A Shortcut to Clean the Dryer Vent

We had a dryer for 25 years that tried to die several times. Bill with his farm boy know-how, always resuscitated it with a new belt or part extending its life. Finally, it began heating our clothes to the point of setting them on fire. A man’s large tall cotton flannel shirt would enter the dryer and would exit the size of a woman’s medium. I benefitted from these instances. When Bill’s favorite yellow basketball shirt shrunk so tight he looked like Winnie the Pooh it was the last straw, Bill agreed to a new washer dryer set.

Sketch by Angell

After thorough research, we replaced our dinosaur dryer and washer with a new LG set. How do I describe our new dryer? It’s a shiny white modern machine with touch buttons, sensors, and steam technology! When a cycle ends, it delicately chimes a tune to let us know. All its different settings promise to extend the life of our favorite clothes. We can even connect our dryer to the Internet! This made us feel like laundry professionals, and then the “new dryer” suddenly quit on us. Wait! After one year? This seemed impossible! Bill’s farm boy know-how and tool kit couldn’t diagnose this computerized monster. We had to call in a technician to diagnose the problem, only to find out that our dryer vent was full of lent, causing the heat sensor in our dryer to burn out. The repair technician told us that a yearly vent cleaning is required if we want to keep the sensor in our dryer working.

Sketch by Angell Clark

Now we felt like laundry slackers having broken our new dryer by neglecting our dryer vent. We sucked it up and searched a nearby Home Depot where we found the “Linteater” to give our vent a proper cleaning.

The first time we cleaned our vent, we followed the manual’s advice for cleaning from “inside” toward outside. We did all the work inside the house. We had to move the dryer out of the way to set up a shop vac at the dryer vent. With the shop vac in place, we set up the spinning auger brush to clean the vent while the vac sucked up the lint. We got our vent cleaned in an hour, but the task was too annoying to ever repeat in a lifetime let alone on a yearly basis!

Here’s a short cut! We now approach the task from outside the house with the dryer running to blow the lint we loosen with the spinning auger brush. No dryer wrestling or shop vac required! We can complete this chore in about 15 minutes. We do this one time each year, and all the sensors in the dryer are doing fine.

Here on the exterior of our house, I note that the lint clinging to our dryer vent cover suggests we need to clean it.

Time to gather the following supplies: flash light, dryer vent cleaning system “Linteater”, drill either cordless or electric with an extension cord.

We remove this cover over the vent.

Using the drill, we remove each of the screws so we can remove the dryer vent cover from the wall.

Now that we’ve removed the screws, we can pull off the cover.

With the cover removed, we can have full access to the vent.

The flashlight helps us see into the vent. We can see that our vent is made with rigid all-metal venting which is compatible with a spinning brush auger like the Linteater for cleaning. A vent that is made of white vinyl or foil will need extra care and maybe a different tool.

We place the adapter into the drill.

We tighten the adapter into place. Don’t you love how I say “we”? Bill’s doing the work while I take the pictures.

We attach the rod to the adapter by screwing the rod onto the adapter. We continue adding rods until the total length matches the estimated length of the vent we’re cleaning.

This brush attaches to the end of the last rod by screwing into place.

I place the brush in the vent hole before Bill begins spinning the drill.

I made sure to turn on the dryer inside the house. The exhaust from the dryer will blow the dislodged lint out of the vent while we use the brush auger. Bill spins the drill at a moderate to high speed while using a back & forth motion. User tip – Always spin the drill clockwise. Once Bill reaches the end of the vent and feels the brush hit the end, he slowly removes the rods and brush.

Bill reattaches the vent cover to prevent outside air entering the vent and protect the vent hole from birds and rodents entering to make nests.

A question you may have after watching the demonstration video is where was all the lint when we used the spinning brush auger? Legit question! Actually, I had to take two videos of the cleaning demonstration before I got the correct light for the video. The first cleaning had all the wonderful footage of the lint flying out of the vent into Bill’s face. Very dramatic!