You Need to Clean This Fire Hazard That’s Hiding in Your Laundry Room

published Sep 21, 2023
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Do you clean your dryer vent at least once a year? No, I don’t mean cleaning out the lint trap after every load. I mean pulling out the dryer and cleaning the hose that leads outside. If you aren’t, then you should be. 

Quick Overview

How to Clean a Dryer Vent

  • Step 1: Unplug the dryer.
  • Step 2: Detach the vent.
  • Step 3: Vacuum and brush the vent.
  • Step 4: Clean the outside portion of the vent.
  • Step 5: Inspect the dryer duct.
  • Step 6: Reattach everything.

“While most of us remember to clean the lint filter in between laundry loads, Hippo’s Housepower Report revealed that most homeowners wait two or more years to clean their dryer exhaust vent, if ever,” says Courtney Klosterman, home insights expert at Hippo Home Insurance Group. And that can be a problem because “the leading cause of home fires involving dryers and washing machines are from dust, fiber, or lint buildup in the dryer exhaust vent.”

We asked Klosterman and three other appliance experts for the right way to clean a dryer vent: Callum Couser, R&D operations manager, hygiene, at Lysol; Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans; and Traci Fournier, VP of operations at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.

What You’ll Need

The gloves, mask, and safety glasses are all optional, but it’s better to have them just in case. You don’t want to accidentally get an uninhibited face full of dryer debris.

Step 1: Unplug the dryer.

Also, empty it. If you have any laundry in the dryer, take it out. Then, cut the power. “Unplug your dryer from the power outlet to ensure there’s no chance of accidental startup while you’re elbow-deep in cleaning,” Cotter says. Pull the dryer away from the wall so you have easy access to the vent and the hose.

Step 2: Detach the vent.

Use the screwdriver to disconnect the vent from both the wall and the dryer. Put it down somewhere clean. You may consider brushing off the outside of the hose at this point if it’s dirty — then you can just vacuum up the mess.

Step 3: Vacuum and brush the vent.

Using the hose attachment on your vacuum, carefully do a first pass of the dryer vent and hose to suck up any dirt, debris, or leftover lint. Then take the dryer vent brush and give the vent and hose another once-over to make sure everything gets knocked loose that shouldn’t be there. Vacuum the vent and hose one more time to make sure you got everything. Don’t forget to look just inside the dryer where the hose connects. Vacuum up any debris there as well.

Step 4: Clean the outside portion of the vent.

If you have access to it, go outside and clean the vent exit on your home. You’ll want to use the same vacuum and brush combination to clean out here. You can also take a cloth and wipe away any dirt that doesn’t come off with the vacuum or brush.

Step 5: Inspect the dryer duct.

Because you’ve got everything detached and clean, now’s the time to look for any problems (both inside and outside your home) with the dryer duct, hose, or connections. “Inspect the dryer ducts to see if there are holes or cracks that might be causing your dryer to not work properly,” Fournier says. If you find something that looks out of whack, call your HVAC contractor.

Step 6: Reattach everything.

You did it! Now, reattach the duct hose and vent (don’t forget both the wall and the appliance itself), plug your dryer in, and enjoy safer, better heat for your clothing.