How To Stop Clogging Your Dryer’s Lint Trap
Switch from Dryer Sheets to DIY Fabric Softeners!
In a previous article, we explained why it's important to clean the lint trap on your dryer every few months if you use dryer sheet fabric softeners. The chemicals in these sheets actually clog the mesh screen of your lint trap, causing your dryer to work harder and run less efficiently.
"Will Dryer Sheets Damage My Dryer?"
This question comes up a lot online. If you use dryer sheets on a regular basis and never wash the screen of your lint trap, it's possible the film left on your lint trap can block airflow to the point where your dryer overheats and some electronics fail. Not good!
Although it's not at all hard to clean the mesh lint trap every couple of months, you can skip this routine maintenance AND reduce your laundry expenses with some simple, non-clogging DIY fabric softener hacks. Not only that, but you'll also reduce your exposure to the chemical cocktail of ingredients in the typical dryer sheets.
What’s Wrong With Dryer Sheets?
A dryer sheet is typically a thin, piece of polyester fabric coated with a fabric softening chemical and some type of a fragrance—which can account for up to 10 percent of the dryer sheet’s contents. When your clothes are tumbling in the dryer, the fragrance and fabric softening agents on these dryer sheets impart a slick layer of chemicals onto your clothing, effectively making them feel softer.
Yes, you read right. A slick layer of chemicals.
Unfortunately, many of these chemicals in dryer sheets emit toxic fumes such as toluene, styrene, ethyl acetate and formaldehyde. Although they may make your clothes feel softer, they can also cause acute respiratory tract inflammation and irritation, as well as skin rashes.
And no one knows the long term implications are of wearing clothing with a coating of these chemicals on them.
What about buying “natural” dryer sheets? Unfortunately, research has found that these products emit as many toxic chemicals as regular dryer sheets and fabric softeners. And, get this—the Consumer product Safety Commission doesn’t currently require the manufacturers of these products to list any ingredients on their labels.
So, do you really want to toss another fabric softener sheet in the dryer with your next load of clothes?
4 Natural Alternatives to Commercial Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets...That Actually Work!
1. Wool Dryer Balls
Wool dryer balls consist of, well, wool. You can make wool dryer balls yourself, or buy them pre-made. These are the most expensive alternative to dryer sheets, costing about $10 to $20 for 6 to 8 balls. While expensive, it’s important to consider these balls will easily last 3 to 5 years and, besides keeping clothing soft and static-free, they can noticeably reduce drying time.
2. Vinegar and Baking Soda
Is there anything vinegar and baking soda can’t be used for? As a fabric softener, pour a half-cup of baking soda into your washing machine putting your clothes in. Then, pour a half-cup of vinegar in the fabric softener compartment of the washing machine before you hit start (Many get great results with only a quarter-cup). After you’ve run your clothes through the dryer, you’ll have softer clothes with no static cling. Will your clothes smell like vinegar? Amazingly, no. You'd have to pour in a lot more than a half-cup of vinegar for that to happen.
Borax is great if you live in an area with hard water and don’t have an in-line water softener. Just add a half-cup of Borax to your washing machine before you put in your laundry. The Borax softens hard water and your clothing, too.
4. Vinegar-Soaked Rag
Seems hard to believe, but spraying a rag with vinegar and adding it to your load of laundry in the dryer is a pretty effective fabric softener sheet—and it’s insanely cheap and easy! Added benefit: No toxic chemicals. The rag should be clean, of course, and you want it thoroughly damp with vinegar. Old cotton T-shirts cut into 4” or 5” squares make great dryer sheets.
“Ok, But I Like The Dryer Sheets I’ve Been Using”
That’s fine. If the commercially available dryer sheets work for you, go ahead and keep using them. Just be sure to test your dryer’s lint trap every couple of months to make sure the mesh screen isn’t clogged. Clean off the lint, then take it to a sink and run water through it. If the water pools up on the screen, take a little dish soap and gently clean the screen with a soft brush or your fingers.
Is It Time For Your Yearly Dryer Vent Cleaning?
Fire departments across the country recommend yearly dryer vent cleaning as the best protection against dryer fires caused by lint clogs in the dryer exhaust lines. For most households, a yearly cleaning is sufficient. However, if you do a lot of laundry—5 or more loads per week—you would be well advised to have your dryer vent line cleaned every 6 months.
Dryer Vent Wizard is the only company in Wisconsin dedicated solely to cleaning dryer vent lines. No one knows dryer vents like us! Besides cleaning lint from dryer vent lines, we also re-route poorly routed dryer ducts, install dryer ducts to current building code, and repair dryer ducts which have become separated or otherwise compromised.
If you can't remember the last time you had your dryer vent line cleaned, it’s time. Don’t risk it. Let our dryer vent cleaning wizards give it a thorough cleaning.
Contact the Dryer Vent Wizard of Wisconsin Nearest You:
Northeast Wisconsin: Fond du lac, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Kewaunee and the Fox Valley Counties. 920-644-3797
North Milwaukee: All locations north of Highway 94 in Dane County, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Dodge counties. 262-757-8368
Southeast Wisconsin: All locations south of Highway 94 in Dane County, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties. 262-312-1991. For property managers and condo associations, call 262-501-5240.