Project Book: Cleaning Out Your Dryer’s Lint Screen and Vent

The invention of the washer and dryer brought a never before seen level of convenience to the home. The biggest safety concern with clothes dryers is lint buildup in the dryer itself, in the duct from the dryer and in the vent outside of your home. Built-up lint inside dryer cabinets causes more than 15,000 fires every year.

Lint can by ignited by electric heating elements, gas burners or even a spark from the motor, and the flames then travel through the lint-lined exhaust vent. To make sure this doesn’t happen in your house, check the exhaust vent and the inside of the cabinet frequently.

Your dryer’s lint screen does a good job catching most of the lint, but once a year you should get in there and clean it all out. “But I’ve never done it before!”, You say. Don’t worry, it’s easy!

Clothes dryers are electrical appliances. Always unplug them before cleaning the dryer. Some dryers run on natural gas.  Always turn off the gas before cleaning the dryer.

If your dryer vent needs repair, only use aluminum foil tape. Do not use masking tape or any other paper-based tape to seal the dryer hose connections. Any other tape may cause a fire.

If your dryer vent is severely damaged or corroded, replace it and make sure to use metal duct rated for dryer use and is at least 4″ wide. Never use the plastic or vinyl hose that is only rated for exhaust fans.

You can find some incredibly helpful information on how to best set up and maintain your dryer vent system here.


clean lint trapThe lint screen (or trap) might be the only part of your dryer that you’ve ever cleaned. Pull it out and clean it off with the brush from your kit. Now set the screen aside and use the brush to sweep out the inside of the lint screen housing. Extend the brush all the way down into the cavity and use a gentle and slight twisting motion to bring the brush back up to the top.

You might be surprised by how many little clumps come out, but this is normal. Use your shop vac to suck up the lint and repeat this step until no more lint is coming out of the cavity.


remove dryer vent clampUnplug the dryer from the wall socket, and if you have a gas dryer disconnect the gas as well.

Pull the dryer away from the wall (no need to pull it any further than 2 feet). Use your screwdriver or nut driver to release the clamp from the vent and slide it off of the dryer. Do the same thing at the other end of the duct where it attaches to the vent hood tail pipe.


vac out dryer ventAs you remove the vent, you may see more lint that you’ve ever seen in one place (especially if this is the first time you’ve done this). Use a longer handled, broad brush to clean this vent. Slide it into the vent and twist it around moving in and out of the vent. This action will knock loose nearly all of the lint that you can reach. Then clean out the loosened the lint with your shop vac. Repeat this process at the other end of the vent where it attaches to the vent hood tail pipe.

Once both ends of the vent have been brushed out and vacuumed,  inspect where it attaches to the dryer and the vent hood tail pipe.  Use the brush and vacuum to clean out any lint here as well, reaching in as far as you can to get.

When finished, slide the clamp back over the vent, reattach it to the dryer and wall and use your screw or nut driver to tighten the clamp. Slide the dryer back into place and get ready to head outside.


remove dryer vent hoodFind the exterior dryer vent on your house. The hood of the driver attaches to the side of your house with screws using a thin flange piece. The hood may have caulking around the cover. If it does, use your razor blade to cut through the caulking (be careful and be gentle).

Once that’s taken care of, remove the screws and then the vent cover.



clean dryer vent hood tailpipeIf you have an exterior electrical receptacle, use your shop vac to make quick work out of cleaning all of the lint out of the vent hood and screen. It can also be clean using a small cleaning brush or even by hand washing.

Then inspect the tailpipe for lint build up. Use your dryer brush to get as deep as you can and clean it out with the vacuum. If you have to get in there with your arm, then feel free to do so. Clean it out until you can look into the vent and don’t see any more lint.


hand turning on dryerBefore replacing the exterior vent hood, plug your dryer back in and run it on “air fluff” or similar mode for 20 minutes.

Make sure that no one is standing near the exterior vent, as any dislodged lint will be blowing out of the vent, and could become hot the longer the dryer runs.

Once it’s run for 10 minutes, head back outside and replace the cover. If there wasn’t any caulking on the vent before, consider using some to seal the vent (unless something is inhibiting you from doing it).

Seal the end of the hose with foil duct tape where it joins the vent pipe to ensure an airtight connection.


Dryers with uncleaned vents are the biggest fire hazard in the average American home. Don’t let your home be in danger!

If you have any questions about how to clean your dryer vent, feel free to reach out to at http:www.koopmanlumber.com or visit one of our conveniently located retail stores. Our friendly and helpful staff have the knowledge and experience to equip you with all of the supplies and know-how you’ll need for this important home maintenance job.

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