9 Tips to Prevent Dryer Fires

Your dryer could very well cause a fire—but you can stop one before it starts.

Click any box in the grid to learn more about stopping dryer fires before they start.

Clean out the lint

“Job number one is to keep lint away from the heat,” says John Hall, Ph.D., division director of Fire Analysis & Research for the National Fire Protection Association. “It starts with cleaning out the lint filter every time you use the dryer.” Hall also advises clearing out the vent pipe to reduce the chance of fire and to maintain the efficiency of the dryer.

Install with care

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the vent pipe. Opt for a short, straight pipe that’s an adequate distance from the wall. By reducing the bends in the dryer vent pipe, you create fewer opportunities for lint to gather.

If you must vent your dryer over a long distance, consider investing in a dryer vent fan. These automatic electric devices speed up airflow through the duct every time you turn on your dryer to keep things moving along.

Clear out combustibles

Move any flammables like cleaning supplies far away from your dryer. Also regularly sweep out dust in the areas around and underneath your dryer.

Opt for a metal dryer duct

Research shows that flexible foil or plastic ducts can sag and lead to lint buildup at low points. Metal ducts of any variety don’t sag, and they’re more likely to contain any fires that would start.

Read the tags

If the care label reads tumble dry low, don’t turn the dryer up to high. Also use caution with certain items like bath mats, padded bras and bibs—they may contain rubber that shouldn’t be exposed to hot temperatures.

Exercise extra caution with flammable liquids

Wash clothing stained with volatile chemicals more than once—and definitely opt to line dry over machine dry.

Use your clothes to diagnose problems

Clothes that no longer feel dry or that are extra hot to the touch after a normal dry cycle are a telltale sign that something’s wrong. Before doing the next load, check for a plugged vent and clean out any lint.

To be extra careful, consider purchasing a dryer safety alarm like Lint Alert®. These devices have a pressure sensor that sends a warning when lint clogs the dryer duct.

Don’t dry and dash

Turn off your dryer if you need to step out during the laundry cycle.

Give the outdoor vent a peek

Make sure that the outdoor vent flap isn’t covered by snow or debris.