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The Dryer Maintenance Tasks You Should Do Every Month

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Photo: Mark Brandon (Shutterstock)

If your dryer suddenly stops working or starts running too hot, you’ll be left with either soggy or shrunken clothes. Worse, a malfunctioning dryer can actually be a fire hazard. We typically don’t think much about our laundry appliances when they’re working well, so we tend to take them for granted. But there are some simple, everyday things we should all do to keep our dryers in good shape (and avoid a house fire).

Clean the lint screen more often

It might go without saying, but the most important (and simplest) thing you can do to keep your dryer running well is to clean the lint screen every time you do a load of laundry. Lint buildup inside the air intake can slow hot air down as it travels through the vent. If the air gets too hot inside the dryer, it can shrink your clothes, or at worst it can start a fire. Cleaning the lint screen will help prevent buildup of lint in other, harder-to-reach spots too, saving you the hassle of tracking down a future venting problem.

Clean around the lint screen, too

Periodically cleaning out the lint screen cradle and the area around it is also a good practice. When the dryer is cool, use a lint brush to pull out lint that gets jammed into crevices around the lint trap. A good vacuum attachment is also a great option. It’ll keep the air flowing properly inside your dryer and help avoid some disasters.

Clean behind and around your dryer

While you’ve got your vacuum out, it’s a good idea to clean around and underneath your dryer seasonally. Trapped moisture, dust, and lint can build up in the space behind the dryer and restrict air flow. And in addition to causing mildew, moisture sitting on and around an electrical appliance can lead to a short, corrosion, or fire. Cleaning behind and under your dryer about every three months can extend the life of your appliance and help to prevent fire as well.

Check outside air vent

Check the exterior air vent to the dryer and make sure there are no branches, plants, or other debris blocking the airflow, and get in the habit of occasionally taking a look at the vent to make sure it’s not obstructed. You can remove any debris and clear out any lint that has built up in the area with a rag and a brush.

Check and clean the duct

If you notice a buildup in the exterior vent, you should also take a look at the duct leading to the outside from the dryer. If it has lint buildup, you can clear it while the dryer unplugged using a brush designed specifically for this type of ducting. (You can get a dryer duct cleaning kit that has everything you need). If you’re having lots of trouble keeping the vent and ducting clear, you can upgrade your vent or hire a pro to do an inspection. Keeping the vent and ducting clear will reduce the amount of time it takes your clothes to dry and keep your dryer working longer.

Clean inside the dryer more often

Wiping down the interior of your dryer monthly is a good practice to get rid of bits of dirt that can melt and cling to the inside of the drum. This will help keep all of the drum holes drum open, as well as keeping debris from previous loads of laundry from gumming up future loads. You should unplug the dryer and then wipe down the inside with a rag and soapy water, or use isopropyl alcohol.

Balance your dryer better

Balancing your dryer will help keep the interior mechanism from wearing out. If the dryer is rocking during the spin, the parts that drive the spinning motion will be under uneven amounts of pressure, which can cause uneven wear that will eventually damage the rotor. Using the leveling feet to keep the dryer on all four points of contact can help prevent problems in the future.

Don’t overload your dryer

Last, but not least, overloading your dryer can damage it and cause the fan that pushes air through the system to wear out more quickly. In addition, the rotor that spins the drum has to work harder as more weight is piled into the dryer, so doing manageable sized loads of laundry will keep it in better shape for longer.

  

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