Dryer Turns On by Itself (How To Fix)

If you’ve ever found your dryer running even though you didn’t start it, you may wonder what’s going on. There are a few possible explanations for why this might happen. 

Dryer turns on by itself

Your dryer may turn on itself because of a faulty cycling thermostat. The cycling thermostat is responsible for regulating the dryer’s temperature. If it malfunctions, it can cause the dryer to turn on without anyone operating it.

In this article, I’ll explore six of the most common reasons your dryer may turn on itself. I’ll also provide you with tips on how to solve these problems.

Why Does My Dryer Turn On by Itself?

If your dryer turns on by itself, there are a few potential causes. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the problem. Here are the most common reasons for your dryer turning on by itself and how you can fix those issues. 

1. Your Dryer Has a Faulty Cycling Thermostat

If your dryer turns on by itself, the cycling thermostat is probably defective. Normally, the thermostat ensures that your dryer won’t overheat. When there’s something wrong with this component, the dryer will keep running even after it’s exceeded optimum temperatures.

How To Fix

If you suspect your cycling thermostat is faulty, you can replace it by following these steps:

  1. Take out both screws and throw away the defective thermostat. 
  2. Insert the new thermostat and fasten it with the two screws provided. 
  3. Put your dryer back together and plug it in again.
Put dryer back together and plug it

Of course, if these steps are easier on paper than in practice, you can simply ask a professional for help.

2. Your Dryer Has a Faulty or Stuck Switch

A faulty or stuck switch is another likely culprit for your dryer turning on by itself.

The most likely cause of a faulty or stuck switch is a build-up of lint or dust on the switch over time. When the switch becomes coated with lint or dust, it can become stuck in the “on” position.

How To Fix

To fix a dryer turning on by itself due to a faulty switch:

  1. Check the switch for lint or dust. Make sure you turn off the power to the switch for safety purposes.
  2. Clean it with a cotton swab or toothbrush. You can coat either with alcohol to facilitate cleaning and disinfecting the area. 

If these steps don’t work, you need to replace the switch.

3. There Is a Problem With the Wiring Harness

The wiring harness connects all the electrical components of your dryer. If your dryer’s wiring harness is malfunctioning, it can cause issues such as your dryer turning on by itself. Various reasons — such as moisture, wear and tear, and rodent bites — could ruin the wiring harness in your dryer.

How To Fix

Inspect the wiring harness for any signs of damage. If you see any damage, you need to replace it.

You can watch this video for guidance on swapping out a wiring harness:

If you’re not comfortable inspecting or fixing your dryer’s wiring harness, you can always call a professional to do it for you.

4. The Lint Trap Is Full Causing the Dryer To Overheat and Turn On Itself

Your dryer’s lint trap is in the exhaust duct. When the lint trap is full, it can cause your dryer to turn on itself. This happens because the dryer will automatically turn on, overheat, and try to clear the lint from the trap. 

How To Fix

If you have a full lint trap, you should immediately empty it. Otherwise, it will cause your dryer to work harder than necessary and become a fire hazard. To prevent your lint trap from becoming full, you should clean it out after each load of laundry.

Here’s a video that demonstrates how to thoroughly clean your lint trap.

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5. There Is a Problem With the Moisture Sensor

Most dryers have a moisture sensor that helps to regulate the amount of time the dryer runs. If the moisture sensor is faulty, it can cause the dryer to turn on itself, even when there are no clothes inside the dryer.

A few things can cause a moisture sensor to become faulty: 

  • The sensor is old and needs to be replaced. 
  • The sensor is covered in lint, which prevents it from accurately reading the moisture levels in the clothes. 
  • The sensor is exposed to too much moisture, such as from a leaky pipe.

How To Fix

There are a few things you can do to fix this problem. First, you can try cleaning the sensor with a cotton swab or fine sandpaper. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace the sensor.

If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, you can always call a repairman. However, it’s usually fairly easy to fix this problem yourself.

temperature controller in an electric dryer

6. The Heating Element May Be Faulty

A defective heating element can cause your dryer to turn on by itself. That’s because it provides the heat necessary to dry your clothes. If it’s not working properly, it can overheat, causing the dryer to turn on by itself.

How To Fix

If you suspect the heating element is at fault, here’s what you can do:

  • Check to see if the heating element is damaged. If it is, you need to replace it. 
  • Try resetting the dryer by disconnecting it from the power source for a few minutes. 

If none of these solutions works, you may need to call a professional for help.

In case you’re experiencing a different issue that’ll require a reset, and your dryer is a Hoover, you can check out “Where Is the Hoover Dryer Reset Button?” for more information. 


While there are several possible explanations for a dryer turning on by itself, the most likely cause is a faulty cycling thermostat or switch. If the dryer is turning on and stays on for a while, it could be a sign that the switch is faulty. If the dryer turns on and immediately shuts off, it’s probably the cycling thermostat. Either way, the best course of action is to call a qualified repair person to diagnose the issue.