According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), dryer vents clogged with lint and other debris cause an average of 4,470 fires every year. But keeping dryer vents clean offers more benefits for homeowners than simply lowering the risk of a fire.
A clean dryer vent allows clothes to dry faster by removing lint or debris that can affect the dryer’s performance. Considering that clothes dryers use more energy than any other home appliance, this bit of maintenance can significantly lower your energy bills, extend the life of your dryer, and more.
Read on to find out how often you should clean your vent and the benefits of doing so.
How Often Should You Clean a Dryer Vent?
The NFPA recommends that you (or an HVAC professional) should clean lint out of dryer vents at least once a year. (Note: This is in addition to cleaning the lint trap inside your dryer after each use.)
If you have pets, use your dryer every day, or often toss blankets or other fabrics made from thicker materials in your dryer, you might need to clean the vent more frequently.
You’ll know for sure it’s time for a cleaning if you notice any of the following signs:
- Clothes take longer than usual to dry.
- Small debris is accumulating around the dryer vent hose.
- The outdoor vent hood doesn’t open easily.
- Your clothes have a burnt smell.
- The laundry room gets very warm when the dryer is running.
- Your clothes and the dryer feel hot to the touch at the end of a cycle.
Benefits of Clean Dryer Vents
It takes time to pull your dryer away from the wall, open the vent, and vacuum out the lint stuck in the hose, but it pays off in safety and savings.
Regularly cleaning your dryer vent allows you to:
- Save money. As mentioned above, clean dryer vents use less energy to dry your clothes, which helps reduce energy bills. Your clothes will also last longer, so you won’t have to replace them as often.
- Reduce your risk of a dryer fire. A dryer with a clogged vent gets extremely hot, and lint is highly flammable.
- Wear brighter clothes. High heat can fade clothing. When you clean your dryer vents, your dryer will only get as hot as your settings allow, keeping your clothes brighter for longer.
- Extend the life of your dryer. Clogged vents force dryers to work harder with each load. Regular cleaning of dryer vents can help prevent costly repairs.
- Control allergens. Lint in a clogged dryer vent can trap moisture from wet clothing in the dryer vent hose, which creates favorable conditions for mildew and mold growth.