Cleaning out a dryer lint trap

Giving your dryer lint trap a good cleanout is a satisfying and simple job. It will also freak you out at what you find in there.

I alluded to THIS post in my post about Changing a dryer drum/drive belt. In step 2 I said “Trust me, you should stick something in there. you think you won’t drop a screw but you could, and then you’re removing the whole back of the dryer and that’s what will turn this into an hour-long job and another post.” When I said you COULD drop one, what I really meant was I DID drop one, and it turned my little belt changing into a lint trap cleaning.

There are a few AS SEEN ON TV lint trap cleaning contraptions like the ‘Lint Lizard”. I think that’s an attachment for your vacuum. I’m sure it works decently, but I’m the type of guy that says “The puddin is delicious” no, wait, that’s LL Cool J. I’m the type of guy that gets all OCD about cleaning things. I want to see all the lint cleaned out, not hope I’m getting it all with a tiny vacuum attachment. I’ll sit there a scrap every bit off until it looks factory new because I’m anal. Why else would I spend hours cleaning copper pots?

This post doesn’t pertain to all dryers. My dryer is a Whirlpool dryer with the lint trap up in the top hood of the dryer. Like this one:

It seems asinine, but I really did drop one of the 2 screws on the lint trap chute mount right down the hole.

 

Soooo, making work for myself by stupidly dropping a screw down inside the dryer wasn’t the best move, but it did lead me to clean out the dryer lint trap and fan and it really is a simple repair/maintenance you can do in your spare time. You really just rip the back off the dryer, clean out the lint, and put it back together. But I’ll drag it out a little for you.

Step 1: UNPLUG THE DRYER

Step 2: Remove the 2 screws near the lint trap door up on top of the dryer (you know, I dropped one of them down inside).

Step 3: Take off the back of the dryer.

I think these were 5/16″ heads.

 

Once those screws are all out, the big metal back of the dryer will fall right off and you’ll see the wonders of the inside of your dryer.

Ooooohhhhh Aaaaaahhhhhhh.

 

I said ACHTUNG! in the above image because I MAY have left the dryer plugged in, and when I reached down to unscrew the dryer lint chute I touched that baby with the side of my hand and I got one helluva JOLT. Like a knock-you-on-your-ass jolt.  I then unplugged the dryer so I can see my daughter grow up.

Step 4: Remove the Lint Chute

Four screws and it’s out.

 

Step 5: Lift chute out and be amazed at all the crude and weird stuff that worked it’s way in there.

Not only did I get TONS of lint out of the bottom of the chute and inside the fan assembly. I also got some spare change, beach glass, band-aids, and more screws than just the one I dropped down there. I took the shop-vac back there and sucked stuff out while I used a paint scraper to dislodge the caked on lint.

 

Step 6: Put it back together in reverse order.

Fit the chute back into place and replace the 4 screws.

Put the back of the dryer back on and use all the screws. There shouldn’t be any leftovers.

When you get to the last step of putting the 2 screws back in the top end of the dryer lint trap chute shove a cloth in it to prevent yourself from dropping one down there again.

 

Simple? Yes. Fun? Yes. Satisfying? Yes. Removing some kind of fire hazard? Possibly. Dragging a short post into a long post with photos and run-on sentences? DEFINITELY!

 

32 Comments

  • Miriam

    Just one question. On my dryer, the lint trap is in front, at the bottom of the doorway where you toss the clothes in. How do I get to the lint trap in that position?

    Reply

  • m l cadrecha

    I just dropped a washcloth down mine while I had the lint trap out to clean, now what do I do, I am 85 y y active lady but this may be beyond my pay scale, can’t move the dryer out, bought this place with appliances left and the previous owner put shutter doors to pull in front of appliances and from what my eyes tell me the one on the dryer side would have to come off before the dryer can be pulled away from the rear wall. Oh me, HELP!

    Reply

    • Pete Fazio

      Oh my. Where do you live? Is there any way I can stop by and help? I wonder if you could fish it out with a wire coat hanger straightened out with a hook bent into the end?

