How to keep dryer sheet odor from entering apartment
September 1, 2011 11:29 AM   Subscribe

What kind of filter can I attach to the dryer vent duct outside the window of my multi-unit building to keep the noxious, chemical/perfume-scented dryer sheet odor from entering my apartment?

I think charcoal filters might fit the bill but I don't know how effective they'll be and perhaps the hive knows of another approach.

The ducting is not attached to a cap or anything as it exits the building. I am anticipating have to build a frame for the filter(s) to attach to the duct.

Closing my windows every time the dryers are run is a pain but I do realize it's an option.
posted by mizrachi to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Honestly, I imagine that any type of filter would quickly fill up with lint.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:33 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Umm... this is a bad idea. Unless you own the building in question, you almost certainly don't have authorization to build things like this.

More than that, dryer vents are kind of cranky. As mentioned, the vents carry lint as well as humidity, and they're actually a significant fire hazard if they don't vent properly. There are actually businesses devoted almost solely to cleaning dryer vents, if you can believe that.

Close your windows.
posted by valkyryn at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anything you attach to the dryer vent will impede airflow, causing the dryer to run longer and prolong your agony. Just shut the windows.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:36 AM on September 1, 2011

Activated charcoal/carbon!

I empathize.
posted by at 11:41 AM on September 1, 2011

This would, as noted, need constant maintenance and create a fire hazard. Dryer vents already tend to get clogged with lint as it is, and fires do start in them. I would expect this to be something that you could be cited with as a violation of building code, and sued for should there be any actual fire.

If you own the building or have pull with your landlord, it may be possible to extend the dryer vent -- e.g. something like the integral symbol:

-- but code again specifies a maximum length they can have (which is reduced for each bend). Then there are dryer vent fans that can be placed on extended runs, for example, if you have to go up and through a roof, but those need to be tied into the dryer power so that they run when it does and probably won't work on multiple dryers if that's what your building has.

If closing your windows every time is a pain, I'd look into rigging a hard plastic baffle of some kind on the window frame to route the airflow away from your window opening.
posted by dhartung at 11:44 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Find a dryer sheet that you like the smell of, buy a Costco sized box, and leave it next to the dryers for everyone in the building to use free of charge!
posted by Grither at 11:45 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding unscented dryer sheets.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 11:48 AM on September 1, 2011

Find a dryer sheet that you like the smell of, buy a Costco sized box, and leave it next to the dryers for everyone in the building to use free of charge!

If mizrachi is worried about toxins, that doesn't really solve the problem.

I agree that you can't filter or otherwise block the vent, but if code allows, you may be able to better direct the vent away from your windows.

Close your windows.

If you live in a non air-conditioned apartment, this is pretty unhelpful advice.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:28 PM on September 1, 2011

I think the best you can do is talk to the landlord/super/condo committee and see if they can at least attach one of those plastic or metal hoods that will direct the steam/smell downwards instead of straight out and back into your window. I don't know if they can really do any more than that, though.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:31 PM on September 1, 2011

Make woolen drier balls and stop using dryer sheets. Google for instructions, there are a couple different techniques (just winding wool yarn into balls is the easiest). They are cool to make and chemical-free!
posted by Maarika at 1:15 PM on September 1, 2011

You're right to be concerned:

Scented Laundry Products Emit Hazardous Chemicals Through Dryer Vents ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2011):

Analysis of the captured gases found more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants, coming out of the vents. Of those, two chemicals -- acetaldehyde and benzene -- are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogens, for which the agency has established no safe exposure level.

If you have any other windows, and the window next to the vent can fit it, I'd put a box fan blowing out in that window and open the other one.
posted by jamjam at 1:44 PM on September 1, 2011

Hi. I had a house fire because my external dryer vent was clogged by the recently previous owner. Do not EVER fasten ANYTHING to your dryer vent that impedes the expulsion of lint. It's open because solid particles need room to exit the hose completely. And the vent should be cleaned every 6 months. Not, say, every 8 years. That kind of cleaning schedule will cause a fire.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:51 AM on September 2, 2011

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