7 Clever Hacks For Cleaning Out Your Dryer Lint Trap (And 1 You Should Avoid)

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Maintaining a clean dryer is much more important than you may think. Not only does it keep the machine operating efficiently, but it's also the best way to prevent a fire. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued a report in 2020 that revealed 32 percent of all dryer fires were related to improper cleaning. All but 5 percent of that figure were a direct result of the dryer lint igniting. Most homeowners don't have specially designed dryer lint brushes, which may result in them skipping the task of properly cleaning the dryer lint trap.

Fortunately, there are plenty of helpful hacks that will make removing lint from deep inside the trap a breeze. You'll find common household items, such as a paint stick and microfiber cleaning cloth are quite effective. Homemade vacuum attachments can be made using a long cardboard tube and one can even grab larger balls of lint using a pair of chopsticks. Of course, not all cleaning hacks are safe or effective, so we've also included one hack that you'll want to avoid.

Use a paint stick and a microfiber cloth

In order to fully clean the inside of a dryer lint trap, you need a slim tool with a bit of length to it that can fit into the tiny slot and reach all the way to the bottom of the compartment. A paint stick matches this criteria and works perfectly when paired with a microfiber cloth. The paint stick provides the reach, while the microfiber cloth is able to attract and trap the lint.

Wrap your microfiber cloth around the top half of the paint stick and secure it in place at the bottom with a little electrical tape. A rubber band would also work in a pinch. Remove the lint trap screen and begin sweeping inside the trap with the paint stick and microfiber cloth. You may need to stop and clean the lint off the cloth a few times before you get the entire compartment clear of all the fluff. Don't have a paint stick on hand? You can use a butter knife or a fly swatter with the microfiber cloth instead.

Warning: Don't use just any old cloth, as some materials don't capture dust and others actually leave lint behind.

Clean the trap with a microfiber duster

Chances are you have the perfect tool for reaching deep down into the dryer lint compartment in the utility closet in your laundry room. A long and bendable microfiber duster designed for use in removing cobwebs from ceiling corners will easily fit inside the lint trap and quickly grab all of the lint. This laundry room gadget is also machine washable, so you can clean it with ease and reuse it many times. Should you not currently own this handy tool, you'll find it's readily available on Amazon for just under $18.

Remove the lint trap screen and set it aside. Ensure you're working with a clean microfiber duster, as you don't want to introduce any dust to the lint compartment. Take the top of the duster and bend it to fit inside the trap. If the lint trap is on the top of the dryer and not just inside the door frame, you won't have to bend the microfiber duster as much. Press the duster down into the compartment and move it from one side to the other to collect the lint. You may need to stop and clean the duster head a few times if a lot of lint is present.

Grab the lint with a pair of chopsticks

Instead of your utility closet, head to the utensil drawer in your kitchen to locate the perfect tool for reaching down into your dryer lint trap. A pair of chopsticks are thin enough to fit in any lint compartment and can be used to grab larger chunks of lint from within the trap. Those who are proficient in the use of chopsticks will be able to grab the lint with one hand, while those who aren't may need to use both hands to work the sticks.

After removing the lint screen, use the chopsticks to reach into the trap and grab as much of the lint as you can. You'll only be able to get one fluff of lint at a time with this method, so you'll find it will take a bit longer than the other hacks mentioned here. Additionally, you won't be able to get smaller pieces of lint with just the chopsticks. Some homeowners have even accidentally dropped their chopsticks down into the trap, so you'll want to use them with caution.

Remove lint from the trap with a Swiffer Duster

Another option for easily removing lint from the trap in your dryer is a Swiffer duster. This handy cleaning tool utilizes fluffy fibers that are made with a special coating that helps them attract and trap dust and debris. It fits nicely inside dryer lint traps and offers 360-degree cleaning, so you won't have to flip it over to get the alternate side of the trap. The duster heads are also disposable, making clean up a breeze.

You'll find Swiffer dusters are readily available at Walmart if you don't already have one in your home. You have two options. You can pick up a short-handled model for just under $5 if you're working with a smaller lint compartment, such as those found in stackable washer/dryer units. Bigger compartments would do best with the 3-foot duster, which has a longer handle and costs just under $10. To use the Swiffer duster, simply attach the duster head to the handle and swipe it around inside the lint compartment. Afterward, remove the duster head and toss it in the trash.

Eliminate lint using an old Christmas wrapping paper roll

The key to successfully cleaning any dryer lint trap is finding a tool that can fit deep inside the compartment. Vacuum hose attachments themselves typically don't fit inside the hole. Some crevice tools will, but they are only able to reach the top portion of the trap. One way to utilize the power of a vacuum is to attach an empty Christmas wrapping paper roll to the end of the hose. The reach and suction combined will get your lint trap cleaned in no time at all.

Remove the lint trap screen and set it aside. Tape an old Christmas wrapping paper tube to the end of a vacuum hose and then flatten the end of the tube enough to fit down into the lint trap. Use the suction from the vacuum to draw up the lint as you maneuver the tube down inside the lint compartment. If you don't have any Christmas wrapping paper rolls on hand, paper towel rolls will also work; however, Christmas wrapping paper rolls are longer and offer a better reach.

Use a water hose and duct tape to clean the trap

Similar to the Christmas wrapping paper roll hack, a water hose can be used in combination with a ShopVac to lift away fluff from inside a dryer lint trap. Water hoses are soft and pliable, so they can be squashed a bit if need be. They are also long enough to reach the bottom of the lint compartment, eliminating the need to remove screws in order to fully access the trap. This saves homeowners precious time and energy.

Take the lint trap screen out and set it aside. Cut a piece of an old water hose so that it is long enough to get all the way down inside the compartment. Attach the water hose to the end of the hose on your ShopVac using either duct or electrical tape. Turn the vacuum on and let it suck up all the lint as you move the water hose around inside the trap.

Clean the dryer lint trap screen with hydrogen peroxide

Not only is it important to properly clean the dryer's lint trap compartment, but also the lint screen that rests inside that compartment. You can remove a great deal of the lint from the screen with your hands; however, smaller pieces of lint will be left clinging to the holes in the screen. Additionally, fabric softeners can leave a film on the actual screen, so you'll need to give it a thorough cleaning using hydrogen peroxide and laundry detergent from time to time.

Take the lint screen out of the compartment and remove as much of the fluff as you can. Pour ΒΌ cup of hydrogen peroxide inside a spray bottle. Add a teaspoon of your favorite laundry detergent and then fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Shake to combine and then thoroughly soak the screen with the homemade spray. A soft-bristled brush can be used to scrub the screen and get it clean. Rinse the screen with fresh water and set it aside to dry before returning it to the lint trap.

Tip: If you don't have hydrogen peroxide, denture tabs also work!

Avoid using chemicals to clean the lint trap screen

When cleaning out your dryer lint screen, you must avoid the use of chemicals at all costs. They may offer superior cleaning power, however, they are not safe. The reason hydrogen peroxide and laundry detergent are reported as safe, as discussed above, is because they are not flammable. Most cleaning products, including WD-40, while effective at removing lint, pose a huge fire risk and as such, homeowners should refrain from using them. This is because dryers are designed to remove moisture from clothing using heat. That heat can cause flammable chemicals to ignite.

While it's good practice to remove accumulated lint from the screen at the end of each drying cycle, homeowners need only deep clean the lint compartment once every three months. It can be added to the home's list of quarterly chores. Of course, larger families who do laundry more often will want to clean out the trap much sooner.