Lint clogging up your dryer vents not only diminishes the efficiency of your dryer, it’s also a fire hazard. Additionally, other obstructions can find their way not only into the flexible dryer vent attachment, but also in the vent leading from your house to the outside. Aside from lint, these vents can be clogged by other debris, including bird nests (yes, if they can get in, birds will build a nest there), wasp nests, grass clippings, and even an occasional sock or two.
How to Clean Your Dryer’s Vent
What You Will Need:
- Clean toilet brush
- Broom hand or other long piece of wood
- Old towel
- Duct tape
- Warm soapy water
The Cleaning Process:
- Before you do anything UNPLUG your dryer (both gas and electric dryers).
- If you have a gas dryer TURN OFF THE GAS. If you are unable to turn off the gas or are unsure how to do so properly, it is best to contact an appliance specialist or the gas company. In any event, NEVER attempt to clean the dryer vents of a gas dryer unless the gas is turned off (and the unit is unplugged).
- Pull the dryer away from the wall so that you can comfortably get behind it to unhook the vent (about 2 ft).
- Once behind your dryer, unscrew the clamp holding the vent to the dryer, and detach it from the dryer.
- Detach the vent from the wall, and lay it on the floor in front of the dryer.
- Insert the toilet bowl brush into the flexible vent and gently move it around to remove any excess lint buildup. You could also use a vacuum cleaner with a wand attachment, but you may need another person to hold the vent in place while you vacuum out the inside. We DO NOT recommend using a coat hanger, or other pointy object for this step as you may accidentally poke a hole in the flexible vent.
- Wrap the broomstick (or piece of wood) with an old towel, and duct tape it so it stays in place.
- Slide the towel-wrapped broomstick into the vent leading from the laundry room to the outside, moving it back and forth and around until the towel comes out relatively clean.
- Go to the outside of the house and locate the outside dryer vent.
- Remove the louver covering from the outside vent (usually held on by screws), and visually inspect the interior to see if any obstructions are visible. If there is a wasp or other similar nest inside your vent, exercise extreme caution to avoid getting stung. Wasps and Hornets can be difficult to deal with and you may want to call an exterminator rather than attempt to remove it yourself.
- If the obstruction is within arms reach and you can safely identify it (i.e. NOT a wasp nest), with a gloved hand, reach in and remove the obstruction.
- If you cannot see or identify an obstruction, insert the towel-wrapped broom handle (or piece of wood) and gently move it around and up and down until it comes out relatively clean.
- Wash off the louver cover with warm soapy water, rinse and replace.
- Go back in the house and reattach the flexible vent to the dryer using the clamp.
- Reattach the flexible vent to the wall.
- Plug the dryer back in and run it for a few minutes on fluff cycle, then turn it off.
- Go back outside and check the vent leading from the house for any additional obstructions that may have been pushed forward. If an obstruction is present, reach into the vent with a gloved hand and remove it, or use the cleaning technique with the broom handle as described in step # 12 above.
- Attach the louver cover to the outside vent.
- Push the dryer back into it’s place and turn the gas back on .
Additional Tips and Advice
- While you have the dryer pulled away from the wall, it may be a good time to clean behind and underneath the dryer.
- Before replacing your flexible vent, check it carefully for damage, cracks or holes, and if any damage is apparent, discard immediately and buy a new one.
- If you have difficulty reaching far into the outside vent, a plumbers snake may come in handy.
- If your outside vent cover is being held in place not only by screws but also by caulking, try slicing a line around the caulking with a razor blade before attempting to remove. You should also re-caulk when done. Always exercise caution using a razor blade and, in fact, you should only handle a razor blade if it is inside a razor-knife/box-cutter (i.e. attachment in which the razor blade sits so the user doesn’t have to directly handle the blade).
- Use care when handling the flexible vent as it may contain sharp edges.
- Always exercise caution when reaching into a vent, even if you are wearing gloves since there may be screws or sharp objects that can cause injury.