Kara Zorn on March 3, 2015 14 Comments People often take their clothes dryers for granted, until something goes terribly wrong with it. Even though this common household appliance is used daily or several times a week, most people never give it a second thought until they have to. For example, wet laundry might be tossed into the dryer on a Sunday evening before a fully scheduled work week. The individual might assume that his or her career-wardrobe will be fluffy and dry when it’s time to go to work in the morning. But sometimes things go wrong, especially when proper care has not been taken of this humble machine. With lackadaisical care, dryers can leave clothes only partially dry, stop working altogether, or even catch on fire. To ensure that your clothes dryer lasts for many years to come, here is a list of 9 things you should NEVER do it. Unless, of course, you like getting stuck with a pile of wet clothes. 1. Forget to Clean the Lint Trap Many people figure they’ll get around to cleaning out their lint trap at some point, but “at some point” often means never. Even with the best intentions, unless something becomes a habit, it is often forgotten about. It’s wise to clean out your dryer’s lint screen after every single load. This will help ensure that your dryer continues to dry to the best of its ability. 2. Fail to Check the Venting Tube In addition to cleaning out the regular lint trap, it’s also crucial to make sure that your venting tubes are clear of debris. In fact, this step should be performed several times a year. Those tubes allow the heat to flow out and escape. While heat is what you need to dry your clothes, an excess amount can create a dangerous situation, like catching on fire. While this may seem like an extreme circumstance, if you neglect to clean out the vent tubes and a ball of lint or a stray sock is blocking the heat from escaping, then it’s possible that your dryer can overheat. Safety devices are now on the market to help alleviate this danger, such as an alarm system to alert homeowners of problematic clogs and a 20-foot long brush that can clear the length of venting tubes. 3. Have Your Machine Standing On Uneven Ground In order for your dryer to function properly, it must be on level ground. If you have any doubt whether the floor in your garage or laundry room is flat beneath your appliance, use a leveling device to check this out. If you find that your machine is standing on a surface that is even half a bubble off, it’s time to whip out the repair manual to figure out how to adjust your dryer’s feet into a more stable position. 4. Forget How Many Dryer Sheets You’ve Used Dryer sheets have developed a bad reputation for creating snafus in dryers, but the problems are typically due to user-errors. These products are designed to cut down on static-cling, and if they’re used with care, they should be safe enough to do the job. For one thing, consumers need to only use the recommended number of sheets. If too many sheets are used at one time, the chemicals in them that are designed to soften fabric can leave a residue, which can lead to clogs. Wiping out the dryer and inner mechanisms periodically can alleviate buildup of the residue. Also, sometimes a sheet will get lost and jam up the works by wedging into the mechanisms. After every load, the one or two softener sheets that were used should be located, and then discarded. 5. Use Vinyl Tubing Don’t use vinyl tubing! This product doesn’t meet current fire codes, because it doesn’t have the flexibility-texture of aluminum tubing. Instead, use the proper tubing which is a semi-rigid product called vent duct tubing, available at your local hardware store. 6. Keep It in a Tight Space Squeezing your washer/dryer into a tight little broom closet may be a mistake. Dryers need a little extra room around it for the air to circulate around them. If you try to squish your machines into a small closet without giving it a little of room, you could end up with a fire or a malfunctioning appliance. 7. Leave the Vent Open to the Outside Don’t leave your vent open to the outside without putting a screen over it. This warm space is an invitation to wildlife to come nest in this toasty little area. If you were a squirrel or bird living outside during the winter, wouldn’t you want to build your home in a tube that had a built-in heating system? Having a family of birds or a community of rodents move into your ventilation tubing is not a pleasant experience. Not only does this increase your risk of damaging your dryer, you may eventually have some unwanted roommates walking (or flying) around your home. 8. Jam-Pack the Dryer Some people figure that they can shove a ton of wet clothes into the dryer, believing that “the more the merrier” pertains to dryers. This is a big mistake. Not only will the clothes end up wrinkled, damp, or even still wet, it can overwork the drum, bearings, heating elements and cause the unit to breakdown. It’s a wise move to follow the owner’s manual guidelines when it comes to the maximum load capacity. 9. Put the Wrong Things in There Some consumers figure they can toss anything into their clothes dryer. Heck, they figure, it’s just a metal box of swirling hot air, but this is an inaccurate assumption. Dryers are designed specifically to dry fabric, not toys, purses, or wigs. It’s also a good idea to keep the dryer-door closed when it’s not in use, especially if pets live in the home. There have been instances of cats and dogs climbing into the appliance to nap, which may lead to some very sad and unfortunate consequences. Where would we be without our clothes dryers? Yes, we could always hang our laundry out on clotheslines with wooden clothespins like the old days, but that doesn’t help much when you have nothing to wear but wet clothes on a Monday morning. Plus, when laundered items are hung outdoors, they fade and often have to be ironed. In order to keep your loyal appliance in tiptop shape, show it the respect it deserves.