Dryer Lint Cleaning Tips

Updated: Feb. 05, 2024

Clean lint from the dryer exhaust duct quickly and easily

Next Project





Learn how to clean dryer lint and prevent house fires. Clean the dryer lint from inside your clothes dryer as well as dryer lint caught in the exhaust vent. You can complete the dryer cleaning in about 30 minutes.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Dryer brush
  • Shop vacuum

Clean lint from your clothes dryer

Built-up lint inside dryer cabinets causes more than 15,000 fires every year. Dryer lint escapes through tiny gaps around the edges of the dryer drum and falls into the cabinet, especially when the exhaust vent or vent cap is clogged and airflow is restricted. The lint can get ignited by electric heating elements, gas burners or even a spark from the motor, and the flames then travel through the lint-lined exhaust vent. To make sure this doesn’t happen in your house, check the exhaust vent and the inside of the cabinet frequently.

How to Clean a Dryer

To clean the exhaust duct, shut off the gas and unplug the dryer, then pull the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the duct from the dryer. Use a brush and a vacuum to remove the lint in the duct. If you have a flexible duct (especially the plastic type!), replace it with a rigid metal duct.

To clean inside the dryer, unplug it and turn off the gas, then open either the top or the front. The procedure is the same for gas and electric dryers. For dryers with a top lint filter and a solid front panel, remove the lint filter and take out the two screws on the side of the lint filter opening. Pull the top forward. Disconnect the door-switch wires in the front corner, remove the front screws and drop the panel forward. The drum will tip as the panel drops, but this won’t damage anything. Just hold it up while you clean.

Brush and vacuum under the drum and at the top and back of the dryer. Clean thoroughly around the heating element, but work gently around wires and mechanical parts. Use a long brush to clean the dryer vent screen, then vacuum it from the top and back. Here are a few tips to prevent dryer vent fires.

Finally, reassemble the dryer. Put the front into the drum and lift, then drop the front into the catches near the bottom while holding it tight against the sides. Reattach the front screws and wires, then set the top back down.

Cleaning technique if your dryer has a front access panel

For dryers with a removable front panel, release the metal catches (or remove screws) and pull the panel off. Remove the screws that hold the vent in place, then clean out the dryer lint with a vacuum and dryer lint remover brush.

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Remove the top

Remove the screws under the dryer lint trap, then jerk the top forward and lift it up to release it from the catches at the corners.

FH08JAU_490_06_002-1200 dryer lint cleaningFamily Handyman

Step 2

Remove the front panel

Remove the two screws near the top, then tip the front forward and lift it clear of the bottom catches and the drum.

FH08JAU_490_06_008-1200 dryer lint cleaningFamily Handyman

Step 3

Clean out the lint

Brush out the lint inside the dryer lint filter opening and vacuum all around the drum.

FH08JAU_490_06_011-1200 dryer lint cleaningFamily Handyman

Step 4

Remove the front bottom panel

Slide a screwdriver into the gap at the top of the bottom panel at the two catches to release the panel.

FH08JAU_490_06_015-1200 dryer lint cleaningFamily Handyman

Step 5

Vacuum out the lint

Vacuum out the motor, the vent and the inside of the dryer. Clean carefully around wires and small parts to avoid breaking them.

FH08JAU_490_06_018-1200 dryer lint cleaningFamily Handyman