Tag Archives: lint

How to clean your dryer’s lint screen

Lint screen for a clothes dryerOne of the simplest yet most neglected maintenance tasks in the home has to do with your clothes dryer. Failing to do this simple task can sometimes have deadly results.

Dangerous dryer fires are extremely common. In fact, in my job as a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician, I speak to two or three people a month who have called me because their dryer caught on fire. In most cases, these fires were totally preventable.

Dryers are the second most dangerous appliance in the house. The first is the stove. But let’s face it, in many homes, the dryer gets far more use than the stove.

Cleaning and washing the lint screen in your clothes dryer can help avoid dangerous dryer fires!

What is a lint screen?

Every dryer has a lint screen. Some are located at the top of the dryer. Some are located just inside the door of the dryer. Here are examples of each.

A lint screen removed from top of clothes dryer

Lint screen inside dryer door





If you still don’t know where your lint screen is, check your dryer’s instruction manual.

Don’t ever use your clothes dryer with a damaged or missing lint screen.

Cleaning your lint screen

Before each load of laundry, pull out the lint screen and remove any lint. Simply use your fingers to remove the lint from the screen and throw away the lint.

Some of the more sophisticated clothes dryers have an alert if the dryer senses that the screen is full. Don’t depend on the alert. It’s best to get in the habit of removing the lint before every load of laundry.

Not cleaning your screen before each load creates extra wear and tear on your dryer, resulting in expensive appliance repairs. In addition, your clothes won’t dry as quickly, creating more expensive utility bills.

Washing your lint screen

In addition to cleaning your screen before each load of laundry, washing your screen is extremely important. Residue from laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer pads collects on the screening material. This residue can plug up the screen which makes your dryer harder to “breathe.” Screens should be washed every few months, depending on your family’s laundry habits.

Washing a lint screen is very simple:

1) Remove the screen and clean off any lint as you normally do before each load. Never use water to wash off the lint.

2) Run hot water over each side of the screen.

3) Wet a soft bristle brush or old toothbrush and scrub both sides of the screen.

4) Rinse both sides of the screen with hot water to remove the soap.

5) Repeat as needed until the screen is clean and there’s no more soap residue.

6) Inspect the screen to make sure no soap residue remains as well as the condition of the screen.

7) Dry the screen with a clean towel or allow to air dry.

8) Re-install the clean screen before using the dryer.

CAUTION: Don’t apply too much pressure to the screen. Damaging or tearing the somewhat fragile screening material will result in having to buy a new lint screen.

Of course, cleaning your screen is only one way to avoid dryer fires. Having an appliance technician clean out the lint from inside the dryer under the drum should be done once or twice a year.  In addition, having a Certified Dryer Technician clean out your dryer vent system once a year is also extremely important. Here are some important tips on how to avoid a dangerous dryer fire.

Dryer fires are easily avoidable with just these simple tasks.

10 Signs That You Need a Dryer Vent Cleaning

Woman looking at clothes in dryerThere’s nothing more annoying for a homeowner than when the clothes dryer stops working. Laundry comes to a complete standstill and there’s no place to put the basket full of sopping wet clothes. In this case, most homeowners automatically think there’s a problem with the dryer itself and so they call the appliance repair company. After several days waiting for the repairman to show up, he takes five minutes to determine that there’s nothing wrong with the dryer at all. The dryer vent is clogged.   So now the homeowner has paid for a totally unnecessary expense for an appliance repair. As a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician, I hear this story almost daily from frustrated homeowners who just want to get their laundry done.

Another even worse scenario that we see too often:  When your dryer takes too long to dry, you automatically think that the problem is with the dryer.  Since the dryer is a few years old, you spend the big bucks to buy a new dryer.  The new dryer is installed and, once again, takes too long to dry.  You come to the frustrating realization that you just spent unnecessary money on a new dryer while throwing away a perfectly functional dryer.  The dryer vent was the problem, not the dryer.

 So how do you tell if your dryer vent is clogged?

1)  Your clothing takes too long to dry. It should not take any longer than 45 minutes to dry an average load of laundry.

2)  The Exhaust Termination (also referred to as a “Flapper,” “Wall Cap Termination” or “Roof Termination”) where the dryer exhausts to the outside doesn’t open when the dryer is on.

3)  The dryer seems to be overly hot to the touch when the dryer is on.  Also, the laundry room feels like a sauna when the dryer is on.

Carbon monoxide detector4)  In the case of a gas dryer, the carbon monoxide detector in the laundry room sounds its obnoxious alarm. Blocked or plugged up dryer vents may allow the carbon monoxide to back up into the home since the gases cannot exhaust properly. It is highly recommended to install a carbon monoxide detector in the laundry room when you have a gas dryer.

5)  More lint than normal appears around the dryer and in the laundry room.

6)  On more sophisticated dryers, the electronic read-out will indicate that there’s an issue with the dryer vent or lint screen.

7)  You notice a burning smell when the dryer is on. This is a sign of a dryer fire inside the dryer. According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2010-2014, the U.S. fire departments estimated that there were 15,970 fires involving washers and clothes dryers, resulting in 13 deaths, 440 injuries and $230 million in property damage.  The large majority of these fires were due to clothes dryers.

8)  The screen that surrounds the dryer exhaust termination is plugged up. Clogged dryer vent exhaustAlthough the screens are useful for keeping out rodents, the screens are actually against code because they tend to plug up with lint.

9)  Your clothes develop a musty or moldy smell.

10)  Your dryer stops working. If the dryer doesn’t vent properly, the dryer overheats and will damage expensive parts in the dryer in which case you will need an appliance repairman to fix the dryer after the dryer vent cleaning.

What NOT To Do With A Dryer Vent

Some DIY’ers choose to purchase a Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit from one of the big box home improvement stores.  However, because these kits are intended for dryer vent systems less than ten feet long and most homes have dryer vents far longer, using these kits actually creates a blockage, making it more difficult for a professional to remove the blockage.

Who do you call to clean a dryer vent?

Most appliance repair companies don’t touch dryer vents and most dryer vent professionals don’t fix dryers. To find a qualified Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician in your area, go to Chimney Safety Institute of America and look for a C-Det Certified Dryer Technician. Make sure that the technician uses a brushing method to scrub the vent clean and not just air pressure or vacuums which just removes the loose lint.


After the dryer vent is cleaned, you’ll be happy to get back to doing your laundry in no time!