You expect your clean clothes to come out of your dryer smelling fresh, so when they smell of lighter fluid or butane, the foul odor might offend. Short of leaving a lighter in a pants pocket that exploded in the dryer, it may be difficult to imagine how the smell got into your clothing. In most cases, the issues are fairly easy to correct once you identify the source of the lighter fluid smell and address it.
If you've recently completed a laundry load with clothes soiled with lighter fluid, chemicals or solvents, it's possible that the washer didn't entirely eliminate the stains and odors. When you place the clothes in the gas dryer, the heat will intensify the chemical smell in the fabrics and transfer it to other clothes in the load. After you wash the soiled clothes, verify that the odor is completely gone by smelling them before you place them into your dryer. Otherwise, your clothes might still smell of butane after they've been dried.
The flame that a gas dryer creates to supply heat is strong enough to ignite vapors from combustible materials, such as paint, stain and varnishes. When exposed to heat, the fumes produced from these products will intensify and can smell of lighter fluid. The odor enters the drum through the dryer's intake vent and enters the fabrics of clothes being dried. Open windows and doors to alleviate the vapors from combustible household materials faster and speed dry time. If you have to run your dryer before the vapors are completely gone, ensure the laundry room is well-ventilated.
Natural Gas Formula Change
Check with your natural gas supplier that a chemical additive hasn't been mixed with the gas used by your dryer. It's possible that newly-formulated gas is giving off a butane smell. If the gas's composition has changed and it's producing an unpleasant odor, you might consider switching to a new supplier.
After the regular drying cycle ends, immediately run the dryer on an "Air Fluff" setting for no less than 10 minutes. The setting will circulate air in the drum to rid clothes of odor without heat. If the clothes still smell of lighter fluid after running the setting, rewash them. At the same time, place several moist towels into the dryer and run them on a high heat setting until they're dry. The towels should help absorb any lingering butane odor in the dryer's drum. Repeat this process several times until the smell is gone.
Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.