Why Dryer Smells? Lint, vents and 3 tips how to fix

Everyone wants clean, fresh-smelling clothes. What do you do when your dryer smells? Those wet clothes come out dry, but they smell much worse and you feel like washing them all over again. Let’s look at what causes your dryer to stink up the clothes, and how to get fresh air flowing again.

This isn’t hard to diagnose. Lint build-up is why dryer smells foul and not fresh. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix you can do yourself. 

The article below guides you through cleaning out the lint from your duct work and dryer. Soon, your clothes will have that fresh smell!

Lint Is An Issue

dryer smells

Most people routinely check their dryer’s lint trap. The problem is that’s not the only place where lint collects. It collects in other parts of the dryer, behind the dryer, the vent connection in the back of the dryer, and the vent itself. 

You need to clean out all those areas for more than the reason of smelly clothes. Trapped lint can also be a fire hazard. It can spark as the dryer heats up and catch the laundry room on fire. For that reason, you shouldn’t run the dryer while you are asleep or away from home. 

Read: Do All Dryers Need A Vent?

Check the Vent

Your dryer has some metal ductwork that connects the dryer to the wall vent. The first thing you do is disconnect that from the dryer. Now, try running a load with that unconnected. A better smell indicates your main problem is in the flexible ductwork and the venting system to the outside of the house. 

Make sure the flexible ductwork is clean and not kinked or twisted. Look in the wall vent and clean it out with your hands. While you have the dryer pulled out, clean all the lint behind it along the floor, walls, and on the back of the dryer. 

You may see more of this if your dryer is in an enclosed space like a laundry closet rather than a laundry room that’s easier to clean. 

Read: Why Your Dryer Gets Hot When Not Running

Clean the Outside Vent

The vent to your dryer runs outside your home. It is usually on the exterior wall opposite your dryer’s position but sometimes it’s on a roof. Take a sponge and water and clean the outside vent. 

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You are going to find as you do this that there is wet lint in the vents. That could be from weather or laundry dampness. The wet lint is what is causing the sewage smell. It’s like of like have a wet dog permanently in your home. 

Some of the lint and debris on the outside vent are going to be hard. That happens when it’s exposed to the weather. You should scrape that off with a screwdriver. 

Read: Can You Put A Stackable Washer And Dryer Anywhere?

Cleaning Dryer Vents

Once the outside vent is clean, turn your attention to the dryer. You will need to do a deep clean to eliminate the smell. For this, you will need a clean rag, towels, bleach, water, and white vinegar.

Disconnect the power going to the dryer. Then, start with the trap for lint. Pull it out and get rid of any lint with the clean rage. You can use a vacuum hose to get smaller stuff. You will need to clean it with running water in the sink and scrub the trap with a gentle bristled brush to thoroughly clean it. Set it out to air dry.

Now, clean the housing of the lint trap. Use smaller hose for vacumms to remove all dirt and lint. You may want to vacuum the area around the dryer too if you haven’t done it yet. 

Use the vacuum hose to clean lint from the back of the dryer and where the flexible vent attaches to the back of the dryer.

Local and online hardware stores carry vent cleaning kits for dryers. These make the job super easy!

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Wipe Down when dryer smells

Wiping down your dryer both inside and outside will go a long way to getting rid of odors. Mix a cup of bleach diluted into a gallon of water. You can also use undiluted white vinegar. 

Take your clean town and dip it in the solution. Start by wiping th edrum, regularly dipping it into the mixture you created. Wipe the door and the door seal. Don’t close the door. The dryer needs to air dry. 

You can reduce bleach smell by using another clean rag that is dipped in water and wiping the dryer’s interior again. 

Wipe down the dryer’s exterior too with some solution just like you did the interior.

Read: Will A Stackable Washer And Dryer Fit In A Closet?

Preventing Bad Smells

You can stop your dryer from stinking by removing damp clothes from the washer tub quickly and start drying them immediately. It’s also a good idea to clean the lint trap every time you have a new load into dry.

You should do a cleaning of your vents yearly. Some may need to be cleaned more often if the smell returns. 

How do I know my vents are clogged?

There are signs you have clogged vents beyond the smell. Your clothes will take longer than usual to dry regularly if you need to clean your vents. You may also notice more lint behind your dryer.

That’s a sign the vents are clogged so lint is flying everywhere. 

What can I do with all this lint?

Most people throw it away but it does have another use. You can throw it in your backyard for birds to use for nests. This is important to do in the early spring when they are creating nests and again in the fall when they re-fluff their nests.

What if my dryer smells like rotten eggs?

It could be the lint issue. It could also be that there is a small gas line leak nearby. You are smelling the additive. Call authorities. 

Why does my dryer smell Foul?

An odor that smells like burning could also be faulty or loose wiring. It could also be melting plastic that somehow came in contact with your dryer. Stop the dryer and inspect it to see where the smell is originating. Follow the article link below to see how to prevent a fire with your dryer wiring. If in doubt, contact a skilled appliance technician before operating the dryer.

Read: Dryer Fire Prevention Tips

What do I do if I smell a burning smell?

This is a dangerous signal because it’s a fire hazard. Turn off and unplug your dryer. Look for link in the trap, the inside of the dryer, the flexible vent and the vent going outside. 

Clean all around the area surrounding the dryer. Try running the dryer again. Call an appliance tech to come check the wiring and electrical parts inside the dryer if you smell the burning smell again.

Is there an easy way to clean out lint?

There is one way to make dryer duct cleaning easier. Buy a duct cleaning kit. That makes it easier but there is a way to make the process go even faster. 

Pull out your power drill and connect the flexible rods in the kit to your drill. Turn the drill on and clean out your duct fast.

New Dryer Smells

Some people are alarmed that they have an odor when they first use a new dryer. The smell may be a plastic or burning odor. It may smell like rubber, or have a fishiness about it. This is normal. 

This smell is happening because new motor coils and insulation material surrounding the motor are heating up for the first time. It will go away after you run a few loads in the dryer.

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