How to Clean a Dryer Vent the Right Way

This simple task will help your clothes dry faster—and could even prevent a fire.

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Not to scare you, but we should all be more knowledgeable about preventing house fires. One way to do so is by learning how to clean a dryer vent. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, dryers start approximately 2,900 fires each year in the U.S. due to a buildup of lint inside the ventilation ductwork. The good news is that some routine maintenance can help prevent these disasters. Bonus: Your clothes will not only dry faster, but they'll also stay lint-free, so you can put down that lint roller.

How Often to Clean a Dryer Vent

Depending upon how often you use your dryer, follow the steps below to clean the dryer vent about once every three to six months. Also, remember to clear out the lint filter after every single use.

What You Need:

To Clean Vent

  • Dryer vent pipe brush ($10;
  • Multi-purpose lubricant such as WD-40 ($5,
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Bucket
  • Wire vent brush
  • Cloths

To Minimize Lint

How to Clean a Dryer Vent From Inside

Step 1: Unplug and Move the Dryer

  • Turn off the gas valve if your dryer is gas-powered.
  • Carefully move the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the vent pipe from the back of the dryer. You may need to remove a duct clamp or duct tape.

Step 2: Vacuum Out Lint

Using a shop vac or the hose attachment of your vacuum, suck out the lint that's built up inside the vent tube opening at the back of the dryer.

Step 3: Clear Remaining Lint With Pipe Brush

  • Clear any remaining lint sticking to the sides with an extendable dryer vent pipe brush. These are available at most home goods stores.
  • Move the brush back and forth in a circular motion through the detached vent pipe, wall piping, and dryer opening. It should feel like snaking a bathroom drain to unclog it.

Step 4: Reattach the Dryer Duct  

  • When the lint is completely gone, reattach the dryer duct to the back of the dryer.
  • Push the dryer back where it was and plug it in.
  • Turn the gas valve back on. 

How to Clean a Dryer Vent From Outside

Step 1: Oil the Vent Hinges

While the dryer is running, watch the exterior vent to ensure the slats and opening and closing. If they are not opening properly, use a lubricant like WD-40 to oil the hinges.

Step 2: Remove Lint and Debris

If there is lint and debris stuck within the slats, use a wire brush to remove it.

Step 3: Scrub the Vent Cover

Wash off the outer vent cover using a cloth with warm water and some dishwashing liquid to remove dirt, dust, and soil. Rinse with water and reattach the vent cover.

    How to Minimize Lint Buildup

    Step 1: Regularly Remove Lint From the Filter

    • Habitually peel off as much lint as possible from the filter after every load of laundry. This step is important not only for safety but for the overall performance of your machine.
    • Regularly remove the excess lint gathered in the lint filter housing with your vacuum's hose attachment.

    Step 2: Scrub Filter

    • The filter may need a good scrubbing every few months, especially if you use laundry dryer sheets. (Residue from dryer sheets can clog the pores of the filter.)
    • Scour the filter with hot water, soap, and a hard bristle brush.
    • Let it dry before replacing it in the filter housing.


    Are there signs I can look for that my dryer vent needs cleaning?

    The most common sign that your dryer vent is getting clogged is longer drying times. Other hints would be a burning smell or excessive lint in the lint trap.

    How much does professional dryer vent cleaning cost?

    The cost of this service depends on your geographical location, vent material, and the complexity of your particular cleaning. For a straightforward job unclogging a vent pipe, the cost ranges from $100 to $200.

    What is the difference between a dryer duct and a dryer vent?

    Both terms describe the tube that runs from the dryer to the outside of the home. This exhaust pipe for your dryer can either be called a dryer duct or a dryer vent.

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