5 Steps to Prevent a Dryer Fire

a man's hand vacuuming out the dryer vent pipe

Laundry — just one of the many parts of our weekly grind. Between rushed loads of towels and soccer uniforms, we often forget to regularly maintain our dryers so they stay in good working condition. Don’t overlook important warning signs — follow these 5 steps to prevent a dryer fire from happening in your home.


1) Clean the lint screen

No matter the amount of lint on the screen, always clean it off before every load of laundry. The screen catches lint during drying cycles and if it’s not cleaned, the fuzzies from our clothing can build up and cause a potential fire hazard. Clogged lint screens can also make your dryer work harder, making it use more energy. Be sure to put the screen back after cleaning it — if you lose it, don’t use your dryer until you get a new one.


2) Inspect the exhaust vent pipe

Blocked dryer vents are one of the most common causes of dryer fires. The accumulation of lint within the hoses restricts airflow, causing it to overheat and potentially catch fire. But how do you know if your dryer vent is blocked? Simple. When you clean the exhaust vent (which you should do regularly), check to see if air is escaping properly. No air = a clogged vent. If the vent is clogged, simply disconnect the vent pipe and clean it out. Don’t use the dryer again until you reconnect the vent pipe to the dryer. Not comfortable doing it yourself? Consider contacting a professional to inspect your dryer and unclog the vent.


3) Clear the area around the dryer

Vacuum lint and dirt from the area surrounding your dryer on a regular basis — lint is highly flammable and can become a fire hazard if enough piles up. Keep cleaning products and baskets of clothing away from your dryer as well. By limiting the amount of clutter near your dryer, you decrease the chances of a potential fire hazard.


4) Avoid overloading the dryer

With busy schedules and to-do lists that go on for miles, it’s easy to procrastinate on laundry and cram as much as we can into one load of laundry. Split up larger loads so that your dryer doesn’t overload. The fuller your dryer is, the longer it will take to dry your clothes and the hotter it will get.


5) Hire a qualified professional

Regular maintenance is important for keeping your clothes dryer in good working order but professional service is required to ensure the unit is functioning properly with no safety hazards. Consider hiring a qualified professional to conduct an annual cleaning of your clothes dryer, especially if you notice any of the following warning signs:

  • Burning smell in the laundry room
  • Dryer takes longer to dry clothes or doesn’t dry them completely
  • Clothes are hotter than usual when you remove them from the dryer
  • Dryer gets unusually hot on the outside