Tips for DIY Dryer Vent Cleaning: Keeping Your Home Safe and Efficient

August 17, 2023Back to blog
dryer vent cleaning

This article will give homeowners practical tips and step-by-step DIY dryer vent cleaning instructions. Learning how to clean dryer vent areas can improve the safety and efficiency of homes and keep the dryer working at its best.

The importance and benefits of regular dryer vent cleaning

Any type of vent or fan in your home needs to be maintained regularly. If you have vents in your bathroom, they can build up lint and other residue that blocks the fan from working properly. The same is true of the dryer vent.

When a vent gets blocked, it starts to lose efficiency. Suddenly the drying process takes longer. But more importantly, the motor has to work harder to achieve the same effect, and this can cause overheating, damage, and even lead to fires.

This article will give you a basic understanding of how your dryer vent works and when it’s time to consider DIY dryer vent cleaning. You’ll also learn what things you need and a step-by-step list you can follow every year.

How does a dryer vent work?


A dryer vent is designed to remove any excess moisture, heat, or lint during drying. Wet air gets vented outside, and a lint trap catches any fibers.

What are the signs that your dryer vent might need cleaning?

If your dryer has stopped working to the same level of proficiency as it had before, that might indicate a buildup of things like lint and a need to clean your dryer vent. Failing to do this can be a serious fire hazard; built-up lint is highly flammable.

How to prepare for dryer vent cleaning

Cleaning the vent is a simple project. Doing it once per year can help you keep your dryer functioning to its best capacity.

How to clean dryer vent: tools checklist:

  1. Vacuum with a host attachment
  2. Scrub brush
  3. Bucket with warm, soapy water
  4. Screwdriver
  5. Towels
  6. Dryer vent kit
  7. UL listed metal foil duct tape

A step-by-step guide to DIY dryer vent cleaning

If you are ready for DIY dryer vent cleaning, follow a few safety tips:

1. Preparation: Unplugging and Moving the Dryer

For deep cleaning, you always want to unplug your dryer first. In most cases, dryers are pushed against a corner or at least against one wall in your home. This can make it very challenging to access the parts you need when you are learning how to clean dryer vent areas.

For this reason, and just to make the process more comfortable, you should always move your dryer after it’s been unplugged. Even something as simple as pivoting the dryer at an angle can make it much easier to access the areas you need and see where you’re working.

Note: If you have a gas-powered dryer, shut off the gas supply valve before beginning.

Dryer vent cleaning tips: If your dryer is particularly heavy or it is located on easily scratched surfaces like hardwood, use a furniture dolly and have several people help you move the dryer to a workable area and then move it back when you are done.

2. Removing the Lint Trap and Cleaning it Thoroughly

If your dryer isn’t working the way it should start by removing the lint trap once you have moved the dryer to an easily workable space. The lint trap should be cleaned thoroughly.

Far too often, lint traps build up until the point where the dryer doesn’t function well. Most people notice this when they run the same load several times before it gets dry. But cleaning doesn’t just mean skimming the top of the lint off and throwing it away.

You should certainly be removing the lint trap and cleaning it regularly, but when it comes to deep cleaning your dryer vent, don’t be afraid to wash the lint trap thoroughly, not just the part you pull out but inside the lint trap so far as you can reach

Dryer vent cleaning tips: Washing your lint trap with a microfiber cloth, scrub brush, and soapy water can help pull any built-up residue from the slot. Dry it off with a towel before reassembling it.

3. Detaching the Dryer Vent from the Back of the Dryer

In many cases, you’ll need a screwdriver to detach the dryer vent from the back of the dryer. This is a metallic, flexible hose that is usually found near the bottom of the dryer. Don’t be surprised if dust and lint fall out when you detach it but use a wet cloth or room to clear up around the area as you are working.

If you can, locate the area where that duct attaches to the wall and remove it as well. This will make it a lot easier to proceed with the next steps.

4. Clearing Lint Buildup from the Dryer Vent using Cleaning Tools

Start with your vacuum and hose attachments to clean the floors around the workspace of any debris that fell out of the hose and to clear the two areas where the dryer vent attaches to both the wall and the dryer. You can reach farther into these areas with smaller attachments to get more lint out.

Once that is done, you can continue cleaning by putting longer hose attachments down into the dryer vent to remove as much buildup as possible.

Dryer vent cleaning tips: With a dryer vent kit, you can use a brush tool that looks very similar to what you might use on the inside of a toilet but is designed for external use. This tool can be rotated slightly and moved back and forth through the vent openings to remove extra dust and debris.

5. Cleaning the Exterior Dryer Vent and Vent Cap

dryer vent cleaning

Now it’s time to head outside and find the exterior vent and vent cap. This is usually located somewhere outside, and it could be near the base of your home if your dryer is in a basement or ground floor, but it might be slightly higher up. You can clean directly under the exterior vent and vent cap using a wet towel or a vacuum.

6. Reassembling the Dryer Vent System Correctly

With the cleaning done, you can reassemble the ductwork and vent cover in the same order in which it was removed. Then plug it back in and move the dryer back into place.

Dryer vent cleaning tips: Before reattaching the ducts, check for any damage like tears or breaks. If you find any, use the UL-listed metal foil duct tape to secure them.

When everything has been reassembled, run the dryer for about 10 minutes to ensure everything is working and that all the connections were reassembled correctly.

Summing Up

Learning how to clean dryer vent areas can help you take better care of your appliances. DIY dryer vent cleaning can avoid serious fires or damage to your dryer. This type of regular maintenance improves the safety and efficiency of your home and is a simple task that can be done in a matter of minutes.