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The Hidden Danger Lurking in the Dryer: Safety Tips to Prevent Clothes Dryer Fires

You may be surprised to learn that the main reason clothes dryer fires occur is simply because owners fail to properly clean and maintain them. Don’t let your home become a statistic. Take these simple steps to ensure that your dryer is installed, cleaned and maintained properly.

Fast Facts

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 15,000 fires are sparked each year by clothes dryers or washing machines.

Fires caused by clothes dryers or washing machines result in approximately 51 civilian deaths, 380 civilian injuries and $236 million in direct property damage.

The leading cause (34%) of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.

Dryer vent cleaning averages just $100-$150.

Dryer Safety Tips

Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.

Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected and grounded properly.

Read dryer manufacturers' operating instructions and warnings.

Never overload your dryer.

Do not leave the dryer running while you sleep or when you leave your home.

Keep the area around the dryer free and clear of objects that can burn easily such as boxes, cleaning supplies and clothing.

Be sure to use the lint filter every time the dryer is operated and ensured it is not loose, clogged or damaged.

Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry.

Clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up.

Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.

Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.

Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.

Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow and dirt.

Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on and ensure it is not blocked by objects such as snow or nests of small animals or insects.

Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.

Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.

Don't use a wire screen or cloth cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.

Check items before drying to ensure they are dryer safe. Don't dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic such as a bathroom rug with rubber backing.

Don't dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable with alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.

Signs Your Dryer Vent May Need To Be Cleaned

Drying time takes longer than normal for clothing.

Your clothing has a musty odor following the drying cycle.

Clothing seems unusually hot to the touch after a completed drying cycle.

The dryer vent hood flap does not properly open while the dryer is running.

There is debris within the outside dryer vent opening.

The room where the dryer is located gets excessively hot while the dryer is operating.

There are large amounts of lint accumulating in the dryer lint trap.

Lint and debris are visible around the outside of the dryer's lint filter.

If using dryer sheets, you notice an excessive odor coming from the sheets after the cycle.

Facts/statistics, information and safety recommendations in this article are provided by the NFPA’s (National Fire Protection Association) Public Education Division and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.


Taking these simple precautions along with investing in the right insurance coverages can help provide peace of mind for homeowners. If you have questions regarding your policies and coverages, please contact your agent. For information about insurance products through Centauri Insurance and other tips, visit us online at and talk to your local insurance agent.

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