Is Dryer Lint Toxic? Here’s Everything You Must Know

May 19, 2024
Avatar for Shakil AhmedShakil Ahmed
Is Dryer Lint Toxic? Here’s Everything You Must Know

Imagine you’re doing laundry on a typical Saturday afternoon. You toss the freshly washed clothes into the dryer, set the timer, and go about your day. Later, as you pull out the warm, clean clothes, you notice the lint trap is full of fuzzy bits. 

You’ve probably cleaned it a hundred times without much thought. But today, a question pops into your mind: Is dryer lint toxic? It’s a valid concern, especially if you have kids or pets at home. 

Here’s the brief for you: Dryer lint itself isn’t inherently toxic like poison, but it can trap harmful chemicals and be a fire hazard. So, you have to clean your dryer vent from time to time to prevent fires and improve indoor air quality.

Give this blog a thorough read to learn in detail whether dryer lint is something to worry about and what you need to do to keep your home safe.

The Big One: Fire Risk 

As per your question, “Is Dryer Lint Toxic,” you must know that dryer lint is no joke! If you observe the real data from 2014 to 2018, local fire departments in the U.S. dealt with about 13,820 home fires each year caused by dryers. These fires led to an average of —

  • seven deaths, 
  • 344 injuries 
  • and $233 million in property damage annually. 

Dryers were responsible for —

  • 4% of home fires, 
  • less than 1% of home fire deaths, 
  • and 3% of home fire injuries and property damage.  

So, who is the culprit behind this scenario? 

One-third of these fires (32%) happened because people didn’t clean their dryers, with 27% starting when dust, fiber, or lint caught fire. This shows that lint buildup is a major cause of dryer fires.

Definitely, You’ll Now Wonder Why Lint is so Dangerous and What You Can Do to Stop This Disaster:

Don’t worry. Here is the answer:

Fuel for Flames

Dryer lint is like the stuff you use to start a campfire. It’s made of small, flammable fibers that can catch fire easily with just a tiny spark, like from the dryer’s heating element. 

Blocked Vent

Another problem is when lint builds up in the dryer vent, it stops air from flowing properly. This makes the dryer work harder and gets really hot, just like when you put a blanket too close to a heater. 

So, if lint blocks the airflow, it can cause dangerous heat buildup that might lead to a fire.

Here’s what you can do to prevent dryer lint fires:

After each drying cycle, take out the lint from the lint trap. This stops lint from piling up inside the dryer. 

Plus, lint can also gather in the dryer vent hose, which blocks airflow and raises heat. So, it’s best to have a professional clean it yearly. If you do it yourself, make sure to follow safety instructions.

If you’re thinking whether you can vent a dryer into a garage or not, read our informative blog to learn.

Material of the Clothes

Material of the Clothes

If you know what your clothes are made of, you can see how that affects the lint they make.

Natural Fibers

If your clothes are made of natural fibers like cotton or wool, the lint is less likely to be toxic. These materials are generally safe and biodegradable.

Synthetic Fibers

Clothes made from synthetic materials like polyester or nylon can be a bit more problematic. These materials can release microplastics into the lint, which can be harmful if ingested or inhaled over long periods.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that heart disease patients with tiny bits of plastic, known as microplastics, in the blood vessels on both sides of their neck were twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.  

These patients were also more likely to pass away over the next three years compared to people without microplastics in their carotid arteries.

Then what’s the solution? Certainly, it’s utterly impossible to skip wearing clothes that are made of synthetic materials, right? Here’s what you can do:

Cooler Washes: Hot water loosens more microplastics. So, choose cold water to keep them in check.

Quick Washes: Long washes mean more microplastic shedding. So, choose shorter cycles for lightly soiled clothes.

Natural Fabrics: Cotton, wool, and linen shed less microplastic than synthetics. Choose them when you can.

Microwashing Bags: These nifty bags trap microplastics in the wash, which can prevent them from reaching the drain.

Sustainable Brands: Support those companies that develop clothes designed to shed less microplastic.

