How to Clean a Dryer Vent

Jennifer L. Betts
Man cleaning dryer vent

Home maintenance is important. And this extends right to your trusty dryer. Not only can maintenance keep your machine running in tip-top shape but can save you money in the long run. Learn how to clean your dryer vent and why it is important. Delve into how often it should be cleaned. And don't forget the warning signs that it might be time to clean your dryer vent.

Cleaning Your Dry Vent Made Easy

Did you think that cleaning your lint trap was all you needed to do for your dryer? Not so much. It is really important to clean your dryer vent too. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, you should clean your dryer vent about every three months.

Materials

Getting down and dirty with your dryer is, well, a dirty job. Therefore, you're going to need the right tools to get the job done.

Step 1: Unplug Your Dryer

You want to make sure that your dryer is unplugged before you start playing around with any pipes. You don't want to get electrocuted while trying to keep your home safe. If you have a gas connection, make sure you turn it off first.

Step 2: Locate Your Dryer Vent

Most people don't really know what a dryer vent looks like but it's actually really easy to locate. It is the aluminum pipe that connects from your dryer to your wall. You should be able to push your dryer a bit away from the wall so that it is easier to see. Make sure that you pay special attention to the gas hose when moving things around, if you have a gas dryer. Rather than have a gas leak, call a professional if in doubt.

Step 3: Detach the Exhaust From the Vent

Now that you see that shiny lint holder going into the wall, it's time to get dirty, or clean, depending on how you think about it. Using the screwdriver, you need to loosen up the clamps that attach the exhaust to the vent. Now, pull the two apart.

Lint being removed from a dryer vent

Step 4: Get Cleaning

Once you open that beauty up and cough a few times, you need to get the vacuum ready.

  1. Start with the exhaust on the back of the dryer.
  2. Using the brush or hanger, carefully loosen up any debris and then vacuum it out.
  3. Check the hose for lint and loosen it gently. Vacuum it out.
  4. Check the hose for any damage.
  5. All clean. Reattach the vent to the dryer.

Step 5: Clean the Exterior Vent

Your exterior vent is just as important as cleaning the interior. After you've found your vent outside, you will:

  1. Use the screwdriver to remove the cover if necessary.
  2. Use the brush or your gloved hand to remove any lint build up.
  3. Run the dryer for about 20-30 minutes empty.
  4. Check that any additional lint has been blown out and replace the outside cover.

In only five simple steps, you've successfully cleaned your dryer duct. You can dry a load of laundry to celebrate!

Aged vent with white shutters

The Importance of Cleaning Your Dryer Vent

No one ever wants to throw their money down the toilet. But if you aren't cleaning your dryer vent, then you might as well be. Clogged dryer vents can make it take longer for your clothes to dry and make the machine run longer. This can make your electric or gas bill skyrocket. Nobody wants that. It's also important to keep your dryer vent clean for personal safety. A clogged dryer vent means that exhaust isn't getting out, and that heat has to go somewhere. Not only can the lint itself catch on fire but your machine can start running really hot, according to the Duct Doctor. Hence the reason that blocked ducts are the leading cause of clothes fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Warning Signs Your Vent Is Clogged

Since cleaning your dryer vent might not be really high on your list of laundry priorities or something that can quite easily be forgotten, there are telltale signs that will let you know that your dryer vent is clogged.

  • Because of the lack of airflow, your clothes and even outside of your dryer will start to feel really hot.
  • The time to dry your clothes is taking longer than normal.
  • Do you smell burning? A burning smell could mean that lint build-up is actually catching on fire.
  • Lint is gathering around your house or your vent outside. Maybe your vent isn't opening like it should. This spells trouble.
  • Steam or moisture is starting to collect in the dryer.
  • No air coming out of your lint trap if you remove it when the dryer is working. This means you have no air flow.
  • And finally, if you don't know when the last time was it was checked, you should probably give it a look-see.
Dirty aluminum air dryer duct

Clean, Happy Dryer

Cleaning your dryer is more than just scraping the lint off the lint trap. While this is important, you need to make sure that you are cleaning out your dryer vents. Keeping these clean and debris free, can help to not only prevent a house fire but keep your money in your pocket where it belongs.

How to Clean a Dryer Vent