A clothes dryer is an appliance for the automation of drying your laundry after it has been washed. It works by tumbling your laundry through hot air to evaporate moisture.

Before loading the dryer, take a look at your laundry. Towels are best dried seperately from anything else; they shed a LOT of lint, which will stick to everything else. Now, check the care labels on your clothes. Speaking of lint, clean the lint filter now! If you clean it before loading the dryer, you won't get evil fluff all over your clothes. Some garments will say "Tumble Dry" and the recommended temperature setting. If something says Hang Dry or Line Dry, don't dry it in the dryer. It may shrink or even melt! If your dryer has a moisture sensor and an Automatic cycle, set the timer to the start of that cycle and press the start button. Otherwise, set it to about 30 minutes, and check your laundry to see if it's dry yet. Add more time if necessary.

When your laundry is done drying, remove it from the dryer promptly to avoid wrinkles.

The principal components of a dryer are:

  • Drum: This is a large rotating cylinder, open at one or both ends, which your laundry tumbles within. It has three or more baffles inside which lift the wet laundry up one side and drop it through the hot air.
  • Heater: Either an electric heating element, or a gas burner heats air as it enters the dryer.
  • Blower: Hot, moist air is extracted from the drum by the blower and expelled outdoors through a vent hose.
  • Motor: Rotates the drum, and spins the blower. It also houses the centrifugal switch which turns on the power to the timer and heater.
  • Timer: The timer controls the power to the heater and motor, and shuts the dryer off at the end of the cycle. The timer may also be coupled with a moisture sensor which stops the timer's motor when the laundry is still wet.
  • Temperature control and thermostat: This is an adjustable thermostat that controls the heater. It usually has several settings, from Cotton (high) to Delicate (low).
  • Drive Belt: A rather long belt which goes around the drum, an idler pulley, and the motor pulley.
  • Drum rollers: The weight of the drum is carried on two (or more?) plastic covered rollers.
  • Door switch: This shuts off the motor and heater when you open the door.

My residence's dryer is as old as I am, and I've thus learned a lot about keeping it going.

If your dryer is not working as it should, here are some things you might want to check:


ALWAYS unplug the dryer before opening any cover or the control panel!

  • If it won't start: Check to see that the timer isn't pointed to "OFF". On a digital timer, you may need to re-select the cycle. Check that nothing's blocking the door switch. Check the fuses or circuit breakers in your electrical panel. Otherwise, check the thermal fuses inside the dryer, and the timer contacts. There should be a little service information sheet inside the control panel that tells you which contacts should be closed in any given mode. If the motor starts and runs when you press the start button and shuts off right after you let go of it, the centrifugal switch probably needs to be replaced.
  • It runs, but doesn't heat: Again, check the timer and other settings. If it still doesn't heat, check to see that the dryer's getting gas (if applicable). Clean the lint filter. If neither of these work, an electric heating element, or a thermal fuse may have failed. Grab a multimeter and start checking these out. On a gas dryer, the glowbar may have failed. If you can safely activate the guts of the dryer with the appropriate parts removed to view the burner area, look for a bright orange glow. The glowbar's a spiral shaped black carborundum resistor located on the business end of the burner.
  • It runs, but makes bad noises: Check the lint filter. Some dryers sound a tone to indicate that it's clogged. Look for coins or other objects hiding in the drum, especially near the front and back. If the dryer is squeaking, you may need to lubricate or replace the guide rollers the drum rides on at the back of the machine.
  • It runs, but doesn't tumble: The drive belt's broken or has fallen off the pulleys.
  • Drying is very slow: Make sure the dryer is actually heating and set to the proper cycle. Also, check the exhaust duct and blower assembly for lint buildup. This lint is flammable, and can easily cause a fire if it builds up! If the duct is clogged, replace it. Don't replace it with one of those white vinyl ones with the wire spiral, or the metallic Mylar variety. Use a flexible aluminum duct.


How to disassemble and reassemble the dryer:

  • Back panel: Remove the screws around the outside of the panel. There might also be one or more screws in the middle somewhere. Depending on the way it's built, you may or may not have to disconnect the exhaust duct to get the cover off.
  • Control panel: This may either be uncovered by removing the back, or may have its own cover. You may also have to remove two screws down at the outer corners of the bottom front of the panel and swing it up.
  • Drum: There will be no fasteners visible from the outside. Remove any screws visible after pulling the lint filter, being careful not to drop them down the hole. Then, using a putty knife, locate and press a release tab near each corner on the front, in the gap between the top and the front panel, and lift up. To remove the front, remove the screws holding it to the sides (near the top), and lift it up. Reinstalling it may be trickier; you will need to align it with the drum and then set it into the tabs that hold it on at the bottom. To remove the drum, reach in and release the spring-loaded idler pulley from the belt, and lift the drum and belt out.
    To reinstall the drum, lift it into place, and put the belt around it. Hook it over the motor pulley and the idler pulley.

