How to Clean a Clothes Dryer: Sanitize and Disinfect Yours Like a Pro

written by: Florie Malapit

Published: February 16, 2023
Updated: June 28, 2023

reading time:  minutes


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How to Clean a Clothes Dryer: Sanitize and Disinfect Yours Like a Pro

Aside from professional house cleaners, dryers are the unsung heroes of the laundry room. They take in all your clothes, clean them up, and send them back to be worn by you, your family, and your friends. But did you know dryers can also be a breeding ground for bacteria?

If you're not cleaning your clothes dryers regularly, you may expose yourself to harmful germs and end up with filthy garments and excess lint. That's why we've put together this handy guide on how to clean a clothes dryer. Follow our tips and tricks for sanitizing and disinfecting your dryer so it's ready to tackle the next load of damp clothes and laundry.

If you've ever owned a dryer, you know it's a good place for bacteria to grow. Between the heat, moisture, and constant motion of clothes tumbling around in the machine, it's no wonder that clothes dryers are often breeding grounds for germs.

But if you're like most busy people, you probably don't think about cleaning your clothes dryer as much as you should. You may even need to be made aware of how important it is to do so and what damage can be done to your clothes and home if you disregard this essential step in the laundry process.

If this sounds like something you need to learn more about, keep reading. This post will tell you everything we know about cleaning your clothes dryer.

How to Clean A Clothes Dryer: Sanitize and Disinfect Yours Like a Pro

What You'll Need

  • Soft-bristled nylon brush
  • Old toothbrush or lint brush
  • Sink or pail
  • Warm water
  • Dish soap or liquid detergent
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rag or towel
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Rubberized knife, plastic spatula, or scraper
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean microfiber cloth
  • Blow dryer
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Dryer cleaning brush


1. Clean the lint trap

Clean the lint screen to remove as much lint as you can

The dryer lint screen serves as the appliance's first line of defense against clogs and does a decent job. If you don't remove the lint from your dryer lint trap, it will restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency with which it dries your damp clothes. A dryer's performance can be significantly improved by regular cleaning and clearing off the lint screen. It's one of the simplest ways to prevent a fire hazard from your dryer.

Remove the lint trap from the top or front of your machine before cleaning the lint screen. It should be as simple to remove as a drawer. Use your fingers or a soft-bristled nylon brush to remove lint accumulation from the lint trap.

Submerge the lint trap in a sink or a pail with warm, soapy water. Allow it to sit for at least five to ten minutes. Carefully scrape the mesh in the lint trap with an old toothbrush or brush to eliminate any lingering wet lint. Then, rinse it out and set it out to air dry.

2. Wipe down the dryer drum's interior

Wipe down the inside of the dryer drum with a soft cloth dipped in soapy water

Even if you use your dryer to clean laundry, you still need to clean the drum. Fabric softener, dryer sheets, and detergent residue can accumulate over time. In addition, dirt will eventually settle there, just as it does everywhere else. You must clear the drum if you want your clean clothes to stay clean when you pull them out of the dryer.

Remove any lint or other dirt from the inside of the dryer using a vacuum cleaner hose. Once that's done, add some liquid detergent or dish soap to the hot water. Clean the drum's inside by dipping a microfiber cloth into the cleaning solution and swiping it inside.

Use a wet rag or towel to wipe it down, then throw a clean laundry to tumble dry. A one-to-one mixture of white vinegar and water can also be used in a spray bottle. Spray the drum's interior with the vinegar cleaning solution, then wipe it down with a towel.

3. Remove the stains and stuck-on items inside the dryer drum

Remove the stains and stuck-on items inside the dryer drum

Sometimes, we forget things and throw away clean clothes without checking our pockets. These can leave a stain on the inside of your dryer and even transfer to your clothing. This step will teach you how to remove the most typical stains from a dryer drum.


Check the inside of the drum for any crayons that may have become lodged there. Remove using a rubberized knife, a plastic spatula, or a scraper. To remove the stain, spray some WD-40 onto a clean cloth and rub the afflicted area.

Then use soapy water to wash the dryer as you normally would. Dry the drum by wiping it down or running a cycle with dry laundry.


Run the dryer for 5-10 minutes after emptying it. A heated drum and loosened ink are the results of this action. Then, turn off the dryer, disconnect it, and wipe the inside with rubbing alcohol. To get rid of the ink stains, rub them vigorously and change the cloth as necessary. Use a wet cloth to rinse.

