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Fabric Softener Sheets Can Cause a Dryer Fire?

Fabric-softener sheets can burn out the heating unit of your clothes dryer possibly creating a dryer fire hazard.

True or False?

We’re here to assure you, this is absolutely false!

It is possible that over a long period, fabric sheets, fabric softeners, and laundry detergent ingredients contribute to an unseen film or waxy buildup on the dryer lint screen. But it’s highly doubtful that any such invisible buildup alone leads to heating-unit burnout or a dryer fire.

Ways to Avoid a Dryer Fire

Can fabric softener sheets cause a dryer fire?Improper dryer vents are a much bigger and more common safety problem. Here are a few tips to keep your clothes dryer running safely and efficiently, courtesy of Consumer Reports.

  • Use metal dryer ducts to help prevent a dryer fire. Flexible dryer ducts made of foil or plastic are the most problematic because they can sag and let lint build up at low points. Ridges can also trap lint. Metal ducts, either flexible or solid, are far safer because they don’t sag, so lint is less likely to build up. In addition, if a dryer fire does start, a metal duct is more likely to contain it.
  • No matter which kind of duct you have, you should clean it regularly. In addition, remove the visible lint from the lint screen each time you use your dryer. This not only will reduce the risk of a dryer fire, but your clothes will dry faster and your dryer will use less energy. If dryer film is a worry, there is certainly no harm in occasionally cleaning the lint filter with warm soapy water and a small brush.
  • Clean inside, behind, and underneath the dryer, where lint can also build up.
  • Take special care drying clothes stained with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. Wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of these chemicals on the clothing, and line dry instead of using a dryer.
  • Avoid using liquid fabric softener on all-cotton clothing made of fleece, terry cloth, or velour. In flammability tests, liquid fabric softener added to rinse water accelerated the burning speed of these fabrics. If you want a softener, use dryer sheets instead.
  • Buy dryers that use moisture sensors rather than ordinary thermostats to end the auto-dry cycle. Thermostats can allow the dryer to run longer than necessary.
  • Occasionally wipe the sensor with a soft cloth or cotton ball and rubbing alcohol to keep it functioning accurately. Sensors are usually located on the inside of the dryer, just below the door opening, and can be hard to find. They are usually two curved metallic strips, shaped somewhat like the letter “C.”
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For advice on whether repairing your broken dryer or washer is worthwhile, read Consumer Reports’ repair or replace report here.

Hopefully any misconception you may have had about fabric softener sheets causing a dryer fire have been answered, but if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, or post your question on our Facebook Page. For even more daily tips, follow us on Twitter!

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