Laundry Lint Concerns (and how to fix them)
Excessive lint in your dryer can be frustrating. It’s also one of the most common problems that we hear about and, luckily, pretty easy to fix. All you need to do is clean the lint filter out after each use.
But excessive lint can also be one of the biggest headaches and safety concerns. Your dryer’s job is to circulate hot air over your clothes and then exhaust the lint and air out of the dryer. Too much lint could make it easier for the lint to get passed the lint trap and into the dryer vent.
When the wet lint gets to this point, it’s extremely easy for it to stick to the walls of the vent. Then, you’ll have more wet lint getting through and sticking to the old lint that stuck to the wall last time. Your dryer vent is the most important part of your dryer’s system because it plays a huge part in how much air is running through, how hot your dryer is running, and how efficient your clothes can dry. Once enough lint is caught, your dryer vent becomes clogged and that’s when the problems start.
Here are a few that you may notice
- Clothes don’t completely dry
- You feel excessive heat in the laundry room and on the clothes
- Clothes smell musty
- Your energy bills are higher
Unfortunately, dryer vents cause 15,000 house fires, 20 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and more than $100 million in property damage per year. That’s pretty wild, especially considering how easy it is to avoid.
And fires aren’t the only problem that you can face when it comes to lint buildup and ignoring your dryer vent. These are the next three common problems you’ll get from ignoring your dryer vent:
- Carbon monoxide poison – lint and dryer gases use the same exit avenue. If the vent is clogged, then the gases get backed up and leak from your dryer
- Higher Energy Bills – You’ll have to run the dryer more than normal just to get your clothes dry. This causes extra energy that you have to pay for (unless you have solar or wind, in which case – that’s pretty cool).
- Worn out clothes – longer drying time is not good for your clothes. In addition to time in the dryer, clogged vents usually lead to hotter temperatures since the heat can’t escape. So your clothes are in contact with much higher heat for a much longer time. High heat and clothes don’t mix. Believe me and the earful I got from my fiance – not a good combination.
Table of Contents
1. Sorting Problems
2. Length of Cycle
3. Water Level
4. Load Size
5. Too Much Bleach
6. Too Much Fabric Softener
8. Leaving Items in Your Pockets
What Causes Excessive Lint?
So now that we know why you need to keep the laundry lint to a minimum, let’s take a look at what causes excessive lint and what you can do to help that.
I don’t like to admit this, but I used to sort clothes in college based on the category. Pants with pants. Shirts with shirts. Bedding and towels got to wash together. Most people (read: smarter people) sort their clothes based on colors.
That’s a good place to start but you shouldn’t stop there. Mixing lint producing fabrics with lint collecting fabrics allows lint to transfer to other garments, instead of being trapped by the lint filter. This produces extra lint that your dryer doesn’t need. All that lint can eventually make its way past the lint trap.
- Separate your lint producing fabrics (flannel, cotton knits, and terry towels) from your lint collecting fabrics (corduroy, acrylic blankets, children’s sleepwear)
Length of Cycle
Washing your clothes longer than what’s necessary to clean them will generate lint. When you move the clothes into the dryer, they will have excessive lint attached to them and that could overwork the lint trap.
- Shorten your wash time for smaller loads and lightly soiled garments to avoid washing clothes longer than you need to
You shouldn’t set the water level to a higher setting on the washing machine, because doing that will cause linting from excessive movement of the clothes in the water.
- Just select the water level that you need
Don’t overload your washer. Overloading can prevent the lint from being flushed away during the washing process. It will also cause the clothes to rub against one another generating more lint.
- Loosely load clothes no higher than the top row of holes in the washer. That means, don’t push down to make the clothes fit!
Too Much Bleach
Bleach can damage your clothes and fabric. This will cause excessive lint to be produced.
- Simply follow the directions on the bottle of bleach
Pilling is a natural process that happens with polyester and cotton blends. The stronger fibers will collect and hold small bundles of fibers, instead of breaking off. This creates “pills.” Lint becomes entangled in the “pills” and makes the lint appear more obvious.
- Since it’s naturally occurring there’s not much you can do. But turning the clothes inside out can provide some extra protection.
Leaving Items in Your Pockets
I’m pretty bad about this. I leave receipts in my pockets all the time. I don’t mean to; I just forget. If you leave paper, receipts, tissues, or things in your pockets, it can cause lint too.
- Empty all pockets before washing your clothes
Water Pump Filter is Clogged
Excessive lint could also indicate that the water pump filter is clogged in your washing machine. When that happens the wash and rinse water that contains all of the lint drains too slowly and leaves lint deposits all on your clothes. All that excessive lint will have to get exhausted out of your dryer and could increase the chances of it being trapped within the vents.
- To clean your pump filter, open the outer housing of your washing. For front-load washers, the lower panel will give you access to the clean-out filter. For top-loading washers, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. While you’re in there, you’ll be able to clean out lint and you may find coins, buttons, and that missing sock!
So, What now?
First, you should get your dryer vent checked out by a reputable dryer vent company. If you haven’t done that before, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
Here are a few tips that you can use to help you:
- Can the company provide references? How do the online reviews look?
- Does the company carry a valid business insurance policy?
- Does the company ensure that a CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician (C-DET) will be on the job site?
If the company has solid reviews and they can answer “yes!” to the other two questions, then I’m confident in your choice and they will be a great company for you to work with.
Once your dryer is clean, all that’s left to do is sit back and reap the benefits:
- Your dryer will operate more efficiently
- Your energy bills should drop back to normal
- Your clothes will thank you by drying faster
- Longer lasting, efficient dryer
Well, reap the benefits, but also be more mindful of giving your dryer vent the attention it deserves. You’ll want to continue cleaning the lint trap every time you use your dryer. And keep an eye on how the dryer is performing. You should also make sure to avoid doing any of the following:
- Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow, and dirt
- Replace any coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal ducts
- Check regularly to make sure nests are not blocking the outside vent
- Keep the area around the dryer free of items that can burn
- If you’re going to be away from home for an extended time, unplug the dryer
- Don’t use your dryer without a lint filter or with a filter that is loose, damaged, or clogged.
- Don’t overload your dryer
- Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent
- Don’t dry items with foam, rubber, or plastic. And don’t dry fiber materials or any items that state “dry away from heat.”
- Don’t leave your dryer running if you leave home or when you go to sleep