Woman removing items from clothes dryer

It’s frustrating to find your clothes still damp after your clothes dryer completes the cycle. This can even happen with a dryer that’s less than two years old. Does this mean you need to throw away your clothes dryer and buy a new one? No, it doesn’t.

Of all home appliances, clothes dryers are the easiest and least expensive to repair. Other types of appliances can suffer breakdowns that are so expensive to fix that it makes more sense to replace them. Dryers, on the other hand, commonly last over 20 years. You just need to periodically replace inexpensive parts that wear out. Our dryer at home is over 25 years old and still going strong.

When a dryer doesn’t dry the clothes, most people will simply set the dryer to run another full cycle to dry the clothes. This wastes time, energy, and creates a bigger carbon footprint.

The good news is that you can usually resolve the problem with some simple dryer maintenance. Here are three easy fixes to get your dryer running like new again.

1. Clear the Dryer Vents

Obstructed airflow is the number one cause of a slow-drying dryer. Dryers require good airflow to work properly. When the hot, moist air inside the dryer can’t escape fast enough, the dryer can’t shed the wetness on the clothes. As a result, it will continue running sometimes for hours beyond the normal drying time.

The part of the dryer that is most likely obstructing the escape of the moist air is the vent tube behind the dryer.

Here’s a quick way to test your dryer’s ability to shed the moist air from the wet laundry. Start the dryer and then go outside and feel the air coming out of the dryer air vent. The flow of air coming out should be as strong as air from a hairdryer. If the airflow is weak, you have a clogged air vent.

Often, the clog is right at the air vent where it leaves the house. There’s usually some type of device to keep animals from getting inside the vent. Either three plastic louvers that hinge open or a screen.

Outside dryer vent
This outside dryer vent has louvers that hinge open with air flow.

You can easily clean away the lint from the outside dryer vent and your dryer should run strong again. This video shows how to clean this type of vent: Cleaning an Outside Dryer Vent

If the vent is clear of obstructions where it leaves the house, then the clog is inside the dryer vent tube. Most clogs form where the tube bends. If the dryer vent tube has to go up above the dryer to leave the house, then the clog will be right where the vent tube exits the dryer near the floor.

A dryer vent cleaning brush attaches to your drill and does a great job cleaning out lint buildup as seen in this video: How to Clean the Dryer Vent

If your dryer vent tube is longer than 15 feet, you’ll need to clean the vent tube up to four times per year to keep it clear. When the vent tube gets clogged, not only does it take twice as long to dry the clothes, but it also makes lint build up inside the dryer cabinet.

A buildup of lint inside the dryer cabinet can cause a fire, as I explain in this video: How to Prevent Dryer Fires

2. Replace the Thermal Fuse

The next most common cause for a dryer that doesn’t heat up to dry the clothes is a blown thermal fuse. These are inexpensive safety devices that cut power to the dryer’s heater when the dryer gets too hot. The main reason dryers get too hot is due to a clogged dryer vent tube as discussed above.

Dryer thermal fuse
Dryer thermal fuse. Image source

These three videos show how to easily replace the thermal fuse on three popular dryer brands:

3. Reset the Fuse

The third fix is the most fun and the fastest. It works on two of the most-sold dryer brands: LG and Samsung. When these dryers get too hot, they blow a resettable fuse that stops power from reaching the dryer’s heater. Resetting the fuse is a matter of just pressing a button as seen in this picture:

lectric Dryer High-Limit Thermostat Resettable
Image source

This video shows how to easily get to the hidden button: Quick LG Dryer Reset

Once again, it’s important to clean the dryer vent tube so the dryer won’t overheat again.

Additional Dryer Problem Causers

The following culprits can also cause a dryer to take too long to dry. Fortunately, the fixes are easy.

Anti-Cling Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are very bad for your dryer because they clog your lint filter with a waxy coating as seen in this video on cleaning a dirty dryer filter: How to Clean the Lint Filter

Dryer sheets also coat the dryer’s moisture sensor with a waxy coating that prevents the dryer controller from knowing that the clothes are dry. A natural, chemical-free anti-static solution that’s safer for you and your dryer is wool dryer balls.

Clogged Lint Filter Housing

Even if you clean the lint filter regularly, lint can clog the housing underneath the lint filter.

Here’s a video on how to clean the filter housing: How to Clean the Filter Housing

Too Many Bends in the Dryer Vent Tube

One last thing that can cause a dryer to take too long to dry the clothes is a dryer vent tube with too many bends in it. Each 90-degree bend of the vent tube takes down dryer efficiency by 15%. Try to have no more than two bends in the vent tube.

Dryers Need Good Airflow

Keeping your dryer’s airflow going strong gets your clothes dried a whole lot faster, saves energy, and reduces pollution. Plus, fixing it yourself is rewarding, extends the life of your dryer, and saves you money.

By Scott Flint

Scott Flint, known on YouTube as Scott the Fix-It Guy, is a licensed California appliance tech who believes we can save the Earth one appliance at a time. He has 30 years of experience repairing home appliances and has taught self-defense and biology for decades. Please consider donating to support his ongoing project to create video guides that help people do their own appliance repairs.