Cleaning a Dryer

clean a dryer
Credit: Allen-Douglas

Cleaning a Dryer Vent

Knowing how to clean a dryer vent is important to keep the dryer running efficiently and to avoid a fire.  A clothes dryer operates like a very large filter system.  A large volume of air flow passes through the dryer each time it is operated.  This airflow is capable of gathering dirt and dust from the surrounding room and air, and lint and other particles from inside the drier.  A blockage of the dryer vent airflow resulting in poor clothes drying time and potentially starting a fire.  The exhaust line for both a gas and electric dryer require the same level of maintenance for safe and efficient operation. 

Supplies needed to do the job:

  • Shop vac
  • Flashlight
  • Pliers
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Drain snake (optional)

Take caution when unplugging a 220 volt dryer

Dryer plug
Credit: Allen-Douglas


Use extreme caution when working around electrical voltage.  Never touch a live electrical wire or attempt to unplug a cord when standing in water.  Use extreme caution when disconnecting and connecting gas lines.  If you smell gas exit the building and call 911.  Take caution when touching dryer vent tubing.  The edges of the tubing are cut sharp and can easily cut.  Never reach your bare hand into any dryer vent tubing.

Carefully unplug the dryer.  Remember that electric dryer units run on 220 volts, so they have a 3-prong plug.  For gas dryers, also turn off the gas supply and disconnect the gas line, if it restricts moving the unit around. 

Plenty of lint to clean behind this dryer

dryer lint
Credit: Allen-Douglas

Steps to Clean the Dryer Vent

Pull the dryer away from the wall allowing access to the rear of the unit.

Using the shop vac clean all the lint and dirt collected behind the dryer. 

Disconnect the dryer vent hose

disconnect dryer vent hose
Credit: Allen-Douglas

Remove the dryer vent hose from the back of the dryer

Remove the dryer vent hose from the back of the unit.  Also, detach the vent hose from the outlet port in the wall.

Clean the dryer vent duct to the outlet outside

Clean the dryer vent duct all the way to the outlet outside
Credit: Allen-Douglas

Clean the inside of the vent hose and vent line

clean dryer vent hose
Credit: Allen-Douglas

Clean the dryer vent line

Using the shop vac, vacuum any loose dirt or lint from the vent hose.  Vacuum the inside the dryer vent outlet in the wall.  Inspect the vent outlet to where it exit’s the building.  Look for collected lint at any bend points in the vent.  Lint also builds up at the exit point of the building.  Use the shop vac to clean these areas.  A drain snake also loosens built up lint at a bend point.  Push the drain snake through the bend points, if needed, to loosen lint in these areas.

In a short time the dryer can accumulate lint like this inside

clean inside dryer
Credit: Allen-Douglas

Clean inside the dryer

Using the Phillips-head screwdriver, remove the screws holding the back panel of the dryer.  Use the shop vac to vacuum all the lint and dirt from inside the dryer.  Take care not to knock any wiring loose during cleaning. 

Finish cleaning the dryer

  • Open the lint clean-out tray and vacuum the screen and inside the clean-out opening, using the shop vac. 
  • Attach the back panel and tighten the screws to secure it in place. 
  • Attach the vent hose back on the wall port and back of the outlet on the dryer.
  • Carefully push the dryer back in place near the wall.  Do not kink or crush the vent hose in the process.  A smashed dryer hose could easily result in drying efficiency issues and potential fire.
  • Connect the gas line, if needed.  Turn the gas on and check for leaks (gas only).  Plug in the electrical cord on the dryer.
  • Turn on the dryer and verify strong air pressure at the vent outlet outside the building.