Maintenance makes a difference; contact a licensed professional for assistance
There’s nothing quite like warm laundry right from the dryer. But to keep your dryer going strong and drying safely, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has some tips for you.
According to USFA:
- 2,900 home dryer fires are reported annually, causing an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.
- Failure to clean the dryer (34% of instances) is the leading cause of home dryer fires.
- More dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.
That’s why USFA is getting the word out about stopping dryer fires before they start. The administration has steps you can take right now to prevent your dryer from becoming a household danger.
- Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
- Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
- Read manufacturers instructions and warning in your dryer owner’s manual.
- Clean the lint filter before each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months, or more often if it becomes clogged.
- Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
- Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it’s taking longer than normal for laundry to dry.
- Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it’s not damaged or restricted.
Put a vent cover on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow, and dirt.
- Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on.
- Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
- Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.
- Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects aren’t blocking the outside vent.
- Keep the area around the dryer free of items that can burn.
- If you’re away from home for an extended length of time, unplug or disconnect the dryer.
And remember these dryer don’ts:
- Don’t use a dryer without a lint filter or with a filter that’s loose, damaged, or clogged.
- Don’t overload the dryer.
- Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper—they can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
- Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber, or plastic, like a bathroom rug with rubber backing.
- Don’t dry any item with manufacturer instructions that say “dry away from heat.”
- Don’t dry glass-fiber materials, unless manufacturer instructions specifically allow it.
- Don’t dry items that have come into contact with flammable materials like alcohol, cooking oils, or gasoline—dry those items outdoors, away from heat, or in a well-ventilated room.
- Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
For more information on dryer safety and fire prevention, USFA has free materials available in English and Spanish. For dryer maintenance and repair assistance, contact a licensee of Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Household Goods and Services, and check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.