Here's How Often You Should Be Cleaning Your Dryer Vents

Are your clothes not drying as quickly as they used to, or do you seem to have a buildup of material on them after drying? Take a look at the back of your dryer, and you'll likely notice a large, cylindrical tube running from the machine up and out a vent on your home's exterior wall. That's the dryer vent, and it's a very important part of maintaining this appliance's function.

According to Home Depot, the dryer vent helps pull moist air created during the heating process out of the interior and moves it out of the home. The heat produced by the appliance forces the moisture from inside the wet clothing out into the air within that space, but that water needs to go somewhere. The vent also helps remove carbon monoxide that's created during the process out of the home as well. Unfortunately, this vent can suffer from material buildup, hampering this process, so it's essential to clean it regularly.

When should you clean the vents?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because it depends on how frequently you use your dryer and the types of materials you put into it. Most often, cleaning it at least once every 12 months is a bare minimum recommendation. However, you may need to do this more often, depending on how the dryer works in between those annual cleanings.

According to Ductless Duct, you should clean the appliance's vent when it's taking longer to dry your clothing or when you notice the exterior and interior of the dryer are hot to the touch, especially if it's more so than normal. Also, take a look at the dryer hose. Do you see debris around it or near the outdoor vent? That's a sign of a significant buildup. You may also feel a change in humidity in your laundry room, which could mean there's so much blockage that the hot air is escaping into your home.

Why is cleaning the dryer vents so critical?

It may seem like a lot of work to clean the dryer vent, especially if you're unsure how to do it properly, but there are very important reasons to do so, according to The Chimney Sweep. The tiny lint particles and other debris that come off the clothing move into the appliance's ventilation system as air circulates. Those particles often line the interior of the tube. Over time, they build up and can hamper the movement of air out of the house; that's a fire hazard in the home since those specks tend to be flammable. In other words, your dryer poses a fire risk if left unclean for too long.

A good cleaning also offers other benefits, like helping your clothing dry faster, which cuts down on your energy bills. It also helps ensure the appliance is working at its best, expanding its lifespan and potentially reducing the need for repairs.