Thousands of dryer fires are caused by lint every year, yet they can be easily prevented with a few minutes of cleaning. Learn where lint is, how to get at it, and the best way to clean it out.
Every year, nearly 25,000 dryer fires cause millions of dollars in damage and hundreds of injuries, some fatal. Dryer fires start when built-up lint near the motor, gas burners or heating elements catches on fire. This fire can then spread to ignite lint in the vent pipe.
The best precautions are to empty the lint trap after every load, vacuum behind the machine regularly, keep flammables away from the dryer, and annually clean lint from inside the dryer cabinet and vent duct.
We show how to “de-lint” a gas dryer with a front access panel. Electric dryers have a heating element instead of a gas burner. If you have an electric dryer, or your dryer differs from the one shown, consult your manual for instructions on accessing the heating element or cabinet interior.
The most important step in cleaning the dryer is to remove any lint buildup around the motor and gas burner or heating element. Then clean out the vent duct with a 4-in. dryer vent cleaning brush (sold at appliance repair stores, or online).
If your dryer has a plastic vent ducting, replace it with a metal one. The plastic ducting itself can catch on fire and set the house ablaze.
Unplug the dryer and shut off The gas valve before pulling it out to clean. If you smell gas after turning the gas valve back on, immediately turn it off and call your local gas utility.