Do you want to learn how to clean your dryer vent from the outside?
Dryer vents frequently get choked with lint and debris which can slow down the dryer and even become a fire hazard.
I invite you to also read my guide on how to use a leaf blower to clean out a dryer vent.
In this guide, I will go over…
- Turning on the dryer or leaf blower for positive air pressure
- Using a dryer vent cleaning tool to brush the duct
- Why you may need to remove the exterior cover
How To Clean Dryer Vent From Outside?
Cleaning the dryer vent from the outside is an effective way to remove lint buildup and to speed up your dryer. And since you are cleaning it from the outside, all of the lint will get blown outside and won’t impact indoor air quality.
I have personally cleaned dryer vents by just turning on the dryer, but if you need more power — using a leaf blower is recommended.
If you want to learn how to clean the dryer vent from the outside, here are the basic steps.
- First remove the outside dryer vent cover
- Turn the dryer on (or insert a leaf blower)
- Slowly work the dryer vent cleaning tool into the outside duct
- When no more lint is blown out, you are finished cleaning the outside dryer vent
- Re-install the exterior cover
To learn the details of each step on how to clean the dryer vent from the outside, keep reading…
Table of contents
Dryer Vent Cleaning Tool
The homeowner or DIY dryer vent cleaning tool is a series of plastic rods with a nylon 3-4 inch brush on the end. This tool is connected to a drill which spins the brush.
The biggest hazard with this tool is that sometimes the rods get disconnected. I recommend that you give the joints additional strength by taping them together. The last thing you want is for these rods to get disconnected inside the dryer duct.
Leaf Blower (Optional)
A leaf blower is optional but it will give much more power than just turning on the dryer.
But you can first try to clean the dryer duct from the outside and just turning on the dryer to see if it works. If you need more power, you can insert a leaf blower inside the duct while you clean it from the outside.
A cordless (or corded) drill is required to use the dryer vent cleaning tool.
A lightweight and cordless drill is preferable for ease of use. For power, you want at least a 12-volt cordless drill but 20-volt is better.
Mask And Eye Protection
When you are cleaning the dryer vent from the outside, all of that lint will get blown back towards you and may hit your face.
Wearing a face mask and eye protection is recommended.
Read Also: How To Repair A Dryer Vent Hose?
Step 1. Remove Exterior Vent Hood Cover
The first step in cleaning a dryer vent from the outside is to remove the exterior vent hood cover if is impeding access.
Many exterior covers have plastic cages or louvers to keep out birds and it will prevent you from being able to insert the dryer vent cleaning tool. The plastic cages are usually just held to the wall with one or two screws. If there are only louvers (and no cage) you should be able to just remove the louvers themselves.
Once you remove the exterior cover, I recommend taking a peek inside the duct with a flashlight to see if there are any obstructions. If there is a birds nest, you may be able to just reach in the duct with your hand and pull it out.
For more details on the ‘bird problem’, check out my guide on how to keep birds out of dryer vents.
Step 2. Turn On Dryer
Once you have removed the exterior vent cover (if needed) and the outside is ready for the dryer vent cleaning tool — you should first turn on the dryer.
Turning on the dryer will put positive air pressure on the dryer duct, so that when you use the dryer vent cleaning tool — the lint will get blown to the outside.
If you don’t have the dryer on, then all of the lint will stay in the duct and you may even create a clog.
Step 3. Insert Leaf Blower (Optional)
If you want even more air flow as you are cleaning the dryer duct, I recommend inserting a leaf blower into the duct.
A leaf blower will give you 2-3 times more air flow than just turning on the dryer. This will allow even more lint to get blown to the outside and may make it easier to clean the dryer duct.
Remove Flex Duct First
You will need to remove the flex duct that goes from the dryer to the wall. The flex duct will likely have a clamp (and possibly metal tape) that connects to the wall elbow. Simply remove the clamp, and remove the duct from the wall.
You should remove any long extension on the leaf blower first, make it as short as you can.
Now you can insert the leaf blower into the duct as far as possible, and then turn on the leaf blower. You may need to put a bag (or the dryer itself) behind the leaf blower so it will stay in the duct or just have someone hold it in place.
Read Also: How Often Should You Clean A Dryer Vent?
Step 4. Insert Dryer Vent Cleaning Tool
Now that the exterior hood is ready and you have turned on the dryer (and possibly inserted a leaf blower) — you are ready to do the actual cleaning.
Simply insert the dryer vent cleaning tool from the outside and work it slowly into the duct. You will need to apply power with the cordless drill so that the brush removes the lint on the duct wall.
As you brush out the duct, the lint should loosen and it will be blown back towards you. Take your time, and keep inserting the dryer vent cleaning tool deeper into the duct.
How To Know When You’re Done?
You will know the job is done when no more lint is blown to the outside. You may also be able to ‘feel’ when the dryer vent cleaning tool has reached the wall because you will feel a thud. The thud means the dryer vent cleaning tool won’t go farther and it is probably hitting the flex duct (or the leaf blower).
The air flow should be stronger after cleaning the duct. If there is very little air flow, you may have a duct disconnection or a very stubborn clog. Calling in a professional is recommended if there is little or no air flow because it can be a fire hazard.
Read Also: Why Is There Water In My Dryer Vent Hose?
Step 5. Re-install Exterior Cover
After cleaning the duct, you will need to re-install the bird cage or louvers if you removed it.
Step 6. Remove Leaf Blower (Optional)
And if you used a leaf blower, you should now turn it off and remove it.
Step 7. Clean Flex Duct
Before re-installing the flex duct to the wall, I highly recommend you clean the flex duct if it is dirty.
If it has been damaged or crushed, now is the time to replace it.
Step 8. Re-install Flex Duct
Now you can re-install the flex duct to the wall.
If you removed a clamp, put it back on, making sure it is tight.
I also recommend putting aluminum/metal tape over the clamp to create a tight seal.
Step 9. Push Back Dryer
It is really important that when you put the dryer back in position that you don’t crush the flex vent.
If you cleaned the dryer duct, and then you crush the flex vent, all of that work will be for nothing. If you crush the flex duct, it will act like there is a clog in the system.
You may want to use the end of a broom to position the flex duct correctly behind the dryer so it doesn’t get crushed.