You probably remember to clean your washing machine regularly (at least, we hope you do). But do you also remember to clean your dryer while you’re at it? Especially the dryer lint screen?
To clean a dryer, always start by switching it off and unplugging it so it’s not a safety hazard. Remove the lint from the screen and scrub with a toothbrush and soapy water. Then wipe down the inside with a soft cloth dipped in warm water and mild dish soap. Rinse with a clean, wet cloth. You can dry by running a load on tumble dry.
There’s a lot more to cleaning a dryer – such as your dryer’s exhaust vent and the dryer door – but we’ll go into more detail down below. Need to know how to clean a dryer? We’ve got you covered.
Why Clean a Dryer?
Whether you have a European laundry or just two machines side-by-side, you need to clean both your washer and dryer. Clothes dryers collect dirt and lint as the fabrics tumble around the dryer drum. Detergent residue buildup also occurs.
And lastly, if your dryer is dirty, it won’t dry your clothes as efficiently!
Dryer cleaning is just as essential as maintaining your front load washer. Whether you’ve just used it to shrink clothes or you did a full series of laundry cycles, to prevent lint buildup, it’s time to get down and dirty with your dryer.
(Alternatively, skip the effort – expert home cleaners can do that for you!)
Cleaning a Clothes Dryer Drum
HOW OFTEN TO CLEAN: Deep clean the inside of your dryer every 3–6 months, depending on how often you use it.
Use a vacuum hose to clear out any dust and debris from inside the dryer. Then mix some detergent or dish soap in warm water. Dip a microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution and use it to wipe down the interior of the drum.
Rinse with a wet cloth or towel, then load in some clean clothes to tumble dry.
You can also mix one part white vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. Saturate the inside of the drum, and use a dampened cloth to wipe it clean.
How to Clean a Dryer Lint Trap
HOW OFTEN TO CLEAN: It’s essential that you clean the lint trap every time you run a load in the dryer. That might seem like a lot of work, but no one likes wet lint. Deep clean the lint trap every 6 months.
Also, built-up lint can be a fire hazard, especially in gas dryers.
Start by taking out the lint screen from the dryer. Use an old toothbrush or lint brush to remove as much lint as you’re able. Then take a used fabric softener sheet and wipe the lint to pick up any remaining bits.
Then you may need to clean the lint trap itself – the cavity where the filter slots in. Use a lint brush and twist gently to clean. Remove lint from the brush, then repeat until the lint trap is completely empty.
To deep clean a lint screen, use an old toothbrush and some detergent mixed in hot water to scrub it clean.
Cleaning a Dryer Vent
HOW OFTEN TO CLEAN: Clear your dryer vent about once a year, to keep your dryer running efficiently.
You can get a professional to do this part if you’re not feeling up to the task. But if you’d like to tackle the vent cleaning, start by pulling your dryer away from the wall. Unscrew the vent clamps or remove the vent from the back of the dryer.
Get a dryer cleaning brush to remove lint from the dryer’s vent hose and vent pipe. Then use a vacuum cleaner with a hose or crevice attachment to suck up any remaining lint or dust in the crevices and on the floor.
How to Clean the Exterior of a Dryer
HOW OFTEN TO CLEAN: Clean your dryer’s exterior every 3–6 months, alongside cleaning the inside.
Dust and laundry residue can build up on the outer surfaces of the dryer and the door. There’s an easy-clean solution though! Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle, then spray the outside and the dryer door.
Use a microfibre cloth to wipe away the dirt, then follow with a clean cloth to dry (or just air dry). For the knobs and buttons, don’t spray directly since you could get moisture in places you can’t dry. Instead, spray a cloth and wipe them down.
Cleaning a Gas Dryer
It’s an absolute must to use a non-flammable cleaner – which means no vinegar. Start by closing the shut-off valve and disconnecting the gas supply line pipe. Then wipe inside the drum using the non-flammable cleaner.
Finish by using a wet towel to rinse the interior of the gas dryer, and tumble a load of clean clothes to dry the drum.
Removing Stains and Stuck-On Items Inside a Dryer
We can be forgetful sometimes – either something gets left in a pocket, or we don’t think to check before chucking clothes in the laundry. These can cause stains inside your dryer, and can transfer onto other clothes.
Here’s how to clean up common dryer stains. And again, always work with a shut-off, unplugged dryer!
#1 – Crayons
Inspect the drum for any pieces that may have stuck onto the inside. Scrape them off with a plastic spatula or rubber blade. Then spray some WD-40 onto a clean cloth and rub the affected area until the stain comes off.
Wash the dryer as you usually would, using soapy water. Then wipe the drum dry or run some dry clothes through a cycle.
#2 – Lipstick
Wipe off as much lipstick residue as you can with a dry cloth. Then once the dryer has cooled, rub the remaining lipstick stain with a damp cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. Once finished, run a small load of old towels or shirts to remove the traces.
#3 – Gum
Like crayons, take a plastic spatula or rubber blade and scrape off as much gum or candy as you can. Then take a blow dryer and soften the residue so you can clean up the rest of it. Scrub the affected area of the dryer with some all-purpose cleaner, then wipe dry.
#4 – Ink
Empty the dryer and run it for 5–10 minutes. This warms up the drum and loosens the ink. Shut off and unplug the dryer, then dip a cloth in rubbing alcohol. Rub the ink stains until they’re removed, switching out cloths as needed. Rinse with a damp cloth.
You can check by running an old white towel through a dryer cycle to see if any ink transfers. If it comes out clean, you’re done.
Keeping Your Laundry Room Clean
You shouldn’t just be cleaning clothes in your laundry room – don’t forget to maintain the washer and dryer too! Otherwise, you’ll end up with dirty clothes and a lot of excess lint, which no one wants.
Keep your washer and dryer clean, and your clothes cleaner. Knowing how to clean a dryer means no more damp clothes after a load – just ones that feel and smell fresh, ready to put away in your closet.