The Dryer Is Making a Noise and It Smells Like It's Burning

The smell of something burning is bad enough when it happens in your kitchen. If the smell is coming from your dryer, however, it's a much bigger issue. Smelling something burning and hearing a strange noise are warning signs that your dryer needs maintenance immediately.

A burning smell is an urgent warning from your clothes dryer.


If your dryer is making a noise and smells like burning, you probably won't see any smoke when you investigate the problem. The noise the dryer makes could start as soon as you turn it on, or it could build and become noticeable well into the unit's cycle. The burning smell will start a few minutes after you turn the dryer on. The smell gets into your clothes, ruining the effort of washing them. It can linger inside the dryer and your laundry area, making the entire space unpleasant.


One potential cause of the noise and burning smell is the dryer's motor malfunctioning. As parts within the motor experience increased friction as they work, the motor makes more noise than usual. The friction can cause heat to build up in the motor, producing a hot or burning smell. The other possible cause of trouble is too much lint inside the unit. When lint trapped in the dryer heats up, it releases a smoky smell. Too much lint makes removing moisture from clothes more difficult. As the unit works harder and runs longer, the strain can lead to louder motor noise.


If the cause is a problem with the motor, contact an appliance repair specialist. She can diagnose the cause of the malfunction and tell you if the unit can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced. If lint buildup is the problem, remove it from the lint trap. Straighten out a hanger and use it to carefully pull the lint free if it is jammed in place. You can also purchase a wand designed to fit inside lint traps at home improvement stores.


Don't ignore the sound or burning smell coming from your dyer. Both a motor malfunction and a buildup of lint can lead to a fire and permanent damage to the unit and potentially your home. Prevent lint buildup by cleaning out the trap before every load of clothing you place in the dryer. If the smell of smoke lingers inside the dryer after you've solved the problem, wipe it out with a sponge soaked in equal parts vinegar and water. The solution deodorizes the dryer's interior.