How Often To Clean Dryer Vent (4 Signs Of A Dirty Vent)

Cleaning the dryer vent should be done regularly to prevent dryer fires and to dry your clothes quickly.

I invite you also to read my guide on how to clean the dryer vent yourself using a leaf blower.

In this guide, I will go over…

  • How often you should clean the dryer vent
  • Signs that your dryer vent needs a cleaning
  • The top reasons as to why you should clean the dryer duct
  • And a few possible downsides of dryer vent cleaning
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How Often Should You Clean The Dryer Vent?

A good rule of thumb is to clean the dryer vent every year to remove any lint buildup. However, if you have a very long dryer duct, and if it has numerous turns — you may want to clean the vent every 6-months if you use the dryer a lot.

If you don’t use the dryer that often, and your dryer duct isn’t that long to the outside, you may only need to clean it every few years.

The easiest way to check if your dryer vent needs to be cleaned is to turn on the dryer, and check the exterior vent hood for the air flow. If the air flow is slow or sluggish, then you need to clean the dryer vent.

Below are a list of the signs that you need to clean your dryer vent…

Read Also: How To Keep Birds Out Of The Dryer Vent?

Signs That Your Dryer Vent Needs Cleaning

Drying Time

Probably the biggest sign that your dryer vent needs to be cleaned is if your clothes take a long time to dry or don’t fully dry at all.

When lint slows down the air flow in the dryer duct, the efficiency of your dryer drops — and eventually will not dry the clothes at all.

Slow Air Flow

A good habit for homeowners is to periodically check the air flow. All you have to do is turn on your dryer, and then check the air flow at the exterior vent cover. Of course, if your dryer vent goes to the roof, you may not be able to do it yourself.

But if the air flow is weak or absent, then you know you need to have a dryer vent cleaning.

Also, if you know how strong the air flow should be (such as after a dryer vent cleaning) — then you will have a good comparison for when the air flow slows down.

If after cleaning, there is still little or no air flow, the duct may be blocked with a stubborn clog, a birds nest, or the duct may be disconnected inside the wall.

Dryer Gets Very Hot

Sometimes when the dryer vent is dirty, the dryer itself and the drum can get hot to the touch.

This is due to all of the lint in the dryer duct impeding air flow and it reduces the ability of the heat from the dryer to escape to the outside.

Burning Smell

If you ever smell anything weird from your dryer such as a burnt smell — you should immediately turn off the dryer and schedule a professional cleaning. You can read my full guide on dryer burning smells here.

A burning smell is usually due to a lint clog that is actually smoldering somewhere inside the duct.

Since lint is highly flammable, once it clogs a dryer vent, the heat from the dryer builds up in the duct and can ignite it. I have been in houses where there have been dryer duct fires, and numerous fires happen in the United States from dryer vent clogs.

Read Also: Why Is My Dryer Not Drying Clothes?

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Dryer Vent Cleaning Service Cost

Typically, dryer vent cleaning will cost in the $75 to $200 range.

You may also be able to get it as part of an air duct cleaning package if you want to have your HVAC ducts clean at the same time.

There are stand alone dryer vent cleaning companies (that’s all they do) but air duct cleaning and chimney sweep companies also do dryer vent cleaning.

The Dryer Vent Cleaning Process

There are two main methods that professional dryer vent cleaning companies use to clean dryer vents.

The first method is using compressed air tools. Basically, they use a long air hose that is attached to a powerful air compressor. At the end of the air hose is a tool that moves around the dryer duct expelling compressed air which loosens the lint — and then it gets blown out.

The other main method of cleaning dryer vents is using long metal cables with a brush attachment at the end. The brush goes into the dryer duct loosening the lint that is stuck to the duct — and then it gets blown out.

There are also homeowner DIY dryer vent cleaning tools that you can buy.

If you want to learn more details on how to clean the dryer vent yourself, you can read my guide on using a leaf blower and brush tool to clean the dryer duct.

For most homeowners, hiring a company to clean the dryer vent is recommended.

Benefits Of Cleaning Dryer Vent

Reduce Fire Hazard

Probably the most important benefit is to reduce the possibility of a dryer duct fire.

Dryer fires are pretty common in the U.S. and around the world because lint is so highly flammable and it ends up blocking the vent. When the duct gets clogged or restricted, the possibility of the lint igniting goes up.

Speed Up Drying Time

Cleaning the dryer vent of lint can have a dramatic difference on how quickly you can dryer your clothes.

I have seen some dryers go from taking around 2 hours to dry a single load down to less around 30-minutes.

If you feel your clothes take too long to dry, then you probably need a dryer vent cleaning.

Extend Life of Dryer

As you can imagine, if the air flow is restricted, it puts more wear on your dryer.

When your dryer works harder than it was designed for, it will reduce its life expectancy.

Dryers sometimes get extremely hot when the air flow is restricted, and this excess heat will eventually cause damage to the motor and electrical components of the dryer.

Read Also: Why Is There Water In My Dryer Vent Hose?

Possible Downsides Of Cleaning Dryer Vent

Detachment of Dryer Vent Cleaning Tool

One common downside for dryer vent cleaning is the possibility of the dryer vent cleaning tool to get stuck inside the duct.

This isn’t usually a concerned for professional dryer vent cleaning tools but for homeowner or DIY tools.

The DIY version of a dryer vent cleaning tool consists of plastic rods that are connected together with a brush attachment at the end. Unfortunately, these cheap homeowner dryer vent cleaning tools frequently break apart inside the dryer duct — and then it becomes a hassle to remove it.

If it breaks apart in the dryer duct, you will probably need to hire a contractor to try to retrieve it.

Very Long Duct And Many Bends

The truth is that in rare cases, a dryer vent cleaning may not make that much of a difference if the duct is terrible.

If your dryer duct is over 20-feet, and has numerous 90-degree bends, a dryer vent cleaning may not make a difference in drying times.

If you still aren’t getting the performance out of your dryer after a dryer vent cleaning (and the air flow is still weak) — you may want to consider relocating your dryer duct to a different location.

Read Also: How To Hook Up A Dryer Vent In A Tight Space?

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Arie Van Tuijl

Arie Van Tuijl

I am a licensed home inspector in two U.S. states and the founder of Home Inspector Secrets. After performing hundreds of inspections, and seeing thousands of house defects, I realized people would love to have an online resource dedicated to home maintenance. I write detailed home guides and product reviews sprinkled with inspection tips. You can read my bio here.

About Home Inspector Secrets

Home Inspector Secrets is an online resource for owners, buyers, and sellers to understand all aspects of home maintenance. We have detailed home guides, product reviews, inspection advice, and much more.

Other Home Guides

Looking to learn more about home maintenance? Check out our other informative home product reviews and guides!