With time and use, dryers may accumulate disagreeable odors that leave your laundry smelling less than clean. The odors can originate in the lint system or in the dryer drum itself, where they will intensify when exposed to the heat and warmth of wet laundry. Deodorizing a smelly dryer is simple to do and should be done twice yearly as part of routine dryer maintenance. It will not only keep your clothes smelling clean and fresh, but it can help extend the useful life of your dryer by eliminating lint clogs that impede airflow and pose a fire hazard.
Residue left by the bleach water solution may discolor clothing.
Never mix bleach with ammonia. The mixture produces a toxic gas.
Things You'll Need
How to Clean and Deodorize a Clothes Dryer
Step 1: Unplug the Dryer
Unplug the dryer before cleaning it to reduce the risk of electrical shock. Shut off the gas intake, if it is a gas-powered dryer. Pull the dryer away from the wall so the ductwork is easily accessible.
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Step 2: Vacuum the Vent
Disconnect the vent duct from the back of the dryer. Insert the nozzle of a wet-dry vacuum into the duct to suck out any large clumps of lint and hair. Vacuum out the port on the back of the dryer. Remove the exterior vent cover and vacuum out the inside of the duct, where dust often accumulates. If you suspect the vent duct may be blocked at any point, clean it with a dryer vent cleaning kit, or hire a pro to do it for you.
Step 3: Clean the Lint Screen
Remove the lint screen, and take it outside. Brush off any caked-on lint using a lint trap brush. Smell the screen to determine if it is the source of the smell; if it smells dirty, set it aside for further cleaning. Insert a lint trap brush into the open lint trap. Push it deep into trap, swabbing back and forth to dislodge any large lint pieces.
Step 4: Vacuum the Lint Trap
Vacuum out the lint trap to grab any loose dust or lint particles. If the lint screen smelled clean, put it back in place.
Step 5: Wash the Lint Screen
Place the lint screen in a bucket of hot water if it smelled dirty or musty. Add 2 drops of dish soap to the water and scrub the screen with a sponge. Rinse the filter screen in hot, clean water, then leave it to air dry completely before putting it back in the dryer.
Step 6: Run the Dryer
Reconnect the vent duct and push the dryer back into place. Plug in the dryer, and turn on the gas, as applicable. Run the dryer on the air-fluff setting for 10 to 15 minutes to push out any remaining bits of old lint or dust, then replace the exterior duct cover.
Step 7: Spray the Drum With Bleach
Combine 1 part bleach and 9 parts water in a spray bottle. Spritz the drum -- or interior -- of the dryer with the bleach solution until it is saturated. Let the bleach solution sit for 5 to 10 minutes to kill bacteria and mold that cause musty and unpleasant odors. Wipe down the inside of the dryer with a moist paper towel.
Step 8: Remove the Bleach
Submerge an old, white towel in water, then wring out the excess liquid. Place the towel inside the dryer and run it on air-fluff mode until the towel is dry. The moist towel and tumbling action will remove the bleach water residue. If a strong bleach smell persists, run another moist towel through the dryer until the smell subsides.
Leave the dryer door open overnight occasionally to air out the interior and prevent musty smells.