PSA – Check your dryer

Here is my dryer.  Well, a close-up of the inside and lint area of my dryer.

A friend of mine recently experienced a house fire.  Though it wasn’t related to her experience, one preventative measure she mentioned was to make sure you don’t have lint build-up in your dryer.  Then some other friends started talking about how their dryers have started to take forever to dry and another mentioned that when she had hers cleaned it resolved the issue.  These discussions got my dryer on my mind.

Now, you have to know that I am obsessed with making sure the lint screen is cleaned.  We have had this dryer for 7 or 8 years now and I’m sure I could count on one hand the number of times it was accidentally missed and not cleaned until after a second load.  But even then, it never went more than that.  I clean it when I remove clothes and check it when I put in another load (unless I am doing that immediately after emptying it).  So I’ve checked and found it empty far more than it has ever been missed.  And when I clean it out, I also reach into the opening and get what little straggling strands I can from the sides of the screen and other “lint snagging” areas.

We also keep an eye on the dryer vent.  We have cleaned it out twice in this home, so about once a year-ish.  I’m not sure how often you should clean the vent, but the lint amount has seemed fairly light so that seems to do the trick.  It also helps that it vents right out the wall so I can stick my arm through the entire length of the wall vent.  And when we clean that out, I also have vacuumed and reached into the dryer as much as I could do be sure I got the lint from inside as well.

So anyway – when it came up with my friends, one recommended this video on cleaning out your dryer, so I watched that.  But we had last cleaned out the vent and vacuumed the back of our dryer about two weeks before.  Our dryer is built differently from the one in the video so we couldn’t just take off the area around the screen as he does, but we still did a fairly thorough job with the area we did have access to from the back.  But I still had a nagging feeling about it.  Maybe because of the straggling bits around the screen that I just couldn’t seem to get.

Today I cleaned the screen, then decided to really get a good look in the opening.  This time it occurred to me to look directly down into it, with my head partway into the dryer – something I’d never thought to do before.  What I saw shocked me.

I have a thin vacuuming attachment that I’ve used for this area before, but it can’t reach that far because the screen cover gets in the way.  I knew it couldn’t go in completely, but though it was still doing a fairly good job.  When you’re not right over the opening, the bottom simply looks dark and I’d assumed it was fairly cleaned.  But after seeing this today, I decided this had to be resolved.  I did some more checking and discovered how to remove the cover (I didn’t realize this was possible before).  That gave just enough room to reach in and pull out the nastiness, then vacuuming what was left.   Here’s what I ended up with:

The pack of lint that was caught under the cover.

The pile from the bottom.

I never would have guessed.  We haven’t had problems with drying time and I’m extremely mindful of cleaning the lint screen.  I never would have guessed we’d had that kind of buildup inside the dryer itself.

So there’s my little PSA – even if you haven’t noticed any issues with your dryer that may indicate a buildup.  Even if you are very good at checking and cleaning your screen and don’t let it get filled.  Still check.  Just in case.

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