Put a clean, white towel from your laundry through the dryer to see if the link will transfer. Once a clean sample has been obtained, the procedure is complete.


Use a dry cloth to remove as much of the lipstick as possible. Then, after the dryer has cooled down, use a moist cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe the remaining lipstick stain. When you're done, run a quick cycle with old towels or shirts to eliminate any remaining stains.

Gum or Candy

Use a rubber knife or plastic spatula to remove as much gum or candy as possible, just like you would from a crayon. The remaining mess can be cleaned after using a blow dryer to soften the residue. Use an all-purpose cleaner to scrub the stained area, then dry the dryer thoroughly.

4. Clean the inside of your dryer vent and duct

Clean the inside and outside of your dryer's exhaust vent

Periodically cleaning your dryer vent and duct will go a long way toward preventing the buildup of obstructions that can hinder airflow, reduce dryer performance, and raise fire hazards. If you need to get up to work, you can hire an expert to do it for you.

To start, unplug your dryer and pull it away from the wall socket if you want to clean the vent. If the dryer vent is attached to the wall, unscrew the vent clamps. It would be best if you also cut off the gas supply to your gas dryer. Call an expert if you need help figuring this out.

Get a dryer cleaning brush to clean the lint from the vent hose and pipe. Then, vacuum the floor and crevices with a hose or crevice attachment to remove any lingering lint or dust.

5. Clean the exterior dryer vent

Clean the exterior vent the same way you cleaned the vent hose or using a vent brush

The dryer vent outside your home should be the next thing you clean. Typically, the external vent will be attached to the exterior wall adjacent to the dryer or the roof. After locating it, clean it the same way you cleaned the inside vent duct.

When you're done, reinstall the dryer vent back.

It would be best if you also inspected the outside vent for any evidence of damage or animal nesting. And if you do find that an animal has made your vent his home, you may protect it by installing a cover.

6. Clean the exterior of the dryer

Clean the exterior of the dryer and dryer door with a damp cloth dipped in mild dish soap and warm water

The dryer door and exterior are particularly prone to collecting dust and lint from used clothes. The good news is that there is a simple method for tidying up. Spray the dryer's surface and door with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.

Then, dampen a microfiber cloth with a mild soapy water solution and wipe away dust and fingerprints. If you spray the knobs and buttons directly, water may get into locations where it cannot be removed. Spray a cleaner on the cloth and then wipe them down.

The dryer is ready to use once the lint trap is reinserted and the power cord is connected.

7. Start an empty cycle

After putting the dryer back in place, please turn it on without any clothes and let it run for 10 to 15 minutes to clear the dryer vent with remaining lint and dust.

Sanitize the electric or gas dryer in your laundry room now!

Sanitize and Disinfect Your Electric or Gas Dryer Now!

Congratulations! You made it through our guide to cleaning your clothes dryer. Now you know how to sanitize and disinfect your dryer, so it's clean and ready to use.

If you want more tips and tricks on keeping your washing area fresh, check out our ultimate laundry room cleaning guide to keep it clean and organized.


Do clothes dryers need to be cleaned inside?

Yes, the interior of your dryer should be cleaned once a month, even if there are no stains to remove, to prevent odors and residue buildup.

Why should you clean your dryer?

Dryer maintenance is crucial for more than one reason. A clean dryer is essential for drying clean laundry, and frequent maintenance helps guarantee this. Additionally, regularly cleaning your dryer will help prevent obstructions in the dryer vent system, which not only hinder the functioning of your machine but also constitute a severe fire hazard.

What happens if you don't clean your dryer?

If you don't clean your dryer, lint buildup in the exhaust system will prevent it from doing its job. The dryer will take longer to dry the clothing, the electricity cost will go up, and there will be a greater chance of fire.

Is there anything you shouldn't put in the dryer?

Bras, workout gear, and swimwear should never go in the dryer. While elastic fabrics like Spandex and others are fantastic for wearability, they don't always fare well in the dryer. High temperatures can destroy the material, making your clothes unwearable and unable to retain their original form.

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DIY, Expert Guide, How to, laundry, Natural cleaning

About the author 

Florie Malapit

Contributing Writer at Sparkle and Shine Today. She is a freelance content writer with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, major in Marketing Management, and more than two years of blog and content writing experience.

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