Your Dryer’s Lint Filter Should Be Washed

August 5, 2010 at 5:00 am 5 comments

By Kaye Nemec | Contributor

Hopefully, you already know you need to clean the lint filter in your dryer after every couple uses. This maximizes efficiency and reduces a potential fire hazard. But, did you know that washing your lint filter every six months can further improve the performance of your dryer and also increase its lifespan?

A standard, tumble dryer has a fan that pulls fresh air into the dryer where it is heated to evaporate the moisture in your clothes. The warm air and the moisture then pass through
your lint filter where anything that was picked up with the tumbling motion is trapped. From there, the air is sent outside and the cycle starts over again with fresh air.

If you don’t clean your lint filter between uses, the flow of this moist, warm air is restricted and your dryer is much less efficient. What you probably didn’t know is that
the dryer sheets you throw in with each load of wet clothes are covered with a silicone based film that, overtime, also builds up on your lint filter and causes your dryer to work less efficiently.

Don’t believe me? Take your lint filter out and run some warm water over it. Is it pooling up on top and not draining through? Is there just a slow trickle of water passing through the screen? Odds are, the water is not rushing through as it would on a normal screen.

To wash your lint filter, try the following:

  1. Remove your lint filter from your dryer.
  2. Wash the screen with warm soapy water. You can use a soft brush (an old toothbrush works) but don’t put too much pressure on the screen.
  3. Hand dry the screen and leave it out until it’s completely dry.
  4. Reinstall the filter into your dryer.

You can clean your filter as needed or every 6 months to a year.

Some dryers also have moisture sensors (the black object in the photo) and the film can build up on those as well. To make sure your sensor continues to work efficiently, you can clean it with a little bit of detergent and a soft brush.

With the variety of dryers available today, you should confirm the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations in your owner’s manual first.

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Sources: Snopes.com, eHow.com

Photo: p0ps Harlow (cc)

Entry filed under: Around The House, Be Efficient. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Elbyron  |  August 5, 2010 at 11:09 am

    You should also clean the dryer’s vent system every few years (or more often if it gets a lot of buildup). It is not difficult to do it yourself. This wikihow guide details the steps to follow: http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Clothes-Dryer-Vent
    If you don’t want to attempt it on your own, you can probably get it done professionally at the same time that you get your heating/HVAC ducts cleaned.

    Reply
  • 2. janec72  |  August 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    An even easier way to thoroughly clean your lint filter: Put it in the dishwasher, just like a plate. (Make sure none of the rack’s prongs are putting undue pressure on the screen) I have done this every few months for several years, with no damage to the lint filter.

    Heat won’t hurt it (duh!) and every trace of “waxy buildup” from your dryer sheets will be washed away. The filter will come out of the dishwasher sparkling clean, dry, and ready to reinstall in your dryer!

    Reply
  • 3. nbmBruce  |  August 5, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Not all dryers have removable screens. I remove the lint before every use. And since I never use those dryer sheets, there’s no build up. One critical item that did not get mentioned here (unless it’s in a different article), is that the plastic vent hose should NEVER be used, only the aluminum kind. Any kind of a lint fire in a plastic vent hose will only be fueled even more by the plastic.

    Reply
    • 4. Maggie Rotter  |  December 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      and is an attractive cat toy!

      Reply
  • […] Do you use dryer sheets? If so, simply pulling the lint out of the trap after every couple of loads—you already do that, right?—isn’t enough. Dryer sheets are covered with a silicone-based film that can build up on the lint trap filter and create an invisible barrier. Wash it every six months to improve the performance of your dryer and increase its lifespan. Get instructions at Broken Secrets. […]

    Reply

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