Tuesday Tip: Maintenance of Washing Machines and Dryers

Here is your Tuesday tip! It is imperative you maintain your washing machine and dryer to prevent home fires. One of our clients’ stackable washer and dryer recently started a fire in his Chicago home, causing approximately $50,000 in damages. A photo of the damaged washer and dryer that we took post fire is featured below.



As per the National Fire Protection Association’s (“NFPA”) report entitled “Home Fires Involving Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines,” “The leading items first ignited in clothes dryer fires were dust, fiber, or lint (27%) and clothing (26%). In washing machine fires, the leading items first ignited were electrical wire or cable insulation (26%) and appliance housing or casing (24%).”


The NFPA discovered that failure to clean was the leading cause (31%) of home fires related to washing machines and dryers. Given these facts, we recommend the following safety practices.


  • Washing machines and dryers should be installed and serviced by professionals.
  • Ensure the washing machine and dryer is properly grounded.
  • Your washing machine and dryer must be plugged into outlets that are suitable for their electrical needs.
  • Refrain from overloading your washing machine and dryer. It is important you adhere to the manufacturers’ operating instructions.
  • Be sure to turn off the washing machine and dryer when you leave your home or go to sleep in case they malfunction.
  • The area in which the washing machine and dryer are placed should be kept clean and clear of combustibles, including clothes.
  • You should never use a dryer without a lint filter.
  • The lint filter of the dryer should be cleaned before or after each use.
  • The lint should be cleaned out of the vent pipe at least once a year.
  • It is important to periodically check the air exhaust vent pipe and outdoor vent flap to ensure they are not restricted and can be opened.
  • The most effective method to remove lint that has accumulated in the vent pipe and around the drum is to use a long, thin brush.
  • There could be blockage in the exhaust, and you will have to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer if so. If you must disconnect the exhaust duct, do not forget to reconnect the ducting to the dryer and outside vent prior to using the dryer again.
  • We suggest replacing plastic ducting with rigid or flexible metal venting material to maintain proper air flow and drying time.
  • If you are washing clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals, we recommend washing them twice and either hanging the clothes to dry or drying them on the lowest heat setting.
  • You may consider retaining a dryer lint removal company to occasionally clean the interior of your dryer. If you have a gas dryer, a professional should be hired to inspect for gas leaks.


Source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)