      Reply

  • Yeshanu

    Just discovered your blog while looking for Cat Tree instructions, and will definitely return!

    On a note realted to this post, while you’re cleaning out the lint trap, you might as well go whole hog and clean out all the ducting, too. My son and I did this in August, and I got out approximately 1 gallon of lint. In places, the ducting was three-quarters clogged.

    The dryer works much better now (as in, the clothes actually get dry), and my chances of having a fire are much reduced.

    Reply

    • Pete Fazio

      It’s scary how much lint and junk gets jammed in there isn’t it? I kind of thought I implied that you should clean out everything while you’ve got it apart, but you’re right, I should have added it in more plainly.

      Reply

  • Cynthia

    soooo, I’m pulling the lint thing out, (I washed the DOG’s blanket- 80lbs of FUR ok?) and I see that (as usual), the lint blanket that formed didn’t all come out. grr. I removed 1/2-3/4 when it plops down the back. (there are now forehead shaped decorations on my cement wall). ahem. So, I started it up, hoping it would blow out (outside), and POOF this pile of hair created this fantastic snow sculpture outside. But I too am anal, and worried now. So I was looking how to uh, undo this (stupid) action, without asking my dad (and get a lecture on animal hair _ shrugs). and found THIS page! YES! muwahaha! so, tomorrow, when I am sane of mind, and the pain of banging my head against the wall is gone, I will attempt to clean it myself. and if I fail, my dad is coming over the next day. I WILL try first. :) thank you SO much! I’m pretty sure its mostly out, but I don’t want to chance it. ^_^ thanks again!

    Reply

    • Pete Fazio

      Thanks, Cynthia. Make sure while you’re back there you try and snake out the lint hose that goes out the side of the house as well. There’s some ‘As Seen On TV” Lint Lizard thing that much work to get up your piping. I usually go with a shop-vac. PS. if you have flexible hosing back there from the dryer to the lint vent go ahead and switch it out for rigid.http://www.dadand.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#comments-form

      Reply

  • Becky

    Hi Pete,
    Thanks so much for this posting. I am a single gal on my own and my dryer broke today. Stinky, smoky smell and dreadfully loud noises were coming from my dryer. I played around on google for a bit, diagnosed the possible problem, and found your super helpful instructions and photos. I cleaned the lint trap, the wheel thing back there (it had a huge lintball clog on one of the blades……hence that terrible noise, and everything else I had access to. My dryer is working beautifully again! Thanks for saving me from a repair call and for empowering a single gal!! Who needs a man? Ha ha…..just teasing.;)

    Reply

  • Heather

    My daughter spilled a bottle of stain remover down my lint chute. I was trying to take the thing out to clean it but it would not come out. Then I found your website and realized that I had forgotten the two screws at the top of the chute. (The ones that you dropped down there.) Thanks for posting instructions. I could not believe what I had to clean out of my dryer!

    Reply

    • Pete Fazio

      Glad our little corner of the internet could help. I hope you took our advice and shoved a towel or something in there when replacing the screws to avoid dropping them down there like we did.

      Reply

  • Kimbee

    OMG-You won’t BELIEVE what we found when cleaning out our lint tunnel: a giant snarled STINK-BUG NEST. Gross beyond belief and completely blocking the vent piping. Ewww!

    Found your site looking for kitty tower help, but only the text shows up, no pics-how can I get the whole deal? Like your site n blog, any chance you’d repost the kitty tower stuff? We need to get ours built fast, before our kittens force us to spend on furniture for us, rather then for them! Thx, kimbee

    Reply

  • mlaiuppa

    You’re a lifesaver! Cherry!

    I have this exact same model and I just dropped a drill key down there. It was sitting on the top of the dryer and I didn’t see it, took out the lint screen to clean it and then saw the key fall in. Heard it plunk plunk right before I heard some choice expletives come out of my mouth.

    Thanks to a little googling and your photos and step by steps, I’ll be able to do this myself easily. But it will have to wait until next Saturday as I won’t have the time to devote to it until then. For me, I always allow 3 times the what you’d think it would take and count on being at least one tool short.

