Ever taken out freshly washed and dried clothes out of the machine only to be met with an unpleasant surprise where recently washed clothes smell of smoke? This is not at all uncommon, especially if you’re a smoker or simply live in a big polluted city.
Unfortunately, if this happens once, chances are it will keep happening, as the dryer absorbs the smoke smell from accumulated lint and later transfers that smell to other clothes while running. Smoke smell usually builds up slowly over time and can cause a noticeable problem when you least expect it.
To prevent this, let’s find out what causes dryers to smell of smoke and how you can thoroughly clean your dryer so you can bring back that wonderful and fresh smell of recently washed clothes.
What Causes Dryers to Smell of Smoke?
The main reason why dryers begin to smell in general, causing your clothes to retain bad smells, is buildup of lint inside the lint tray. The main way to solve this is to empty and clean lint trays after each cycle, but rarely who follows that. Because of that, lint builds up in the tray and not only causes a foul smell, but it’s also a fire hazard, and the dryer will be a lot less efficient.
Another consequence of lint buildup is a blocked vent hose, which is yet another cause of bad smell retention, including cigarette smoke. Lint is the most probable cause for blockage in the vent hose, but forgotten items in the pockets of your clothes can also sometimes cause problems.
Other technical problems that can cause smoke smell in dryers include a worn-out belt and failed or burnt-out motor. Both of these issues need to be checked and replaced for you to be able to continue using the dryer safely.
Important: Seeing how smoke smells can be a result of damaged or worn-out parts from the dryer itself, the initial step before doing anything else is to thoroughly inspect the dryer and check if something needs to be replaced or repaired. Once you’re completely sure that the smoke smell isn’t of a mechanical nature, you can move forward and follow our steps below on how to deodorize your dryer.
How to Remove Smoke Smell Out of the Dryer
Lint in dryers consists of short fibers of yarn and fabric that have the same properties as most of your clothes have. That means that if your clothes smell of cigarette smoke after a night out, the lint in the dryer will have a lingering smell as well.
This usually happens when the washing machine can’t remove all the smoke smell from the clothes, and the heat in the dryer causes odor-causing molecules in the air and into the lint in the dryer.
Sometimes, if there’s enough lint trapped in the dryer, it can cause an unpleasant smell all on its own. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get smoke smell out of the dryer.
Step 1: Clean the Lint Trap
If you don’t usually clean the lint trap after each cycle, then diagnosing the smoke smell in your dryer should start here.
Remove the lint trap from the drier and scrape off as much lint as you can with your hands. Then, vacuum out the remaining lint. Once you’re confident most of the lint is gone, you should fully clean the lint trap by running it under lukewarm water. Take a soft brush (without soap of other chemicals) and scrub the lint trap with it to remove any remaining lint.
Leave the lint trap to fully dry before putting it back in the dryer.
Step 2: Vacuum Remaining Lint From the Dryer
Cleaning just the lint trap won’t solve all your issues, though. Before running another cycle, you should also clean the dryer inside and out — hunting for any remaining or stuck lint inside the dryer.
First, take off any vacuum’s attachments and vacuum inside the hole where the lint trap goes.
Second, vacuum the dryer vent, the spacer underneath, behind, over, and on the sides of the dryer. You’ll be surprised to learn how dirt around the dryer can impact its efficiency, leaving lingering smoke smells.
The exterior vent is also important. Check if there’s blockage and vacuum any dirt particles. Third, make sure the dryer is turned off and open the top or the front to vacuum inside the dryer. If there’s trapped lint, you should be able to get it out now.
Finally, once you’re done with the vacuum, you should clean the inside with distilled white vinegar.
Step 3: Clean With Distilled White Vinegar
After that, proceed with specific odor-removing substances. Here we have two solutions: distilled white vinegar and Lestoil.
The reason why removing lint might not be enough is that odor-causing molecules can land on pretty much anything. Plus, many particles might still be in the air. To make sure everything is clean, you can use distilled white vinegar.
Simply, dip a cloth in distilled white vinegar and run the whole surface of the dryer. Start from the inside and cover the full surface of the dryer, including the rubber gasket that’s used to seal the dryer’s lid. However, do not close the lid until the vinegar completely dries.
Finally, when the inside of the dryer completely dries from the vinegar, you can turn on the dryer again and run a cycle with only a towel sprayed with Lestoil.
Step 4: Clean With Lestoil
After the hot cycle only with the Lestoil towel has run its course, reassess the situation. If there’s still a lingering smoke smell in the dryer, you’ll need to take out the big guns and actually use Lestoil to clean the dryer.
Lestoil is a heavy-duty cleaning product that’s meant to remove grease and stains from hard and soft surfaces. Sometimes it’s also used in laundry, but because it’s way too strong, we recommend using it to clean your dryer before putting clothes in. You can find it in most big-chain supermarkets.
If you do resort to cleaning with Lestoil, put some of it on a a damp cloth. Then, repeat the whole cleaning process you did with vinegar and let it air out until it’s completely dry. After that, run the dryer empty at a hot temperature and let it finish the cycle.
Lastly, leave it open for a few hours, and you’re ready to do a regular load with clothes and a few dryer sheets. The smoke smell should be gone, and your clothes should smell fresh yet again.
Smoke smell in dryers is an unfortunate but common problem. People who live in big and polluted cities, smokers, and people who frequent smoking-allowed bars might notice a lingering smell of smoke even after taking their freshly washed clothes out of the dryer. With time, even the dryer itself can start to smell of smoke.
Before resorting to cleaning the dryer, make sure that there are no mechanical issues causing bad smells. If the dryer is perfectly functional, but the smoke smell lingers, you’ll need to do some multi-step deep cleaning.
In that case, simply follow our guide, and your clothes will smell as good as new!