I’m here today to talk to you about your trusty clothes dryer. Since everyone’s about to be spring cleaning and potentially washing (and drying) all kinds of things that don’t normally get cleaned–let’s make sure to take care of “Old Faithful”.
Now, I will confess that I am motivated by two of my own personal experiences here. The first: a brief (but horrifying) fire in my house while my dryer was being repaired. You see, I’m a SERIOUS lint trap cleaner and every year I use all kinds of just-for-the-dryer attachments to get as deep into that cavity as possible to vacuum whatever the trap doesn’t catch. I don’t even really worry about fire with that–I’m just Type A when it comes to clean. I’m the one that will unscrew the little plastic thing that the lint trap slides into and clean THAT. I also gently scrub and carefully dry the lint screen. Blech.
Everyone knows about cleaning the dryer vent.
Everyone DOES know about cleaning the dryer vent, right? If not, WikiHow has a good article with pictures. But WikiHow is good for the overall “clean the whole dryer” thing.
Okay… so you clean the dryer vent–which is a major candidate for fire. But guess what: THAT IS NOT WHERE OUR FIRE WAS! No… in fact, I happen to have a dryer with a front access panel. That’s a panel below the dryer door. Not all dryers have this, and honestly, I know more than one person who said “Nope–mine doesn’t have one” and then we walk into their laundry room and they’re all like “Wow… I use this every day for the last (insert number of years here) and never even noticed that!”. Well, I noticed a glow under the dryer one night. I was doing laundry late, late at night and turned off the laundry room light when something caught my eye. A glow. Hmmm… “Is it like a furnace?” I thought. “Because a gas furnace DOES have a glow like that and I’m pretty much never looking at the dryer in the pitch dark to know if it always does that…” I decided to turn it off. It had just stopped drying the clothes that day (it ran, but didn’t heat up to dry). It briefly crossed my mind that if it actually WERE a fire, we had no fire extinguishers. My husband was at a men’s group and I called him (at 11pm) to say that if he needed to go to whatever Walmart was open 24 hours and buy 3 fire extinguishers. He gave me a reason they are not so great (including “if there’s a fire, you GET OUT OF THE HOUSE”) and I told him that he was not to come home without them.
The next day, our handyman (an electrical engineer by trade) came to fix the dryer. There was a wire that came out of some kind of contact or whatever. To get to this, he opened this front access panel. And there was a TON of lint in there! GAH! As my husband watched him access this area of the dryer, he also watched this loose wire arc some electricity that caught on something else and *POOF* start a fire with all that lint.
And he grabbed the handy new “useless” fire extinguisher that he had bought less than 12 hours prior. 😉 *huffs on fingers and polishes nail on lapel*
So clean that. Here are some instructions from Family Handyman.
Last, but not least, let’s green up our drying! With that is the second dryer experience that motivated this post: I found these awesome wool dryer balls! Let me tell you why they are awesome.
- They are all natural.
- They prevent fabric softener buildup on my washables but still keep them nice and soft.
- They allow me to dry towels or cloth dipes or napkins (which can’t have fabric softener or they become less absorbent) with my stuff that can have fabric softener because I’m not using a fabric softener.
- They also allow my towels and cloth dipes and napkins to be dried and super soft.
- They keep my stuff from getting static (although admittedly, if I’m drying a large load in the dead of winter, I use all 6 of my balls in a load).
I love, love, love, love them. Can you tell? And if you’re someone that really likes your clothes to smell pretty, I just drip a few drops of my favorite essential oil on the balls before tossing them in (or I put a 2-3 drops on a washcloth in the dryer with the load).
AND… you can buy them on Amazon. Yay for Prime! These Smart Sheep 6-Pack 100% Wool Dryer Balls are inexpensive, well-rated and can be shipped for free if you have a Prime account.
Okay… with all of this behind done, you can now feel free to use your nice clean dryer to clean everything else. Enjoy!