Why You Should Clean Your Dryer's Lint Trap and Air Vents

A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Blog: Why You Should Clean Your Dryer's Lint Trap and Air Vent

This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on February 27, 2023.



It’s time for another Small Change, Big Impact, friend

And I know I said last week I’d keep things short, sweet, and to the point, and ended up with a typical long and twisty post, but I pinky promise I actually mean it this time 😂😅

This month’s easy peasy Small Change Big Impact is to clean out your dryer lint trap and air vents!

You already know that you should clean out your clothes dryer’s lint trap before every load, but do you really know why? 

‘Cause I sure as heck never thought about it.

But as EcoWarriors, you and I both are always on the lookout for the best ways to do things - even in the most daily, mundane things like a sustainable and eco-friendly laundry routine.

And if you’ve got a tumble dryer for your laundry (even if you’re hang-drying most of your clothes), you’re gonna want to make sure you’re keeping it in tip-top shape. Not just to save energy, but also save time and money.

Because that’s what going zero waste is really all about. It’s not just reducing physical waste, but wasted time, energy, and money, too.

Cleaning the lint trap improves dryer efficiency. 

If your lint trap is full, then there’s nowhere really for the hot and moist air to go, which means it’s gonna take longer for your clothes to dry, and your dryer is gonna have to work extra hard to do its job. 

That means that it’s going to take longer to dry your laundry - costing you time, money, and energy.

Now you know I love numbers and really breaking down just how much money and energy these Small Change, Big Impacts can save, but unfortunately I’m finding it dang near impossible to find solid numbers for this one.

But from what I have been able to find, it looks like cleaning the lint trap of your dryer can save anywhere from 50 to 75% of the drying time 🤯

So, ya know, not an insignificant amount, my friend.

Cleaning the lint trap improves your dryer’s lifespan. 

Since a clogged lint trap means your dryer has to work harder to dry your laundry, it also means that cleaning it out will keep your dryer working better, longer. 

If your dryer can do its job easily, it’ll last longer, so you’ll not only save money now but you’ll save money in the long run, too, by not having to replace your dryer as soon as you otherwise may have.

Cleaning the lint trap reduces the risk of fire.

Did you know that every year, according to the US Fire Administration, there are about 2,900 home fires caused by clothes dryers? Those fires are responsible for about 5 deaths and 100 injuries every year.

I dunno about you, but I’d sure like to avoid that risk as much as possible.

And it turns out, 34% of those fires are a result of not cleaning the dryer.

So, yeah, make sure you’re cleaning out that lint trap!

What about the air vent?

Since I’ve never owned a home, I’ve never had to think about doing anything more than cleaning out my lint trap when I do my laundry. But apparently there’s more to clothes dryer maintenance than just that!

Behind your dryer, there’s gonna be a vent that connects the dryer to the outside world. And apparently we gotta clean that, too - for all the same reasons as cleaning the lint trap.

How often should you clean your dryer air vent?

According to Whirlpool, you should clean your dryer air vent no less than every two years.

How do you clean your dryer’s air vent?

I can’t speak first-hand to this, but Whirlpool has a step-by-step guide on how to clean your air vent that looks super easy peasy to follow. Check it out on their website here!

Wanna save even more money and energy drying your clothes?

Don’t forget the wool dryer balls! Wool dryer balls are a game-changer for tumble-drying your laundry. 

They’ll help your clothes dry faster, and they’re a sustainable and reusable alternative to dryer sheets (which can also cause major problems with your dryer vents!).

Just toss three or more dryer balls in your dryer and leave ‘em there. Your clothes will come out soft and static-free, with zero chemicals or waste.

Check out our deep-dive on wool dryer balls if ya wanna know more! I’ve been using mine for about six years now and can’t imagine doing my laundry without them.

And, of course, hang-drying your clothes whenever you can is gonna save you a TON, too. 

I promise you don’t need a ton of space or an outdoor clothesline for hang-drying to work, either. Even when I lived in a tiny basement studio apartment, I was always hang-drying as much as I possibly could - and it worked! 

And that’s all I’ve got for this week!

One easy small change that can have a big impact on the planet and your wallet - both now and in the future ✌️

Also, am I the only one who has nearly made it to 30 years old without knowing dryers had outdoor vents that needed regular cleaning...?? Drop a comment and let me know if you also had no idea! 👇


Related:
3 Reasons to Wash Laundry on Cold
How sustainable are laundry detergent sheets?
Why You Should Switch to a Natural Laundry Detergent


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