How to Clean a Dryer Vent

January 4, 2022
Dryer Repair

Dryer vents are often overlooked when it comes to household cleaning. Most dryer manufacturers recommend cleaning the dryer vent at least once a year, more often if the dryer is used more than once or twice per week, whereas the dryer’s lint filter should be cleaned after every dryer cycle. When the dryer’s filter or vent is clogged with lint, the dryer is less effective at drying clothes, and it also poses a serious fire risk.

Fortunately, with this guide to help you, cleaning the dryer vent is relatively easy to do. In most cases, you will require a dryer vent cleaning kit, which can be purchased online or at a hardware store. Most dryer vent cleaning kits come with a brush and flexible rods that can be connected to reach up to 12 feet. Depending on the type of cleaning kit, you will also be able to attach the cleaning brush to a power drill if you need some extra cleaning power.

Read on to learn how to clean your dryer vent.

Step 1: Prepare the dryer

Before cleaning the dryer, the power, and gas if applicable, need to be disconnected. To access the dryer vent and ventilation duct, you may need to move the dryer out, away from the wall. If you have a gas dryer, be extra careful not to disrupt the gas line when moving the dryer.

Step 2: Clean the lint filter

Before cleaning the dryer vent, make sure the dryer’s lint filter is free of lint. The slot that the lint filter fits into should also be cleaned to stop pieces of lint from getting into the dryer. Lint filters can be cleaned with soap with water, while the lint filter slot may require a vacuum attachment to clean it properly.

Step 3: Detach the dryer vent

Most dryers have a transition duct that connects the dryer with the ventilation duct. The transition duct can usually be disconnected from the dryer by removing clamps, screws, or aluminum foil tape. In some cases, an access panel at the back of the dryer may need to be removed to disconnect the transition duct and access the dryer vent.

Step 4: Clean the dryer and transition duct

Once you have removed the transition duct, you will probably also notice that lint has built up inside the dryer where the transition duct was connected. At this stage, you may want to remove the back panel of the dryer to clean lint that can build up inside the dryer, around parts like the blower fan.

When you disconnect the transition duct, a lot of lint will likely fall from it when shaken over a garbage can. A brush can also be used to remove lint from the transition duct, as well as a vacuum attachment.

Step 5: Clean the ventilation duct

The dryer’s ventilation duct runs from the dryer, usually through the wall or ceiling, to the outside of your home. In most cases, cleaning the ventilation duct will require a ventilation cleaning kit, which will be able to fit inside the duct, go around corners, and clean the entire ventilation duct. Another option is to contact trained professionals to clean the ventilation duct.

Clean the vent with the ventilation cleaning kit. Depending on how the ventilation duct is installed, you may want to clean the duct from both ends, or it may be easier to clean from the highest point first so that gravity helps the lint fall out of the vent. You may also want to attach the cleaning brush to a power drill to help with cleaning the duct.

Step 6: Check where the ventilation duct exits the home

The point where the dryer ventilation duct exits the home may have a flap on the end that opens when the dryer is being used to let the hot air out. The flap should then close when the dryer is not being used to prevent animals, moisture, and debris from entering the vent.

Occasionally, the flap can malfunction, or plants may grow around it that block or stop it from working properly. Before putting the dryer back together, check that dryer air can exit the ventilation duct without any problems.

Step 7: Clean up and reassemble the dryer

At this stage, the dryer ventilation duct, transition duct, and lint filter should be clear of lint. A vacuum or dustpan can be used to clean up lint from the laundry floor.

After cleaning the lint screen, it can be put back inside the dryer. Next, the ventilation and transition duct needs to be reconnected to the dryer. If you removed the back panel of the dryer, put the panel back, taking care not to damage the transition duct. When the dryer is reassembled, move the dryer back into place and reconnect the power or gas.

What is the ventilation duct made of?

While cleaning the ventilation duct, you may have noticed that the vent was made of plastic or vinyl. If you did, you should replace the dryer duct with smooth, rigid metal or aluminum. If the duct is made of vinyl, it is a massive fire risk and should be replaced immediately. Plastic or PVC ducts are also more likely to cause a fire, and they tend to allow for lint to get stuck and cause a blockage. 

While aluminum is not as bad as vinyl or plastic, most experts recommend rigid or semi-rigid metal be used for dryer ventilation ducts.


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