Cleaning your dryer’s vents can be an easy bit of maintenance to forget about. After all, emptying the lint trap is enough, isn’t it? As it turns out, emptying the lint trap is only part of the battle. When you use your dryer, some of that lint can start to make its way past the trap and into your ducts and vents, causing all sorts of problems. And lint buildup isn’t even the only problem you have to worry about when it comes to your dryer vents. Luckily, checking and cleaning your vents doesn’t have to be difficult, and it has many benefits.

Here are the top seven reasons you should be cleaning your dryer vents.

To Prevent Fires

One of the most important reasons for cleaning your vents is to prevent a dryer fire. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, approximately 2,900 dryer fires are reported every year, and more than a third of those fires are caused by a failure to clean dryer components such as vents and ducts. These fires lead to huge property destruction and loss of life each year. When you go too long without cleaning, vents can become obstructed, limiting airflow from the dryer. This can cause the heating elements to overheat and cause a fire. With regular cleaning, however, this dire outcome can be easily prevented.

To Eliminate Unpleasant Burning Smells

While not nearly as serious as a dryer fire, that burning smell you may have noticed while running your dryer is a good indication that you should clean your vents. Lint and debris burning suggest that your dryer is overheating, likely due to buildup in the ducts and vents. Staying on top of cleaning will help to prevent these unpleasant smells and make sure that your dryer never reaches the point of catching fire.

To Help Your Clothes Dry Faster

Have you ever opened your dryer to find your clothes hot to the touch, yet still wet? This can be confusing since the heat of the clothes suggests that your drying is working properly. It starts to make sense, however, when you know the cause. Your dryer works by heating your wet clothes with hot air, rendering the water from the clothing into steam. This steam is then pushed out of the dryer through a vent to the outside. When that bent becomes obstructed, it is more difficult for your dryer to get rid of the steam, meaning much of that heat and moisture will remain in the dryer with your clothes. With nowhere to go, the moisture settles back into your laundry. Making sure your vents and ducts are clean and unobstructed is the first thing you should do if you notice your dryer becoming less efficient.

To Locate Damaged Ducts and Vents Quickly

This is a simple but important benefit of regular cleaning. If you neglect your vents, it may take much longer for you to locate other problems, such as tears and leaks in your ductwork or damage to your vents. When you make a habit of cleaning, you will come across this damage and wear it before it becomes a problem, allowing you to keep your equipment always running smoothly.

To Locate Critters Before They Become a Problem

Similarly, regular cleaning will also allow you to discover unwanted guests making a home out of your vents and ducts. It is quite common to find birds nesting in your dryer’s external vent. When this occurs, much like when dust and lint builds up, your vent will become obstructed, leading to a number of problems. Mice and other rodents can also infiltrate your ducts through tears and leaks. When pests like these make their way into the ductwork, they have the potential to not only interfere with your dryer but spread throughout the rest of your home. Making sure to clean your vents and ducts will ensure that you can close up any holes and fix any problems before you have an infestation on your hands.

To Gauge How Often Your Vents Need to be Cleaned in the Future

While it may seem obvious, establishing a routine for performing maintenance on your dryer’s ventilation system will make the task easier for the whole life of your dryer. Knowing exactly how often you need to clean and what needs to be done will take the guesswork and stress out of the whole process. By cleaning regularly, you will have little work to do each time, and you will avoid finding out the hard way that it has been too long.

To Extend the Life of Your Dryer

The final, but crucially important, a reason to clean your dryer’s vents is that it will keep your dryer working longer, saving you a whole lot of cash and hassle. Nobody likes carrying a broken dryer out of their house, let alone finding another one to replace it. Obstructed vents, luckily, are one of the most easily fixable reasons for a dryer to meet an untimely end. With reduced airflow and increased heat, heating elements and other dryer components are put under a great deal of stress. Allow your dryer a nice break by making sure the air path is clean and unobstructed. It deserves it! In return, your machine will continue to run smoothly for years to come.

You may not have guessed that dryer vent cleaning had such a laundry list of perks, but there you have it! Clean your dryer vents regularly, and say goodbye to wet clothes and fire hazards. Now that you know how important this piece of maintenance is, it’s time to get to work. Depending on your dryer, your vents may be easily accessible or not. Fortunately, there are resources available for you to use no matter your situation. If you want to clean your vents yourself, there is a wide array of tools available to make it easier. And if you want to avoid the hassle by bringing in a professional, you have great options there too. Now get cleaning!