Smoke From The Clothes Dryer – Top 10 Causes and Fixes

Smoke from the clothes dryer can be a serious concern for homeowners. Not only can it cause damage to your clothes, but it can also be a fire hazard. As such, it’s important to understand the common causes of smoke from your dryer and how to fix them. In this article, I will share the top 10 reasons for smoke from the clothes dryer and their corresponding fixes.

To start, it’s important to understand your dryer and how it works. A clothes dryer works by tumbling your clothes in hot air to remove moisture. The hot air is generated by a heating element or gas burner and is then circulated through the drum by a blower or fan. The moisture from your clothes is then expelled through a vent to the outside of your home. Understanding this process can help you identify the cause of the smoke from your dryer.

There are several common signs of smoke from the clothes dryer that you should be aware of. These include a burning smell, smoke coming from the dryer drum or vent, and visible flames. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action immediately to prevent further damage or injury.

Common Signs of Smoke from Dryer

As a professional appliance repair technician, I have seen many cases of smoke coming from a clothes dryer. Here are some common signs that indicate your dryer is producing smoke:

👉 A burning smell coming from the dryer

👉 Visible smoke coming from the dryer drum or vent

👉 Clothes coming out of the dryer with a burnt smell or singed marks

👉 The dryer feeling hotter than usual during operation

👉 The dryer shutting off unexpectedly during operation

If you notice any of these signs, it is essential to address the issue immediately to prevent a potential fire hazard.

Why is My Dryer Smoking?

Before diving into solutions, it’s essential to understand why your clothes dryer might be emitting a smoky smell. Common culprits include

  • lint buildup
  • residue from burned fabrics
  • foreign objects accidentally left in pockets.

Identifying the root cause will help you address the issue more effectively.

How to Get Rid of Smoke From Clothes Dryer

Step 1: Cleaning the Lint Trap

The lint trap is the first line of defense against a smoky smell. Over time, lint can accumulate, causing poor ventilation and potential fire hazards. Begin by removing the lint trap and cleaning it thoroughly. Use a soft brush or vacuum cleaner attachment to get rid of any stubborn lint.

Step 2: Check for Foreign Objects

Inspect the drum and the inside of the dryer for any foreign objects. Items like tissues, paper, or even small pieces of fabric can ignite during the drying process, producing a smoky smell. Remove any debris you find and clean the drum with a damp cloth.

Step 3: Clean the Ventilation System

A clogged or dirty ventilation system can contribute to a smoky smell lingering on your clothes. Disconnect the dryer from the power source and carefully clean the vent hose and duct. You may use a vacuum cleaner or a specialized vent cleaning kit for more thorough cleaning.

Step 4: Wipe Down the Interior

Residue from burnt fabrics can cling to the interior surfaces of the dryer. Dampen a cloth with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar, then wipe down the interior thoroughly. This will help neutralize any lingering odors.

Step 5: Run a High-Heat Cycle with Vinegar

To eliminate any remaining odors, run an empty dryer on the highest heat setting with a bowl of white vinegar placed inside. The vinegar will help neutralize odors and leave your dryer smelling fresh.

Dryer Smoke Prevention Tips – Dos and Dont’s

As mentioned earlier, prevention is key when it comes to avoiding smoke from your clothes dryer. Here are some preventive measures that you can take to ensure that your dryer runs smoothly and safely:

✔️ Clean the lint filter after every use: This is the most important step in preventing dryer fires. A clogged lint filter can cause the dryer to overheat, leading to a fire. Make sure to clean the lint filter after every use to prevent lint buildup.

✔️ Clean the dryer vent regularly: A clogged dryer vent can also cause the dryer to overheat, leading to a fire. Make sure to clean the dryer vent at least once a year, or more often if you use your dryer frequently.

✔️ Use the right type of dryer vent: Make sure to use a rigid or flexible metal venting material for your dryer vent. Plastic or foil vents can easily catch fire and should be avoided.

✔️ Check the outdoor vent flap: Make sure that the outdoor vent flap is not covered by snow, debris, or other obstructions. This can prevent proper air flow and increase the risk of a fire.

✔️ Don’t overload the dryer: Overloading the dryer can cause it to overheat and increase the risk of a fire. Make sure to only dry a reasonable amount of clothes at a time.

✔️ Use the right settings: Make sure to use the right settings for your dryer. Overheating can occur if the dryer is set on a high heat setting for a long period of time.

✔️ Don’t leave the dryer unattended: It’s important to never leave the dryer unattended while it’s running. If a fire were to start, you need to be able to respond quickly.

✔️ Install smoke detectors: Install smoke detectors in your laundry room and throughout your home. This can help alert you to a fire in its early stages.

✔️ Keep the area around the dryer clear: Make sure to keep the area around the dryer clear of any flammable materials, such as cleaning supplies or clothing.

✔️ Get professional help: If you notice any unusual smells, sounds, or smoke coming from your dryer, turn it off immediately and call a professional for help.

When to Call a Professional

If you have tried the fixes mentioned above and the smoke from your clothes dryer persists, it may be time to call a professional. Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to call in an expert:

  • The smoke is thick and has a strong odor.
  • You see sparks coming from the dryer.
  • The dryer is making unusual noises.
  • The dryer is not heating up properly.

In such cases, it’s best to turn off the dryer immediately and unplug it from the power source. Continuing to use the dryer in such conditions can be dangerous and can cause further damage to the dryer or even lead to a fire.

Professional technicians are trained to diagnose and fix dryer problems safely and correctly. They have the necessary tools and equipment to identify the root cause of the problem and provide a permanent solution.

When you call a professional, be sure to provide as much information as possible about the problem, including any unusual noises, smells, or behaviors. This will help the technician diagnose the problem more quickly and accurately.

Overall, if you’re unsure about how to fix a problem with your clothes dryer, it’s better to err on the side of caution and call a professional. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.


Don’t let a smoky-smelling clothes dryer ruin the joy of fresh laundry. By following these simple steps and adopting preventive measures, you can enjoy a clean and odor-free drying experience. Say goodbye to unwanted smoke smells, and revel in the scent of freshly dried clothes once again!