Clean Like You Mean It

How to Clean Dryer Vents Without Calling a Pro

Spring cleaning starts now.

March 11, 2022
Photo by Mark Weinberg

Clean Like You Mean It shows you how to tackle the trickiest spots in your home—whether they’re just plain gross or need some elbow grease. You’ll get the cleaning secrets we’ve learned from grandma, a guide to our handiest tools and helpers, and so much more. Pull on those rubber gloves and queue up the tunes: It’s scour hour!

Cleaning your dryer vent seems like a form of punishment, right? Unfortunately, never doing so is actually a bit of a fire hazard (okay, it’s a huge fire hazard). Dryer vents can easily get clogged up with lint from your dryer; when the dryer is running, it releases a ton of hot air that, if you’re not careful, can potentially cause a fire. “Cleaning regularly helps prevent lint fire hazards and will also keep your dryer running most efficiently,” says Laura Johnson, a consumer analyst at LG Electronics. The good news is that every homeowner is more than capable of cleaning the vents (take this from a not-so-handy non-homeowner). So how exactly do you clean your dryer vent? Read on.

Step One

First things first: clean the lint trap (you should be doing this after every load of laundry, but if it’s been a few cycles, now’s as good a time as any to take care of this). “Cleaning the lint filter after every load is an important first step in keeping your dryer functioning properly, and preventing lint build-up in ducts,” says Johnson. Remove the dryer lint trap altogether, and use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to clean in and around the dryer lint trap. Next, pull the dryer out from the wall, unplug it, and disconnect the duct (the long, windy aluminum tube that’s also connected to the wall).

Step Two

So how do you know if your dryer vent needs cleaning? “Your dryer ducting may need cleaning if you start to notice your clothes taking a longer time to dry or clothes are hotter than usual when a load is done drying,” says Johnson. Take a peek in the vent: if it’s clogged with lint on the sides, that’s a sign it needs to be cleaned.

Step Three

Slip on a pair of rubber gloves (things are about to get messy) and vacuum the dryer vent with a hose attachment to remove as much lint as possible. Once you’ve gotten rid of most of the lint, go in with a long-handled duster or this top-rated dryer vent cleaning brush from Amazon to reach all the nooks and crannies that your dryer couldn’t. Shine a flashlight in the vent to see if there are any spots that you missed. If it looks clear, reattach the ductwork and vent cover. Push the dryer back into place and plug it in—you did it!

Step Four

Before washing and drying a load of whites or colors, run an empty dryer for 15 to 20 minutes. This will ensure that everything is running properly and help to clear out any dust or lint that may be hanging out. Now, you not only have a safer dryer, but a more efficient one, too.

Photo by Ty Mecham. Design by Angelyn Cabrales.

Have you ever cleaned a dryer vent before? How did it go? Share your cleaning tips in the comments below!
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Former Food52 Staff Editor


Lyn July 4, 2023
Thank you for this step by step process for cleaning the vents. I love a great DIY. Unlike a Bathroom Remodel
Best to call a pro for that! Looking forward to your next article.
Lyn July 4, 2023
Great points for a great home. There are so many aspects to keeping a home in good shape from the vents to the Metal Roof

Thanks for all the great information.
Lyn July 4, 2023
Another part of a great home is a working kitchen. I really think the kitchen is the heart of the home. Let's keep the heart working! Sarasota Appliance Repair

Thank you for the post.
Lyn July 4, 2023
Great article. I love this topic. We clean our floors why not the air? Part of having a your home at its best is clean air. We look forward to your next post!

Duct Cleaning
Ties 3. June 8, 2023
Maintaining clean and properly functioning dryer vents is essential for the safety and efficiency of your home. If you're looking for ways to clean your dryer vents without calling a professional, there are some steps you can take. However, it's important to remember that professional air duct cleaning services, such as those offered by Air Duct Cleaning Sarasota, provide thorough and effective cleaning to ensure optimal performance.

