Learning to clean your dryer’s lint trap properly will keep your dryer running at peak performance and prolong its life.
After every load you should remove excess lint from the trap by hand. And every month you should also be checking the screen to make sure the holes aren’t clogged with residue from the fabric softener, detergent, and dryer sheets. A clogged screen reduces air circulation, trapping heat, which reduces dryer efficiency and increases the risk of fire.
Follow these easy steps to clean the lint trap after every dryer load:
- Locate the lint trap. You’ll find it on top of the dryer, inside at the front, or on the back of the door.
- Gently remove the screen. For a screen held in by screws you don’t have to take it out. If there’s a lot of lint, just loosen it at one end of the screen and roll it to the other end to remove it. With smaller amounts, run your hands over the screen until you gather a small ball. Rub this small ball across the screen, attracting the rest of the lint. You can also rub a cleaning brush across the screen or use the vacuum with a brush attachment to gather the lint.
General Lint Trap Cleaning
Once a month it’s a good idea to wash the lint trap screen to catch any residue before there’s a heavy build-up. Remember to unplug the dryer before working on it.
- Take the screen out. You may have to first remove one or more screws. Clean the lint from the screen and fill a bucket with warm soapy water and half a cup of vinegar. Place the screen in the bucket so it’s fully submerged, being careful not to bend or damage it.
- Let the lint screen soak in the warm soapy water for thirty minutes.
- Remove the screen from the bucket and get a soft cleaning brush. Nail brushes are good because they’re easy to handle and can get into the corners easily.
- Scrub gently to loosen all the bits of dirt and fuzz stuck on the screen. It should be easy after the soaking.
- When the screen is clean, rinse it well with warm water. This is an important step because you need to see if you’ve removed all the residue build-up. If the water runs through the screen, it’s clean. But if the water pools or forms bubbles that don’t go through, you need to soak the screen longer and scrub some more.
- Once the screen is clean, air dry it thoroughly before inserting it back into the dryer. If you put it back wet, the lint will stick in clumps, or your screen may rust.
Deep Cleaning the Screen
Sometimes a regular cleaning won’t remove the residue on the lint screen, especially if it’s been some time since you’ve washed it. If you can still see some build-up when you hold the screen up to the light, it’s time to do a deep cleaning.
- In a sink, tub, or bucket, spray a clean-up solution with bleach on the screen, and scrub with the soft cleaning brush. There are commercially available cleaning solutions, but you can make your own using 1/4 cup of bleach and 1 teaspoon of laundry detergent to a clean, empty plastic spray bottle. Fill up the rest of the bottle with tap water and shake to mix.
- Rinse the screen well with water after scrubbing and hold the screen up to the light to check results. Repeat the procedure until the screen is clean.
- Sprinkle baking soda on the screen and thoroughly coat it.
- Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray the screen or slowly pour vinegar over the screen. You don’t want to wash off the baking soda — you just want to add enough vinegar to create a fizzing reaction.
- Let the fizzing continue for a few minutes, then scrub with a soft brush while rinsing.
- If the screen still isn’t clean, place it in a sink, tub, or bucket with enough water to cover it.
- Add denture tablets to the water. Depending on the amount of water you’re using to cover the screen, you may have to add more tablets. The label on the denture tablets will give you the water ratio amounts.
- Leave the screen in the water for as long as the tablets are fizzing, then scrub while rinsing.
- If there’s still residue on the screen, place it so it’s covered with water again. Pour at least one cup of white vinegar into the water. If using a large bucket, add an extra cup.
- Soak the screen for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the screen and scrub it with the scrub brush.
Vacuum the Screen Vent
As well as washing the screen you also need to vacuum the screen vent.
- Before vacuuming, look for any objects that may be stuck in the screen vent (e.g. hairbands, jewelry, coins) and remove them.
- Use the crevice or extension wand attachment for your vacuum to vacuum up any loose lint around the lint trap.
- Attach an empty cardboard paper towel roll, or an empty gift wrap cardboard tube, to your vacuum crevice or extension wand attachment, using packing or box tape. Make sure you have a tight seal to maintain a proper suction. If you’re using a long roll, you may have to cut it down. However, the longer the tube, the further you can reach down the screen vent.
- Put the extended hose as far into the lint trap as possible. It will bend as much as you need it. Work it around the inside of the trap. You want to remove as much lint as possible. Pull the hose out often to check that the tip of the vacuum isn’t clogged and remove any lint if it is. Make sure there’s still proper suction and reinsert the hose into the screen vent. There are also specialty brush kits you can buy for cleaning dryer vents. You can use a long-handled flexible brush from the kit, and alternate between it and the vacuum to remove all the lint from the vent. This often works better than just using the vacuum alone because the brush agitates the lint to remove it from the sides.
- When the screen vent is clean, put the screen back in place.
- Check underneath and behind the dryer for loose lint, and vacuum that up as well.
Clean the Outside Vent
- Locate the outside wall where the dryer vent hose exits your house.
- Open the vent door and remove any obstructions, such as rodent or bird nests.
- Pull out or vacuum the lint inside the vent.
Cleaning the Entire Dryer Vent
It’s important to remove lint throughout the entire length of the dryer vent. Even with diligent cleaning, lint will still be able to make its way past the screen and into the ductwork that vents outside. Signs that your vents are becoming clogged include:
- Clothes are taking longer to dry, or not drying fully
- Clothes are hotter than usual after a cycle
- Dryer is hotter than usual after a load
- Laundry room is more humid than usual
- Burnt smell in the laundry room
- Outside vent door doesn’t open very much, which is a sign of low exhaust velocity
It’s recommended that you clean the entire vent at least once a year. The United States Fire Administration recommends cleaning the vent every three months. You can do this yourself or hire an HVAC professional.
To keep your dryer and all your major appliances in top running condition, call the experts at C&W Appliance Service at (855) 358-1496 or (214) 358-1496.