How to clean your dryer lint trap.


Written by Alyssa Chua

Is your dryer not working? Does it make a squeaking or squealing sound? It may be because the dryer lint trap is full of dirt.

Keep reading to find out how to clean a dryer lint trap quickly and thoroughly.

What is a dryer lint trap?

A dryer lint trap is a filter installed inside the dryer. Its purpose is to capture the lint and dirt during the drying process.

When you wash your clothes, the washing motion lifts lint and dirt from your garments. However, because your clothes are still wet, they remain on the fabric until you dry your clothes.

During the drying process, a dryer’s airflow passes through a filter before getting vented outside. The dryer lint trap collects the lint from your clothes. As a result, your dryer can function well and heat your clothes enough to dry them.

Where is the dryer lint trap located?

You can find the dryer lint trap in front of the dryer drum, inside the dryer door or near the controls on top of the dryer. 

pulling out the dryer lint trap

How to clean lint out of the dryer.

Not sure how to clean your dryer lint trap? Follow the step-by-step instructions below:

Step 1: Remove the lint screen.

Pull the lint screen up. Depending on your dryer model, you may have to press down a tab to open the lint screen.

Step 2: Remove the lint with your fingers.

Use your fingers to roll and remove the lint from the screen. Make sure you clean both sides of the lint trap. Do not use water to wet or wash the screen to remove the lint just yet. Wet lint is harder to remove than dry lint during this step.

Step 3: Remove any residue.

After removing the lint with your fingers, you can use a brush and liquid detergent to scrub the lint screen. Rinse thoroughly with hot water, and dry it completely.

Step 4: Vacuum the lint trap opening.

Using a vacuum tool, clean the inside of the lint trap slot where you insert the dryer lint trap. Vacuuming the lint trap slot helps remove more dirt, so your dryer has even better airflow.

Step 5: Return the lint trap.

Once you have removed the lint from the dryer lint trap and are satisfied with how clean it is, return it to the dryer. Make sure to return it firmly back in its place.

Step 6: Give your dryer vent a more thorough cleaning every six months.

Laundry detergents and fabric softeners also contribute to lint build-up, making it take longer for your clothes to dry. Sometimes, it may even cause your dryer to stop before your load is completely dry.

If you clean your dryer lint trap regularly but your clothes aren’t drying properly or no air moves through the outside vent, your dryer’s vent may be clogged. When this happens, hiring a professional to help you access and clean your dryer exhaust vent is best.

Get free estimates from top-rated appliance service specialists.

Why should you clean your dryer lint trap?

If you don’t clean your lint trap, it can result in many problems and difficulties for your dryer. For example:

  • Fire hazards. If you don't remove the lint and debris from your trap and dryer vent, it could potentially cause a dryer fire.
  • Unusual sounds. Lint build-up can block the airflow path from the dryer to the outside vent. If you hear squealing or squeaking sounds, there may be lint build-up inside your dryer vent.
  • Longer drying times. You may have to extend your drying time to ensure your clothes are dried entirely. A clean dryer trap and a clean dryer vent allow for a fuller air flow, which helps your dryer to run more efficiently. Your clothes will dry faster, helping you save time and money on your energy bills.

How often do you need to clean a lint trap?

Most washer and dryer manufacturing companies recommend that you check and clean your dryer lint trap before and after you run a cycle. Some dryers come with an indicator light that will tell you to check or clean the lint trap before you use your dryer.

It’s also best to check and clean the dryer vent every 6-12 months. Lint build-up can also occur there. If you aren’t sure how to clean lint out of a dryer vent, it might be best to hire a professional .

Important tip: If you notice that the lint trap in your dryer is loose, obstructed, harmed or absent, don't run the dryer. Without the lint screen, it can cause overheating and damage both the dryer and the clothes. It’s best to enlist the help of a local handyman or repair professional to diagnose your dryer’s problem.

Need more help? Hire a dryer repair professional on Thumbtack.

If your dryer still isn’t working, there might be a part that needs to be replaced or fixed. If you aren’t sure what to do, hire a technician who knows how to work with appliances. 

Download the Thumbtack app and look for a professional to help you fix your dryer problems.


Why does so much lint get past the lint trap?

While the dryer lint trap’s purpose is to catch as much lint as possible, it can’t trap all the lint from your clothing.

Sometimes, if you wash your clothes longer than you should, use more water than required or overload your washer and dryer, your clothes will have excessive lint. The result: a lint trap that’s always full.

What can I use to unclog a dryer vent?

Use a hose attachment and try suctioning around the dryer vent entrance with the help of a vacuum cleaner. If you want to do a deeper cleaning, you may need to use a dryer duct cleaning kit, which usually consists of flexible rods and brushes.

If you aren’t sure how to do this, you can hire a professional to unclog your dryer vent.

Should you wash your dryer lint trap?

Wash your dryer lint trap with hot water after you have removed the lint from it. Wet lint is harder to remove and may become more stuck to the trap.

How do I know if my dryer vent is clogged?

Several indicators serve as warning signs that your dryer exhaust vent is clogged:

  • Your clothes take longer to dry or don’t dry completely.
  • Your clothes are hotter than usual after you run a cycle.
  • Your dryer becomes very hot.
  • You smell something burning.
  • You see water dripping on the floor.
  • You see steam and moisture in the dryer.
  • You see lint build-up on the dryer door or your clothing instead of on the dryer lint trap.

Hire a pro to help you with your dryer problems.

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