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These Simple Dryer Tips Can Help Prevent A Fire

How to maintain your dryer and prevent dryer fires

Today’s post comes straight from the file of “stuff I should probably be doing more often.” I want to talk about your clothes dryer, specifically how to clean and maintain your dryer properly. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually a safety issue! The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that poorly maintained dryers cause nearly 3,000 house fires each year. So hopefully we can all learn something today that will help us avoid a similar fate!

It’s actually quite easy to keep your clothes dryer running in tip-top shape, and there are more reasons to do it than just avoiding a fire! A well-maintained clothes dryer will dry your clothes faster and requires less energy to operate, which saves you time and money. There are a few easy tasks that will help keep your dryer clean, and I’ve divided them up based on how often you should do them. So let’s get started! :-)

Related: Here’s What To Do When You Find A Mess In Your Dryer

How To Clean And Maintain Your Dryer

How to prevent dryer fires

Every Day (Or After Each Use)

You should clean the lint trap in your dryer before or after each use. It’s a good habit to get into, even for small loads. If you make it a habit, you’ll be much less likely to accidentally forget about it.

Related:  9 Things You Need To Do To Avoid Costly Washer & Dryer Repairs

How to prevent dryer fires

Once A Month

Removing the lint from your lint trap is important, but it won’t get it completely clean. All sorts of things can build up on the trap over time, including fabric softener residue and detergent residue. These residues trap some of the lint and can form a film that makes it hard for air to pass through.

So once a month, it’s a good idea to remove your lint trap and give it a good wash. Gently scrub it with soap and warm water, and rinse it well. Let the trap dry completely before replacing it in your dryer.

How to prevent dryer fires

Once A Year

Once a year or so, you should perform a more thorough inspection/cleaning of your dryer. (Be sure to unplug your dryer before performing any interior maintenance!) You can usually pop off one of the panels with a screwdriver. Then you’ll want to use your vacuum to remove any dust and lint hanging around, but steer clear of wiring, belts, and other mechanical parts.

How to prevent dryer fires

You should also check the exhaust hose to make sure it’s clear of dust and debris. A shop or house vacuum cleaner can help reach inside and usually does a good job of removing the lint.

If you’re not sure you’re up for it, you can always call an appliance repair specialist in to do it for you. Preventative maintenance is always going to be cheaper than large repairs, and definitely cheaper than dealing with a house fire, so it’s an investment worth making!

How to prevent dryer fires

Dryer Tips

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for heat settings and clothing amount. Overfilling your dryer can actually cause it to overheat.

How to prevent dryer fires

Buy an inexpensive cleaning brush or kit to help clean out your lint trap and the area underneath your dryer. We found this 3-piece kit on Amazon for less than $30:  Dryer Lint Removal Kit

Be aware of the signs that your dryer could use a tune-up. Signs include:

  • Clothes coming out of the dryer feel very hot.
  • The outside of your dryer is hot.
  • Your laundry room seems humid.
  • A burnt smell.
  • The exhaust flow is weak.

Now you can sit back and enjoy peak performance, efficiency, and safety from your clothes dryer!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • We have an LG front load washer and dryer pair. The dryer backs up to an outside wall and vents outside almost directlybehind it as a result. Makes duct cleanout a breeze as all I have to do is slide the vent louvers off and reach into the vent pipe to clean it out. As for cleaning lint filter, the dryer actually has a sensor that lets us know if it thinks the filter needs cleaning, not that we ever run the dryer without immediately removing lint after anyway. Never thought about fabric softener buildup on it, however. Need to do that. Just a suggestion for those who can have this done. If you have the foil covered flex vent installed, replace or have it replaced as that is the worst at trapping lint and getting blocked as the insides simply are not smooth like the rigid vent duct.

    • It’s called recycling, no? Actually,though, it’s good to be reminded of these little things that you only do on rare occasions, and as such are easily forgotten..

  • I’m 79 yo, live in small condo, my w/d combo was pushed back into it’s tiny space by 2 big del men., I can’t unplug or even get to the back or dryer hose, what can I do besides keep the screen clean ?

  • My musician son wrote a song “Fire in the Dryer” set to the tune of Smoke on the water after our incident of a dryer fire. Luckily I am smart enough to keep fire extinguishers in many places in my house, so the the flames didn’t do extensive damage. But it did warrant a new dryer.

  • I always try to make sure our dryers lint trap is cleaned out. We had a crazy experience a few years ago. I kept hearing a noise that sounded like chirping coming from inside the driver. It was in the tube thing that attaches the dryer to the outside. It turned out some how birds had gotten inside there and were building a nest. It took a few attempts, but we finally were able to close it off so they couldn’t get back in there.

  • I need to do this. Thanks for the reminder. I also read somewhere that if your exhaust hose is too long, it is more likely to collect lint in the twists and turns. I need to cut ours down to the proper size because it looks sort of crushed now with all the bends in it instead of being short enough to just go straight outdoors. Just thought I would mention this in case others are in the same situation.

    • In our former home, the exhaust hose was (still is) under the house in the crawl space. My husband noticed that it was wired every so often and was drooping between the wires. He shortened it and placed more wires to support the hose which eliminated the drooping and the build up of lint. Amazing how quick the clothes dried after that. He also removed enough lint to fill a dryer. Also, it was amazing that there wasn’t a fire. When we moved in, the house was 5 years old and I know no one cleaned out the hose, not with all that lint…………..good idea Joe, about using 4 inch duct pipe for the exhaust hose, eliminating areas in the hose that can collect lint

  • I got rid of my ribbed flexible exhaust hose as it catches lint. I piped it with the 4 inch duct pipe used for a water heater. All connected with tape because other fasteners like screws would catch lint.

    Being smooth inside, it exhausts better, keeping the dryer efficient.

    Dryer lint is the second major cause of home fires.

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