Cleaning the lint trap in your dryer seems simple enough. But for some people, it may seem OK to clean it the next time or the time after that. However, dryer lint can be a hazard if it builds up. There were an average of 13,820 home fires per year related to dryers (from 2014 through 2018), according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). A third of them were caused by the ignition of lint, fiber, or dust.1

Clothes dryers collect a lot of lint. They should be cleaned out after every laundry. The exhaust vent should be cleaned once a year. Otherwise, a fire can occur due to a buildup of lint that prevents the dryer from exhausting hot air. The unit can then overheat, causing flammable materials to ignite. At the very least, the appliance may sustain major damage.

Other Risks of Not Cleaning the Dryer Lint Trap

Failing to clean dryer lint can lead to a range of other issues, including:

  • Duct Issues: So much lint can build up that additional lint can escape into HVAC ductwork; at first, it will be exhausted to the exterior, but eventually ducts can clog so much with lint that your AC system may not run properly.
  • Dryer Problems: If you don’t clean the lint trap, you may find it takes longer to dry your clothes. One dryer cycle may not be enough. You may have to run another one because the load is still damp, using more power to run the system again.
  • Too Much Heat: Clothing may be too hot to touch, even scalding hot, when you open the dryer door after a cycle. You may have to wait until the clothes cool down to remove and fold them. The dryer may get so hot that the heating element burns out; repairing it can be expensive.

How to Clean the Dryer Lint Trap

Cleaning the lint trap is simple compared to the breadth of problems that can occur from not doing so. It usually involves sliding out the lint tray. You can then drag the lint across the wire mesh and pull it out with your fingers. Dryer sheet residue and fabric softener buildup can sometimes clog the mesh, but it’s easily cleaned with warm water, soap, and a bristle brush.

After you remove the dryer lint, you can simply throw it in the garbage. You can also reuse it. It can start a fire in your home, so why not stuff it into a roll of toilet paper, wrapped in newspaper, to use for a bonfire or while camping? Or, if it originated from cotton, linen, or other natural materials, add the lint to garden compost to nourish the soil.

You can also get creative with your lint. If you’re crafty, you can use it to make stuffed animals or dolls. If you used a mild detergent or fabric softener, you can even create bedding for small pets.

Signs You Need a Professional 

The lint trap is an effective filter, but some lint can escape and stick inside the vent. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a professional clean the system. They use special brushes and vacuums to get to hard-to-reach areas where lint and dust accumulate. They’ll also check for other fire hazards. Since your dryer vent can run up to 25 feet to the exhaust outlet, there’s no way you can reach all of it yourself. 

Contact Wilshire Refrigeration & Appliance

We are factory-certified to service Sub-Zero, Wolf, and ASKO appliances. If your dryer isn’t running properly and you have cleaned the lint trap, request service from our experienced technicians. Also, feel free to call us at 800-427-3653.