A woman monitors her small child as she presses buttons on the laundry machine, showing you how to prevent dryer fires

Dryer fires are more common than you might think. The good news is there are some simple things you can do to help prevent dryer fires and keep your home safe.

  1. Keep your dryer’s ventilation system clean. Over time, flammable lint can build up inside your dryer’s ventilation duct (the tube that runs from your dryer to the outdoor dryer vent) and the vent itself, so it’s important to clean the lint out regularly to prevent it from catching fire. You can usually disconnect the duct yourself and vacuum it out — but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for disconnecting and cleaning the duct and vent.
  2. Keep your lint screen clean and never use the dryer when the lint screen is missing. The lint screen acts as a filter to prevent lint from getting into your dryer’s ventilation system. Not only is a clogged lint screen a fire hazard, but it can also make your dryer work harder and use more energy, so always double check that it’s clean before you start a new load. If you’re drying new towels or items made from fleece, wool, or other fuzzy materials, you may need to clean the lint screen partway through the drying cycle. After you clean it, put it back in right away — and if you lose it, get a new one before using your dryer again.
  3. Hang items to dry if they’ve been in contact with flammable substances like oil, gas, or other chemicals. Flammable substances could ignite inside your dryer. If you must machine-dry an item that has been in contact with flammable substances, machine-wash it a few times (with soap) before throwing it in the dryer.
  4. Split up larger loads so your clothes dry faster. The fuller the load of laundry, the longer it will take to dry — and the longer it takes to dry, the hotter your dryer may get. Play it safe and split a larger load into two smaller loads.
  5. Keep the area around your dryer clean. Sweep any dirt or lint from under and around your dryer and avoid placing anything on top of it, including clothing, cleaning supplies, and garbage.
  6. Watch for warning signs. You could be at risk for a dryer fire if you experience any of these warning signs:
    • You smell burning in your laundry room
    • Your laundry room is more humid than usual
    • The outside of your dryer gets very hot
    • Your clothes are hotter than normal when you take them out of the dryer
    • Drying your clothes takes longer than normal (or they don’t dry fully)
    • Your outdoor dryer vent doesn’t open fully when your dryer is running (this could mean the exhaust isn’t coming out fast enough because of a clog)

    If any of these signs sound familiar, follow the safety precautions in the owner’s manual. Call 911 right away if a fire has already started.
  7. Last, but definitely not least: don’t leave your dryer running when you’re not home. If you aren’t there to notice any of the warning signs — or when a fire starts — you won’t be able to address the problem or put out the fire. Only run your dryer when you’re at home (and awake).          

Even when you’ve taken all the right steps to prevent a dryer fire, accidents can happen. Reach out to your licensed home insurance broker to make sure you have the coverage you need to protect your home and belongings before the unexpected happens.

Looking for more ways to protect your home against fire? The kitchen is a good place to start. Check out these simple ways to prevent and put out household kitchen fires.

Share these tips on Facebook and Twitter to help your loved ones keep their dryers fire-free, too.