Clean the lint trap in a dryer – A comprehensive guide

A lint trap is a component of the clothes dryer that filters the air vented out during the drying circle by trapping the lint in that air. Without that lint filter, excessive amounts of lint would build up in the dryer vent hose, causing harm to the dryer’s efficiency and life span, and increasing the […]

Published 13 May 2022
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A lint trap is a component of the clothes dryer that filters the air vented out during the drying circle by trapping the lint in that air. Without that lint filter, excessive amounts of lint would build up in the dryer vent hose, causing harm to the dryer’s efficiency and life span, and increasing the risk of fire. You need to clean the dryer’s lint trap between every batch of clothes, and in this article, we will provide you with some pointers to make this job easier.

Where is the lint trap on a dryer

So where does the lint trap lie on a dryer? Depending on the make and the model of the dryer, the location of the filter may vary. Typically, you may find it at the following locations:

  • Just inside the door: Open the dryer door and peek just inside, and the lint filter might be either on the side or at the bottom. You might see a small raised handle, which you can pull up on to remove the lint filter from the slot. Another form of it is a screen that’s made into a shallow channel, from which you can easily scoop out the lint with your finger.
Front load dryers have the lint traps just behind the door (Source: Internet)

  • On the dryer’s back wall: Open the dryer door and look at the back wall for an oblong cutout with holes in it. Insert a finger and thumb into the holes and pull the lint filter from the wall. You’ll need to squeeze the sides to open it so you can clean out the lint.
  • On the top right corner of the dryer: The trap might locate on the top of the dryer near where the controls are. You may see a handle you can pull on to pull out the lint screen from its slot.
Top-filter dryers have the lint traps on top of the dryer (Source: wikihow)

The best way to clean a dryer’s lint trap

In order to devise the best way to clean the dryer’s filter, you should first learn what are the things that may build up on the part. As it turns out, what often deposits on the lint screen is not just the lint; the residual fabric softener also gets trapped on the screen, creating a film that you may not see with plain eyes.

To clean the dryer’s filter, you’ll need some preparations. The tools to clean the dryer’s filter consist of the following:

  • A sink with hot water tap
  • Dish soap/vinegar
  • A towel wiper
  • A soft-bristle brush
  • A vacuum cleaner if necessary

Clean the lint screen by following these simple steps:

  • Step 1: Remove the loose lint on the lint screen. You can do this by hand, or by vacuuming the lint screen with a vacuum cleaner once you take the lint trap out of the dryer.
  • Step 2: Wash the lint screen. The simpler way to do this is to rinse the screen with hot water, apply dish soap/vinegar to the screen by swiping the screen with a towel wipe sprayed with dish soap/vinegar, then brush the screen with a soft-bristle brush. 
Wash the lint screen with hot water, dish soap and a soft-bristle brush (Source: Internet)

You’ll have to rinse and repeat this process multiple times until the film of the residual fabric softener gets completely cleaned up. To make sure that the screen is fully cleaned up, drop some water drops on the lint and see whether the water goes through the screen easily. If not, then you have to wash the screen again.

Another way to do this is to fill the sink with hot water enough for the lint filter to soak, pour in some dish soap/vinegar, and do the washing and brushing in that water. Again, check to see whether the water passes through the screen easily. Once it does, meaning that the film of fabric softener residual has got cleaned up, rinse the screen again with normal water.

As for how often you should clean the dryer lint filter, you should do it after every drying batch. Though the good news is, that it does get a lot easier for each attempt when you do it frequently. And your dryer gets healthier from that too.

Step 3: Leave the lint trap to air dry completely before reattaching it to the dryer

How to clean dryer’s lint trap slot

Despite how we wish for the lint problem to be solved just by washing the filter, it is simply not. The truth is, while being reduced by the filter, the lint does get past the lint screen and might accumulate in other places inside the dryer, and the filter slot underneath the lint screen is the place where it accumulates the most.

Before any cleaning attempt, you should first unplug the dryer in order to not get zapped, as you may need to unbolt some screws.

To clean the dryer’s filter slot, once you have removed the lint screen, you may use an extended vacuum cleaner to snake inside the slot and vacuum the lint out. The problem with this method is that not every lint filter slot can fit in a vacuum hose, and also that you don’t have a lot of control over the process. So for a better deep clean, you may need to take the lint filter slot out from the dryer.

Remove the lint trap slot from the dryer to clean the lint inside (Source: Internet)

Depending on the type of dryer, the lint trap compartment can be accessed by either removing the front or the backplate of the dryer. For the top-filter dryer, a.k.a the type of dryer with the lint trap on a corner of the top plate near the control, it would be at the back. And for the front-load dryer, a.k.a. the ones with the lint traps just behind the dryer’s door, you’ll have to remove the front plate. Be prepared to remove a lot of screws. Also, be careful with the wires, as dryers may have wired devices attached to the plate; you’ll have to remove these devices first. In addition, to facilitate the cleaning process, a dryer lint cleaner could come in handy. This tool could help us to reach the smallest area of the dryer.

Once you have opened up the dryer and get access to the lint trap compartment underneath the lint screen slot, take it out. Then remove the lint inside it by hand or with a vacuum cleaner. Then reattach the lint trap slot and rewire and reattach the front/backplate.

Removing accumulated lint from inside the dryer cabinet

Beyond the lint trap slot, the lint may as well pass into the dryer cabinet, causing the components of the machine to work less efficiently and sometimes even leading to fire hazards. So lint must be cleaned before too much builds up.

To gain full access to the dryer’s cabinet, you will need to remove the dryer’s front plate and the drum. Follow these steps to clean the accumulated lint from the dryer’s cabinet.

  • Step 1: Unplug the dryer
  • Step 2: Detach the front plate and the backplate. In order to do so, you will need to unscrew the plate from the screws at the bottom and on top of the plate. And also remove/disconnect the wired devices on the front plate before taking it out.
  • Step 3: Remove the drive belt that ties around the dryer’s drum. You will have to release the belt from the motor pulley (through the back opening) and from the drum (through the front opening).
Remove the drive belt from the dryer drum (Source: Sears Partsdirect)

  • Step 4: Remove the screws that hold the front baffle of the drum to the side panel. Lift the drum up and slide it out.
  • Step 5: Now that you have full access to it, clean the cabinet: remove the accumulated lint from the dryer’s cabinet and the parts inside with a vacuum cleaner, a lint brush or by hand. Be careful with the wires to not damage them.
  • Step 6: Reassemble the dryer.

How often to clean the dryer’s lint trap

Deep clean your dryer of lint every 6 months (Source: Internet)

As for how often to clean the dryer’s lint filter, we would recommend cleaning the lint filter after every batch. For a more thorough cleaning that requires taking out the lint filter slot and opening up the dryer’s cabinet, once every 6 months might be sufficient. This should be done in hand with the dryer vent cleaning. Additionally, frequent cleaning is the key to maintaining the machine’s performance and longevity. If not adequately cleaned of lint, the machine might not even be able to dry your batches of clothes. Therefore, increasing risk over the dryer is inevitable, and a clothes dryer fire could happen if a user is unaware of the safety standards.

More cleaning tips from Sparkling & Beyond

This guide to clean the dryer’s lint trap, along with frequent cleaning of the dryer’s exhaust vent, will help you take care of some if not most of the lint problems that your dryer may have. But if these simple fix doesn’t take care of your dryer problems, do consult a professional appliance repair specialist.
You can find more DYI cleaning tips and guides at Sparkling and Beyond’s website. We provide professional and affordable cleaning services for your kitchen and any other part of the house, for any degree of need. Together, let’s keep your home sparkling clean and healthy.


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