Are You Cleaning Your Dryer Vent Often Enough? Pros Weigh In

<p>Detry26 / Getty Images</p>

Detry26 / Getty Images

Cleaning the dryer vents may not be a chore at the top of your to-do list, but it’s an essential part of maintaining the health and efficiency of your dryer. Not only that, but neglecting to clean your dryer vents poses a fire safety risk for your home.

So, how often should you really clean your dryer vents? We spoke to two cleaning experts for a definitive answer, plus everything you need to know about cleaning your vents properly.

Meet the Experts

  • Katie Lambert is a professional cleaner and the owner of Clean Queen Denver based in Denver, Colorado.

  • Jade Piper is the Operations Manager at BetterCleans, a residential cleaning company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

How Often Should Dryer Vents Be Cleaned?

Ultimately, no single cleaning schedule will apply to every household. That said, as a general rule of thumb, homeowners should plan to clean their dryer vents once a year. Even if they don’t require cleaning at that time, checking them once a year is a good idea.

Katie Lambert, a professional cleaner and owner of Clean Queen Denver, says several factors influence the ideal cleaning schedule for each home. These include dryer usage and lint production, the vent length, and the dryer's age.

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Usage and Lint Production

It's a no-brainer that households using their dryers more frequently need to clean their vents more often than those with lower usage.

Lambert suggests that large families or those running multiple loads daily, like cleaning businesses, may need to clean their vents every six to nine months. Additionally, households with pets or those frequently washing and drying synthetic materials will produce more lint, requiring more frequent cleaning.

Vent Length and Bends

The length and bends in the vent and hose also play a role in determining the cleaning frequency.

“Longer vents with multiple bends trap more lint, requiring cleaning every 12 to 18 months. Straight, shorter vents need cleaning only every two to three years,” Lambert says.

You can keep this in mind when shopping around for (or even building) your next home. Simpler is always better when it comes to your dryer vents.

Dryer Age

Older dryers may be less efficient than newer models and require more frequent cleaning. This is especially true if you regularly do large loads of laundry, have pets in the home, or have dryer vents that are long with multiple bends. That said, Lambert advises that dryers should be replaced every ten to thirteen years for optimal performance and safety.

5 Signs It’s Time to Clean Your Dryer Vents

Given there’s no universal “perfect” cleaning schedule for cleaning dryer vents, it’s important to be familiar with the signs that it’s time to clean yours. Recognizing that your dryer vents are due for cleaning will help give you an idea of how often you should be cleaning them so you can create a schedule and stick to it.

Lambert says to watch out for these common signs:

  1. Your clothes are taking longer than usual to dry.

  2. The dryer feels unusually hot to the touch while it’s running.

  3. A burning odor that might indicate lint buildup near the dryer vent.

  4. There’s little air exiting the dryer vent outside.

  5. Lint piling and flying around near the dryer vent.

How to Clean a Dryer Vent

If your dryer vent is due for a cleaning, the good news is that the process is very simple and straightforward. You’ll need to clean two areas: the vent inside your home that attaches your dryer to the wall and the vent exit outside.

First, for your own safety, always unplug your dryer before you begin cleaning the vents. Then, move it away from the wall so you can easily access the vent at the back of the dryer. Use a screwdriver to disconnect the vent and hose from the dryer and the wall, says Jade Piper, operations manager for professional cleaning company BetterCleans.

Use the long nozzle attachment on your vacuum to clean out the inside of the vent and scrub off any remaining residue with a brush.  After you’ve finished inside, head outside to clean the vent opening. Piper says you can use the brush and vacuum combo again to remove buildup.

Then, attach the vent back to the dryer and the wall.

If you are hesitant to take on this task, you can easily hire a professional to complete it safely and effectively.

Read Next: How Often to Vacuum Carpet

Read the original article on The Spruce.