10 DIY Steps to Clean out Your Dryer Vent Systems

Clothes dryers are responsible for nearly 15,000 house fires each year. And according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the leading cause of dryer fires is from failure to clean lint from the system. While cleaning out your dryer's lint trap helps prevent dryer fires, it's also important to look beyond the machine itself and regularly inspect your home's dryer vent.

Erie Insurance helps you do-it-yourself with 10 steps to a clean dryer vent:

  1. Purchase a dryer cleaning kit. You can typically purchase a dryer cleaning kit from a home improvement store for under $50. The price will go up depending on the quality of the kit's materials and the length of the cleaning rods. If you have the proper attachments, a household vacuum may work, too. 
  2. Unplug the dryer. Anytime you're repairing an appliance, disconnect it from the power source. Unplug the machine or shut it off from the electrical panel before you start cleaning.
  3. Pull the dryer away from the wall. Give yourself enough room to access the dryer vent. Move the dryer as far away as the hose will allow.   
  4. Detach the dryer vent hose. Remove any clamps or screws attaching the hose to the wall or dryer. This could be difficult depending on the length of the hose and where it leads. 
  5. Clean the moisture sensors. Wipe down the sensors inside your dryer with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol. Do this each time you clean the dryer vent or when cycles become inefficient.
  6. Clean the hose. Use a vacuum to suction lint from both ends of the hose. Then, use a brush in your cleaning kit to clear out any trapped lint. Keep a wire hanger nearby to snake out debris if necessary. Just be careful to not damage the hose in the process. 
  7. Reattach the hose. Put the hose back in its place and reattach any clamps or screws. Slide the dryer back against the wall. 
  8. Clean the exterior vent. With the hose clear, head outside to your home's exterior vent. Remove the vent cover and clean any excess lint until the vent pipe is free from obstruction. 
  9. Run the dryer. You'll need to know how to vent a dryer to finish the job. Reconnect the power and run the machine empty for 20 minutes on the air-dry setting. Check for air and lint blowing out of the exterior vent. Then, turn off the dryer and put the cover back on once the vent is clear. 
  10. When in doubt, hire a pro. If at any point something doesn't look right – or you just feel like you're in over your head – call a professional. They may recommend a different system, find another problem or let you know it's time to replace your dryer.

Being a homeowner has many rewards, but also has its share of demands. Dryer vent cleaning is a perfect example of one of those trying jobs you just need to do to maintain a household. With homeowners insurance from ERIE, you can trust that while you're looking out for your home, we're looking out for you. We're available 24/7 to help answer questions, solve problems and provide remedies. 

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