How to Clean a Dryer Lint Trap
If you wear and wash your clothes, then lint is a fact of life. It comes in many forms, from little “pills” on the surface of your clothes to fuzz that sheds in the dryer. But when did you last clean out your dryer’s lint trap?
Maybe you’re unsure how to clean a dryer lint trap and slot or just curious why it’s such an important task. We’ll cover that and more, but let’s start with the basics.
What’s the Purpose of a Lint Trap?
Before we get into how to clean a dryer grate, it’s essential to understand this feature’s purpose.
Whenever you dry your clothes, whether you have a gas or electric dryer, they shed small particles of fabric called lint. These tiny, fluffy particles stick together to create little fuzzy bundles. Some materials are prone to shedding more than others, and these bundles often grab onto other small particles, such as pet hair.
The dryer lint trap is typically a screen (like a window screen, not a computer) that collects all of this lint in one place. The lint trap keeps all of the lint, or at least the biggest pieces, in one spot, preventing them from entering the dryer hoses and causing clogs or other issues. Keep reading to learn about the other problems that excessive lint buildup can cause.
Why is Cleaning the Dryer Lint Trap Important?
Now that you know what lint is and how your dryer traps it, let’s understand why cleaning it out of your dryer is important.
Lint is a fire hazard.
Fire prevention is one of the biggest reasons to clean your dryer lint trap. According to a multi-year study conducted by the National Fire Prevention Association, 92% of house fires caused by clothes washers and dryers were due to dryers, and a majority (27%) were due to lint igniting.
Lint is highly flammable and can quickly ignite in a dryer’s hot, dry environment. Some hikers even carry a little bundle of dryer lint in a plastic bag to use as a firestarter! Cleaning your dryer lint regularly is a quick way to help keep your family safe.
Excess lint can cause higher energy bills.
Cleaning out your dryer’s lint is an easy way to save money on your energy bill, according to the Department of Energy. Removing lint keeps your dryer running efficiently, which allows it to dry faster. That means your clothes won’t take as long to dry – cha-ching!
Lint can affect your dryer’s performance.
Lint in the dryer vent and ducts reduces airflow, meaning it takes longer to dry your clothes. If your dryer is working harder and longer to dry every load of laundry, this extra effort may reduce its lifespan. Additionally, lint can start to fill the interior of your dryer, affecting sensitive components that keep the dryer running properly.
Nobody likes linty clothes!
If your clothes are covered in lint every time you pull them out of the dryer, you probably need to clean your dryer vent! While this one is more annoying than anything, it’s a good indicator that lint buildup in your dryer needs to be addressed.
How to Clean Out a Dryer Lint Trap
Cleaning your dryer’s lint trap helps to improve your dryer’s efficiency, keep your clothes lint-free, and reduce fire risk. But when learning how to clean a clothes dryer filter, just how simple is it? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!
1. Locate and remove the lint screen.
Find your dryer’s lint trap. On most machines, open the door and look for a tab or handle sticking out. It may even say “CLEAN BEFORE EACH USE” on it – that’s a hint for the next question when you get done! When you find the lint screen, gently pull it to remove it from the dryer.
2. Wipe clean
Simply run your hand across the accumulated lint, and it will stick to itself! Keep using the lint in your hand to grab more until the screen is clear. Throw the lint in the trash.
Bonus tip: If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your lint trap, check the opening where the screen goes for excess lint. You can use a long, skinny vacuum extension to clean it if you can’t reach inside. Repeat this regularly.
Return your freshly cleaned lint trap where you found it – check to ensure it’s facing the correct direction, or it may not fit.
How Often to Clean Dryer Lint Trap
Now that you’ve cleaned out your lint trap, how long should you wait before cleaning it again? You should clean your lint trap after each load of laundry. Luckily, it’s one of the fastest, easiest ways to clean an appliance!
If you use a lot of fabric softener, you may find that your lint screen gets covered with sticky residue. You can occasionally clean it with soap and water to remove the gunk, but make sure to air dry it thoroughly before starting your next load of laundry.
How to Reduce Dryer Lint Longterm
So you clean your lint trap after every load of laundry, but how do you prevent lint in the long term? Here are a few tips.
Clean ducts yearly.
Your dryer’s lint trap is the first line of defense against linty clothes and an inefficient machine. But don’t forget your dryer vent duct! The vent duct is the hose that connects to the outside of your home – if you’ve ever passed someone’s house and smelled their laundry detergent or noticed a warm, linty vent on the outside of your home, that’s the vent duct. You should clean it about once a year.
Try wool dryer balls.
Wool dryer balls are an easy way to help reduce lint in your dryer. Separating your clothes and reducing friction between items keeps them from producing as much lint. Plus, they’re a great allergy- and environmentally-friendly alternative to fabric softener!
Don’t overwash your clothes.
Washing your clothes too frequently can cause the fabric to break down, creating more lint. While some washes can’t be helped (hello, giant ketchup stain!), consider wearing some items, such as pants or jackets, more than once before washing them.
Time for a New Dryer? Turn to Rent-A-Center.
In the grand scheme of laundry, the humble lint trap may seem like a minor detail, but its role in the efficiency and safety of your dryer is anything but trivial. If you’re eyeing a new dryer, swing by Rent-A-Center for a wide selection of rent-to-own options.