How to Clean a Dryer and Make Sure Your Machine Keeps Running Smoothly

When it comes to home maintenance, one of the most neglected appliances might be the clothes dryer. Outside of discarding the lint (which you should always do, by the way), learning how to clean a dryer may not seem like an important thing to do, but for the functionality of your dryer, as well as your personal safety, it matters.

The National Fire Protection Association reported that between 2014 and 2018, 32 percent of dryer fires were caused by a failure to clean, with lint, dust, and fiber buildup being the main causes. You don't want to put yourself or your belongings at risk when you could utilize simple cleaning hacks that take no time at all.

Cleaning a dryer can seem like a complicated process if you don't know what to look for or how to do it. Thankfully, we've broken it all down so you can clean your dryer in a simple way and make the most of doing your laundry. And if you also need to know how to clean a front-loading washing machine, we also have you covered.

How to Clean a Dryer

Before diving into taking apart your dryer to clean the vent and lint trap, clean the dryer drum first. Over time, the use of dryer sheets and fabric softeners can leave residue on the inner part of the drum and clog the lint trap, per HGTV. Clean your dryer drum with a simple solution of one part white vinegar and one part water in a mist bottle or a bucket. Using a cloth, wipe down all areas that you can access, then leave the dryer door open so it can dry properly.

How to Clean a Dryer Lint Trap

Outside of cleaning the dryer drum, cleaning the lint trap is the simplest and most low-maintenance part of cleaning the machine. Locate your dryer lint trap — this could be on the top of the machine or inside the drum. Next, discard any lint, dust, or fibers you see, then vacuum the trap to get as much off as possible. Then wash the trap with soap and warm water to get rid of residue that might not be seen to the plain eye. Lastly, let the trap dry while you use the hose attachment on your vacuum to suction out any leftover lint from the compartment that the trap goes into.

How to Clean a Dryer Vent

Cleaning the dryer vent requires a bit more elbow grease, but it is still a simple process. First, pull away your dryer from the wall, unplug the cord, and disconnect the vent duct from the machine. The vent duct is the long, crinkled, silver tube that extends from the dryer to the vent in your wall. Next, use the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner to suck up any dust, lint, and debris from the entrance of the dryer vent as well as the duct.

Next, use a dryer cleaning kit to clean deeper in the vent. You may not have one of these on hand, but it's worth having. The Smart House Inc. Dryer Vent Cleaner Kit ($30) has a long brush that attaches to a power drill for a deep, thorough clean. Attach the brush to the drill, power it on, and go as far as you can inside the vent to clean it. Vacuum or sweep up any mess left over.

How to Clean a Dryer Vent From the Outside

The process for cleaning the dryer vent from the outside is the same as you would do inside. Locate the dryer vent outside of your home; this will usually be in the vicinity of your dryer. Next, follow the steps you used inside and clean out the vent using a wire brush or a dryer cleaning kit. Use a cloth with the vinegar solution to wipe down the outside of the vent to ensure no buildup or residue remains.