How to Clean a Dryer Vent, Both Indoors and Outside

Learn how to locate, vacuum, and brush out a dryer vent.

vacuuming dryer vent

Getty Images / Benjamin Clapp

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $30 to $50

Many consider a clothes dryer to be an essential household appliance. A dryer allows you to skip time-consuming line-drying after washing a load of clothing, plus drying with heat can help kill viruses and bacteria in the process. However, drying clothes with a dryer typically leads to the collection of microfibers that build up in the lint trap over time.

Ideally, a lint trap should catch any and all debris before venting the air outdoors, but in most cases, a portion of the microfiber debris passes through the screen and into the dryer vent. If the dryer vent isn't regularly cleaned, lint can gather in the vent, increasing the risk of fire and reducing the efficiency of the dryer.

To keep your home safe and secure, use this guide to learn how to clean a dryer vent, both indoors and outside.

How Often to Clean a Dryer Vent

Dryers have a built-in lint trap that catches most microfiber debris. This lint trap should be cleaned after every use to reduce the amount of debris that passes into the dryer vent. However, you don't need to clean the dryer vent this frequently to keep up with dryer maintenance. On average, you should clean a dryer vent about once or twice a year, depending on the frequency of use.

If you aren't sure if your dryer vent needs to be cleaned or if you are safe to leave it for another month, there are a few signs that could indicate the vent needs cleaning. One obvious sign is when the dryer creates a burning smell while operating. Another sign to clean the dryer vent is that the clothes aren't completely dry when the cycle ends or they take longer to dry than normal.

Additionally, if the dryer unit becomes hot to the touch, the laundry comes out hotter than usual, or the laundry room gets hot and humid during a drying cycle, you should take the time to clean out the dryer vent.

Keep in mind, flexible plastic, foil, or vinyl dryer vents tend to accumulate microfiber debris faster than straight dryer ducts and can increase the risk of fire. If you home has flexible plastic, foil, or vinyl dryer vents, it's recommended to upgrade to rigid metal ducts.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Shop vac with hose attachment
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill
  • Broom


  • Lubricant spray
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Dryer duct cleaning kit
  • Soap
  • Bucket


How to Clean a Dryer Vent

  1. Remove and Clean the Lint Trap

    The lint trap on most dryers is located on the top of the appliance, though it can also be found at the bottom of the dryer door. If you aren't sure where the lint trap is on your specific dryer model, check the manufacturer's information in the manual or on the company website.

    Once you find the lint trap, pull it out, remove any large pieces of lint, and use a shop vacuum to clean out the inside of the lint trap housing. Make sure to use a thin hose attachment to extend the vacuum into the bottom of the housing cavity.

    If necessary, you can also use the brush from the dryer duct cleaning kit to thoroughly scrub the inside of the lint trap housing.

  2. Locate Dryer Vent

    The dryer vent has two ends that you need to locate before you can start the cleaning process. The indoor vent end is typically located directly behind or above the dryer, while the outdoor vent end can usually be found on the exterior of the home, close to the location of the laundry room.

  3. Disconnect Dryer

    Unplug the dryer and turn off the gas supply valve, if applicable, then slide the dryer out about one or two feet from the wall, so you can access the indoor vent end. If the appliance is too heavy to move on your own, ask a partner, friend, or family member for help.

    Disconnect the dryer from the dryer vent. Some dryer hoses simply slide into the vent connection bracket, while others are attached with screws.

  4. Vacuum Dryer Vent

    Plug in the shop vacuum and use the long hose attachment, which will be able to extend a significant distance into the dryer vent. Turn on the vacuum and start by sucking up any loose lint around the vent opening. Next, slide the shop vac hose into the dry exhaust vent to collect as much debris as possible.

  5. Brush Out the Dryer Vent

    In some cases, the dryer vent is too long for a vacuum hose to reach the other end, which is why you can purchase a dryer duct cleaning kit with a flexible vent cleaning brush and several extensions. Depending on the product, you may even be able to attach the brush to a drill for powered cleaning.

    Start by feeding the vent cleaning brush into the dryer vent. Add brush extensions as necessary to reach the end of the vent. If applicable, attach the brush to a drill and use the rotation of the drill to clean the inside of the vent. While the drill rotates the brush, slowly pull the brush out of the vent.

    If the brush cannot be attached to a drill, you will need to move the brush back and forth while rotating it to brush out the inside of the dryer vent. When you pull the brush out of the vent, be prepared for the collected debris to come out with the brush.

  6. Vacuum the Exterior Dryer Vent

    After cleaning the dryer vent from the inside, head outdoors. Check the vent opening to ensure the slats move freely. If you find that the slats are seized, use a lubricating spray, like WD-40, to loosen the hinges.

    Next, connect and turn on the vacuum cleaner to suck up any hair, dust, dirt, and lint from around the entrance of the vent. Slide a long narrow hose attachment into the vent as far as possible to collect any loose dryer debris.

  7. Brush Out the Exterior Dryer Vent

    If you aren't sure that you cleaned every inch of the dryer vent, you can set up the vent cleaning brush outdoors. Feed the brush into the vent, adding brush extensions as necessary. Either rotate the brush manually or attach it to a drill to quickly and efficiency brush out the inside of the dryer vent. Keep in mind that some debris will be pulled out of the vent when you remove the brush.

  8. Sweep Up Any Debris

    Before heading back inside, use a microfiber cloth and warm soapy water to clean the exterior vent cover. Also, sweep or suck up any loose debris that came out of the dryer vent. When you are done outside, you will also need to sweep or vacuum up hair, lint, and other debris that fell out of the dryer vent indoors.

  9. Reconnect Dryer

    Once you're finished cleaning the dryer vent and the surrounding interior and exterior areas you can reconnect the dryer to the dryer vent. Plug in the dryer and turn on the gas valve to the appliance, if applicable. Double check the connections, then slide the dryer back into position, making sure that the ductwork isn't crushed or otherwise deformed in the process.

  10. Test the Dryer

    Put the lint screen back into the dryer, then turn the dryer on to test that it is working correctly. If done correctly, the dryer should function as normal, venting hot air to the outdoors without any issues.

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