How to Clean a Dryer in 3 Easy Steps

By Terry Mehilos | Aug. 02, 2023 8:42 am PST

Kenmore Washer and Dryer Laundry Room

Tips and hacks to help extend the life of your dryer, increase safety and make laundry day easier.

Most everyone knows to clean out the lint filter every time you use the dryer, but there are several other important things you should do regularly to help keep your home safe and your dryer running in tip-top shape.

1. How to clean the inside of your dryer

Cleaning the drum and components inside the drum will help your clothes dryer perform better.

Clean the lint filter and its housing

Many dryers house the lint filter in the drum, just inside the door. A clogged lint filter blocks the free flow of air, making your dryer less efficient. Clean the lint filter after every load.

Monthly, you need to clean lint from the housing that holds the filter. This will help exhaust air flow freely so the dryer works properly.

Every few months, remove softener residue from the lint filter and then scrub both sides of the filter, using a nylon brush dipped in warm water. Rinse the filter in hot water and dry completely with a clean towel before reinstalling in the dryer.

Here’s a DIY video that shows how to wash the dryer lint screen with water to remove fabric softener and dryer sheet residue:

If the lint screen in your dryer resides in housing on top of the dryer cabinet, clear lint off the lint screen before every load and wash the lint screen with water every few months or when the dryer takes longer to dry clothes.

Clean the drum

Wipe the entire inside of the dryer drum with a damp cloth to remove deposits and debris.

To get rid of tough stains and deposits inside the drum, follow these expert tips.

  • Transferred dye. The dye from new jeans can rub off on the dryer drum (not to mention your hands), leaving a blue or gray residue. To remove it, rub a paste made from powdered laundry detergent and very warm water on the stains. When the stains are gone, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe off any paste that remains. To keep the dye from transferring next time, dry the jeans inside out.
  • Chewing gum. First, soften the gum; you can either put a few rags in the dryer and run the dryer for a few minutes, or use a blow dryer. If there are just a few spots of gum, use a hard spatula or a plastic knife to gently scrape them off. If there are many small spots, rub them with a thick paste made from powdered laundry detergent and water.
  • Lipstck. Run the dryer empty on high heat for a few minutes to soften the lipstick. While the dryer is still warm, scrape up as much lipstick as possible with a rubber spatula or the edge of a credit card. Use a few drops of olive oil on a microfiber cloth to wipe away any remaining residue, then clean the area with powdered laundry detergent and a damp sponge. Rinse the drum with a clean, damp cloth and wipe the drum dry.
  • Ink. If the ink is from a ball point pen and is fresh, place dry rags in the dryer and run for an hour on the highest heat setting to absorb the ink. For any ink that isn’t fresh, rub liquid dish soap with a soft damp cloth over the stain, then rinse with a damp cloth and dry. Use an eraser sponge for stubborn ink stains.

After removing drum stains, place wet rags in the dryer and run at the highest heat setting until dry to remove any residue.

Clean the moisture sensor strips

Many newer dryers have sensor bars that tell the dryer to shut off when the load is dry. Check the owner’s manual for the location of the sensor bars in your dryer.

If you use dryer sheets, residue from the sheet’s fabric softener can make moisture sensors think the load is dry when it’s still damp.

Clean the sensor strips every 6 months or so, or if the dryer is consistently under-drying the laundry.

Dip the tip of a rag in rubbing alcohol and wipe the bars.

2. How to clean the outside of your dryer

Clean the painted cabinet and door of your dryer using a damp cloth. Use mild detergent to clean off tough stains and deposits.

Cleaning the outside of the cabinet prevent corrosion and rust that can soil clean clothes as you load and unload the dryer.

Unplug the dryer and pull it out from the wall. Clean dust from the slotted vents on the back of the dryer cabinet to ensure proper airflow through the dryer.

How to clean your dryer vent

Lint and debris clogs in the exhaust vent system cause the dryer to take longer to dry clothes. Clothes tumbling in the dryer also can overheat when the exhaust vent system is clogged. Clean the dryer vent system every few months or when clothes overheats and takes longer to dry.

Clean the flexible vent behind the dryer

Disconnect the flexible vent behind the dryer and vacuum lint and debris out of the flexible vent.

Clean lint and debris out of the exhaust vent duct system going to the outside of your home

You can have Sears Home Services clean your dryer vent when the dryer exhausts through your roof or through a long run of internal ducts that are difficult for you to access.

Clean the outside damper if your dryer exhausts through the side of your house.

In between professional cleanings, you can use a leaf blower to blow lint and debris out of dryer exhaust ducts.

If your dryer exhausts to the outside of your home through a short duct, you can use a dryer vent brush to clear lint and debris from the duct.

Dryer Maintenance Between Cleanings

Follow these helpful tips to help keep your dryer operating efficiently.

  • Clear off the lint screen before starting each load. Wash the lint screen with water and a soft-bristle brush when lint sticks to the screen. Dry the screen with a towel before reinstalling it in the dryer.
  • Clean the moisture sensor strips when you notice debris or fabric softener build-up on the metal strips.
  • Clean any stains or deposits out of the drum as soon as you notice them to prevent damaging clothes.

Trust Sears Home Services for Dryer Repair and Maintenance

When your dryer breaks down, schedule repair service online through our Sears Home Services website.

Sears dryer repair technicians know all the top dryer brands such as Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Samsung, GE, LG and Kenmore. We can fix your dryer no matter where you bought it. Sears Home Services has more than 2,500+ local repair technicians across the US who are highly trained and skilled to fix your dryer.

Our techs repaired over a million laundry appliances in the past year, so they have the experience needed to repair your dryer the right way. Choose the nationwide leader in appliance repair to provide troubleshooting tips and fix your dryer when you encounter a failure.

Prevent costly breakdowns, reduce energy costs and extend the life of your dryer by scheduling a Sears technician to perform annual preventive dryer maintenance.

Bundle and save on dryer and washing machine maintenance.

You May Also Like