How To Clean Your Dryer Vent Duct
Written By: Alexis Bennett
Edited by: Andrew Dunn
Is the lint stuck in your dryer vent duct driving you crazy? Are you wondering how you can clean it yourself? If so, we can help.
Below you will find tips and tricks for cleaning your dryer vent duct yourself, as well as answers to questions like:
- How often should you clean your dryer vent duct?
- What is the best way to clean the lint trap?
- Can dirty dryer ducts cause fires?
- Is it safe to clean your dryer lint trap yourself?
- And more!
Properly cleaning your vent duct helps reduce fire hazards and airborne allergens in your home. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that more than 2,900 dryer fires occur in the United States each year.
Of those fires, the USFA says that 34 percent are the result of lint buildup. So, keep reading to find out how you can protect yourself and your family.
What's In This Guide?
What Is A Dryer Duct?
All air dryers use a duct to vent the hot air from the dryer out of your home. That is the reason you can sometimes smell your neighbor’s laundry when you walk by their house.
The vent duct also collects the particles and fibers. The dryer blows off your clothes in the lint trap. While the filter catches a lot, it does not catch everything.
Some of the lint that gets past makes it out of your home, but the rest collects in the dryer vent duct. The duct connects to the back of the dryer and the exhaust vent.
If you look behind your dryer, you should see a large white or silver hose, the dryer exhaust duct. The hoses come in a variety of materials and lengths. However, it would be best if you made sure the duct hose is at least four inches in diameter, and you should use an aluminum or metal hose, not a plastic one.
The National Fire Prevention Association has a wealth of information about dryer fires, as well as information on how you can avoid home fires caused by your clothes dryer.
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Why Do You Need To Clean Your Dryer Vent Duct?
Your dryer vent system is designed to remove the heat, moisture, and lint from your dryer and release it outside. However, when the vent duct is blocked or improperly installed, it causes everything that should be going outside to instead blow into your home.
Even with proper installation, dust and lint build up in the vent duct after months or years of use, which can cause health problems and increase your risk of a house fire.
Reduce Dryer Fire Risk
Some ducts get so bad that they get clogged completely. When lint gets clogged in the dryer hose, it traps the hot air inside.
That can cause your dryer to overheat. When the components begin to malfunction after functioning in the high temperatures, they can spark.
Lint is made of clothing fibers and dust particles that are highly flammable. If they buildup in the duct and a part in your dryer sparks, it can cause the entire duct to burst into flames.
If you live in a multi-story home or condo building, the fire can spread almost instantly through the duct to other floors or units. The damage from dryer fires is catastrophic because your entire home can go up in flames before anyone even knows there is a fire.
Improve Air Quality
The fire risk is just one reason to clean your vent ducts regularly. If you are an allergy sufferer it is essential to remove as much lint from your home as possible.
If your dryer vent is clogged or damaged, the dust can blow into your home. Containing it after it escapes the duct is impossible. It scatters around your home and gets on everything.
Increase The Energy Efficiency Of Your Dryer
When you operate your dryer with a clogged vent hose, it does not dry as quickly. So, you have to run multiple drying cycles.
Running your clothes through twice because they do not get dry the first time wears on your dryer and costs you twice as much on your energy bills.
Keeping your dryer ducts clear of lint is a great way to extend the life of your dryer and to keep it running efficiently.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dryer Vent?
Experts suggest that you clean your dryer vent at least twice a year. If you have never cleaned your vent duct, the amount of lint that accumulates inside will shock you.
There are some factors that might increase the frequency at which you need to clean your dryer. For example, if you use dryer sheets or fabric softener, it may cause lint to build up in the hose more quickly.
Fabric softener leaves a coating on your clothing fibers so the lint sticks more easily. The volume of laundry you wash, how frequently you clean your lint filter, and the type of vent duct you are using affect the rate at which lint builds in your machine.
So, never go longer than 6 months between cleanings. You should keep your dryer as clean as possible, especially if you have a gas dryer since lint buildup is so highly-flammable.
Even if your dryer does not require cleaning more often than twice each year, you do need to check your dryer at least once per month to make sure it is venting properly. If you notice that your drying times are longer than usual, your dryer seems to be struggling to handle the same level of laundry you have always done.
What Are The DIY Steps For Cleaning Your Dryer Ductwork?
Cleaning your dryer vent duct is one of the easiest things you can do to improve the air quality in your home and reduce your risk of having a house fire. However, because you are working with an appliance that uses electricity or natural gas, you need to take some precautions.
Gather Your Supplies
You should also gather all of the supplies you need to complete the job before you begin. Below is a list of items you will likely need:
- A vacuum cleaner
- A crevice vacuum attachment
- A brush kit (found on Amazon)
- A dryer vent cleaning kit (found on Amazon)
- A can of air duster
- A power drill
- A mask
- A screwdriver
- Trash bag
- Dusting clothes
- Vacuum chisel attachment
- Appliance cleaning attachments
- Tools: Screwdriver (Flat and Philips), pliers, wrench
- Foil duct tape
- A vent brush
- Air blower
Steps For Cleaning Your Dryer Vent
Now that you have your supplies, you are ready to start. Below are the steps:
- Unplug your dryer
- Remove any clothes in the dryer
- Remove the lint in the trap filter
- Pull the dryer out from the wall so you have room to remove the duct
- Remove the hose by carefully loosening the connector
- Vacuum any visible debris know your laundry room, and behind and under your washing machine and dryer.
- Remove lint from the vent duct.
- Use the duct cleaning brush to push the lint out of the vent pipe.
- Use the vacuum attachments to clean out the lint trap and remove the lint that has fallen past the filter.
- Check the outside vent to make sure that there are no clogs there.
- If the exterior vent is clogged, you will need to use your vacuum, lint brush, and air blower to remove as much of the lint as possible.
- Now, you need to replace the hose attachment on the back of your dryer and wall, and the lint screen.
- Plug your dryer back in and enjoy your clean, higher-efficiency device.
Want to see the steps? Check out this video:
Final Thoughts On Cleaning Your Dryer Vent Duct Yourself
It is a very good idea to clean your dryer vents. It is a chore you can do yourself with little risk of causing major damage to your machine.
After cleaning your clogged dryer vents and ensuring that your dryer’s ductwork is in good condition, you can rest easy knowing you can safely operate your clothes dryer, your clothes will dry more quickly, and you will save money on your energy bills.