Whenever you have any part of the dryer open, take the opportunity to suck the lint out with a vacuum cleaner.


(To the users of E2, this node also applies to laundromat users, or anyone who has access to two or more dryers. I just use a college student because, I am one, and when I was inspired to write this, the target was a college student. Thank you, please read on.)


Welcome, dear college student. I see you are preparing to plop your wet laundry into that dryer machine. Yes, I see that you have your quarters ready and everything. I caution you, dear college student, there are things about that dryer that you need to know. Yes, yes, there are buttons on the top. No, I don’t really know what they do. But! You have more control than those mere buttons. Open that sucker up!

Take a look inside. See that? That’s a lint trap. Lift it out. Yes, just like that. Now, you see that pattern on there? How the lint is all washed-out looking and doesn’t really cover the whole trap, not even half of it, I’d say. Now. Let’s look at one of the other dryers. Don’t put that first lint trap back in yet. We’re here to compare! Now, pull out that second lint trap. See how the lint in the second trap is thicker, fuller, and covers more area of the lint trap? That’s our first sign. This second dryer just might be better!

Now, lay those lint traps on top of their respective machines. We’re going to look at the space the lint traps were covering. See that hole that the lint trap was covering? That’s the air duct for the air in the machine to escape through. See how the lint is really built up in the first one? And how the lint is not so built up in the second one? The air is going to have a hard time getting out if it has to pass through all that lint. That’s our second sign, now we’re on a roll!

Ah, don’t put those traps back in just yet! There’s yet another part of this machine that needs examining. See that grill covering where the lint trap was? It’s there to keep the clothing off the trap during the spin cycles. Now, do you see even more lint built up that thing? That’s probably one of the main reasons that so little of the trap in the first dryer was covered with lint. The air just couldn’t pass through the parts of the grill that were clogged with lint.

Here, take this pencil. Get a good grip on it, and poke it around in the grill and dislodge as much of that lint build up as you can. Now, can you stick your hand down into the lint space? Ahh, I see you can’t. Well, use that pencil to knock off as much of that lint build up down there as you can. Careful now, wouldn’t want to lose the pencil!

Yes, now you can clean off the lint traps and stick them back in.

So, what have we learned here?

The second machine has less lint built up in it. This will facilitate better air flow, meaning a better chance your clothes get dry. We have some slight control over the lint build up, but not much.

Speaking of clothes… that load is huge! It’s simply too much, my friend. If you put that much clothes in the dryer, your clothes will almost certainly come out damp. I recommend that you fill the dryer, at most, a little over half full. Any more and the air just wont be moving through. And that, again, does not lead to dry clothes.

Now we’re ready! Clothes in, quarters in, a dryer sheet; if you dare. Turn it on, and… 45 minutes later, your clothes just might be dry!






These tips are of my own devising. I have based them off my experience with dryers over the span of one year, which ones worked, which ones didn't, and how I think dryers work.

The clothes dryer works by blowing hot air into a rotating cylinder. The rotation tumbles the clothes and gives the air a better chance of hitting more surfaces on the clothing in the dryer. The now cooler, damper air has to get out or it will slow down the drying process. This is where the lint trap comes in. The lint trap seems to be an attempt at keeping lint from building up in the air duct when the air escapes. Instead, the majority of the lint is supposed to get trapped in the lint trap so that the user can easily remove it. When dryers see heavy use, as in a laundromat or at a college, the lint builds up no matter what.

All of the washing and drying machines in my dorm are owned by some off-campus corporation. This means that all of the innards are, for all intents and purposes, sealed off tight.

So how does the enterprising college student make sure that their dryer is working right? Well, you can't. Not until you use it, anyways. You can, however, give yourself a chance of picking the better of several dryers by using the tips I described above.

Once again, remember the load size. Do not fill up the dryer. If you do so, there will be no air circulation at all and your clothes will dry very little, if at all. At home, you can probably get away with larger loads because you dont have to deal with the extreme numbers of people who use them at a laundromat.






momomom says: consider hanging up clothes while still somewhat damp to reduce wrinkles AND cost of drying.

I definitely agree with momomom on this. Often I have found the clothes to be nearly dry when they come out of the dryer, and not worth the effort of putting them through the dryer again. I usually spread them across my bed and shelves with a fan blowing on them to finish up the drying, if I need to.



MALTP says re clothes dryer: Lying clothes flat on a bed is a pretty slow way to dry them out -- better to drape them over a chair or table, or even hang them from hangers stuck in weird places around your room, so air can circulate around them.

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