How To Decide Between DIY and Professional Dryer Vent Cleaning

Updated November 4, 2021
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Keep your laundry fresh with routine dryer vent cleaning

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There’s nothing quite as luxurious as the feel of a nice warm towel fresh from the dryer. But if your towels are more of a damp disappointment, it may be time to clean your dryer vent. Regularly cleaning your dryer vent not only makes your machine perform better and run more efficiently, but it also helps to keep your home safe from dryer-related hazards

Cleaning dryer vents isn’t always an easy proposition, especially if your home has long ductwork. When it comes to cleaning your dryer vents, how do you decide between DIY and hiring a pro? We have some tips!

Difficulty: 3/5

Time: 30 minutes to 3 hours

Tools and Materials Needed for DIY:

  • Utility gloves

  • Trash bin or bag

  • Brushes (optional, often included in a dryer vent cleaning kit)

  • Vacuum (optional)

  • Dryer vent cleaning kit (optional)

When to DIY

Given that regular cleaning of dryer vents is essential to your appliance's performance, efficiency, and safety, you should add the chore to your home maintenance routine on an annual basis. Here are some circumstances when you may want to consider DIY dryer vent cleaning:

You’re on a Tight Budget

If you’re on a budget, you can save some money by doing the job yourself. In general, the cost to hire a professional to clean your dryer vents is around $150. However, those costs can increase depending on where your dryer vents to your home’s exterior. For example, if the dryer vent is on your roof, you’ll likely pay a bit more than if your dryer vents from the basement or first floor of your home.

On the other hand, if you do the job yourself, you will likely only need to pay for the cost of the brushers or dryer vent cleaning kit, which typically runs between $20 to $50 at most hardware stores.

Your Ductwork is Short

Cleaning dryer vents yourself can also be pretty easy if your ductwork is relatively short (around 4 feet or less), and the vent is easily accessible from the outside. With shorter ductwork, it may be possible to clean the vent with gloved hands. But if you prefer some handy cleaning tools and to avoid extra mess, you can purchase a vent cleaning kit from your local hardware store. Kits typically include a brush, drill attachment, and extension to help you get at the many interior ridges and the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies inside your ductwork.

And if your ductwork connects to your outside vent in a relatively straight path, with no elbows or bends, you may be able to use a standard brush kit to clean ducts slightly longer than 4 feet.

When to Hire a Pro

Though it’s certainly possible to clean your dryer vents yourself, many homeowners prefer to call in a professional for the job. After all, clean vents aren’t just a matter of performance and efficiency. They’re also a matter of safety. Here’s how to know when it’s time to consult a pro:

Your Ductwork Is Long or Bendy

In some cases, ductwork follows a fairly long and winding path before it reaches the outside vent. If that describes your ductwork set-up, it’s probably best to leave the job to the dryer vent cleaning company.

Standard brushes and cleaning tools probably won’t be sufficient for ductwork longer than a few feet or with lots of twists and turns. Brushes can easily get stuck in these elbows and even break off inside the ducts, meaning you’ll end up calling in a pro to retrieve it anyway.

Not only that, but if you can’t access the entire length of the ductwork, you might make the problem worse by trying to DIY. Brushes and rods can push all the lint and debris deeper into the duct, creating a dangerous clog.

On the other hand, professionals have a range of tools to clean ducts thoroughly and safely, including spinning brushes, vacuums, and air “whips,” which clean the entire length of your ductwork without risking the damage that brushes and rods can cause.

Your Dryer Vent Isn’t Easily Accessible

You should also consider hiring a pro if your dryer vent isn’t easily accessible from the outside of your home. Some dryers are vented through the roof, which means there is likely extensive ductwork to contend with, and someone will need to climb onto the roof to finish the job.

Your Ducts and Vent Are in Poor Condition

If it’s been more than a year since your last cleaning, or if you have pests in your ductwork or vents, then you’re probably looking at a pretty heavy amount of lint, dirt, and debris. Hiring a pro can help you avoid leaving blockages behind if you don’t have the right equipment to remediate larger messes. You also won’t have to worry about unintentionally puncturing your ductwork or getting your brushes and other tools stuck inside the vent.

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