How to clean a tumble dryer – including the filter, condenser and drum

Banish bad smells and keep your towels fresh
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  • Cleaning your tumble dyer is unlikely to be a task that’s high on your to do list. But if you’ve noticed your dryer emitting a stale odour and failing to dry your bed linens, it could be time to give your machine a little TLC.

    Need a new tumble dryer? See our best tumble dryers guide for the best of the best

    Other than cleaning out the lint filter, which should be done after every use, your dryer will only need cleaning once every few months. Well, unless you’re regularly cleaning loads of messy kids clothes or hairy pet items, that is!

    Follow our guide on how to clean your tumble dryer and take note of our few extra tips to keep your machine in top condition.

    How to clean a tumble dryer

    How to clean a tumble dryer 1

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    The kit you’ll need

    • Vacuum cleaner
    • Cloth
    • Bleach
    • Water
    • White Vinegar poured into a spray bottle
    • Old towels

    How to clean the lint filter

    You have your kit ready, but first things first you need to clean out the lint filter or screen. You should do this after every use to avoid a build up of lint, that has the potential to cause a fire.

    • Make sure your appliance has cooled down fully.
    • Locate the filter, usually inside the door rim or behind a panel at the front of the dryer.
    • Remove as much lint as you can with a brush before swiping the screen with a used fabric softener sheet to pick up any lingering pieces.
    • Give the filter and the lint trap a once over with a vacuum cleaner to get it extra clean.

    How to clean a smelly tumble dryer

    Now it’s time to get rid of that odd lingering smell in your dryer’s drum. The last thing you want your freshly laundered clothes to reek of is mould.

    • Mix 1 cup of bleach to a gallon of warm water, and dip a cloth into the mixture and wring it out thoroughly.
    • Use it to wipe the inside of the drum and the door, before leaving the door open to let it dry.
    • After it has dried, wipe the drum walls down with water and leave to dry again.
    • Spray white vinegar onto a few old towels. Put inside the tumble dryer and run a drying cycle to neutralise any remaining odour.
    • Make sure the walls of the dryer are free of bleach before putting any load in to prevent discoloration of clothes.

    How to remove sticky messes and scuffs from a tumble dryer

    How to clean a tumble dryer 3

    Image credit: Ti Media

    Despite the best efforts to remove everything from you and your family’s jeans pockets, the occasional piece of gum or crayon might slip through.

    • Remove sticky messes by rubbing them with warmed olive oil, then gently scraping them off.
    • You can get rid of scuffs with a Magic Eraser or gently rubbing with a paste made out of baking soda and water.
    • Afterwards spray the drum walls with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe clean.

    How to clean the exterior of a tumble dryer

    Aside from the drum, it is important to keep the back of the dryer from building up a layer of dirt.

    • Wait until the dryer is cooled and switched off.
    • Unplug it and pull it away from the wall.
    • Remove the back panel, and clean the inside area with a vacuum cleaner.
    • Replace the back panel and push it back into place.
    • Give the rest of the outside of the dryer a once over with a damp cloth dipped in washing up liquid.

    How to maintain a tumble dryer

    How to clean a tumble dryer 4

    Image credit: Tom Meadows

    If you want your dryer to outlive it’s warranty and keep you in fresh and dry shirts follow the below tips.

    Empty all pockets

    Ensure all clothes are clean and pockets are empty before putting inside the tumble dryer.

    Be careful of overloading

    Be careful not to overload it with clothes. Stuffing the drum full will mean the clothes won’t be able to move freely and make the most of the hot air. Instead you’ll be left with damp clothes, and that unpleasant mould smell.

    Clean the plug socket

    Check there is no dust build-up on the plug socket. Pull the tumble dryer out every nwt and again to clean the area.

    Check the position of your dryer

    Whether you have you your tumble dryer in your kitchen or utility room, make sure it’s somewhere with good ventilation. The appliance can cause humidity, so ventilation is key to reduce the chance of the machine overheating.

    Related: Which? have named this THE best washing machine ever tested

    A bonus tip is to place your dryer in a warm room – ‘Dryers located in a warm room will use less energy and those in a cold area will use more, so this should be a consideration for energy-conscious consumers,’ says Steve Macdonald, Business Director at Hoover Freestanding.

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