How Often Should You Be Cleaning Your Dryer?

Long gone are the days of drying your laundry on a clothesline — though some believe you should always air dry underwear. Nowadays, dryers have become as indispensable as Wifi, especially for growing families. We rely heavily on our dryers to properly work despite all the heavy loads of winter clothes, pet towels, and thick comforters we throw in it, let alone the unending supply of dirty clothes when the whole household gets sick.

All this use can cause lint to build up both in the screen and the vent, but also behind the dryer, too. It's not just a practical concern to keep your appliance running optimally, it's also a safety concern. Regularly cleaning your dryer can help prevent fires.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, every year about 2,900 dryer fires occur, resulting in injury and even death. Not cleaning the dryer properly is the leading cause of dryer fires, occurring in 34% of cases.

Regular maintenance after every use

Regularly cleaning the lint trap is a must. Make it a regular habit each and every time you take out a load. Then it will become routine and the screen will always be left clean for the next use.

First, pull out the screen and remove all the lint attached to it. Rub a dryer sheet across it to pick up any remnants of residual lint (via Better Homes & Gardens). Next, clean the screen lint trap. Use a vacuum, if you have a small attachment or a dryer lint brush. Employ a circular motion to adhere leftover lint particles to the brush. If you finish a load and open the dryer door only to find crayon, gum, or fur stuck to the sides of the drum, take the clothes out and put the dyer on warm. Using an old cloth or rag, try to scrub it off. If that doesn't work, try another tactic.

"Remove the excess by scraping it off with a hard rubber spatula," Merry Maids cleaning expert Debra Johnson tells Today, "Tackle the remaining residue by wiping the area with a cloth dampened with a small amount of laundry detergent and hot water."

Clean the dryer vent once a year

This is an important task. It will protect against fire and also save money on electricity when a dryer runs efficiently. First, unplug the dyer and then detach the dryer vent hose from the wall (per Bob Vila). Then remove the vent hose and cover and clean them both. Finally, reattach them all.

While it sounds simple, it does require a bit more time and effort to do, mostly because you'll need to use tools such as a screwdriver to detach the vent hose, and possibly a telescopic pole with a brush to reach the entire length of the vent. Detaching and reattaching vent ducts isn't typically something you do every day and luckily you don't need to. This big cleaning job is only required once a year so you can hire a service to professionally clean it.

To keep your dryer running optimally, remove as much fur, residue, and lint from your clothes before you put them in the dryer (via The Spruce). Also, don't use too many fabric softener sheets as they can clog the filter and leave behind tiny bits of flammable material. If you notice that your dryer is taking longer to dry your clothes or running hotter than usual, it may be time to call a professional.