How to clean your dryer vent quickly and easily with a Shop Vac to avoid a house fire. This is such an easy home maintenance DIY.
This was a long time coming. I haven’t cleaned our dryer vent since we moved in- yikes! Did you know that cleaning your dryer vent is a NECESSARY part of home ownership? If you don’t clean it out, you run the risk of a fire because the lint gets trapped in the vents and creates a fire hazard. If you happen to wash a lot of new and fuzzy fabrics like I do, you are probably getting quite a bit of build up.
Don’t wait too long to do this. It’s a VERY easy job to DIY, particularly with the right tools.
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When I owned my condo and lived alone, I used to pay someone to clean my vents for me. What a waste of money! If my vents had been hard to reach, perhaps it would have been worth it, but I had a first floor unit. I recall the people who came to clean the vent remarking on how much build up there was. Apparently there was even a bird nest in the vent on the exterior of my condo! I had bought the condo from someone else and this just goes to show that you should never assume the person before you did good maintenance on the home.
Now that we own our home, I figured it was time to learn how to DIY this and save us some money. The shop vac did a great job of sucking up all of the lint… I have to say, it’s just so much better than a regular vacuum for heavy duty jobs. When I originally wrote this post, our laundry room was on the 2nd floor. We have since moved, however, and I wanted to update the post to show you the new tool that I bought for cleaning the vents. It’s a lot easier.
I also LOVED having my laundry on the 2nd floor, but cleaning the vent from the outside required a tall ladder and was a bit more difficult. I would clean the vent from the interior of the home, but hired someone once a year to get it from the outside as we didn’t have a tall enough ladder.
With the laundry on the 1st floor of our new home, it’s far easier to clean the vent from both sides. I really like the process and it’s SO satisfying to see all of the debris come out!
How to Clean Your Dryer Vent
This job doesn’t require a lot of supplies, but they’re certainly helpful and worth picking up. I recommend also picking up my Home Renovation and Maintenance Planner. It’s printable and allows you to keep track of routine maintenance so you don’t forget important maintenance tasks.
The supplies you need depends entirely on what you have available and want to use. I like the satisfaction of using the ShopVac and sucking everything out. It’s also neater for cleanup. But using my drill with the dryer vent cleaning brush is quite easy and it’s faster to pull everything out. Using BOTH is even better. The Vaccuflex is great for getting into small areas to clean it out, such as the lint trap. The dryer vent cleaning brush is better for getting ALL of the lint stuck to the sides of the ducts out.
To clean the vent from the inside of the dryer / interior vent opening:
- Shop vac (if you own your home, I recommend having one of these. They’re SO useful)
- Long cardboard tube or Vaccuflex Attachment (great for cleaning small nooks and crannies)
To clean the vent from the outside and to reach through a longer vent:
- Dryer Vent Cleaning Brush (excellent for scrubbing the vent interior)
Clean Your Lint Trap
If you don’t clean this every time you use your dryer, you NEED TO. This will make cleaning your dryer vents 2x a year much faster and easier, plus it’s an easy way to prevent fires. I also find that a full lint trap can keep clothing from drying as fast, and you won’t find the dryer gets hair and other fuzz off your clothes as well.
When you clean your dryer ducts twice a year, however, you should also deep clean your lint trap.
Remove your lint trap and remove any lint.
Let your lint trap piece soak in hot soapy water while you clean the vents.
Rinse and let dry once it’s been soaked for a while. You can wipe it a bit with a soft rag or sponge.
How to Clean Your Dryer Duct from the Inside of the House
Unplug your machine and pull it away from the wall. Disconnect the vent from the dryer. Mine has a little metal piece you can squeeze to open it.
Use your shop vac to vacuum out the area your lint trap is inserted into. Usually lint ends up down there despite the best efforts of the lint trap.
Once you’ve done that, use your shop vac to vacuum out your vent. Our dryer is on the second floor of our house and I knew I wouldn’t be able to reach our vent to clean it from the outside so I wanted to do my best to clean it from the inside.
The vent is short and the first time I did this, I used a long thin cardboard tube to attach to my ShopVac to help suction out further inside the vent. The cardboard tube did a decent job but wasn’t perfect because the force of the suction was causing the tube to fall into itself and close up. The Vaccuflex Attachment is a good alternative to trying to make the cardboard tube work, and will allow you to get further inside.
Here’s a video of the Vaccuflex attachment in action… I used my regular vacuum for this video, but a ShopVac has MUCH better suction and does a better job.
How to Clean Your Dryer Duct from the Outside of the House
Ideally you want to use a larger Dryer Vent Cleaning Brush, however. The Vaccuflex attachment is great for suctioning loose lint and other items that are in the vent. The cleaning brush is better because it will fit tightly into your duct and loosen any lint that is stuck to the sides of the vents.
The brush attaches to the end of your drill and the drill spins it fast. You can shove the long length of the brush all the way through your vent (up to 30′) so you can clean it all out. I recommend attaching the first piece to your drill, spinning the drill to get the first section into the vent, then adding the next telescoping piece, repeat. This keeps the pieces from getting twisted as you insert them.
When you have the brush all the way into the vent, you can reverse your drill and let it pull out. The dust comes flying out so prepare yourself!
My only complaint with this method is that the attachment doesn’t suck the stuff out. Instead, you pull the stuff out when you pull the brush back out. You’ll want to have a ShopVac nearby if you’re using this on the inside of the house, or just a garbage bag ready if you’re on the outside of the house.
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