Even the best tumble dryers won’t continue to deliver on laundry day if you don’t carry out some quick, easy and regular maintenance checks on them. And with many of us still spending more time at home than we would do normally, now is a good time to start.
We’ve pulled together a six-point tumble dryer cleaning and maintenance plan that we think gives you the best chance of drying clothes efficiently and safely.
But if you’re in the market for a new dryer altogether, head straight over to our vented, condenser and heat-pump tumble dryer reviews to pick from more than 160 tested and reviewed machines.
1. Clean your tumble dryer’s lint filter after every use
Fluff and dust from tumbling clothes ends up in the lint filter, which you’ll find in or in and around a dryer’s door.
It’s important to clean the lint filter after every use because a clogged filter restricts the flow of air through your dryer and this will make drying less efficient.
Head over to our 40+ tumble dryer Best Buys to find the best model for your home.
The other reason is all about safety. If airflow is restricted, dryers can heat up.
They’re all built with thermal cut-offs, which should stop the machine from continuing to produce heat if it gets too hot inside.
If the fail-safes fail and dryers end up getting far too hot, they can catch fire.
So, the best thing you can do to keep your dryer safe and running efficiently is to clean the filter every time you use your dryer.
2. Empty the water tank every time you use your tumble dryer
To make your life easier, empty the water tank after every use if you have a heat-pump or condenser dryer.
A water tank on a tumble dryer can usually hold more water than is contained in the clothes from one load but not enough for two loads.
To ensure you can run a drying cycle with a full load without having to stop halfway through to empty the tank, empty it every time you use your machine.
And if you set your machine up to drain water away as you do with a washing machine, you’ll never have to worry about emptying the water tank.
Read our full heat-pump tumble dryer guide.
3. Clean the heat exchanger on your tumble dryer
The heat exchanger turns the steam from the drum back into water and among the steam and air passing through it are fibres that, over time, can become clogged and dirty.
A clogged-up heat exchanger will slow the flow of air through your machine making it less efficient, so make a point of removing it and cleaning it under the tap every month or so.
If you own a condenser dryer, you’ll find the heat-exchanger at the front of the machine, below the drum and behind a door or panel. Once removed, you can clean away big lumps of fluff by hand and get rid of the rest under the tap.
Heat exchangers are just shoebox sized bits of metal and plastic, so running them under the tap is perfectly safe. Read more about heat exchangers in our condenser dryers advice guide.
4. Make sure the hose isn’t kinked on vented tumble dryers
If you own a vented tumble dryer, checking that the hose isn’t kinked is a useful maintenance check to make.
The hose takes warm and damp air away from the drum and a kinked hose on a vented tumble dryer will restrict airflow, which can make your machine less efficient and could mean that drying takes longer.
Pulling out the machine to check the hose is all you need to do. Check out our vented tumble dryers buying guide.
5. Check that the vent in the wall is clear of fluff
If you have a vented tumble dryer another quick check to make when maintaining your machine is to find the wall vent.
Make sure it’s clear of any fluff as this is another place for material to build-up.
This will give your dryer the best chance of doing a superb drying job for you.
6. Clean the inside of the tumble dryer’s drum and the drying sensor
It’s important to clean inside the drum for two reasons. Grime and fluff can gather in the drum and become embedded in the fabric of lighter coloured clothes.
Also, the drying sensor – sometimes called the humidity sensor – is found in the drum, usually below the door opening. It’s made of two strips of metal that detect moisture and switch the dryer off when the clothes are dry enough.
But a dirty sensor will lead to inaccurate drying, with clothes either being left too wet or over-dried. So, keep the drying sensor clean and the rest of the drum clean with white vinegar and a cloth or a cleaning wipe.
Read more in our tumble dryer tips and maintenance guide.