When cleaning the house, the laundry dryer vent is not likely to be the first thing on your mind. But there are many reasons to put this first on your list. Not only is there a safety component to it, but it can also help keep your laundry machines working correctly.
It may take a few hours of your day, but with one or two cleanings a year, you can be worry-free about a fire starting in your home. Dryers are the leading cause of domestic fires starting in homes.
It may seem like a daunting task, but we are here to help. Let’s get started.
Where is Your Dryer Vent?
Honestly, not everyone knows about the dryer vent, so this is a good place to start. Dryer vents tumble your clothes by pushing hot air through your clothes to get off the moisture. Then the fan pushes the hot air out. Even though there are several different types of vents and ducts, fibers and lint naturally get caught up in them. The excessive heat can easily catch fire to the lint if it is not removed and cleaned.
Typically, dryer vents have the tube hooked up to the back of the machine that externally feeds to the outside. However, it is still relatively easy to clean. It will look like a big aluminum tube likely.
Cleaning Your Dryer Vent
In general, the process should not be too complicated. You may need to slide your dryer out slightly from the wall so you can detach the necessary parts and reach the inside. There is a distinction between gas and electric dryers. Where it concerns gas, you may want to hire a pro. Here we can go over what you need for a basic cleaning if you do it yourself with an electric dryer.
An electric dryer will plug into a wall outlet, but it is slightly bigger than when you plug your phone charger into the wall. It probably will have four prongs instead of three. If you are unsure, a gas-run dryer plugs into the standard three-prong outlet. But it is more common in houses to find yourself with electricity rather than gas.
Checking for Gas or Electric:
- Three prong outlets are normally gas
- Four prong oversized normal outlets are typically electric
- A drill
- A vent cleaning kit
- Standard broom and dustpan
- Find the Interior Vent
Finding the vent is the first step. Look at the back of the dryer for the aluminum tube that connects to the wall. Pull your dryer out from the wall. Make sure to turn off and unplug the electricity from the wall. If it’s gas, turn off the valve.
- Disconnect the Vent
To disconnect your vent, you want to remove any taping that keeps the exhaust and tube connected. It also looks like aluminum foil tape. It’s critical not to pull the tube. If you tug, you are likely to rip the vent. It should come off with no hesitation.
- Bring the Vacuum Out
Once the vent is detached, vacuum around the entrance and slightly inside to pick up all the lint and debris around it. Next, we will work with the dryer kit to get a deep cleaning and safely remove the debris.
- Use Dryer Duct Cleaning Kit
A dryer duct cleaning kit is easy to find on Amazon or even in your local home improvement stores. It should cost somewhere between $20 and $30. The rods you will attach with a drill should allow you to go deep into the vents—approximately 12 feet or so. The drill will enable the dryer vent cleaning brush that goes onto the end of your rods to clean the vents.
Pro Tip: If you are worried about the rods detaching, you can use electrical tape to secure them further. It’s unlikely, but the last thing anyone wants is their kit getting stuck in the vents.
- Flying Debris
With this method, the dirt should suddenly appear before your eyes, and you will now need to mop it up with a broom and dustpan. It’s important to get this up before moving on to anything else because it leaves the chance for it to re-enter the vent. Debris can be:
- Find the Exterior Vent
This process will be more straightforward if you live in a single home. You can find the vent near the exterior wall ceiling or the ground. You will repeat the process with the rods and the cleaning kit if it’s on the ground. However, if you live in an apartment complex, you may not be able to do the exterior cleaning because of your reach. Likely, your property maintenance will do this for you.If this is possible, this is how to clean the dryer vent from the outside with a drill. Just follow the interior steps the same way. These instructions are how to clean a dryer vent pipe. If you find your exterior vent on the roof, this is also how to clean a dryer vent on the roof. It is better to hire a professional for this.
How To Clean A Dryer Vent Without Moving the Dryer
While removing the dryer from the wall is highly recommended to gain the easiest access, you can clean the vent without moving the dryer. As mentioned above, this would require you to start the process from the exterior wall. This is possible when it is close to the ground but infinitely more complex when it is higher up. You will need a ladder to access it comfortably.
There is also an internal vent that you can find inside the dryer itself. It’s a small film likely no bigger than 12 by 12 inches. When you pull the film up, it should detach easily, and you can clean the lint from the film there. It takes no more than thirty seconds, and you can simply put it back in place afterward. This is how to clean a dryer vent screen, which is not the same as cleaning the vent itself.
Frequently Asked Questions
The process doesn’t stray too much from the above-mentioned, but it’s worth addressing some of the most commonly asked questions because they do come up. Here they are.
What is the Best Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit?
There are a lot of options on the market when it comes to choosing your dryer kit. Reading reviews is essential so that you don’t end up getting something flimsy and worry about it falling apart in the process. General Electric makes one of the more common kits supplying two different-sized brushes. iTidyHome also has several different packages to choose from and has been accredited with great reviews.
Alternate Companies to Consider:
- Gardus LintEater Rotary Dryer Vent Cleaning System
- Holikme Dryer Vent Cleaner
- Bluesea 40-feet Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit
How Often To Clean Dryer Vent?
Most people will be horrified to find out they should clean the dryer vent at least once a year. Surprisingly many people have never ever considered cleaning their vents. This is a hazard. Dryer vents should be cleaned minimally once a year. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, an estimated 17,000 fires per year due to clothing dryers.
How Much Does It Cost To Clean A Dryer Vent?
Cleaning your dryer vent seems like the job you may want to hire out. And that is totally normal as many don’t want to deal with this kind of job. If the job is relatively easier, a handyman is likely to charge around $100. However, if the exterior wall is more complicated to reach it is not unheard of to charge closer to $300. If you do it yourself, you only have to pay for the kit, which is roughly $30.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
- How to clean a dryer vent on the roof?
- How to clean a dryer vent pipe?
- How to clean a dryer vent screen?
When Hiring Out Be Sure To:
- Ask beforehand how much the expected costs are
- Let them know whether your exterior vent is on the ground or on the roof
- Whether they will bring their own kit or if you should supply the handyman with one
A Once A Year Job
Even though cleaning your dryer vent may not be the most exciting thing to do, it’s important to put on your list once a year. Once you start the process of moving your dryer and taking off the aluminum tube, it’s not too much work to assemble the kit. With this, you can let the brush do the work and clean out the debris. From there, you can do a quick vacuum and move to the exterior.
If your exterior vent job is too big to handle, you can hire it out, as mentioned above. This is incredibly common and still a safer option than letting your vent go uncleaned. At the very least, don’t forget to take the vent screen out of the inside of your dryer. Simply wipe it down and put it back in the machine. This will also prevent your machine from breaking down.