How Often Should Dryer Vents Be Cleaned?

Your dryer is a frequently used home appliance, but dryer maintenance is easy to overlook. No matter how large or small, the average family in the United States typically uses the dryer every week - or even more!

Lint forms from the fabrics in your laundry and builds up within the dryer. Lint traps collect a portion of this lint, but some still ends up inside the dryer vent. This build-up can break your machine, leave your clothes wet, and even cause a fire. Despite constant use, homeowners often neglect dryers and dryer vents when it comes to maintenance and cleaning, which can cause issues down the line.

To avoid issues in the future, routine dryer vent maintenance is necessary. Now that you are aware of the dangers that come with neglecting dryer vent maintenance, you might ask, “How often should dryer vents be cleaned?” The answer depends on how often you use your dryer and what you put in it.

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends getting your dryer vents cleaned professionally once a year. Remember that an annual cleaning is a minimum. You may need to schedule cleanings more often depending on personal dryer use and your dryer’s performance. Dryers used every week or for heavy-duty items like comforters, sleeping bags, and stuffed animals may need cleaning more often than others. Other signs that you need a dryer vent cleaning include unpleasant odors, long dry times, overheating, excess lint, and a blocked dryer vent hood.

If you are experiencing any of these dryer issues, see our article 7 Warning Signs You Need a Dryer Vent Cleaning. You should also schedule a dryer vent cleaning with a trusted professional as soon as you can.

How Do You Tell if You Have a Clogged Dryer Vent?

There are various telltale signs that you are overdue for a dryer vent cleaning. Most of these signs have to do with your dryer’s performance and how your laundry comes out after a cycle.

If you find yourself having to run two or three drying cycles for a normal-sized load of laundry to be dry, your dryer vent may be clogged with lint and debris. A clogged dryer vent makes your dryer function less efficiently and leaves your clothes damp. Dryer vents act as an escape route for lint, hair, dust, and moist air. When there is a blockage in the vent, the moisture stays in your dryer and clothes. This results in drying your clothes multiple times per a single load of laundry, wasting both time and money.

Moisture unable to escape your dryer can cause mold, mildew, and bacteria to develop, leaving your dryer and your clothes smelling not very fresh. These odors are not only unpleasant, but they also pose a health risk if you or your family members are sensitive to bacterial growths. Funky smells from mold are another sign that you need to schedule a dryer vent cleaning.

A more visual sign of a clogged dryer vent is a blocked dryer vent hood. The dryer vent hood is fixed to your home's exterior and allows hot, moist air to release to the outside. If you see lint and debris stuck inside the hood, this is a clear indication that you have a clogged dryer vent. Even if you do not have lint stuck in the vent hood, you could still potentially have a clogged dryer vent. Sometimes the clog is deeper in the vent passageway and not visible from the outside, which is why regular inspections are necessary.

When you reach the dangerous stages of having a clogged dryer vent, you may notice some more concerning odors. Dryers can reach very high temperatures, high enough to start a fire. This fact is particularly concerning because lint is flammable and can cause fires to spread. If you notice burning odors or smoke, turn off your dryer immediately and arrange an inspection.

Many families go over a year or even multiple years without a dryer vent cleaning, and their dryer will perform normally. If this is the case for you, we still recommend scheduling a cleaning as soon as possible. Remember that having a clogged dryer vent is a safety issue that can have serious consequences if neglected. When it comes to fire hazards, it’s much better to air on the side of caution to protect your home, property, and family.

Firefighter aims large hose at building to extinguish fire

Is Cleaning Dryer Vents Necessary?

Dryer vent cleaning is part of a responsible homeowner maintenance routine. It improves your dryer performance but more importantly, it makes your home a much safer place. Clogged dryer vents are a common household fire hazard due to high temperatures and very flammable lint. The U.S. Fire Administration’s Fire Safety Outreach Materials states that:

2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss.

Clogged dryer vents are dangerous and pose a very real threat when unaddressed. It is in your best interest to make dryer vent cleanings a consistent part of your home care routine to protect your belongings, house, and (most importantly) family.

What Happens if the Dryer Vent Is Not Cleaned?

A dryer vent that goes too long without being cleaned is both a safety hazard and an inconvenience. In the worst case, dirty dryer vents can cause dangerous fires that spread quickly through your house. In more common cases, a clogged vent can impact your dryer’s performance and efficiency.

