How to Clean a Dryer Vent Like a Pro

by Zack Culley

Is your dryer emanating burning smells or running hot, yet clothes mysteriously require longer cycles to dry? Are fuzzy balls clinging to garments or lint streams climbing out of vent and lint trap openings?

If one or more of these problems are dampening your laundry routine, it’s likely time to give your dryer vent some TLC—especially if a year or more has passed since the last appliance service call or deep cleaning.

Here, we’ll discuss the differences between the lint trap and lint vent before delving into the steps involved in properly cleaning the laundry vent.

The Distinction Between Dryer Lint Traps and Lint Vents

Even after years (or decades) of experience using clothes dryers, many confuse the lint trap with the dryer vent. Though both are important and serve similar functions, they could not be more different regarding cleaning frequency and methods.

Let’s break it down in layman’s terms.

Lint traps are the primary line of defense against unwanted naps of shedding fibers and pesky pet hair. Traps are typically marked and are easy to access from the top or just inside the dryer door. Simply removing the trap and clearing away the debris from the screen is highly advised after each use.

Lint vents are a whole different ball game that should be cleaned every 6-12 months, and they are not quite as easy to access as the trap. Gently pull the dryer away from the wall and look behind it. The vent hose is typically a long flexible tube or aluminum piping attached to the rear of the housing near the top or base and to a wall.

Since the dryer’s now pulled out, let’s begin the step-by-step cleaning process.

Cleaning a Dryer Vent Step-by-Step

While the processes are somewhat similar to gas dryers, for all intents and purposes this guide addresses the steps for cleaning standard electric clothes dryer vents.

1. Two metal clamp-style rings typically connect the hose to a wall vent and also directly to the appliance. These clamps unscrew easily, allowing you to completely remove the dryer vent hose. Take the hose outdoors carefully and shake out loose debris and lint.

2. Take a long-handled brush designed for vent trap cleaning, insert it into the piping in the wall, turning the brush in a circular motion to get as deep as possible into the opening. If possible, enter the vent trap from the outside (there may be a cover) and clean it out thoroughly. Follow suit with the vent hose.

3. Before reassembling the hose, use a long attachment on a vacuum (rotary brushes are amazing) to finish removing embedded debris and loosening dust from all open-ended components.

4. Put the hose back in place, tighten the clamp screws, and turn the dryer on for a few seconds to blow out any residual particulates in the tubing before resituating the appliance.

When to Reconsider DIY Dryer Vent Cleaning

Gas dryers and stackable washer and dryers might require professional services if they stop functioning due to improper cleaning. It’s risky to do these fixes yourself because of the challenges that come with them. For instance, Stackables can be heavy, but the highest risks are with older gas dryers having metal piping and/or a dryer heat diverter device. They can be fragile and challenging to clean, ramping up the potential for gas leaks. Hence, its best to look around for qualified professionals having experience in dealing with such breakdowns. Alternatively, you could get your dryer covered under a home warranty. In case of a breakdown, the home warranty company would be responsible for getting the dryer fixed by professionals.

The Bottom Line

Cleaning the dryer vent isn’t an impossible feat by any means, but if you prefer to call in a pro, contact the appliance experts at Don’s Appliances today. Learn more about our services and get more solid advice by reading our blog.