Cleaning the dryer vent is an easy DIY chore that can vastly improve the dryer's performance and prevent you from having to call a repairman. All you really need is a pair of safety gloves and either a vacuum with the hose attachment or the brush from the dryer cleaning kit. Additionally, you need to be able to move your dryer out about a foot from the wall.
Why do you need to clean the dryer vent?
You need to clean the dryer vent a few times annually because the lint in a clogged dryer vent creates a fire hazard while exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide. Also, a clogged dryer vent means it takes more time and electricity to get clothes dry, putting excessive wear on the appliance and driving up the utility bill.
How can you tell when you need to clean the dryer vent?
Probably you'll notice that it takes much longer than it should for your clothes to dry, even after you've cleaned all the lint out of the dryer screen filter. Aside from damp clothes, clues include:
- You might smell an acrid, burned smell.
- The dryer may be hot while in use.
- The air in the laundry area might be humid.
Steps for cleaning the dryer vent
Before you clean the dryer vent, you'll need to disconnect it from the dryer.
- Unplug the dryer.
- Move the dryer approximately a foot away from the wall.
- Identify the vent -- it's most likely on the back side of the dryer. It's a thick, aluminum-looking tube that goes from your dryer through the wall and ends at the exterior exhaust vent.
- Disconnect the vent from the dryer at the duct, using a screwdriver if necessary.
Then, put on your chore safety gloves and clean the entire vent with the following steps:
- Remove lint from the dryer by hand.
- Use a vacuum to clean the back area of the dryer, including the hole where the vent fits.
- Then vacuum out the duct itself.
- If possible, go outside to the exterior exhaust vent. Remove the cover, and vacuum in and around the vent.
If your dryer vent is too high up or too long for a vacuum extension to do a good job -- or if you don't have the vacuum -- the brush from a dryer vent cleaning kit is designed long enough to reach all the way inside it if you clean from both sides.
Worth the effort
Vent cleaning usually improves a dryer's efficiency and lowers the wear and tear. Additionally it reduces your home's fire hazard. While it might take a few minutes to figure out how to properly clean the dryer vent, a homeowner should know how.