Last year, we noticed that our clothes would take a lot longer to dry in the dryer. After the typical drying cycle would finish, our clothes would still be damp, and would have to be put through another go round.

Before calling a repairman, I did some Google sleuthing and learned we likely had a blocked dryer vent. When you run your dryer, it releases excess hot air to the outside. This is why you can smell fabric softener wafting from some of the homes in your neighborhood. It’s coming from the dryer vent.

Lint can catch a ride with the hot air that flows from your dryer and clog up the vent that connects the dryer to the outside. That’s what had happened in our case; I just needed to clean the vent out, and we’d be back in business.

It’s an easy job and can be completed in less than 30 minutes. You should do it every six months or so to avoid heavy build-up. Regularly cleaning out your dryer vent will give you drier clothes in less time, save you money on your electric bill, prolong the life of your dryer, and even prevent a house fire. (Fast fact: According to FEMA, 2,900 fires are caused by home dryers each year in the U.S. and cause an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss).

Here’s how to clean out your dryer vent. Get the job done this weekend.

Buy a Dryer Vent Cleaning Kit

You can buy an inexpensive dryer vent cleaning kit at Home Depot. It comes with a brush to clean out the lint trap, a 10-foot dryer duct snake brush, and a vacuum attachment to clean out the lint trap. Mine set me back $17.

You can buy dryer-duct snake brushes that can be attached to your power drill. I’ve used one of these before and didn’t think there was much difference in effectiveness between it and the manual brush.

Clean Out the Lint Trap

Open up your dryer door and remove the lint filter.

Take your lint trap brush and brush out the lint trap.

You’re going to find big lumps of lint sticking to the brush. Remove that lint and keep brushing out the lint trap until your brush comes out clean.

Next, put the

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