Cleaning and properly maintaining a major appliance like a dryer is critical to optimizing its performance and to ensuring the safety of your household. Dryers need routine maintenance to keep them running smoothly and safely; according to FEMA, 2,900 home dryer fires are reported each year, most of them caused by a failure to clean the machine.

Fortunately, cleaning a dryer’s venting system is a straightforward job that doesn’t require calling in a service technician. We spoke to experts about how, and how often, to clean electric and gas dryers, including how to clean a dryer’s vent to keep your machine running safely. And be sure to check out our how to clean a washing machine guide as well.

When it comes to cleaning a dryer, there are things you should do regularly to keep the machine running smoothly and safely, and deeper cleaning and maintenance to perform every 12 to 24 months.

According to Gary Childers, a fabric care scientist and appliance expert at Procter & Gamble,, routine maintenance includes:

  • Removing lint from the lint screen before or after every drying cycle.
  • Cleaning the lint screen with warm, soapy water every six months; larger households should clean the lint screen more frequently.
  • Removing spots inside the machine or on the door using a warm, wet cloth.
  • Having a professional appliance repair technician check the dryer interior and ductwork of the machine every 12 to 24 months, depending on use and manufacturer recommendation.

Cleaning a dryer duct can be done without calling in a professional. “Cleaning a dryer duct isn’t difficult,” Gina Perry, senior merchant of cleaning at The Home Depot, says. “Remove lint from the duct by hand and then vacuum the inside of the duct.” She offered these step-by-step instructions for cleaning a dryer vent.

$4.97 $3.97 at Home Depot

Unplug the dryer (for gas dryers, turn the gas supply valve off), pull the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the dryer duct.

$94.97 at Home Depot

Ridgid 12 Gal. Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum with Filter, Hose and Accessories

While wearing safety gloves, remove lint from the hole at the back of the dryer with your hands. Then, use the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner or a shop vac to clean in and around the hole at the back of the dryer; if you can detach the length of duct where it meets the wall, do so for ease of access. Go outside the house and remove the exterior vent cover and clean out the dryer vent from the outside using a vacuum.

$14.99 at Home Depot

Eastman Lint Wizard Small Duct Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit

If the dryer vent is too long to efficiently use a vacuum to remove the lint, buy a dryer vent kit that contains flexible brushes that clean the vent’s interior walls. Feed the brush into the duct and move it back and forth while slightly rotating it until the vents are free of dust and lint.

$19.98 per roll at Home Depot

Nashua Tape Premium Foil HVAC UL Listed Duct Tape

Reattach ductwork and vent cover, sealing sections of ductwork with UL-listed metal foil duct tape if necessary. This is a good time to inspect the ducts to make sure that they are undamaged and up to safety codes, and replace them if needed. Push the dryer back into place, plug it in or turn the gas valve back on, and run a 15- to 20-minute test cycle using the fluff or air-dry setting to make sure all the connections are strong, and to dislodge any remaining debris.

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