Cleaning the Dryer Vent: Myth or Reality?

Cleaning the dryer vent is definitely not a myth. A blocked dryer vent duct may cause the dryer not to operate properly and is a fire hazard.

fire in clothes dryer Medium

How does the dryer vent?

All dryers are built with a built-in lint trap, but lint will escape and attach to the walls of the duct no matter what the material is. About 80% of duct material installed are flexible ducts, which make it easier for lint to attach to the walls. The warm air coming out of the dryer carries moisture and when it is combined with the lint it sticks to the walls and to the exterior vent cover. This effect multiplies when the duct has a long run.

Dryers are required by current building codes to vent out to the exterior so that the moisture does not stay in the house, but these codes do not take into consideration the lint that will always escape the primary lint trap. This is why we see vents high up on second floors or even up on the roof. Even though this is acceptable, it is not optimal as no homeowner will be able to climb up on a roof or a high ladder to clean the vent.

We always recommend that homeowners install interior lint traps when the exterior vent is not easily accessible. This will make cleaning the dryer vent easy for the homeowner and cheaper if the homeowner hires a company to do it for them.

Plastic flexible ducts are not allowed to be used for dryers anymore and should not be used. Unfortunately, they are still being sold in the market and they are cheaper than metal ducts.

Interior Lint Trap Medium
Lint Trap

How does a dryer vent get cleaned?

The interior lint trap should be cleaned after every cycle and the vent cover at the exterior should be cleaned at least once a month. The duct itself should be cleaned once a year especially if it is a long-run duct. The exterior vent can be cleaned with a shop vac or any other vacuum. The duct is a bit trickier to clean and needs a professional to be done.

Blocked dryer vent Medium
Dirty dryer vent


  1. Can I still use the old-style bucket if my home is older? Those old-style buckets are actually still sold in the market but allowing moisture to stay in a home of any age is definitely not a good idea.
  2. Is it ok to vent the dryer in the garage? Absolutely not, not so much about the moisture and the lint but about the carbon monoxide that can enter the home through the dryer vent. This is very dangerous.
  3. My dryer isn’t working very well and the clothes are coming out wet. What do I do? Definitely check the dryer vent before calling an appliance technician. We have talked to many appliance technicians who state that the number one reason for a dryer not to work properly is a blocked dryer vent.
  4. Why is a blocked dryer vent a fire hazard? Lint is actually flammable material. So if the duct is blocked, the heat from the dryer may create the conditions for fire over time.
  5. How long can a dryer vent be, in order to work efficiently? The general rule is for the dryer vent not to be more than 30 ft. Every elbow though decreases that distance by 5 ft so if a duct has two elbows, which they usually do, then that distance is decreased to 20 ft. The shorter the duct is, the better.