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How To Remove Common Messes From Your Dryer Drum

Resolving Common Dryer Disasters - collage: woman holding new pair of jeans and a magic eraster; woman using magic eraser on inside of dryer drum

Dryer Disasters Happen To The Best Of Us

I think it’s fair to assume most of us have had a serious dryer drum mess to clean up after something went into the dryer that shouldn’t have. Dryer drum disasters seem to be one of those inevitable human errors we all make, like burning your mouth on food you knew was too hot to eat.

In my experience, there are three types of things that tend to make the biggest messes inside of a dryer drum: ink (from a pen exploding in the dryer), wax (from lip balm or crayons), and dyes. But luckily for us, these messes can be removed with the right technique!

And that’s what this post is all about — simple solutions for cleaning common dryer messes. So the next time you discover a mess in your dryer, you’ll know just what to do to get it cleaned up and back in working order! :-)

How To Clean A Dryer Drum To Remove 3 Common Messes

Resolving Common Dryer Disasters - woman cleaning dryer drum with a magic eraser

1. Use A Magic Eraser To Remove Ink From A Dryer

Pen exploded in the dryer? It happens! If you’re wondering how to get ink out of a dryer, your best bet is to use a magic eraser. (It’s tempting to reach for rubbing alcohol to clean ink, but it’s a bad idea to use anything flammable to clean your dryer!)

To use a magic eraser, wet it with water and rub it over the ink stain. Removing the stain completely might take a little time and some elbow grease, but it should disappear completely!

Make sure to wipe the stained area often with a damp rag while you’re working. This will help remove ink so that you’re not just pushing it around.

Bonus Tip: If there’s ink in your dryer, there’s likely ink on your clothes too! Treat those ink stains ASAP for to improve your chances of removing them entirely.

Resolving Common Dryer Disasters - woman wiping inside of dryer with white vinegar

2. Use Vinegar To Remove Wax From A Dryer

Lip balm, crayons, and other waxy substances can make quite a mess if they accidentally end up in the dryer. To remove the wax, you’ll want to warm it up first to make it easier to remove.

Dampen a few old towels, toss them in your dryer, and run it on high heat for about 5 minutes. Then use a rag dipped in white vinegar to wipe up the warmed wax. Once the wax is gone, rinse the drum with a clean, wet towel.

Bonus Tip: For any clothes that were subjected to the waxy mess in your dryer, spray a stain remover on the spots (or dab on some liquid detergent) and rub it into the fabric. Let it sit for half an hour, then launder in the warmest recommended water. Don’t dry the clothes until the stains are gone — if not, repeat the process and check again.

Resolving Common Dryer Disasters - woman holding new pair of jeans and a magic eraser

3. Use A Magic Eraser To Remove Dye From A Dryer

Dye from clothes that aren’t colorfast transfer to your dryer drum over time. Luckily, that residue is usually pretty easy to clean up. Just rub the dye off of your drum using a damp magic eraser!

To prevent loose dyes from adhering to your dryer drum, try making these homemade color catchers to add to your wash loads. These cloths will help absorb bleeding dyes in the wash and keep them out of your dryer!

woman putting laundry into a dryer

Other Useful Cleaning And Prevention Tips

1. Don’t Use Flammable Cleaners

I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating! Don’t use flammable items to clean your dryer, including the following:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Nail polish remover
  • WD-40
  • Goof Off

2. Don’t Use Bleach

Don’t use bleach to clean your dryer either! Avoiding bleach is less of a safety concern and more of precaution, because it could leave behind bleach residue that could transfer to your next load of wet clothes. I’d rather just skip the bleach and avoid the problem altogether!

Resolving Common Dryer Disasters - woman taking a pen out of the pocket of a pair of jeans

3. Check. Your. Pockets!

For anyone who may need to hear this: check your pockets before doing laundry! Every incident of something getting ruined in the washer or dryer (or making a mess) is completely avoidable.

Encourage (or beg, if that’s what it takes!) everyone in the house to take the extra 30 seconds to check their pockets before starting laundry. This practice could very well save you from a time-consuming cleaning task down the road!

Related: 9 Genius Laundry Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier

What’s the worst dryer drum mess you’ve had to clean up?

Jill Nystul Photo

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

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Homekeeping Tips

    • If the gum is on any sort of fabric, use ice cubes. First remove as much of the gum as possible, then put the ice cubes in a plastic bag and let it sit on the gum. Once the gum has hardened, you should be able to scrape it off. Ice will also work in the dryer. Just hold the ice on the melted gum after the dryer has cooled and it should scrape right off.

