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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!

Dryer Vent Misconceptions

Failing to clean out your dryer vent can be a major fire hazard.Consumers are often surprised to learn that an accumulation of just 1/2-inch of lint within a four-inch dryer vent can reduce airflow by nearly 50 percent. This accumulation requires the dryer to work harder and is an additional reason to have dryer vent cleaning performed. Dryers run at high temperatures and have limit safety switches that prevent their temperatures from becoming too high. However, reduced air flow can cause the appliances to frequently cycle off and on, wearing out these switches. In addition, dryer lint is a fire-starting material.

There’s apparently a lot of confusion and misconceptions about the subject of the do’s and don’ts of your dryer vent, and a lot of people are struggling with misinformation they’ve been gathering from friends, the Internet or other sources.

So it seemed like a good time to touch on this topic, and clear up a few misconceptions:

Dryer Vent Misconception #1:

It’s OK to vent the dryer directly into the house, so the air can be used as either a source of humidity or a source of heat.

Definitely NOT! As your clothes dry, moisture is being removed and vented out of the dryer, which is why it’s so important that clothes dryers be vented all the way to the outside of the house. If not, you’ll be pumping a tremendous amount of warm, moist air directly into your home, which is a perfect recipe for creating mold growth, as well as potentially doing a lot of structural damage. That air also carries with it a lot of fine lint particles. That’s not something you want to be breathing, and in high-enough concentrations the lint is highly flammable.

Dryer Vent Misconception #2:

For dryers that are located in a place where venting to the outside is difficult, it’s OK to simply vent the dryer into a container of water.

Definitely No! When a dryer is in operation, it’s removing moisture and lint and venting it to the outside. The only reason that people vent dryers into water is to contain the lint so it doesn’t fly around. But that does nothing to solve the problem of getting the moisture out of the house; in fact, pushing moist air into a bucket of water simply makes the problem worse.

Dryer Vent Misconception #3:

It’s OK to use that white, corrugated plastic, flex hose to vent the dryer.

The answer is no. The white plastic flex duct creates lots of problems. Wet lint accumulates in all the little folds, and can’t be removed through normal cleaning. The plastic has virtually no structural strength, so as the wet lint accumulates, the duct sags more and more, which allows more and more lint to accumulate in a vicious cycle. Over time, the duct simply fills up, less and less air can pass through it, your clothes take longer to dry, and eventually your dryer overloads and burns out — or worse yet, a house fire starts.

For dryer venting, use 4-inch smooth wall aluminum pipe. Where changes of direction are required, use 4-inch aluminum elbows. Hang the pipe from the floor joists — don’t let it drape on the ground.

Dryer Vent Misconception #4:

Dryer vents don’t need cleaning.

Your dryer only has the power to push that heavy, wet lint so far, so it’s inevitable that some of it is going remain behind in the vent pipe. As mentioned before, a buildup of lint in the vent reduces the air flow and affects your dryer’s performance, so it should be professionally cleaned out periodically. How often is a matter of how much use your dryer gets. Large families that do lots of laundry should consider having it cleaned every six months, while someone living alone and doing laundry once a week or so might need to have it done only once in three or four years.

Dryer Vent Misconception #5:

If it’s really difficult to find a way to vent the dryer to the outside, an acceptable alternative is to vent it directly into the crawl space or attic.

DO NOT vent a dryer directly into a crawl space, attic or basement. This may sound repetitious, but we’ve received so many similar questions about this that it obviously bears repeating. You’ll be pumping a lot of warm, moist air under the house that can cause both mold and structural issues, and you’ll also be letting all the lint accumulate, which is a definite fire hazard!

Hopefully these misconceptions when it comes to your dryer vent have been answered, but if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us, or post your question on our Facebook Page.

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