How to Clean Out a Dryer Vent in Simple Steps?

Machines are made to make our work more effortless. Though you cannot keep the machines looking new every day, you can keep them clean as clean machines run better. When enough dirt is packed in the machine, wear can be revived fast. Thus, maintenance is always essential to ensure the machines run well for long years.

When running laundry at home, it is crucial to clean the dryer vent in a timely manner. Unfortunately, we often forget to clean the dryer vent, which may result in various unpleasant things like a burning smell or you run the laundry, the dryer getting too hot after you load one round of laundry, clothes taking longer to dry than usual, or an unpleasant smell in clothes after laundry. These warning signs indicate a clogged or dirty dryer that can put the home at fire risk.

According to the US fire department, one of the main reasons for the domestic fire after the gas leaks is dirty or clogged dryer vents. Between 2014 to 2018, around 14,000 fires reported at the local fire department across the US involved dryers. About one-third of the fire reasons were dust, lint, and fiber clogged vents. Thus, one needs to clean the dryer at least once or twice a year, depending upon the usage. 

Cleaning the dryer is a simple task that doesn’t require anything high-end technique, and within an hour or two, you will get great results and run like a new one. Learning a cleaning dryer vent is always a great idea. Here are the simple steps to clean the dryer vent by yourself:

Supplies and tools required for cleaning the vent:

  • Screwdriver
  • Safety gloves
  • Dryer duct cleaning brush with a flexible rod
  • Vacuum with a hose attachment
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Step 1: Unplug the dryer

Before cleaning the dryer vent, it is essential to unplug the dryer power cord to avoid any malfunction or electric shock. If the dryer runs on gas, turn the falls valve off. Remember, safety first!!

Keeping the area dry while cleaning up the dryer vent is highly advisable.

  • Step 2: Detach the dryer vent

The dryer vent is located at the back of the machine. Wear the gloves and reach out and try to detach the dryer duct from the dryer and the wall. To remove the duct, you need to use a screwdriver. Remove the vent cover, keep it aside.

  • Step 3: Clean the Vent With a Brush Kit Drill

Take the cleaning kit and adjust the brush kits into flexible rods. Insert the cleaner blush slowly into the vent and spin as required; remove the lint stuck in the vent. Keep pushing and spinning the brush till the exit point of the vent. Once it’s done, clean the duct located inside the dryer.

  • Step 4: Vacuum inside the vent using flexible rods

Once you clean the vent with a brush, it’s time to vacuum the interior for a more effective deep cleaning. Turn the vacuum cleaner on using the hose extension. Suck all the vent entrances and penetrate deep inside the dryer’s duct exhaust. Keep vacuuming around, and ensure every dirt is sucked by the vacuum.

  • Step 5: Sweep the dirt

Before the shift cleans the exterior vent, sweep the dirt and toss it. If you notice some lint residue, you might need to clean it with soap water to clean it appropriately.

  • Step 6: Clean the exterior vent

Once all the interior vent cleaning is done, you need to clean the exterior part of the vent. The external vent might be located high on the top of the outer wall or at the bottom, touching the ground. Get the cleaning flexible brush rod and do the drill bushing from the outside. Carefully not to force the pressure as you might break it.

  • Step 7: Re-install the dryer vent

Now that the dryer vent cleaning is completed, it’s time to re-install the dryer vent. Before re-installing, inspect the ducts; replace them if there is a hole or it looks damaged.

Affix the dryer vent and cover by using a screwdriver. Move the dryer to its place and plug it into the outlet, or in case it runs on gas, turns the gas valve on. Run the dryer for a couple of minutes to test it.

How To Calculate That It’s Time to Clean The Dryer Vent?

If you notice anything from the list, you need to stop the laundry run, and it’s time to clean:

  1. After the drying circle, the clothes are still damp.
  2. The clothes drying cycle is taking more time than usual.
  3. The clothes that come out of the drying cycle are hotter than normal.
  4. The laundry room is turning out hot and humid (the exterior vent is blocking the air circulation).
  5. The dryer is fuming hot when you touch it.
  6. The lint filter is overflowing and might break anytime.

In addition, some types of dryer vents like vinyl, foil, or plastics are prone to fast clogging and vulnerable to fire spark. Thus, it is necessary to clean the dryer vent regularly. If possible, invest a little and buy a metal duct that lasts longer and has a high capacity for fire spark.

How Often Should One Clean The Dryer Vent?

It totally depends upon how many cycles you run the laundry per day or week; some points maybe help to keep track of the dryer vent cleaning schedule:

  1. If you run the laundry cycle once a week with a limited number of clothes and sheets, once a year is good enough.
  2. If you run the laundry cycle twice a week with many clothes and sheets, the dryer vent needs cleaning twice a year.
  3. If more people stay together and the laundry cycle runs a couple of times a week with many clothes and sheets or extra stuff like rugs or curtains, quarterly dryer vent cleaning is mandatory.

Some people start paying attention when they notice signs that the dryer needs attention, which is highly risky. Follow the point above, to ensure safety. Adjust the cleaning sessions as per the load cycle.

Tips on Keeping The Dryer Vent Clean

To reduce the clogging and lint bulk up in the dryer vent, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that individuals follow these steps:

  1. Ensure cleaning the lint filter after every laundry load. It is easier to do the little parts regularly to avoid washing in bulk at once, saving time and energy.
  2. Keep the laundry room area clean. Once a week, it is good to move the dryer and clean the area behind the dryer area.
  3. Regularly clean the dryer inside with warm and soapy water twice a month (depending upon usage), and if you have a ceiling fan in the laundry room, keep the fan on to make sure the inside part is dry and can be wiped off with a towel.
  4. Replace the foil or plastic duct material with a metal duct. The metal duct offers maximum airflow while plastic or foil doesn’t.
  5. Wash the stained clothes (cooking oils, high chemical agents, gasoline, etc.) at least twice, and avoid drying these clothes in the dryer; instead, hang them after the wash.

Final Thoughts

Pay attention to the signs that scream that the dryer vent needs cleaning or the dryer vent is clogging. The more you delay these signs, you will be putting your home at fire risk. Although one can clean the dryer vent themselves, it is recommended to hire a professional if you are not 100% sure how to clean it by yourself. For instance, you might miss some cleaning or not be aware of the electrical connections.

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Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I’ve been writing articles for more than 10 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I’m currently writing for many websites and newspaper. All my ideas come from my very active lifestyle. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. In all my years as computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. I believe that any information should be free, we want to know more every day because we learn everyday. You can contact me on our forum or by email at: [email protected].