How to Clean Your Dryer's Lint Trap in 3 Easy Steps (with Pictures)!

What Causes the Film on Your Dryer Lint Trap?

You want to wear clothes that are soft and static-free, but using fabric softener and dryer sheets creates a gunky film on your dryer lint trap.  

Do you always clean the lint off your dryer screen after every load?  You probably do, but with regular use, your lint trap also needs washed approximately every six months to eliminate buildup which adversely affects your dryer's efficiency.

One way to tell if your dryer lint trap needs a thorough washing is to hold it up to the light.  Do you see shaded areas like the picture on the left below?  Rinsing the dryer lint screen under water won't fix the problem.  The water will not drain properly through the screen when it's clogged with residue, which means air can't flow through it either.

How to clean your dryer lint trap in 3 easy steps with pictures
A clogged dryer lint trap prevents your dryer from working optimally.  

Why Do You Need to Clean the Lint Screen?

If you have a family, the endless amount of laundry is overwhelming.  Dirty clothes baskets are only empty for a nanosecond.  You peel the lint off the dryer screen every time--can't that be enough?  

Taking time for an additional cleaning step seems cumbersome, but here are important reasons why this small task should land on your to-do list:

  • It saves you money!  Soaring energy prices already eat enough of your budget.  When your dryer lint trap is obstructed by film, your dryer has to work harder.  If you notice it's taking longer than normal for a load to dry, a plugged filter is one possible cause.  
  • Dryers are expensive to replace.  Appliances are no longer built to last.  Your grandma's dryer may have lived to be an ancient relic, but the average dryer lifespan today is 10-13 years.  Keeping your dryer lint trap clean allows air to flow properly which decreases the overall wear and tear on your machine.  

  • You can get the job done faster.  Washing and drying clothes is a synergistic rhythm.  You empty the dryer, pop clothes in from the washer, and start the next load.  When your dryer can't keep up with the job, it causes a hiccup in your workflow, meaning you'll be spending even more time on this tedious task!
  • Avoid a safety hazard.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryers and washing machines cause 15,970 fires each year, and dryers are responsible for 92% of them.  Lint is highly flammable, so keeping your dryer lint trap, as well as your ducts, free from lint accumulation is the best way to avert a dryer fire.

How to Clean Your Dryer Lint Trap in 3 Easy Steps

Once you've removed the lint from your dryer's lint trap screen, follow these easy steps to clear away the buildup of residue:

Step One:  Soak Dryer Lint Trap in Hot, Soapy Water

Draw hot water in your utility tub or kitchen sink.  Add a dish soap, like Palmolive or Dawn, that is powerful enough to cut through grime.  Grip your dryer screen and agitate it quickly to suds your water and start loosening the buildup.  Allow to soak for at least an hour.

Picture of washing dryer lint trap with Palmolive dish soap
Palmolive or similar dish soap is great at powering through the grime.

Agitating your dryer screen in hot, soapy water only takes a few seconds.

Step Two:  Use a Soft Brush to Clear Away Remaining Residue

Once your dryer lint trap is done soaking, gently apply a soft brush to the screen to remove any bits of film that may remain. 

This step does not require elbow grease, and applying too much pressure with the brush could damage your screen.  The screen will likely be free of grime already from soaking in the hot, soapy water.

Picture of cleaning dryer lint trap with brush in soapy water
Any type of soft, kitchen brush will do the trick.

Step Three:  Rinse and Dry the Lint Screen

Rinse all the suds from your lint screen and pat dry with a towel.  You will be amazed at the difference and feel a small jab of guilt for allowing it to get so bad in the first place.

The lint screen is ready to be placed back into your dryer.

Picture of dryer lint trap screen after it's been cleaned
Once it's back to looking like new, you'll hate to see it get dirty again!

Don't Forget the Rest of Your Dryer Exhaust System

Periodically cleaning your dryer's lint trap is essential maintenance, and it can be done in a snap; however, the lint trap only accounts for 25% of the lint buildup in your dryer vent system.

It's important to thoroughly clean your dryer's exhaust system at least every two years.  For this bigger job, you can hire a professional, or you can click here to learn how to save yourself money by cleaning the ducts yourself.

When you're ready to tackle the job of cleaning your dryer duct system, you can find Amazon's number one best-selling cleaning kit below.

This DIY kit can save you $150-$300 on a service call!


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