The Easiest Way To Clean Your Dryer's Lint Trap Involves A Trip To The Paint Store

Cleaning out your lint trap not only prevents clothes from getting fuzzy or dirty in the dryer but the machine from catching on fire, too. But while cleaning your dryer's lint trap is entirely necessary, it can be a little difficult. Larger chunks of lint can be easily swept up by hand, but tinier bits are much harder to nail down. Not only that, but lint isn't exclusive to the lint screen; it can get stuck in the actual trap's cavity itself, as well as the rest of the dryer.

Next time, save yourself the time and energy from picking up individual lint pieces and use a paint stick instead. Specifically, a paint stick wrapped in cloth or a rag. Lint traps go pretty far down, and simply sticking your hand into the empty space often isn't an option. The opening is also too narrow to fit most dusters or clothes on their own without getting lost, too. A wrapped paint stick, however — that can easily fit.

Paint stick and a cloth

Lint buildup is no joking matter when it comes to home fire safety. A 2017 report from the National Fire Protection Association found that 92% of home fires from the years 2010 to 2014 were due to clothing dryers. More specifically, the leading cause of dryer fires came from lint, at 27%. While cleaning the lint filter is often enough for day-to-day use, cleaning the entirety of the trap on a regular basis is vital for a safe and functional dryer.

For this dryer-cleaning (cost-effective) hack, visit your local hardware, home improvement, or paint store, and purchase a paint stir stick — the longer the better. The Home Depot, for example, sells a three-pack of 21-inch paint sticks for under $1.50. You'll also need a cloth of some sort for the stick. Microfiber is best, as you won't run the risk of any loose fibers getting stuck in the actual lint trap. Optionally, you could also use a rubber band to secure the cloth to the paint stick, or you could just hold it in place.

Once the paint stick is wrapped, take out your dryer's lint filter and stick the paint stick in the lint trap, then "dust" the space. Keep replacing the cloth or rag as needed until it comes back clean, indicating all the lint is gone.

Other ways to clean a lint trap

If the paint stir stick isn't doing the job, there are other ways to clean your dryer's lint trap. One super-convenient method is with the narrow handheld extension on a vacuum. Simply remove the screen, give it a thorough vacuuming, then move on to the actual lint trap. The angled-tip extension can also help you get into harder-to-reach crevices.

You can also give the lint screen the occasional deep clean to help it better catch lint before it can hide in the trap itself. A soft nylon brush with liquid laundry detergent and hot water can easily remove built-up lint, dirt, and other debris. If you're still finding a buildup of lint in your dryer, you may need to check the exhaust hose or the vent. The exhaust hose can also be cleaned with an extension attachment of a vacuum — simply pull the dryer away from the wall to expose the hose.