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12 Dryer tips to minimize fire risks

July 31st, 2021  |  Home

The leading cause of clothes dryer fires is the failure to keep the appliance clean.

Regular dryer maintenance can help extend the life and efficiency of your machine and minimize the risk of fire due to lint buildup. Here are 12 simple steps for taking good care of your dryer and staying safe:

  1. Be installation smart - Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional. If you do it yourself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions before installing the dryer vent. Determine the straightest and most direct venting path to the outdoors to reduce the likelihood of lint accumulation in bends or elbows.
  2. Provide sufficient ventilation - Clothes dryers located in closet-type spaces or totally enclosed rooms such as apartments should have sufficient incoming air for proper operation (see manufacturer’s instructions).
  3. Remove lint from the lint screen after every cycle -One of the most effective ways to clean your screen is to take a used fabric softener sheet and wipe the screen down. Clean your filter’s chute once per season with a vacuum.
  4. Clean the dryer’s interior -Even if you clean the lint filter regularly, lint can build up within the dryer. On a monthly basis, unplug the appliance and clean the inside with warm, soapy water. If your machine uses a sensor, wipe the interior down with white vinegar or a stainless-steel cleaner to keep it working well.
  5. Clean around your dryer -Dirt, lint, and moisture can accumulate around and under your dryer. Every few months, vacuum the area to remove debris.
  6. Check the balance of your dryer -All appliances work best when set up properly. If your dryer is not level, its parts will wear out sooner. Adjust the unit’s feet until the machine is balanced.
  7. Clear the area around the dryer’s vent cap -Snow, leaves, and shrubbery can all restrict airflow to your machine. Remove obstacles from the area.
  8. Clean the dryer’s venting tube -Clean your dryer’s entire venting system, from the inside of the dryer to the outside vent cap annually. You can hire professional cleaners to do the job, but it’s possible to do it yourself.
  9. Pay attention to the load size -To increase dryer efficiency, separate loads into different fabric types. Fabrics dry at different rates and drying similar ones together can shorten the overall drying time and save energy. Loosen bundles of clothes before adding them to the dryer. Do not dry large items such as quilts or duvets. Even larger dryers do not have the capacity for such items. If the air can’t circulate properly, the machine could overheat.
  10. Watch what you dry - Do not dry materials or fabrics that have been saturated by chemicals, oils, or gasoline (e.g., mops and towels and clothes saturated with wax, flammable solvents, or vegetable oils). Even after washing, these substances can start a fire during the drying cycle.
  11. Not home? Don’t dry - Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.
  12. Be safe, not sorry - Install a smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector near your appliances.

Even with regular dryer maintenance, you may run into issues. Most dryers can complete a load of laundry in 45 minutes. If your dryer is taking significantly longer, it may be a signal that it needs some extra attention. Other signs of a problem include clothes that are still wet or damp after one cycle, or the dryer moving or shaking as it operates. If your dryer exhibits any of these signs, it’s time to call a professional for help.

Like any other appliance, keeping your dryer at peak performance requires regular care and a quick response to possible issues. The few minutes you take to maintain your machine could add years to its life and prevent possible fires.

RELATED READING: Why you need a fire escape plan

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