to let the current cycle end. Once the cycle has finished and the clothes are dry, remove the dry clothes. If you have a stack washer and dryer, you’ll want to remove the wet clothes. During the process you will need to move the dryer, so while you will not touch the washing machine, you’ll likely find it easier to push the unit away from the wall when the washing machine is empty.
Clean the Lint Trap
With the dryer unloaded and off, clean out the lint trap. Remove the trap and pull out all collected lint, hair, and other debris from the trap. Also, search and feel around the lint trap opening for any collected lint. Often times lint will collect in the ridges around the trap. Depending on what make and model you have, the lint trap is either at the front base of the door opening (with some slats on the underside of the door), or it might be located at the rear of the dryer. Wherever it is, you want to remove it and clean it out.
Clean the Dryer Vent
Chances are you haven’t cleaned your dryer vent in some time. Disconnect the dryer from the power supply and pull the dryer away from the wall. You need clear access to the tube running from the rear of the dryer to the opening on the wall behind it. This vent will probably clip off, although depending on the clip you might need a screwdriver to loosen it up. Remove the lint that has collected in the dryer and around the opening.
Now, the next process for how to clean a dryer is to check the metal tubing. Look inside the tube. If there is a small amount of lint pull this out. However, if the tube is compacted with lint, you want to have it replaced. You can purchase a replacement tube from the local home improvement store. This tube will only cost a few dollars, so it won’t set you back much. It is also easy to install.
Photo credit to AZ Air Duct
Just unclip it from both your dryer and the opening on the wall. Replace it with the new tube. This tube disconnects quickly and easily. You also don’t need an exact measurement to connect the two together as the material is built like an accordion. This way, you can remove any vent quickly.
When you have finished with this process, attach all vents back into position and connect the dryer back to the power source. Now, push the dryer back into its corner; but make sure not to crimp the vent, as this will reduce the air flow and cause the air to create a bottleneck issue, which is where too much air will build up and not enough of an opening will be available for the air to flow through. This in turn may lead to a fire. So always make sure the vent and tubing running from the rear of the dryer are not squished.
It is very important for you to know how to clean a dryer. This is more a matter of safety and fire prevention than anything else. A dryer doesn’t get grungy or dirty; after all, you’re taking clean clothes and putting them inside of the dryer. By knowing how to clean a dryer, you’ll reduce the potential for fire and you’ll also ensure the dryer doesn’t have to work harder than necessary; which it will if the lint trap is clogged and the heated air isn’t pushing through.
Cleaning your dryer will extend the life of the appliance which can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. So now you know how to clean a dryer, you’re able to clean it whenever necessary.