Lint Trap Dangers: Keep It Clean

Why Your Lint Trap Should be Well-Maintained

Whether you use an electric or gas clothes dryer, you know it will collect plenty of lint. Lint builds up in the lint trap, of course, but also inside the dryer vent and ductwork, which reduces air flow and drying efficiency. But here’s the most important thing to remember about lint: It's highly flammable. In fact, lint build-up in dryers is the cause of thousands of house fires every year. The good news is that the majority of those fires can be prevented by cleaning the dryer's lint trap on a regular basis. Here's a guide to keeping your lint trap well-maintained.

Clean the Lint Filter

Removing dangerous lint from your dryer is simple. The first area to clean after every load is the dryer's lint trap. Remove the lint filter and use your fingers to peel the lint away from the screen, then wipe the edges with a lightly damp cloth. If the screen seems particularly dirty or clogged, it may be because of build up from your dryer sheets. Just let the screen soak in some hot water for a few minutes, then gently scrub it with an old toothbrush.

Do a Deeper Clean

For this next step, you want to keep the lint filter to the side. Then, use a long-handled flexible lint brush to reach into the lint trap opening. Gently move the brush back and forth to loosen up lint and pull it out. Remove as many big chunks of lint as possible, but don't worry about the smaller pieces. Once you've gotten most of the lint out, replace the lint trap filter and run the empty dryer for about 20 minutes. This will pull any remaining lint into the filter or blow it to the outside vent.

Check the Vents

At least once per year, unplug the dryer and check where the exhaust vent connects to the dryer. The hose or pipe is held in place by a clip or a steel clamp that can be loosened by pliers or a screwdriver. After removing the pipe, reach inside the dryer opening or use a lint brush to remove as much lint as possible. Then clean the inside of the hose or pipe as well.

Also, if you see that you have a white or silver vent, then have it replaced immediately. Those old-fashioned hoses are highly flammable. All national and local building codes now require metal ductwork for clothes dryers. Ideally, you should use rigid aluminum tubing between the dryer and the outside vent.

Don't Forget the Exterior Vents

One last step is to clean the exterior vent. Again, remove as much lint as possible using your hand or a brush. If you live in a high humidity area or use your dryer more than twice weekly, you should clean this vent several times per year.

Follow these Additional Fire Prevention Tips

Cleaning your dryer's lint trap and ductwork on a regular basis will go a long way in reducing the chances of a dryer fire. Here are a few other tips on how to use your dryer safely:

  • Never place fabrics stained with flammable liquids into your tumble dryer. The intense heat can ignite these volatile liquids even after washing. Better to let these clothes air dry.
  • Never dry super large loads. It’s tempting to want to load up your dryer thinking it will save time. But too-large loads can create excess heat which, in turn, can cause a fire.
  • Make sure your new dryer is installed by a professional - especially if it's a gas dryer.
  • Clean up around the dryer. Make sure you periodically sweep up any lint and debris that's accumulated around the dryer. That stuff can catch fire as well.
  • Consider an upgrade to your dryer. If you think it’s time for a new appliance, then stop by Reno's Appliance. We're proud to carry dryers from the world's top manufacturers.

We all love the convenience of having a tumble dryer, but they should be used with caution. Cleaning the lint trap often and following a few simple safety tips will help ensure you never have to experience a dryer fire.

Reno's Appliance was founded in 1951 as Reno's Radio & TV. Since then, the shop has grown to become the one-stop home appliance source trusted by thousands. Reno's sons continue to carry on the tradition set forth by their father and exhibit exceptional customer service. Stop by our showroom in Paterson, NJ to view our wide selection of appliances.