Jan Doherty

Prevent a clothes dryer fire

Jan Doherty, Public Education Officer, No Phone Number Available

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 12:48 p.m.

Prevent a clothes dryer fire

It's easy to forget to maintain the cleanliness of your dryer, especially when you aren't doing laundry. But neglecting to keep your dryer clean can quickly turn this helpful machine into a fire hazard.

Between 2006 and 2010, dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 22 home structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The leading cause of washer and dryer fires is failure to clean them.

Here are some tips from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) to keep your dryer in safe working order:

  • Make sure dryers are properly installed and that rigid or semi-rigid sheet metal is used for venting. Never use plastic venting devices.
  • Use the shortest and straightest vent length possible. Use a louvered or box hood style cap on the vent outside.
  • Occasionally remove the lint filter and clean it with a nylon brush and hot, soapy water. Also clean the back of the dryer where lint can be trapped.
  • Have a qualified service person clean the interior of the dryer and venting system once a year.

After you ensure your dryer is properly maintained, you can further help prevent a dryer fire by:

  • Making sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Lint is the main cause of dryer fires.
  • Setting a timer when using the dryer. Never go to sleep or leave the building when the dryer is operating.
  • Never use a dryer when clothing has been exposed to any type of flammable liquid (e.g. cooking oil, alcohol, gasoline, spot removers, or dry-cleaning agents). Washing machines cannot completely remove these liquids and they can ignite or explode in the dryer. Instead, dry those items outside or in a well-ventilated room away from heat.
  • Keeping a working smoke detector and fire extinguisher in the laundry area.

For more safety information and facts on clothes dryers, visit the NFPA's website.

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