Regular dryer vent cleaning is a must to prevent fires and to reduce utility bills. But what exactly does this entail, and how do you do it? Read on to learn about the steps to take and why it’s so important.
Disclaimer: The information included in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal, financial, or DIY advice. We highly suggest consulting a professional before attempting any DIY home improvements or repairs.
How to Clean Your Dryer Vent
Clean your dryer vent by taking these quick and easy steps:
- Unplug the dryer
- Vacuum the dryer vent and hose
- Use a dryer vent brush
- Reconnect the dryer
Dryer vent cleaning doesn’t have to take hours of hard work. In fact, it’s one of the easiest home maintenance tasks you can do, and you only need a few tools to do it. We recommend the following:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Scrub brushes
- Duct tape
- Dryer vent brush
- Work gloves
- Replacement parts (if necessary)
- Microfiber cloth
- Leaf blower
- Auger snake
After you’ve gathered your materials and tools, you’re ready to start cleaning your dryer vent. Just follow the easy steps below:
1. Unplug the Dryer
Before starting to clean your dryer vent, you need to disconnect it from the power. Pull the dryer about one to two feet away from the wall and unplug it. You can turn off the supply valve for gas dryers. Next, find the vent at the back of the dryer.
It should look like a thick hose with a four-inch diameter. Also, look for the exhaust vent on the outside of your house by following the vent hose. Use your screwdriver to unscrew the clamps keeping the vent hose on the wall. Place a garbage bag or drop cloth under the hose to catch any debris.
2. Vacuum the Dryer Vent and Hose
Put on your safety gloves before proceeding. Use your hands to pull out any large chunks of lint, hair, and debris from the hole behind your dryer. Grab a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to clean the area more thoroughly.
If possible, try to detach the duct where it touches the wall to clean it more thoroughly. Vacuum the ends of the hose as well. Work on both ends until it feels clear. By using a leaf blower, you can remove large amounts of debris out at once.
Place the end in a garbage bag to avoid making a large mess. If the vent still has stubborn clogs, you may want to use an auger snake. Break up the blockage using the auger snake and remove the remnants with a leaf blower or vacuum.
3. Use a Dryer Vent Brush
Some hair, dust, lint, and dirt may stick to the walls of your hose and dryer vent. Use a cleaning brush to get rid of anything left behind. Dryer vent brushes employ a telescopic pole and multi-sided brush.
The pole usually has an adjustable length to fit through the length of the hose. You can also buy a drill attachment brush which rotates quickly and sweeps up more debris. If you’re using a manual brush, feed the tube into the dryer duct slowly and rotate it to sweep off debris.
Move it up and down to ensure it grabs everything blocking the path. Extend the brush until you reach the end and pull it back through. If you brush on the higher side of the vent, gravity will pull down some of the debris.
4. Clean the Exterior Vent
Head outside your house and pull off the exterior vent cover. Remove any lint or dirt chunks with your hands while wearing work gloves. Wipe off the vent with a microfiber cloth. Using your vacuum cleaner, suction out any remaining debris from this end of the dryer vent.
Place the vent cover in warm and soapy water and wipe off the remaining dirt using a microfiber cloth. Let it dry completely before putting it back on the dryer.
5. Reconnect the Dryer
Attach the vent hose and screw back on the clamps on the dryer side. Repeat this process on the outer ventilation pipe. Slide the dryer back to the wall in its original position. Turn the dryer on the air-dry or fluff setting and let it run without anything in it for 20 minutes.
Go outside and ensure that the vent blows out clean air. You may find some lint blowing out. Wait until it blows clean air before going back inside. Once you know that it is running correctly, you can replace the outer vent cover.
6. Maintain Your Dryer Vent
You’ll have fewer dryer vent cleaning sessions by maintaining it throughout the year. Most require annual cleanings, but you might need to clean it more frequently or hire a professional if you experience regular problems.
To prevent more issues, try to maintain your dryer vent regularly. Avoid using dryer sheets or fabric softeners, as these will clog the lint filter. They can also leave behind flammable chemicals that accumulate and create a dangerous environment.
Brushing your clothes with a lint brush before washing them can also reduce buildup. Instead of drying heavy linen items like bedspreads, hang them on a drying rack or clothesline.
It may take longer to dry, but you’ll reduce the strain on your dryer. After every drying session, clean the lint trap. Most of the time, you can use your hands, but try to rinse it off and vacuum the compartment once a month.
Things to Consider
Keep a few things in mind when cleaning your dryer vent.
- Foil, plastic, and vinyl dryer hoses are more clog- and fire-prone than inflexible ones. You may want to replace these with more robust options before continuing.
- Get a helper to move a heavy clothes dryer to prevent injuries. If you don’t have anyone strong enough around, you may need to hire a professional.
- If you have respiratory issues, wear a mask to avoid inhaling dust, hair, debris, and lint while cleaning the dryer vent hose.
- When testing the dryer, some parts may leak or come loose. Ensure you tighten everything thoroughly, especially if you have a gas dryer, as carbon monoxide can leak.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions concerning dryer vent cleaning.
Can I Clean the Dryer Vent Myself?
You can clean a dryer vent yourself if you are strong enough to move the dryer. Otherwise, you may need assistance to move it. Asides from that, most steps can be completed on your own.
How Do I Know If My Dryer Vent Is Clogged?
You can tell if your dryer vent is clogged if:
- It takes a long period to dry your clothes
- The dryer is regularly hot after use
- It smells like something is burning when your dryer runs
- The lint trap needs to be cleaned frequently
How Much Does It Cost to Have Someone Clean Your Dryer Vent?
It costs between $90 to $160 an hour to have someone clean your dryer vent. The price may vary based on the location, who you hire, the size, and accessibility.
How Often Should Dryer Vents Be Professionally Cleaned?
Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, you only need to clean your dryer vent once a year. However, you may need to do it more often if you encounter issues with drying. If you have been cleaning it yourself and find that it clogs frequently, you should hire a professional to see if they can clean it more thoroughly than you.
So, How Do You Clean a Dryer Vent?
By gathering your vacuum and a dryer vent brush, you can easily clean your dryer vent. Just unplug it, disassemble the system, and wipe out all the debris. It only takes a couple of hours, and you need to do it once a year. Doing so regularly reduces the risk of fire and carbon monoxide, and is a must to reduce energy bills.