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How Often Should You Clean a Dryer Vent? 5 Easy Steps

Basement Ventilation

Have you noticed your laundry room suddenly feeling like it’s about to scorch? While warm towels are a normal part of laundry day, you might notice that the air around you, the dryer, and the freshly laundered clothes all feel hotter than they’re supposed to. You might even smell a faintly singed scent like something’s about to catch fire. If you notice any of these signs—or if it’s been a year or more since your dryer was last inspected—it’s probably time to clean out your dryer vent. Fortunately, it’s a quick and easy fix that will only require a vacuum cleaner with the hose attachment and perhaps a screwdriver and an unused toilet brush.

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When to Clean Out Your Dryer Vent

It’s recommended that you clean out your dryer vent at least once a year, but more than that if:

Reasons to clean your dryer:
  • You have animals. Fur, dander, and animal waste can get trapped in the vents. People who own animals will probably want to clean out their dryer vents several times a year to prevent lint from building up, especially if they have an animal that sheds.
  • The clothes aren’t drying properly. If you have to repeat the drying cycle multiple times, it could be a sign to clean out the dryer vent.
  • Excessive heat. The laundry room, the appliances, or the clothes are getting excessively hot. While you want your dryer to be warm, you don’t want it to feel like it’s going to burn you or that the room is going to smother you with heat.

The 5 Steps on How to Clean Your Dryer Vent

1. Disconnect the Hose from the Back of the Dryer

Dryer balls_FotoHelin_Shutterstock
Image By: FotoHelin, Shutterstock

Turn your dryer off and unplug it from the wall. Find the dryer duct and pull it out of the wall. Depending on the model, you may need a screwdriver to disconnect the vent clamp.

2. Vacuum Out the Vent

Using the hose attachment, vacuum out the vent. If the attachment isn’t deep enough to satisfactorily catch the lint, you might consider using a new toilet brush to scrub out the rest of it.

3. Take Note If the Duct Work Needs Replacing

Image Credit: Pixabay

If it’s good to go, re-attach it to your dryer and keep moving. If not, plan a trip to your local hardware store before proceeding.

4. Remove the Exterior Vent Cover

Find the exterior vent cover outside your house. Take it off, and vacuum from this side using the hose attachment. Put the exterior vent cover back in place and return inside for the final step.

5. Let the Dryer Run for 15-20 Minutes

hand putting dryer sheet in the laundry machine
Image Credit: Shotmedia, Shutterstock

Test out the dryer. If the dryer is working properly and not getting too hot, then you’re finished. If it’s not working, check the connection. Be extra confident that the hose on the back of the dryer is firmly reconnected before starting another load of clothes. If it’s loose or becomes detached, it could start a fire.

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How to Take Care of Your Dryer

While cleaning out your dryer vent isn’t an arduous task, you understandably don’t want to be undertaking the project every couple of months. To give yourself more time between cleanings, you should always make sure to clear the lint tray before starting a new load of clothes. You should also keep the area around the lint filter vacuumed regularly to prevent build-up. Periodically inspecting the dryer duct is also a good idea because a cracked pipe can leak heat, creating a fire hazard.

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Regularly cleaning your dryer vents lets your clothes dry faster, reduces the amount of electricity you use, and prevents built-up lint from catching fire. If the clothes aren’t drying or it’s been more than a year since you last cleaned the vent, take time to vacuum out the duct.

Featured Image Credit: Robert Kneschke, Shutterstock


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