Chemical Residues

While dryer lint itself isn’t classified as toxic, it can trap some not-so-great stuff:

Detergents and Fabric Softeners

Chemicals in laundry products like detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets have perfumes, soapy leftovers, and artificial colors. These chemicals end up in dryer lint. 

If there are a lot of these chemicals in the lint, it can be harmful to humans and small animals.

Stain Removers and Bleaches

If you use harsh chemicals on your clothes, these can end up in the lint as well.

Dust Mites

Lint can become a cozy home for dust mites, which can trigger allergies or asthma problems in some people.

Here’s what you can do to fight back the above issues:

  • Minimize Chemicals: Use fewer dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Find out some natural laundry alternatives. 

You can get some ideas on the best non-toxic laundry detergent from this guide.

  • Wash Hot (Sometimes): An occasional hot wash can help kill dust mites hiding in lint.

Want to learn how hot a dryer vent gets? Check out our insightful blog now.

Environmental Concerns

At this lint toxicity point, you might wonder if dryer lint impacts your indoor air quality.

Yes! A clogged dryer vent traps lint, which can then get re-circulated back into your home through leaks or forced air systems. This can worsen allergies and irritate the lungs.

So, to help reduce lint in your air:

  • Always empty the dryer lint trap and throw the lint in the trash when doing laundry.
  • If possible, vent your dryer outside your home to prevent lint buildup.
  • Use a HEPA filter in your vacuum, which can capture airborne particles and improve indoor air quality.
  • Wash your clothes with laundry balls or in a wash bag designed to catch microfibers.

Dryer lint is not safe for birds to use as nesting material

Dryer lint is not safe for birds to use as nesting material. 

Here’s why:

Texture: Lint falls apart easily and doesn’t hold up well in nests. When it gets wet and dries, it can become brittle and break.

Chemicals: Lint contains chemicals from detergents and fabric softeners that can be toxic to birds.

Smell: While birds may not notice the smell, predators might, which ultimately puts the nest at risk.

Residue: Dry lint can produce dust that birds can inhale. This causes breathing problems or choking.

Mildew: Wet lint dries slowly and can grow mold, which is harmful to birds.

Tackiness: Wet lint can stick to birds’ legs, feet, and feathers, which causes problems.

Configuration: Long hairs in the lint can tangle around birds, which causes injuries.

So, At This Point, What Preventive Measures You Must Take to Reduce the Danger of Dryer Lint

To reduce the danger of dryer lint, after every load, clean the lint trap to prevent buildup. This also helps your dryer run more efficiently. Plus, have a professional clean your dryer vent. This is the first and foremost duty of every homeowner.

Then, replace old plastic or foil vents with rigid or flexible metal ones, as these are less likely to catch fire. Plus, make the vent as short and straight as possible for better airflow. 

You can follow the International Residential Code (IRC) guidelines: metal dryer vents should be no longer than 25 feet, with five feet deducted for each 90-degree turn. 

In the end, regular maintenance and proper vent installation can greatly lower the risk of a dryer fire caused by lint buildup. 

Visit our informative blog to learn, “How often should dryer vents be cleaned in a condo?

Contact a Pro

Choosing a professional for dryer vent cleaning means getting thorough, safe, and efficient service. Our Tampa team offers fast, affordable, and dependable cleaning with over 15 years of experience. 

We’re fully licensed and insured. So you can peacefully trust our services. Our three-step process includes inspection, cleaning, and repair, which ensure your dryer vents are in great condition.

Reach out to us now and GET OUR $99 AIR DUCT CLEANING TODAY!

Wrapping Up

So, that’s all about today’s topic—“Is Dryer Lint Toxic?” Hopefully, you’ve got a pretty good idea of all the concerns related to dryer lint and what you can do to avoid these issues. While dryer lint itself might not be harmful on its own, it can still be dangerous because of the chemicals it carries and the risk of starting fires. To stay safe, clean your dryer regularly and use safer laundry products. Being aware and taking action can help keep your home and health safe from dryer lint dangers.

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