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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.”

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!

Winter Home Fire Safety Tips

Keep these tips in mind if you are considering alternative heat sources or simply want to make safety your top priority when heating your Myrtle Beach area home.

Home Fire Safety with Kerosene Heaters:

  • Precise Fuel: Do not apply fuel that is not designed for your particular make or type of heater. Use only fuel recommended by the heater’s manufacturer.
  • Proper Room Ventilation: This is important because burning fuel (coal, kerosene or propane) can produce deadly fumes. Make sure to also inspect exhaust parts for carbon buildup.
  • Appropriate Storage: Ventilation is important for storage areas as well. Keep kerosene or other flammable liquids stored in approved metal containers outside of the house.

Home Fire Safety with Wood Stoves and Fireplaces:

  • Adequate Clearance: Wood stoves should be at least 36” from flammable surfaces and have suitable floor support. Flammable materials should be kept away from fireplace mantels.
  • Annual Check-Up: Chimneys should be inspected annually and cleaned if necessary.
  • Burn Wisely: Never burn charcoal indoors and do not use excessive amounts of paper to build fires. It is possible to ignite creosote (a black oily build-up which is a result of incomplete burning of wood or coal) in the chimney by overbuilding the fire.
  • Double-Check the Fire is Extinguished: Heading off to bed? Do not close your damper (the plate that regulates airflow) with hot ashes in the fireplace. A closed damper can cause the fire to reheat and force carbon monoxide into the house.

Other Home Fire Safety Tips:

  • Basic Protection: Each level of your home should have working smoke alarms. Be sure to inspect each alarm annually and replace batteries if necessary.
  • Discard Properly: When discarding hot ashes, place them in a metal container outside and away from the house.
  • Use Caution: If your water pipes are frozen, use hot water or a handheld dryer to thaw them. Never thaw them with an open flame because the pipe could cause heat to ignite the structure inside the wall.

Protect your home and your loved ones by following these simple safety tips when it comes to heating your home this winter.

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