Cleaning lint from your dryer is one of those chores that you probably know needs to be done occasionally, but you might not know how often, or what happens if you fail to keep on top of this task. Let’s find out!
Dryer lint traps should be cleaned between every load of clothes that they dry. That might sound like a lot, but if you do it regularly, the amount of work involved will be greatly decreased. Your machine will also work better and last longer.
How Often Do Dryer Lint Traps Need Cleaning?
Dryer lint traps should be cleaned after every load of clothes that you dry. You should try to get into the habit of simply lifting out the lint screen and pulling all of the lint off it, and then putting it back. Do this at the same time as removing the clothes, so you don’t forget about it.
Many modern dryers have a light or another reminder for you to check this trap after every cycle, because so many people forget. Our dryer reminds us, and that has really helped everyone in the house get into the habit of pulling out the screen and cleaning it every time they use the machine.
If your dryer doesn’t have this feature or if you are still forgetting, consider setting an additional reminder on your phone. It’s really important to get rid of lint, so don’t skip this step.
How Do You Clean A Lint Trap?
You will need to start by locating the trap. It may be just inside the door, on the back wall on the inside of the dryer, or in the top right corner. You should see a small handle you can pull, or some holes that your fingers will slot into, letting you grasp the trap. If you can’t find the trap, consult your manual, which should tell you its location.
Pull it out and then use your fingers to remove the fluff from the screen. Collect the fluff into a pile and discard it. You can also use a vacuum hose attachment to suck the fluff off the trap if you prefer.
If the trap feels greasy or sticky as a result of leftover laundry liquid or fabric softener, soak it in some hot water and strong soap. You can use a soft brush to scrub it if necessary, and then rinse off the soap, dry it, and reinsert it into the machine. Don’t run your dryer without the trap in place.
What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Dryer Lint Trap Enough?
There are quite a few problems that may arise if you don’t clean the dryer’s lint screen regularly.
1) Your Energy Costs Will Rise
Having a lot of lint built up on the screen makes your dryer noticeably less efficient. This means that your dryer needs to work harder to get the clothes clean, and this takes more energy. Since dryers have high energy costs anyway, this is something that you will want to avoid.
Keeping the screen clear is a great way to ensure that your energy costs stay low. We noticed a drop in our bill as soon as we started cleaning our dryer screen more often. It wasn’t the biggest drop ever, but it added up pretty quickly!
2) Your Clothes Will Dry More Quickly
If you find you are waiting for ages for your dryer to get things dry, you might want to check the screen. Keeping it lint-free is the best way to maximize the efficiency of your dryer – and that means your clothes will be warm and ready to put away much faster.
A clear screen allows more air to flow from the vent, meaning that the dryer can get rid of the moisture and leave your clothes perfectly dry in a very short space of time. You can then fold them and put them away.
3) The Fire Risk Will Be Reduced
We all hear stories from time to time about dryers catching fire and causing the house to burn down, and most of us shudder at the thought. If you’re leaving lint in your dryer, though, you’re tempting fate.
Lint is highly flammable, as you’ll know if you have ever tried to burn it. Some people even use it as a fire starter (although I wouldn’t personally recommend this, as it contains plastic fibers). When you combine a highly flammable material with a very hot environment, you get a fire hazard.
You should therefore make sure you are removing lint from the machine as promptly as possible to minimize this fire hazard. You want to be able to get your dryer hot without risking the safety of the people in your home!
4) Your Dryer Will Last Longer
We’ve already mentioned that if the screen is free from lint, your dryer won’t have to work as hard, and this has the extra advantage of extending the life of your machine. Less pressure will be put on the components, and this means that they should last longer.
You may find that you don’t need to call out a repairman as frequently, or that your dryer lasts longer. It only takes a few minutes to clear the lint out of the trap, and it’s well worth doing for all of these reasons.
How Do I Know If My Dryer Vent Needs Cleaning?
As well as the lint trap, you do need to occasionally think about your dryer vent. If you see any of the following signs, the vent likely needs to be cleaned:
Your laundry room has a faint burning smell. This indicates that some fabric is getting very hot, and this is likely to be happening to lint inside the dryer vent. You need to take action before it gets worse.
The lint flap isn’t opening. This flap should open whenever the dryer is in operation. If it isn’t opening, that suggests that the air isn’t flowing properly. The most common cause of this issue is lint buildup in the vent.
You see a warning light or an error code. Refer to your manual to see if this relates to the dryer vent and then take action. Some dryers will even stop working when the vent gets too full, as a safety precaution.
The clothes are very hot when you take them out. If the air cannot flow from the machine efficiently, it will get hotter inside than it should. There is a risk that this will burn your clothes.
You cannot feel any air coming out of the dryer vent outside, even though the dryer is running.
Your clothes aren’t getting dried as quickly as you would expect. This indicates that moisture is getting trapped in the machine. Although it’s heating correctly, the water is unable to escape, so your clothes are staying damp.
These are the most obvious signs that there is an issue, and if you see any of them, you need to get a professional in to clean the vent. Most manufacturers recommend getting the vent cleaned twice per year, so if it’s been a long time, get it cleaned even if you don’t see the above signs.
This should improve the efficiency of your machine and reduce the risk of a fire occurring.