A dryer vent allows air, lint, hair, dust, and other debris to leave the dryer drum. When the vent reaches its capacity to hold debris, it is no longer able to perform properly. A clogged dryer vent can leave lint and moisture trapped inside your dryer, rendering it unable to dry your clothes in one cycle.​​ Lint and moisture produce undesirable results in your laundry by leaving loose lint fibers, offensive smells, and even mold in your clothes.

If the vent is severely clogged, you might notice a burning scent and abnormally high temperatures in your laundry room. These are the beginning signs of a dryer fire. If you notice either of these signs, call a trusted dryer vent cleaning service as soon as possible.

How Often Should Dryer Vents Be Cleaned by a Professional?

Fire safety experts generally recommend getting your dryer vent cleaned by a professional once a year. It is essential to hire a professional service because dryers can be a major safety hazard. Licensed professionals will do a thorough job of ensuring your vents are free and clear of debris so your dryer will function at top efficiency and peak safety.

In between professional cleanings, we recommend cleaning your dryer’s lint trap after every load of laundry. We also recommend keeping an eye out for any of the previously mentioned signs that your dryer vent is due for a cleaning. While an annual professional cleaning is recommended, frequent dryer use may make multiple inspections and cleanings a year necessary.

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Out a Dryer Vent?

Dryer vent cleaning pricing depends on where you live and who you hire, but HomeAdvisor found that "dryer vent cleaning costs between $101 and $176, or $138 on average."

The cost of dryer vent cleaning can change depending on the type of service. Some services charge a flat rate, while others charge by the hour. Another variable that might change your dryer vent cleaning cost is the location of your dryer and dryer vent within your home. The cost of cleaning rooftop and second-story vents will be greater than first-story and basement vents.

If your dryer vent has more debris than usual, you should expect a price increase for the additional labor. You should also expect a higher dryer vent cleaning cost if your vent is longer than standard vents or complex.

Family sits around a laptop on the couch while researching Filterbuy dryer vent cleaning

Are Dryer Vent Cleaning Services Worth It?

Paying an annual maintenance cost for your dryer may not seem appealing at first, but doing so can help prevent a dryer fire, protect your family and belongings, extend your dryer’s lifespan, and help you save on energy costs. These reasons are more than enough to make dryer vent cleaning worth the cost.

Dryer vent cleaning can significantly reduce the chance of a dryer fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association:

The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.

Professional dryer vent cleanings are essential parts of dryer maintenance and safety, so it’s important to keep up annually. Doing so protects your family, house, and everything inside it and offers peace of mind.

Fire safety isn’t the only factor that makes dryer vent cleaning worth it – properly maintaining your dryer vents can extend the life of your dryer by years. Consumer Reports finds that dryers that are not properly maintained need to be repaired or replaced in as little as three years, but a properly maintained dryer lasts an average of 10 years. Dryers kept in pristine condition can last up to 25 years or longer. Paying about $100 - $200 once a year for dryer maintenance could save you from shelling out $800+ for a middle-tier dryer that could break in just a few years.

Additionally, a clogged dryer vent makes your machine less efficient. You may run the dryer cycle two or even three times to fully dry a single load of laundry. This inefficiency can cause spikes in your energy bills at the end of the month, forcing you to pay more than you have to. These costs add up over the years and can end up greater than the cost of maintenance.

How Long Does It Take to Clean Dryer Vents?

The amount of time a professional dryer vent cleaning takes depends on the layout of your house and where the dryer vent is located. HomeGuide finds that the average dryer vent cleaning takes 30-60 minutes, but this varies. Roof and second-story dryer vent cleanings usually take longer than first-story and basement dryer vent cleanings. A long and complex dryer vent can also extend the service time.

Dryer fires are a serious matter, and you should take the proper steps to ensure your home and family’s safety. We advise against making dryer vent cleaning a do-it-yourself project and highly recommend hiring a trusted service for any form of dryer vent maintenance.

If you are looking for a fast and reliable dryer vent cleaning service near you, Filterbuy LOCAL offers just that. Our team of licensed, knowledgeable professionals are experts in air filtration – including dryer vent and air duct cleaning.

Click here to learn more about our Filterbuy LOCAL dryer vent cleaning service.

Click here to get an instant dryer vent cleaning service quote for your home.