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Popular in Housekeeping

How to Care for Your Clothes Dryer

Learn how to keep your clothes dryer working efficiently. Follow these tips for removing lint regularly and cleaning interior stains to keep your dryer in tip-top shape.

If you have ever taken clothes out of the dryer and found they were still damp, you may be dealing with lint buildup. Your dryer will run much more efficiently if air can flow easily. Removing lint -- which is highly combustible -- also reduces the risk of fire. Take these steps to help keep your dryer lint-free.

  • Clean the lint screen or filter every time you dry a load of clothes. Pull the lint screen straight out to remove it from the dryer. Remove as much lint as you can with a brush, then swipe the screen with a used fabric softener sheet to pick up any remaining pieces of lint.
  • Occasionally, clean the lint trap (also known as the lint-trap-housing cavity). This is the area in which the filter fits. Use a long flexible dryer lint brush (available at home centers) and a gentle twisting motion to clean the cavity. Vacuum the brush clean, then repeat the process until you can't remove any more lint. Or, try using the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner to clean out the lint.
  • Once a year or so, clean the dryer's vent hose and pipe to keep the machine running efficiently. Hire a pro, or do it yourself

Removing Stains Inside a Dryer

Despite how carefully you check everyone's pockets, something bad can still make it into the dryer. The most likely culprits: pens, crayons, chewing gum, candy, and lipstick. Or maybe you washed a dry-clean-only item whose dye still clings to the drum. Stains inside the machine can transfer to other clothes and ruin them. Here's how to clean the most common stains.

  • Crayons: Start by checking the drum for stuck-on pieces of crayon. Scrape them off with a plastic spatula or an old credit card. Wipe the drum with a soft rag sprayed with a small amount of WD-40 until the stain is gone. (Never spray the WD-40 directly into the dryer.) Once you have removed all of the crayon stains, unplug the dryer and wash the interior with warm, soapy water. Pay special attention to any areas that were wiped with WD-40. Finish by wiping the dryer drum with clean dry rags or running a load of dry rags through a complete drying cycle.
  • Ink: Run the dryer for about 10 minutes to warm up the metal drum and make it easier to remove the ink. Unplug the dryer. Dampen an old white rag with rubbing or isopropyl alcohol, and use it to remove the ink stains from the warm dryer interior. Change rags as needed to prevent ink from being redistributed. Rinse with a damp, clean white cloth. Before drying another load of clean clothes, check your work. Run an old white towel through a complete drying cycle. If it comes out completely white, you're done. If not, repeat the process.
  • Dye: The entire dryer drum is probably covered with splotches of dye, which makes it unlikely you can remove all of it by hand. Instead, soak several old towels in a solution comprised of three gallons of hot water to one cup of household bleach. Wearing protective eyewear and rubber gloves, wring the towels nearly dry. Throw the towels in the drum, and run the dryer for 30 minutes at an air-fluff setting. Repeat the process if needed. 
  • Candy or gum: Scrape off as much hardened candy and gum as you can with a plastic spatula or old credit card. Unplug the dryer. Use a blow-dryer to soften the remaining gum or candy with hot air. Then remove the softened particles by scraping them off with the plastic spatula or old credit card. Scrub the stained area with a rag dampened with an all-purpose cleanser, then wipe with a clean, dry cloth.

  • Lipstick: Remove as much of the lipstick as possible with a soft, dry cloth. (This will be more successful if the dryer is still warm.) Unplug the dryer and let it cool down completely. Wipe the remaining lipstick stains with a soft cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol. Plug the dryer back in and dry a small load of old towels to remove any remaining lipstick stains and traces of rubbing alcohol.

More Cleaning Tips

Clean the outside of your dryer about once week by wiping it with a damp cloth dipped in mild dishwashing liquid. Remove the soapy residue with a clean, wet cloth, then wipe dry.

Clean the interior of your dryer about once a month, even if there are no stains to remove. Unplug the dryer. Use a rag dipped in warm, soapy water to wipe down the drum. Dry with another clean rag.

If you clean the interior of your dryer with anything other than soap and water, delay using it again for several hours. Leave the dryer door open and let any fumes or residue dissipate before heating it up again. 


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