    I am so gonna bookmark your site.

    Many thanks.

    Reply

  • Savonna

    Thanks so much i noticed the lint was getting pulled off the filter last night and i stuck my hand in there to find it clogged if it wasnt for this i would have never figured this out your amazing thanks a bunch \^o^/

    Reply

  • Rich

    Thus was super helpful!

    Reply

  • Valerie Cloud

    Thank you SO much for this block of instruction. While I was initially ticked at my dryer making that noise and having to fix it, I found 5 socks and a pair of underwear back there! But since that was the first time I’ve had to do that in the 8 years I’ve had the dryer, I guess that’s not too bad. :-)

    Reply

  • Rosemary

    Thank you so much! I managed to replace the belt and idler on my Kenmore dryer today using YouTube videos, and then I dropped a tiny plastic bag of beads & thread down the lint chute. Gah… thought I might have to pay for a repairman after all. But then I found your instructions. They worked perfectly. I managed to remove the dryer back and chute, clean out all the gunk, and put everything back in place. Thank you!!

    Reply

  • The child that dropped something

    Okay so…. I dropped something in there and I don’t know what it was… And I’m a child is there any other ways that I can get this object out?
    Pls help, The child.

    Reply

  • Karen

    So, I a screwdriver rolled in the lint hole, and I didn’t notice. When I turned it on, I heard a noise. I took the back apart and got the screwdriver out, but the fins were broken off. Can I fix this myself, or do I have to call the repairman. Might not be worth it since my dryer is pretty old.
    hen

    Reply

  • A.M.

    My teenage daughter is extremely thankful you took the time to post this tutorial. We were able to retrieve the cell phone she was using while switching laundry!

    Reply

  • AJ

    What NOT to do: I was cleaning the lint filter WHILE the dryer was running..my little sock got sucked into the lint vent slot. My Maytag made an awful sound and smell while I panicked and finally shut it off. So all your advice is excellent.. and I followed all the steps and opened up the back of the dryer took out the vent cover and cleaned out the entire thing.. but I cannot find this flipping sock. Is it possible that it got sucked INTO the outer drum? Could it go past the fan somehow and into the nether regions of the dryer? watched you tube after you tube on how to replace a fan – just to understand the innards and workings… but really hesitant to take the whole thing apart from the front and remove the belts and all. My husband is useless for this sort of thing – so it all falls to me. Yes – was my sock. Without putting the back on fully I plugged it in and it spins/heats without noise but I think I see something in there through the holes.. Seriously? is it possible it got past the fan somehow and is INSIDE there? HEEELLP!

    Reply

  • DW

    Thanks! This worked. Got the lint that was clogging things out. Will clean lint trap EVERY TIME from now on.
    And found a screw (I didn’t drop it!) that must have been there from when the drier was manufactured.

    Reply

  • Laurie

    You’re the man! I lost the top to a Disney mug down the lint filter (don’t ask!) this morning and was able to tear the dryer apart and put it all back together again all by myself with your easy instructions! So empowering for this not-mechanically-inclined woman! Thanks for your help!

    Reply

  • Ann L. of NJ

    Thanks so much for your awesome instructions! I was able to remove the back of my Amana gas dryer and remove the pen that got stuck in the fan. I just discovered your website using a Google search. I am definitely returning. Two thumbs up to you! (My dryer innards are also a lot cleaner.)

    Reply

  • Karla

    Thanks for your post my son dropped a pencil down the lint shoot. After I was down to the last screw to put it back together I dropped the screw down the shoot n had to start over. Now we’re back up N running.

    Reply

  • Jessie

    Thank you so much for this!!!! My boss accidentally dropped a CD down his lint trap and I managed to fish it out by following your steps! He said the dryer makes a slightly different noise now, but it seems to working! Thank you!

    Reply

  • Summer Duncan

    Thanks! I dropped a notecard down my lint trap. It was in the fan and making a horrible sound. I wasn’t able to get the whole lint thing off… whatever it’s called…. but I was just barely able to reach my hand in there and get the notecard out :) Yay!

    Reply

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