Can You Run a Dryer Without a Lint Trap?

A dryer is one of the essential elements of modern homes. Unfortunately, it also seems to cause fires in many houses. One of the primary reasons dryers may catch fire is not using a lint trap or not cleaning the filter properly.

You should never run a dryer without a lint trap. Every modern dryer has a lint filter to safeguard against lint build-up in the vent. Using a dryer without it can clog the exhaust and heat it up too much, eventually causing a fire. You should also clean the lint trap after every load.

In this post, you can learn the importance of using a lint trap and what happens if you don’t. Of course, you may be thinking, “My dryer doesn’t have a lint trap!” I will also discuss what to do if that’s the case or if the existing one gets damaged.

What Happens if You Run Your Dryer Without a Lint Trap?

Natural drying of clothes requires heat and wind. It’s no different for clothes dryers. Typically, a dryer pulls cool air over a heater and makes the air warm. As the hot air passes over the clothes, the water evaporates and the clothes dry. The airflow catches the moisture before exhausting the dryer vent.

man takes a lint filter out of the dryer

However, as the clothes dry out inside a machine, lint detaches and accumulates in the dryer basin. If your dryer doesn’t have a lint trap, fiber particles and moisture can travel anywhere and cause many potential hazards. It can:

  • Get all over the dry clothes. Fibers circulate inside the basin without a lint filter to catch detached particles. Some of it can get attached to clothes, making them dirty again.
  • Spread out in the room through the door. The circulating lint and moisture must vent somewhere; without a lint trap, it can quickly come out when you open the door. The moist lint can dampen the surroundings, causing bacteria and mold to grow.
  • Clog up in the dryer vent and cause a fire. As lint is highly flammable, it can easily catch fire and give a burning smell when contacting scorching air. This would break the machine and potentially cause massive damage to your home.
  • Create high concentrations of toxic gasses. Large particles go into the vent without a lint trap, blocking airflow in and out of the dryer. As a result, poisonous gasses like carbon monoxide can’t get released outside and become concentrated indoors.

All instances above are hazardous and can be avoided by running your dryer with a clean lint trap.

Lint Traps Can Save You on Drying Costs

woman holds a lint trap from a front-loading dryer

The more lint build-up in the dryer, the less efficient they become. With the vent clogged up, the air can’t circulate outside. As lint remains inside the bowl, it gets to a point where the air can no longer absorb water. Therefore, the dryer takes longer and more power to finish a load, raising electricity bills. You can easily avoid the extra cost by using a lint filter.

A lint trap adds a filtering layer between the dryer basin and the exhaust pipe. It catches and accumulates detached fabric particles in one place, blocking them from traveling into an inaccessible area such as the vent. Therefore, the dryer will continue to perform better for longer.

Lint Traps in Dryers Can Help Avoid Fires

Hot air can circulate as expected with a lint trap preventing lint accumulation in the dryer interior. Therefore, it can absorb the water, exhaust the vent as usual, and keep the heat inside the dryer under control. As long as it remains cool, the dryer should function safely.

On the other hand, loose fibers get caught in the trap. Without excessive heat, they don’t catch fire, ensuring safety for the household.

However, cleaning the lint filter after or before every cycle is paramount for safety. Otherwise, lint would accumulate in the screener and cause the same hazards as running your dryer without a lint trap.

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How To Clean Your Dryer’s Lint Trap?

Lint traps or filters are mesh-like elements found in a dryer. Every dryer should have one built-in. It is usually located inside the dryer’s door or on the top. Otherwise, consult the dryer’s user manual for the exact location.

man takes a lint filter out of the dryer and cleans it from dust, lint, hair, wool.

Irrespective of the location, it should be easily accessible. And if you have a removal lint trap:

  1. Access the lint trap’s place and take it out of the dryer.
  2. Dump the larger fibers into a garbage bag or bin.
  3. Use a cleaning rag or brush to wipe away all the residues.
  4. Put the filter back in the dryer accurately.

You may have to clean an additional lint trap outside the dryer if you live in a condo. Here is a video that shows the process step-by-step:

If the dryer’s built-in lint trap isn’t removable, use a cleaning brush to softly wipe away any residues from the mesh. Then clean the dryer’s basin with a vacuum cleaner.

What To Do if My Dryer Doesn’t Have a Lint Trap?

As per the uniform plumbing code (UPC) and the international plumbing code (IPC), most states have regulations in place that require commercial buildings, apartment complexes, and condominium owners to have lint traps on their dryers. 

Unfortunately, those same rules don’t apply to individual homeowners. 

Nevertheless, if your dryer doesn’t have a lint trap, you should refrain from using it. The same applies to damaged lint traps. These dryer filters are easily replaceable and can be purchased online. While buying, make sure you choose one compatible with your dryer.

Final Thoughts

Lint traps are essential for a dryer to run safely and effectively. Without it, lint builds up in the machine, causing it to perform inadequately. In addition, as cloth fibers are flammable, they can also cause fire by clogging up the exhaust and creating excessive heat inside.

Even if your dryer doesn’t have a lint trap built-in, you should buy a compatible screener and use it every time. You should also clean the lint filter after every load, as it is essential to avoid any residues remaining inside.