Give Your Clothes Dryer A Tune-Up!

Last week, when I posted about how to make your own homemade fabric softener, there were quite a few comments and concerns about fabric softeners in general leaving residue on lint screens, etc.

The concerns ranged from the dryer being less effective to actually catching fire!

Luckily one of the comments left was from a Mom and firefighter who had some GREAT SAFETY TIPS and dryer maintenance rules to follow.

So I decided to be a good little soldier and follow the rules the nice firefighter lady gave us! (Her comments are in green.)

Anonymous said…I am a mom and a fire fighter as well. This comment is for the questions concerning your dryer lint screen and softeners. Many dryer fires are started by lint screens and clogged dryer vents. Quite common. BUT here is a simple rule of thumb to prevent a dryer fire due to build up. About once a month, depending on the amount of laundry you do, take out your dryer lint screen. Rinse it with warm water and use a soft tooth brush to scrub it clean. It is simple maintenance we should all do regardless of whether we use softener or not. The tell tale sign it is time to soak and scrub, put your screen under running water. If it holds water, it needs cleaning. There is more than one reason for this “clogging” effect:   fabric softener, type of fabrics, laundry soap not rinsing completely out, lint build up not releasing when you swipe.

So, here is the lint screen from my dryer. I decided to put it to the test…and sure enough…look at the water beading up on it! Time to give it a bath!

dryer tune up

I soaked it for a little while in warm, soapy water and scrubbed it with a kitchen sponge.

dryer tune up

And here it is after. I did the same thing….poured some water on it….went straight through! Success!

General rules to always follow and you will have an efficient long life and fire hazard free dryer. 
1. clean lint trap after each dryer cycle.   (Already doing this, so I’m feeling pretty good about myself.)
2. wash lint trap after about 20-30 loads or once a month (let it air dry on counter before putting back in dryer).  (NOT doing this nearly often enough!)
3. follow manufacturer instructions on clothing and heat settings. (I do OK with this.)
4. get dear hubby or assistance for this one, open the top of your dryer (if front loading) get the old shop vac or vac cleaner and use the hose to suck out the excess lint inside of your dryer, staying clear of wires and belts, Oh and unplug your dryer from outlet first!

dryer tune up

dryer tune up

Under the hood. I took a LOT more pictures…but somehow they got deleted. :-/


As usual, I was too impatient to wait for the hubster to come home and help with this….so I just found a REALLY BIG SCREWDRIVER out in the garage and gently pried the top off the dryer. It popped off quite easily!

And as you can see, I didn’t have a whole lot of dust built up inside of mine, but I gave it a thorough vacuuming anyway.

dryer tune up

There was a LOT of lint down inside where the lint screen goes in that I vacuumed out!

On the above mentioned you can also call a dryer repair service and get general maintenance cleaning for a fairly reasonable price. This should be done once a year. You will be amazed at what lies inside your dryer that you don’t actually see.

5. while doing number 4,clean and clear out the hose to the dryer for discharging vent, this is a commonly forgotten area and causes alot of fires itself.

dryer tune up
Awkward angle to try to snap a picture…but the long, black thing is my vacuum attachment. I gave the length of the hose and the opening where it connects to the dryer a thorough vacuuming. After I was done vacuuming I checked the debris cup in the vacuum and even though I couldn’t see much dust and lint while I was vacuuming…there was probably about 2 cups of dirt in it!

There is no reason you shouldn’t use softener in your laundry, just make sure to do a little simple maintenance and all will come out smelling fresh as a daisy.


February 3, 2012 12:33 AM  


THANK YOU “Anonymous Mom/firefighter”! GREAT information that could literally save lives. I know I’m going to sleep a little better tonight knowing my dryer “passed inspection” and I can use my fabulous Homemade Fabric Softener to my heart’s content now!


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  1. Anonymous says

    1st look at HOW to remove the top of your dryer on the web. I have a GE and there are screws that hold the top on. Did I find that out 1st before I tried the screw driver??? NOT and now I have a bent dryer – wah!

  2. Anonymous says

    I am very hesitant to vaccuum the internal workings of the dryer, I did this to a dryer I had a couple of years ago, and when I was done and tried it- the dryer caught fire and I was wedged into a corner with a flaming dryer infront of me. The washing the lint trap is an excellent idea as well as vaccuuming out the area right below the lint trap and dryer hose- but I would be very careful when opening the dryer up and vaccuuming.

  3. Anonymous says

    I've been cleaning the lint screen for several years now by using a tip to put it in the dishwasher for a better cleaning. (Put mine in the lower rack – upright). I find that I don't have to do this as much as I would by hand. Not sure if it is because using less fabric softener and more vinegar for the rinse in the wash. I also noticed that I don't have to vacuum the dust as much now. :))

  4. Anonymous says

    The type of dryer hose she is using is a fire hazard on of itself. Those "collapsible" tin foil dryer hoses should be outlawed.

  5. Anonymous says

    This post makes me think I should install a fire extinguisher in my laundry room! I don't know why I never thought of that before. But I just vacuumed my dryer (& hose) and was shocked at how much lint was in there. I just cleaned it out 6 months ago. In my city the flexible dryer vent hoses ARE outlawed. Houses will not pass inspection with them. Only the fixed hoses are allowed.

  6. Anonymous says

    wonder if it would be easier to just put a leaf blower down the lint trap in the inside and blow it out for a minute… that way one wouldnt clog up the vacume… my vacume donsnt work that well.

  7. Marla says

    Go to Lowe’s and purchase the Lint Eater. Then, use it at least twice a year. It is amazing how much lint is in the dryer vent that goes up to the roof in a two story home.

    I use dryer sheets with every load, and clean the lint screen after EVERY load. It has never held water. Take care of your washer/dryer and they will last.

    • Martha says

      Since gravity makes lint fall, how does your vent through your roof perform? We have the same ‘problem’ but ours has been ‘vented’ into the attic and now we are selling and want to vent it properly (house built before there were ‘rules’ in place). There is no access to an outside wall from the dryer. Do you use a suction system on the roof vent to pull the lint up and out?

    • Amy says

      Lint eater came apart in my vent (at the roof). I had to call someone out to retrieve it and it costs me $100.

  8. says

    Great test to use, and a great solution to the problem. Little things like this can cause your dryer to run inefficiently, can cause damage, and can even present a fire hazard if not handled appropriately.

  9. Leta says

    Thank you for posting this valuable information Jill! I wanted to share 2 things that have really helped keep my dryer clean.

    1. When my babies were born, I went looking for a natural fabric softener for their delicate skin. There was Australian TV show hosted by Shannon Lush that recommended using white vinegar in place of softener. The vinegar removes all the soap from the clothes, and doesn’t leave residue in the dryer either. I have been using vinegar ever since.
    2. I also found a dryer cleaning kit that works a charm from the FlyLady. (Here is the link: It is absolutely brilliant for cleaning lint out of your dryer.