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How To Clean A Dryer Vent

Vacuum cleaning a flexible aluminum dryer vent hose, to remove lint, dust, and dirt.

Having your own washing machine and clothes dryer can’t be beat. Of course, with convenience comes care and maintenance. Over time, lint, string, and other debris can build up and clog your dryer vent. Unless you keep up with it, this can lead to serious issues – even disaster.

Fortunately, cleaning a dryer vent is a relatively easy task most homeowners can manage on their own. Read on to learn why it’s important or jump straight to our six-step guide.

Why should you clean your clothes dryer vent?

The main reason to clean the ventilation duct for your clothes dryer is because it can prevent a fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 dryer-related fires are reported annually. Additionally, about one of every three clothing dryer fires are due to negligence or improper cleaning.

With this in mind, it’s essential that you routinely clean your dryer’s ventilation duct.

How often should you clean your clothes dryer ventilation duct?

Ideally, the duct leading from your dryer to the outside of your home should be cleaned every three months, if not more. At minimum, you want to deep clean your dryer vent once a year, but more frequent cleanings are preferred.

Make it a habit to check your dryer’s lint filter before and after you use it. Routine cleaning of the lint filter can help keep your dryer vent from getting blocked.

Check out our clothes dryer cleaning guide for cleaning the machine itself.

What are the signs you need to clean your dryer vent?

There are four main signs that your dryer vent is overdue for cleaning:

  1. Clothes take longer to dry than they normally do.
  2. The dryer feels abnormally hot and may feel hot to the touch.
  3. You notice a burning smell coming from the dryer.
  4. Outside exhaust from the dryer vent feels weak or isn’t coming through.

Of course, these issues aren’t always caused by a clogged dryer vent. If you successfully clean the ductwork for your clothes dryer and still have these issues, you need to contact a professional for repair right away.

Home warranty coverage through Select can also protect your clothes dryer. If you already have a plan and experience a mechanical issue, submit your claim today.

Not yet protected by SHW? Getting a quote is quick, easy, and completely free!

What do you need to clean a dryer ventilation duct?

When cleaning out your dryer’s ventilation, you’ll need just a few tools and supplies to get the job done.

  • Screwdriver
  • Gloves
  • Vacuum cleaner (with hose extension)
  • Dryer vent cleaning brush
  • Extension cord
  • Trash bags

What are the steps for cleaning a dryer vent?

While some homeowners prefer to call upon a professional for dryer vent cleaning, it’s a DIY task that many choose to take on themselves.

1. Shut off your dryer, unplug it from the electrical outlet, and clean the lint filter.

To make cleaning a dryer vent easier, you’ll need to move it out of the way. Before you can do this, power down the machine and unplug it from the wall outlet. If you have a gas dryer, turn off the gas valve.

Remove any clothing from the dryer, clear any lint buildup from the lint screen within the dryer, and make sure nothing’s on top of it before proceeding to the next step.

2. Move the dryer away from the wall.

Carefully pull the dryer away from the wall. You want to shift it far enough so there’s room to get behind it and clean the vent. However, you don’t want to pull it so far that you break the vent or disconnect any other lines feeding to the dryer.

Pro Tip: If your dryer is too heavy for you to move yourself, ask a friend or family member for help.

3. Disconnect the dryer from the ductwork.

Typically, dryer vents are connected to the back of the appliance using a hose clamp. Use a screwdriver to loosen the screw on the clamp by turning it counter clockwise. You do not need to completely remove the screw from the clamp.

Once it’s loose enough, you should be able to pull the vent from the back of the machine.

4. Remove lint and debris from the dryer vent and back of the dryer.

Using a vacuum cleaner with a hose extension, vacuum the inside of the vent.

Depending on your setup and installation, it may be difficult to vacuum inside the dryer vent. In such situations, you may need to use a dryer vent cleaning brush. These specialized tools can be fed into the vent and twisted to dislodge and remove lint from the ductwork.

Any lint buildup in the back of your dryer can be removed by hand. Wear protective gloves to keep your hands safe and reduce the risk of cuts.

Continue to vacuum and brush out the duct until you’ve removed as much as you can.

5. Clean the ventilation exhaust outside your home.

The exhaust for your dryer vent can be found immediately outside your home on the other side of the wall where the vent is connected. Make sure to vacuum and brush out any lint that has been trapped or built up in this part of the vent.

You may need an extension cord if there isn’t a nearby outlet to plug in your vacuum.

If the ventilation exhausts at a higher point than where it connects to the dryer, it’s worth cleaning again one more time from the inside after cleaning from the exterior. While cleaning, some lint may fall back in. Vacuum this up or remove it from the vent to be sure it’s as clear as possible.

6. Put everything back together.

After you’re done, it’s time to put your dryer back together. Reconnect the ventilation duct and tighten the hose clamp using your screwdriver. Make sure you have the dryer’s power plug in front of the unit.

Then, gently push the dryer back toward its original position. Get another person to help you with this step, if needed.

You can then plug the dryer back into its electrical outlet and, in the case of gas-powered dryers, turn on the gas again.

What else can you do to make the most of your dryer?

When it comes to clothes dryers, clean and clear vents are only one thing you need to do to keep them working as they should. A home warranty is one of the best things you can do to protect your investment.

Providing coverage for clothes dryers, washing machines, and other major appliances, a home warranty shields your wallet from unexpected breakdowns that would otherwise cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Learn more about why Select Home Warranty is the greatest value for homeowners throughout the nation.

Concerned your clothes dryer is done for? Look for these signs it’s time to replace your washing machine and dryer.