While DIY cleaning methods can help remove some lint and debris, they may not reach deep into the vent system or address potential blockages. Professional technicians have the expertise and specialized equipment to clean every inch of your dryer vents, ensuring that they are free from lint, dust, and other contaminants.

By hiring a trusted and experienced company like Air Duct Cleaning Sarasota, you can have peace of mind knowing that your dryer vents are thoroughly cleaned and maintained. Their team of professionals will not only clean your dryer vents but also inspect them for any potential issues.

Don't compromise the safety and efficiency of your dryer by solely relying on DIY methods. Contact Air Duct Cleaning Sarasota today for expert dryer vent cleaning services and enjoy the benefits of a clean and well-maintained ventilation system
Teresa D. March 31, 2022
My dryer was giving me an error code that the vent was clogged at some high percentage, so I called in a pro to clean it out. I am very diligent about cleaning out the dryer filter, so I was surprised at the situation. Turns out that there was about 6 feet of bird nesting at the outer end of the vent! He installed what looks like a mini laundry basket outside the house to prevent birds from setting up house. So keep in mind that dryer vents may be clogged by other things besides dryer lint!
Teresa D. March 31, 2022
ETA: a mini laundry basket covering the dryer vent outside the house.
tradess2013 March 24, 2022
How do you move your dryer? Not a great idea if you don’t want to get hurt
Smaug March 24, 2022
They're really not difficult to move, but if you're not up to it you may be stuck with depending on the kindness of the neighbor kid.
[email protected] March 21, 2022
Also wash your lint screen with soap and water if you use dryer sheets to clear off any residue. Otherwise it can cause your dryer to overheat. You will know it needs to be cleaned if it holds water on the screen. Try it, very crazy but true.
edglover1958 March 17, 2022
I finally got around to cleaning the dryer that was already in my house when I bought it and it had NEVER been cleaned before since the house was built. (1999) It was an all day job, I cleaned the dryer itself, (the entire pathway inside the dryer) and the metal tube under the house. (16 ft. Long) I used a brush attached to a nylon pole that you snake down the tube using a cordless drill. When I couldn't go any further, I went outside and removed the vent from the exhaust pipe and ran the brush up the tube to clean it. Then I took my air compressor and shot a blast of air to blown out the lint. After I was all done, the dryer performed better & my clothes were drying faster than before. Was able to get another 10 years of use out of the dryer.
Jaybird March 14, 2022
I don't just clean the lint filter *after* every dry cycle. I stop the drying once or twice to remove the lint already accumulating. Towels are the worst offenders and I stop the cycle twice. This not only reduces the drying time but reduces the build up down the pipes (including in the machine itself). While not convenient for many I'm sure, in this new age of work at home, it takes all of 2 minutes (both times combined) and saves a lot more preventative maintenance later - on top of saving on the power and possible gas bill, both of which are more important now that ever.
Smaug March 15, 2022
I try to remember to do that too, especially with white loads (lots of towels)- my dryer's small filter can end up with a 1/2" thick layer of fuzz.
HalfPint March 14, 2022
I have a $10 long-bristle brush with a 3 ft handle, that was designed to clean out the lint from the dryer vent (where the lint collector is housed).
Smaug March 12, 2022
I generally blow it out with a leaf blower (battery powered, please- those gas powered monstrosities are possibly mankind's worst invention)
Liz S. March 14, 2022
Yes to battery stuff, although I never thought of using my leaf blower on the dryer duct :)
edglover1958 March 17, 2022
Thanks for the tip, never thought of using my leaf blower although mine is corded. Last time I cleaned my vents it was a 6hr. job. Way too long.
Kelly V. March 17, 2022
What a creative solution! Thanks for sharing.
Angi W. March 24, 2022
Me too! The leaf blower is works like a charm! I make sure I’m on the inside tho and my husband stays outside on the ladder with a garbage bag…about half of the lint goes in the garbage and he wears the other half lol!