8 Signs It’s Time for a Dryer Vent Cleaning

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated August 19, 2021
PeopleImages/E+ via Getty Images

If your “clean” laundry has a not-so-great smell, your dryer vent could be the culprit

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It’s easy to forget about your dryer vent. After all, you can’t see it! But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this critical part of your dryer. Having your dryer vents cleaned at least once a year is a super important task—not only for avoiding fire hazards but for a more efficient dryer and potentially a lower power bill. Here’s how you can tell it’s time for you to get your vent cleaned by a dryer vent cleaner in your area.

1. Your Laundry Is Wet

If your laundry is still wet when the dryer cycle is done, this could be a sign that your dryer vent needs to be cleaned. Dirty dryer vents make it difficult for air to circulate throughout the unit as it is designed to do, resulting in less-than-dry laundry. 

That said, wet laundry can also be a sign of user error: Did you use the right settings for the items you were drying?

2. Your Laundry Is Overly Hot

Just like wet laundry is a sign of a potentially dirty dryer vent, so is an overly hot load. When your dryer vent is working properly, it cycles hot air and moisture out of the unit through the dryer vent. If the dryer vent is dirty or clogged with debris, that heat can get trapped in the same way moisture can, resulting in laundry that’s a little too hot to the touch.

3. Your Laundry Room Is Hot

No matter how many loads you run on laundry day, the room should stay the same temperature as the rest of your house. A clogged dryer vent can lead to your unit overheating, so if your laundry room is heating up or the dryer unit is hot to the touch, call a pro.

4. Your Laundry Smells Musty

If you are noticing your clean, just-out-of-the-wash load has a not-so-pleasant funk, this is another sign that it’s time to have your dryer vent cleaned. Make sure your laundry is 100-percent dry before putting your clothes away—otherwise, this musty smell can worsen and let bacteria grow.

5. There’s Excessive Lint and Debris

A sunny laundry room with a washing machine and a dryer
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Cleaning your lint trap after each load of laundry comes out of the dryer is a great habit to keep, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have to get your dryer vent cleaned by a professional. If you notice that there’s more debris or lint in your lint tray than usual, this is a sign your dryer vent needs some deeper TLC. Why? More debris and lint in the lint tray means less debris and lint are being successfully passed through your dryer vent, which is indicative of a clog.

6. Your Dryer Takes Its Sweet Time

A medium to large load of cotton-based laundry should take between 35 and 55 minutes to completely dry. If your dryer takes much more time to finish a load, that could mean you need to get your vent cleaned. 

However, be sure to eliminate other possibilities, too. Are you over-filling the machine? Are you using the right settings? Consult your machine’s manual to make sure you’re following best practices.

7. The Vent Hood Is Damaged

Your dryer vent hood is located outside your home, covering the vent opening to keep out critters and debris. These hoods are usually mobile so homeowners and professionals can lift them to clean the vent. If you notice that the hood is stuck or otherwise damaged, this could mean that you need to have the vent cleaned because the hood itself has become obstructed by debris. Yikes!  

While you’re checking the dryer vent hood, you should also inspect the area surrounding your dryer vent—is there a lot of lint? What about other debris? The hood and vent should look completely clear. If they don’t, it’s time for you to call in a professional for a cleaning.

8. It’s Been a Long Time Since Your Last Cleaning

If you’re wondering if it’s time to have your dryer vent cleaned, ask yourself: When did you have it cleaned last? 

If your answer is over a year ago, no shame—stuff happens. But you need to have your vent cleaned again. Skipping these annual cleanings doesn’t just mean your dryer will continue to not work as well, it means running the risk of fire from the excess debris and lint or an overheating unit. 

Expect to spend $130 on average to get your dryer serviced by a professional in your area. The average cost to clean dryer vents by the hour is between $45 and $200.

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