Just as lint collects on dryers’ lint screens, it also builds up in dryer vents. When too much lint collects inside a dryer vent, it reduces airflow and renders the dryer less effective. Worse, lint build-up is a fire hazard. Here’s how to clean lint out of your dryer vent.
Access Your Dryer Vent
You need to disassemble the vent so you have access to the inside of it where the lint is.
- Pull the dryer 1 to 2 feet from the wall, so the dryer vent is extended.
- With a nut driver or screwdriver, loosen the 4-inch vent clamp that holds the vent to the back of the dryer.
- Once the vent clamp is loosened, pull the vent off the dryer.
- Go outside and remove the exterior vent cover.
There are several different kinds of exterior vent covers, and each must be removed differently. Some covers simply lift up, and some are secured with screws. A few covers are secured with caulk, which can be cut away with a razor blade. A few covers have a sleeve that’s about 1 foot long. These sleeves can be pulled directly out, without using any tools.
Clean Out Your Dryer Vent
Once you have access to your dryer vent, reach inside either end and remove any lint that you’re able to. After you’ve pulled out the lint you can easily grab, use a vacuum to clean out the remaining lint.
Most of the time, lint collects at either end of the dryer vent and is easily reached. If you haven’t cleaned out your dryer recently, though, there may be lint trapped in the middle of the vent — where it’s out of reach. Use a plumber’s snake or your vacuum’s hose to pull out any lint that’s trapped in the middle of the vent.
A coat hanger or professional tool will also work for pulling out lint, but each has disadvantages. A coat hanger may puncture the vent, creating leaks. If you’re only cleaning out one dryer vent, there’s little reason to purchase a specialized tool for the job when a snake or vacuum hose will also work.
Reassemble Your Dryer Vent
After your dryer vent is cleaned out, re-attach the vent to the dryer. Before putting the exterior vent cover back on, run the dryer on a no-heat setting for about 10 minutes. This will blow out any lint that’s left in the vent. After lint stops coming out of the vent, put the exterior cover back on.
Your dryer will run more efficiently with its vent clear of lint. Bonus – you will have removed a major fire hazard, too.
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