  • My worst disaster in the dryer was gum!! It got everywhere in the dryer!! I used olive oil to get it off the drum inside. Then I used white vinegar to get the oil off the drum.
    Lots of ruined clothes.

      • We can put a man on the moon (which, personally does me no good!) and yet no one has the magic bullet for gum nemesis?? It’s an adhesive like no other and yet we put it in our mouths and some people let their kids put it in their tummies!! :-)

  • Worse dryer disaster for me. I got my favorite jeans out of the dryer to wear the next day. Once I sat in them for just a little bit, I noticed a HORRIBLE smell. I had not idea what it was – it wasn’t musty as though left in the washer too long, or anything like I had smelled before.

    Finally as the day went on, I dug deep enough in my front pocket to find some sort of small mass stuck to the pocket. When I pulled it out, I realized the last time I had worn them, I was running late to work, and stuck my vitamins in my pocket to take later. I had forgotten, and when I washed/dried them, the FISH OIL pills oozed all their awesomeness all over my jeans.

    I do not suggest ever doing this. I took more than 10 washes to get that nasty smell out, despite all my efforts.

    • How wonderful that you can and love hanging your clothes! I can remember as a child, mama washing our clothes in an old wringer washer and it was a family job to hang in the basement, take down and fold to go to each owner. I remember going to school being embarrassed by the stiff, wrinkly clothing. I remember drying off after my bath with a scratchy, stiff towel. When I became an adult and got married, my new husband took me out and allowed me to pick out the nicest, biggest washer and dryer that I wanted. I was SO proud of them!! And to this day, I cannot find a bone in my body that wants to go back to that time in my life. But if you like it, more power to ya’! :-)

  • Well, I generally don’t use the dryer! But these are good tips. I try to dry as many items as possible on the clothesline. I recommend one, dryers beat up one’s clothing and other laundered items. They last longer if you don’t use the dryer. You’ll not have to use these tips if you air-dry your clothes –indoors or OUT!

    If you have the room out back (and a tyrannical HOA hasn’t banned them if you’re in a development with an HOA) install a clothesline PDQ! It takes about an hour (not including trip to the home store for lumber). You need two 8 or 10′ 4x4s, a bag of concrete mix, one 8′ 2×4 (the home store can cut it in half for you). Pressure treated lumber! Also you need a drill, 2 eye hooks, four carriage bolts and nuts to fit them, bolts should be long enough to pass through the 4×4 and 2×4, 4 washers (keeps the nut and carriage bolt ends from sinking into the soft wood). And plastic wrapped clothesline (with a wire reinforcement inside if you can find it). And a post-hole digger.The plastic line lasts longer and cleans up easier than the braided type clothesline.

    The 2×4 pieces are mounted crosswise on the 4x4s using the bolts, nuts and washers (place the bolts at a diagonal), mounted like a lower case “t”. These are your clothesline posts. Drill 2 holes in either side of the 2x4s, space equally on both 2x4s (this is where you’ll thread the clothesline). Install the eyehooks in the center of the 4×4 where the 2x4s are mounted. Dig the post holes at least 15″ deep, leaving some room for the concrete mix. Place the clothesline posts in the holes, with the 2x4s on the outside (away from where your clotheslines will be strung–your eyehooks will be facing to the centre). Pour the concrete mix — dry — in and around the hole with the clothesline posts — try to make the post as plumb as possible (it will help to have a bubble-level but there are even some apps downloadable for a smartphone to make it into a “level!”). Pour some water down into the hole with the concrete mix and post, use a stick or long pry bar to stir it around a bit. If you need to brace it while the concrete cures, you can use another piece of lumber and a nail or screw, or a sturdy chair such as a wooden adirondack chair, to keep the posts plumb.

    After the concrete cures (how long it takes depends on weather – temperature and moisture) then you can move your bracing and thread in your lines — you’ll have 5 lines, a long line can go through each set of 4 holes on one side of the 4×4 and tied together at one end, and then another shorter line can go from one eye hook mounted on the 4×4 to the other.

    • I agree! i air dry everything and we live in a fussy HOA that doesn’t allow us to air dry clothes, but honestly, they can’t see our backyard due to a large brick wall surrounding our property. I love how much money I save by hanging clothes and how great they smell by having them dried by the sunshine.

    • Growing up I hated having to hang laundry. After moving out of state for a few years where I didn’t have the ability to hang clothes out I was surprised that I wanted to do it. I just came in from hanging a load even if it is cool and damp right now from the rain last night. I’ll probably end up putting them in the dryer later. I just have to find a way to get more line up. I can only hang one load right now.

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