Have I destroyed my dryer by running it without the lint filter?
August 9, 2007 4:42 PM   Subscribe

I dried a load of laundry without the lint filter. What have I done to my dryer?

Everybody says, "Never run the dryer without the lint filter." Well, I did. Pulled the damn thing out before I did a load, and forgot to put it back in. Didn't realize it until the load was all finished. The laundry seemed to dry just fine, but I'm worried about the dryer. It's your ordinary sort of front-loading tumble dryer, and I'm in the US. What do I need to look for or fix?

(Posted anonymously because I don't want my wife to kill me.)
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Um, I don't think you've done any damage to the machine. The problem is that over time the exhaust pipe from the dryer will get clogged up with lint, is all. So the dryer isn't in trouble but you might have to detach it from the wall and clean out the exhaust at some point.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:47 PM on August 9, 2007

I think that you and your dryer will live. No one need know of your transgression.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:49 PM on August 9, 2007 [4 favorites]

See snopes here

Reasoning from that, if you don't use the filter, maybe the same buildup could happen in your dryer's exhaust tube, and then it might be harder to fix. I'm guessing though, that the dire warning is there for the lawyers in case of a product liability suit.

Anyway leaving it out for one load wouldn't hurt anything, unless your wife catches you ;-)
posted by maniabug at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2007

I think the issue is that if your exhaust line gets clogged, your dyer could start a fire. But that won't happen with just one load of clothes. (Link Ignition Characteristics! Check it out!)
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:54 PM on August 9, 2007

umm "Lint" not "Link" but "Link" is kinda funny.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:55 PM on August 9, 2007

The purpose of the lint trap to prevent the accumulation of lint in your dryer vent, which can be a fire hazard. Running your dryer once without the lint filter won't hurt your dryer.
posted by RichardP at 4:55 PM on August 9, 2007

Having just replaced a dryer vent hose that was completely freakin' packed with lint because the senile old lady who owned it had forgotten (months ago) to replace the fliter after cleaning it, I hafta say you could repeat that error approximately 1000 times with no harm to the dryer.

Fun side note: when you hook up a blower to a clogged dryer vent, what comes out the other side looks like confetti, and smells delightful!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:05 PM on August 9, 2007

Yes, you should be cleaning your duct and exhaust vent regularly because even if you use the lint filter every time, you can get the lint buildup that could lead to a fire.

(Depending on your dryer design, you may also want to use your vaccuum cleaner's narrow attachment to clean out any lint that has fallen from the trap into the lint trap slot.)
posted by maudlin at 5:06 PM on August 9, 2007

If you're worried, clean the vent hose and piping. Call it routine maintenance which you should be doing anyway. Just use your vacuum cleaner as others have suggested on the hose and any ductwork leading out of the house to the vent outside.
posted by defcom1 at 6:07 PM on August 9, 2007

the lint filter is in large part a fire safety thing. the more lint the gets near the electrical components of the machine, the greater risk of fire.

most likely, you and your dryer will be fine. put a smoke detector in near the dryer. i would also suggest not running the dryer unless you are in the house, so you can watch it. maybe even get an small extinguisher, if you are really nervous.
posted by Flood at 6:26 PM on August 9, 2007

Clean your dryer vent hose.
All of you.
Right now.
I'll wait...
O.K., done?
That wasn't so bad now, was it?
Much easier than cleaning up after a smoky fire and yet another inconvenient and embarrassing visit from the fire department. "Oh, hi Floydd! It's mostly just smoke and water damage this time."
posted by Floydd at 6:43 PM on August 9, 2007

No damage.

But if you are worried, there are several tools on the market to clean out your lint trap and even get all the way into the vent. They are round brushes on a long, flexible handle.
posted by The Deej at 7:15 PM on August 9, 2007

Oh, by the way: please let your wife know what you did. It's the perfect way to never be asked to do laundry again.
posted by The Deej at 7:16 PM on August 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Did your house catch fire? Well, then you are fine anonymous. It is not a bad idea to get a brush to clean out your dryer vent occasionally though. Perhaps this will be your motivation, because if you don't do it today, your house may burn down the next time you use the dryer (wink).
posted by caddis at 10:10 PM on August 9, 2007

You're fine. A friend of mine used to do routine maintenance for people in his Vancouver condo. A lawyer who lived down the hall called on him because her clothes didn't seem to be drying very well. She didn't know there was such a thing as a lint filter, so had never cleaned it. Ever. She didn't do lintigation.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:01 PM on August 9, 2007

If the flexible hose at the back is plastic, you might want to replace it with a new, metal foil one. Cheap, and easier than cleaning those accordion folds.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:06 PM on August 9, 2007

My daughter's girl scout leader takes a bag of dryer lint on camping trips to start campfires, and it's apparently very effective. After the first camp-out, my wife made me clean the dryer vents!
posted by willconsult4food at 9:55 AM on August 10, 2007

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