Why Your Dryer Isn’t Drying Clothes

By Lyle Weischwill | Dec. 28, 2023 4:58 am PST

Clothes dryer won't dry clothes image

A dryer that won’t work properly can keep both your clothes and your mood damp.

It’s not unusual for heavier items like comforters, jeans or towels to have a few damp patches when the drying cycle ends, especially in a mixed load of light and heavy fabrics. But when the whole load is still wet, you need to figure out why and fix the clothes dryer.

First, try these two simple fixes:

  • Use a lint brush to remove lint from the vent tube and exhaust duct. Lint cuts down the air flowing through the dryer, so clothes take longer to dry (lints is also a fire hazard).
  • If you use fabric softener, follow the steps in our Dryer not drying clothes? Could be fabric softener! video to remove fabric softener buildup on the dryer lint screen.

If your clothes are still coming out wet, check the dryer’s heating system. If the dryer isn’t heating, follow the troubleshooting steps described in the owner’s manual for your dryer. If you’re unable to find and fix the cause of the heating problem, schedule service to have a Sears Home Services Technician visit your home and repair the dryer.

If you’re confident in your DIY appliance repair skills and you have a multimeter to perform resistance checks, follow the advanced troubleshooting steps shown below for the type of clothes dryer that you have.

Electric Dryer Won’t Heat

A broken heater relay, failed timer, faulty operating thermostat, bad thermistor, blown thermal cut-off fuse or failed electronic control board can prevent an electric dryer from heating.

When you have a basic Kenmore, Whirlpool, Amana or Maytag electric dryer, you may be able to safely determine the cause of the heating failure and fix the dryer on your own by following the troubleshooting shown in this DIY video.

If you get to a point in the advanced troubleshooting where you’re not confident that you can safely proceed or you’re unable to find the cause of the heating problem, schedule service and we’ll send a Sears Home Services Technician to fix the dryer.

Gas Dryer Won’t Heat

When your gas dryer won’t heat, you might have a problem with the gas supply to the dryer, or problems with the flame sensor, gas valve coils, high-limit thermostat, operating thermostat, thermal cut-off fuse, thermal fuse, igniter or timer. If you have a dryer with an electronic control board instead of a timer, a defective thermistor, bad control board, wiring failure or burner system problems could prevent the dryer from heating.

Here’s a video that shows advanced troubleshooting for fixing heating problems in common clothes dryers that use a timer to control the cycle.

If you get to a point in the advanced troubleshooting where you’re not confident that you can safely proceed or you’re unable to find the cause of the heating problem, schedule service and we’ll send a Sears Home Services Technician to fix the dryer.

Replace the Dryer

If you have a dryer that’s older than 10 years that needs repair, consider replacing the dryer instead of repairing it. Visit our Sears.com Upgrade page to conveniently select a new dryer and get help with special financing.

Image of the Sears upgrade webpage

We’ve consolidated all help, financing offers and savings into one location on our Upgrade page to make it easy for you to replace your dryer now. No hassles and no waiting.

Sears carries a wide selection of dryers and other appliances from top brands like Kenmore, GE, Samsung and LG. Get your new home appliances right away.

Sears Home Services is here to help you manage your home easier whether it involves troubleshooting, repair or appliance replacement. Trust us to help you take care of everything in your house so you can truly enjoy your home.

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