How to clean dryer vent ducts

Vacuum cleaner in the end of a dryer vent duct
(Image credit: Getty)

Knowing how to clean dryer vent ducts is important to keep your dryer running at maximum efficiency while preventing any fires or damage to your machine. In the USA alone, there are approximately 1000 fires yearly caused by dirty dryer vent ducts. If your laundry isn’t drying as well as it used to, or if your dryer has a bad smell, it could be time to give the dryer vent duct a clean. 

Regularly cleaning the vent ducts in the best dryers will prevent mold or mildew that can lead to harmful bacteria building up in your dryer. A clean vent duct will also allow your laundry to dry properly, saving you both time and money. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to run a second drying cycle because your clothes are still damp. We'll show you how to clean dryer vent ducts effectively and efficiently so that you can avoid these problems. To keep your dryer in top condition, it's important to know how to clean a dryer, and if you want to keep your dryer as germ-free as possible then it's important that you learn how to clean your dryer lint trap to remove any mildew or residue build-up. 

Safety first

Before diving into the cleaning process, it's important to take some steps to minimize any risk or damage to your dryer. 

1. Turn off the dryer

Make sure that your dryer is turned off and not running a cycle. If the dryer is on, then you risk damaging your dryer or filling your laundry room with irritating particles. 

2. Unplug 

Make sure that you unplug your dryer so that no electricity is flowing through it. While you won't be working with any electrical components, it's best to have it unplugged to avoid any accidental cycles from starting. 

3. Disconnect the dryer duct

Using your dryer's manual for guidance, disconnect the dryer duct completely. 

4. Check for gas leaks

Some electric dryers have a gas valve that can leak. If you smell gas, then stop the process immediately and call a professional. Make sure your laundry room is well-ventilated, and don't push any electrical switches. 

What tools do you need to clean dryer vent ducts?

To clean dryer vent ducts, you need a few basic tools to remove the vent duct and clean the interior and exterior. Make sure you check your dryer's manual or guide in case you need any additional tools that aren't listed below. 

A lint brush

Lint brushes are important to remove any lint or dust that could be blocking your vent duct. Hard-bristled lint brushes can help remove any residue build-up, while soft-bristled lint brushes are best for removing loose lint. 

• A vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaners will help to remove any larger particles or clumps of dust so that your lint duct can have adequate airflow. 

• A screwdriver

Your lint duct may be attached by some screws that will need to be loosened by a screwdriver. Be sure to check your dryer's manual to find the appropriate screwdriver for your machine. 

• Duct tape

You will most likely need some duct tape to connect your dryer vent duct after cleaning. 

Once you have gathered this equipment, you'll be ready to start the cleaning process. 

How often do you need to clean dryer vent ducts?

As a general rule of thumb, it's smart to clean your dryer vent ducts every 6-12 months. Regular cleaning of the dryer vent ducts is essential to prevent potential hazards. If your dryer is taking longer than usual to dry your clothes, or if there is a musty odor, then you may want to clean it more urgently. It's crucial to prioritize a proper cleaning of your dryer vent ducts to ensure your dryer will function efficiently. 

How to clean dryer vent ducts

What the expert says...

Ivo Iv, CEO and founder of Decor Home Ideas, says "Keeping your dryer vent ducts clean is crucial not only for the efficiency of your dryer but also for the safety of your home. It's essential to be aware of warning signs that your dryer vent ducts may need cleaning. If your dryer is taking longer than usual to dry clothes, there is a musty odor, or the dryer is overheating, it may be time to clean the ducts."

Cleaning dryer vent ducts is a relatively easy process that will benefit your dryer greatly. Follow these steps to ensure your dryer vent duct is clean so that your dryer runs at maximum efficiency. 

1. Remove the lint trap

Take out your dryer's lint trap and remove any visible lint. 

2. Clean the outside of the dryer duct

Use the lint brush and vacuum cleaner to clean the outside of your dryer duct. 

3. Vacuum inside the dryer duct

Using the lint brush and vacuum cleaner, clean the inside of the dryer duct. Try to get as much lint and dust as possible. If the inside of the dryer has hard clumps of lint, use a stiff-bristled brush to loosen them before vacuuming. 

4. Reconnect the duct 

Using your screwdriver, reconnect the duct to the dryer. If it is loose, use some duct tape to secure it in place. 

5. Test your dryer

Test your dryer to ensure there is adequate airflow. If the problems persist, then there could be some faulty components in your dryer that will need to be replaced. Consult a professional to diagnose the issue.

Top tips for cleaning dryer vent ducts

• Clean your vent duct regularly

It's best to clean the lint trap regularly to avoid any build-up or germs. Aiming to clean it every 6-12 months is ideal, but if there are any foul odors or if your dryer isn't operating efficiently, then it is best to clean it sooner. 

• Keep your dryer duct as short as possible

The longer your dryer duct is, the more likely it is to have a large build-up of lint and dust. Keeping it as short as possible makes it easier to clean while also cutting down on any large clumps that could block it. 

• If in doubt, contact a professional. 

If you don't feel confident taking apart your dryer or are worried about any part of the cleaning process, contact a professional to avoid any damage to your machine or harm to yourself. 

Monib Zahdeh
TTR Staff Writer

Monib is a former staff writer for Top Ten Reviews. He has a degree in journalism and over four years of experience in the home and garden industry as a Digital Content Specialist for the made-to-measure marketplace Britannia Rose. When he is not reading or writing, Monib enjoys cooking, going on walks, and visiting different historical sites.  

With contributions from
  • CEO and founder of Decor Home Ideas