Prevent Your Dryer From Catching Fire

Krunk4Ever! says that if you use dryer sheets you can extend the life of your dryer and prevent it from catching fire by washing the lint filter with hot soapy water and a brush once every six months.

While you might pick all the lint off after every load, fabric softener sheets can cause a waxy residue to build up on the lint screen. If you run a waxed up lint filter under the faucet, water beads on the surface. This barrier can cause the dryer fans to overheat and, in extreme cases, cause your domicile to burn down.

So if you use dryer sheets, wash and scrub the lint screen every six months to prolong the life of your dryer, and your family. — BEN POPKEN

Clothes Dryer Warning [Krunk4Ever!]
[Snopes]
Dryer Lint Hazards [Buffalo Grove Fire Prevention Bureau]

Comments

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  1. Mo-no says:

    Of course, dryer lint could catch fire since it’s ,well, dry and hot. So, cleaning the lint off the screen is the important thing. The part I don’t get is about dryer sheet buildup on the lint screen. If you put water on the screen it won’t come through the filter because of water’s surface tension. (And, what does the ability of the filter to bead or not bead water have to do with it’s ability to screen lint?)It’s a long story, but I know from my work using small-mesh nylon screens to filter small organisms out of water that you must wet the filter or the water will not flow through. You just need to blot the dry side of the screen for a second on a piece of paper towel and then the water will flow through. And no, dryer sheets or fabric softener have never been used on these screens. It’s trivial but it smacks of URBAN MYTH to me.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    @Mo-no: It is a danger, perhaps unknown to you as you’re not making the microorganisms’ sheets softer. Read the bottom two links.

  3. shiftless says:

    I don’t think the fabric softener film situation is as extreme as lint buildup, but it will help make your dryer more efficient. I just use fabric softener in the wash now.

  4. Mo-no says:

    @Ben Popken
    Read this link: http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/geary/Donna/radio06/Living%20Well
    I guess my point is that water does not have to pass through the filter, only air. And liquid water will not pass through a small mesh because of the inherent surface tension of water, not because of dryer sheet buildup. It’s a great urban myth, seemingly plausible and yet harmless. It doesn’t hurt to wash your filter screen, it’s just a waste of time.

  5. harleymcc says:

    I’ll tell you what to do.

    Pull the whole puppy out from the wall and stare in amazement at the money inside the back of the dryer.

    The coins work their way thru the felt liner.

    Being in Canada we have $1 and $2 coins , and the last I moved I cleaned the dryer in my new place.

    $85!

    Woooooo

  6. Sudonum says:

    @Mo-no:
    Imagine that as the wax builds up on the screen it starts close the holes on the mesh. Pretty soon instead of having a mesh screen you have a screen clogged by wax. Theoretically it could happen.

    This post disputes the one you linked to. So who knows what the truth is.
    http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/household/dryer.asp

  7. PDQ says:

    If you’re going to put water on your screen and it’s a metal screen material, be sure to run the dryer and dry it out or the screen material will rust.

  8. Mo-no says:

    Ha! Consumer Reports doesn’t believe the myth either!
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/truths-and-m

  9. faust1200 says:

    If you wanna go to town on your dryer, your time would be better spent by cleaning the dryer beneath the screen where there is a ton of unreachable lint. A small stick attachment from a vacuum device would work depending on the dryer/vacuum. Lint is crazy flammable as everyone knows but I have personally not heard of dryers catching on fire. Which isn’t to say they don’t.

  10. redteam says:

    I would just like to point out that the title of this post rhymes. If this observation is news to any rappers out there, I would appreciate a shout out.

    Thanks :)

  11. MommaJ says:

    Solution:
    1. Remove filter and hold in one hand.
    2. Place other hand on one side.
    3. Purse lips and blow air at filter from the opposite side
    4. if your hand can feel the air, your filter’s fine.
    5. Move on with your life.

  12. itchy feet says:

    They do.

    My job requires me to sit next to police scanners for 9-13 hours a day. Dryer fires happen several times a month in my small city.

    …Only surpassed by kitchen fires and false alarms caused by burned microwave popcorn.

  13. formergr says:

    Yup, I’ve had two different friends with burned down apartments or houses due to dryer lint…

  14. mopar_man says:

    Here is a question: how many of you have a dryer connected to the vent going outside with that ribbed plastic crap? Those that put up their hands, go disconnect that plastic stuff and have a look inside. If it’s anything like the place I moved into, you’re lucky to have a 1.5″ hole in the middle for air to travel through. This is what starts the fires. The best way to vent a dryer is with aluminum piping. It’s harder to do but there aren’t ridges for lint to build up in.

  15. HawkWolf says:

    why do people use fabric softener, anyway? waaah, my shirt’s not soft and silky with weird oily stuff! *pours chemicals into the wash to make his precious skin feel better*

    Okay, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. If you are inclined to do so, you can actually take apart your dryer and clean the lint out of it. It’s somewhat easier to do if your dryer puts the filter in the front, not on the top. You just take off the front panel, take off the cover of the blower part, and suck out all the giant piles of crap that accumulate in there.

    Yeah, don’t use plastic piping either. Aluminum, even the corrugated stuff, is probably better just because aluminum doesn’t catch on fire.

  16. FLConsumer says:

    It definitely is a valid concern, so much so that some dryers include warnings NOT to use ANY dryer sheets in them. My European dryer uses a much finer mesh lint filter than what you see in American dryers.

    I’ve also had a dryer catch on fire due to restricted airflow. Between the clogged filter (from the waxes of the dryer sheets) and other restrctions of airflow in the exhaust line, it didn’t have much of a chance. It was one of the American dryers with larger mesh, btw.

    I STILL haven’t found the need for fabric softener. As logn as you get all of the soap/detergent and hard water deposits out of the clothes in the wash, it will be just as soft as it was the day you bought it.

  17. germ says:

    I also don’t believe this. I tried it once, and sure enough, after cleaning the screen, water now flowed through it w/o beading up. After sending 2 loads of laundry through the driver, I decided to re-test the screen under the faucet, and sure enough it beaded up. Because this “problem” returns immediately after the next use, I think it’s more of a scare tactic that some service tech used of a customer to make him/her think that they were speaking with well trained service tech, who was giving them valuable advice.

  18. johnofsparta says:

    just about burned down my house with a clothes
    dryer fire. the lint inside got to the heating
    elements and “poof”. i was at home when it
    happened. turned off the dryer and the closed
    door snuffed out the flames. now i NEVER leave
    home with the dryer/washer/dishwasher/etc.
    running.