How Often Should I Clean the Clothes Dryer Lint Trap?
There are several posts on this website that discuss the fact that your clothes dryer is a major source of airborne particles in your home. In this article, we need to talk about how often you should clean the clothes dryer lint trap and vent. Regularly cleaning these items on your clothes dryer will go a long way to reducing the amount of airborne particulate that your machine produces. It also serves to prevent overheating and fires.
Under normal operating conditions, Lint traps should be cleaned after every load. Dryer vents should be done twice a year for homes that do at least one load a day. This can be extended to yearly for households that may use their clothes dryer once or twice a week.
How do I Clean the Lint Trap?
The lint trap is designed to trap the lint produced from your clothing during the heat/tumble cycle of your machine. Without the lint trap, buildup of lint in the vent ducts would happen very quickly and become a fire hazard in short order.
The lint trap is usually located in either one of two places on most modern clothes dryers. First and most common, it is located on the top of the machine as a long, pull-out screen that extends down into the inner workings of your machine. Removing it entails grabbing the recessed handle area and pulling it straight up until its entire length is clear of the machine.
The second area where the lint trap is commonly found is just inside the door. In this configuration, it usually takes the shape of a cylindrical basket that can be easily removed by simply pulling it up and out of its designated holding area.
If you are having trouble locating the lint trap on your machine, consult your owner’s manual on where it is located on the model you have. You can also utilize the internet to lookup your make and model for more information.
Does Cleaning the Lint Trap Create Dust?
As soon as you remove the dirty lint trap from your machine, it begins to shed millions of particles into your home’s air.
If your home has a separate laundry room with a door, close it before removing your lint trap. Turn off any fans you may have in the area as well.
Be as gentle with it as possible when handling a dirty clothes dryer lint trap.
We recommend keeping a spray bottle of water handy to spritz the dirty lint trap as soon as you have it free of the dryer itself. Just a light mist of water will bind most of the particles before they have an opportunity to be bounced off and into the air.
Know where you are putting the lint before pulling the dirty trap out of the machine. Don’t pull out the dirty trap and walk through other areas of your home to dispose of the lint material. Have a trash bag ready to go at the machine and seal it up after use.
Depending on your manufacturer’s recommendations, either rinse out or wipe clean with a damp cloth, the remaining lint that may be sticking to the trap surfaces. Wipe around the area where the lint trap goes back into your machine along with a quick wipe of all exposed surfaces to keep dust and particulate levels to a minimum.
Cleaning the Clothes Dryer Vent Exhaust Ducts
Your clothes dryer has an exhaust port on the back of the machine where dirty, moist air exits the machine. This hot air has first traveled through your lint trap where most of the lint from your clothing has been removed from the air flow. This air needs to be directed out of your home where it will vent to the outside air. The exhaust duct directs this air flow from the back of your machine to the vent located either on your home’s roof or an outside wall.
The lint and other particulate matter generated during the drying cycle that is not trapped inside the machine, via the lint trap, will likely build up on the inside surfaces of your ducts and vent. This build-up can get so bad as to block the duct, likely forcing the exhaust stream of dirty air back into your home. Worst still, the heat build-up because of the blockage could result in a fire.
Although this job is fairly easy to do, we recommend finding someone that is familiar with the operation and having them perform the cleaning, particularly if you are not a do-it-yourselfer.
The cost for having this done by a professional will range between $50 and $200. Look for a home handyman that specializes in duct cleaning for the best price.
I you want to do the job yourself, there are kits available for you to use. Check out these: