Dryer Maintenance: How to Clean and Care for your Dryer

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Having a dryer in your home is one of life's modern conveniences we sometimes feel we can't live without. When it goes on the fritz, it's not only inconvenient, but it can be expensive to repair. In order to cut down on some of the repairs, dryer maintenance is crucial. Here are a few easy things you can do yourself to clean and care for your dryer.

The Lint Screen

The lint trap in your dryer is such a simple thing. Yet it has a myriad of effects on things like drying time and even safety matters. It is important to clean the dryer lint trap after every load of laundry.

Make sure to never allow lint to build up in this screen. Even if there is a little bit on the screen, this makes the laundry take longer to dry and makes your dryer work harder.

But a lot of lint on the screen can sometimes start a fire. It's not a common thing yet do you really want to take that risk? Every year, dirty clothes dryers cause more than 15,000 house fires in the U.S.

About every three months or so, clean the lint trap with soap and water. This removes residue and built-up areas of debris. These chemical residues cannot be seen but they are there and can hinder the airflow, which increases the time it takes to dry your laundry.

Never Dry Dirty Clothes

While this seems like a given, it doesn't just mean clothes that are filthy. Sometimes people dry things like beach towels or clothing after being caught in the rain. According to Compact Appliance:

In order to keep the interior of the dryer as clean as possible, avoid putting any soiled clothes in your dryer. Alternatively, make sure that you’re only drying clothes that have been made wet by going through the washing machine. If you want to dry clothes or towels that are wet for some other reason – for example, a day at the beach – put them through the washing machine first.
By doing this, you avoid getting any dirt or other unnecessary materials inside the dryer. Extraneous materials could clog the dryer or even cause parts of it to corrode.

Clean the Vent

Another area that needs cleaning due to safety concerns is the vent. While this doesn't have to be done at every load of laundry like the lint screen, it should be done at least a couple of times a year. More, if you are noticing things like clothes taking longer to dry, a bad smell, or the dryer is hot to the touch.

If not cleaned, the air flow is reduced. Like the lint screen, this makes the dryer have to work harder, takes longer to dry your laundry, and is a fire hazard.

Any large obstructions or big pieces of lint can be removed by hand. For the rest, there are special brushes you can get to reach the places your hand cannot. This is an area different from your lint screen and is typically located in the back of the dryer where it connects.

Inspect the Vent Duct

The vent duct is the pipe or piece that goes from the dryer to the wall. Look for crimping or torn areas that need replacing. These do eventually degrade and although it may take a few years, it is important to make sure it's in good condition. You don't have to do this often - maybe once a year is a good idea. You can easily do it while doing the rest of your yearly inspection.

Check the Exterior Vent

The exterior vent is often susceptible to things like weeds and even bird nests. In fact, this is an area where creatures like rodents can enter if not properly fitted. If you do have that kind of problem, find a ventilation cover and use that. They're affordable and simple but do a lot to keep out unwanted guests.

Clean the Inside and Out

Keeping the inside and outside clean is more than just an aesthetic thing. A dirty dryer barrel can cause residue to get on your otherwise clean clothes. And as far as the outside, a dirty dryer can start to corrode due to soap on its finish. Your dryer will look better but it will also last longer.

Another thing to keep in mind is to prevent mold by wiping down the dryer after every use. Any wet areas should be cleaned so that the mold doesn't have the chance to grow. This also goes for your washer as well.

Caring for Your Dryer is Crucial

Taking care of your dryer simply takes regular maintenance. Yet, it's well worth it. It ensures that your clothes dry faster, your dryer is safer for use, and you have less repair calls.

For more information or for help with a home inspection, click here to find a WIN Home Inspection expert near you. Alternatively, call (800) 309-6753 or email us at inquiry@wini.com and one of our experts will contact you promptly.