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Clothes dryer safety

    General safety

    Householders and consumers should always take precautions when using clothes dryers. Lack of care for clothes drying appliances can create unsafe conditions which may cause a fire.

    The two main types of clothes drying appliances are tumble dryers and heated towel rails. To safeguard your family, home and possessions, always:

    • install, maintain and use your clothes drying appliance as stated in the manufacturer's instructions
    • read the manufacturer's instructions before first use, and keep them for future reference
    • clean your tumble dryer’s lint filter every time you use it
    • mount heated towel rails so that the lowest heated rail is at least 600 mm above the floor, to protect young children.

    Clothes dryers should be regularly maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. While householders can clean the lint filter, exhaust duct, vent and the exterior of the dryer, only a licensed electrical contractor can maintain and clean the interior of the dryer.

    Tumble dryers – seven safety steps

    When used correctly tumble dryers are both convenient and safe. The main risk from tumble dryers is fire. In order to minimise this:

    1. Keep your dryer exhaust duct as short and straight as possible

      In addition to creating a fire hazard, if the ducting is too long or has too many bends it will accumulate lint and cause your dryer to take much longer than necessary to dry clothes.

    2. Keep area clean and free of clutter

      Make sure the area around the dryer is well ventilated, and free of clothes or other items . Clutter in this area can elevate the temperature of the drum and may lead to a fire.

    3. Tumble dry safe fabrics

      Fabric softeners or similar products to eliminate the effects of static electricity should only be used in a tumble dryer where recommended by the product manufacturer. Carefully read the product label. Do not place articles in a tumble dryer that have been previously cleaned, washed or soaked in, or spotted with, flammable or explosive substances.

    4. Clean the lint filter before you use the tumble dryer

      Lint build-up can cause a fire by creating an elevated temperature in the drum. Keep the filter, dryer and its surroundings lint-free by cleaning the filter before each use, and by regularly vacuuming behind and underneath the dryer and near the vent openings. If clothing is still damp at the end of a typical cycle, or drying requires longer than usual, this may be a sign that the lint filter or the exhaust duct and vent are blocked.

    5. Load your clothes dryer only to its approved capacity

      Overloading the dryer prolongs drying time, and can cause serious and expensive long-term damage to the machine.

    6. Only use a tumble dryer if it is in good working order

      Do not use the dryer if it is making unusual noises e.g. rubbing or grinding sounds, or if the drying cycle timer is not functioning properly.

    7. Let the ‘cool down’ cycle finish

      Allow the tumble dryer ‘cool down’ cycle to finish, unload all items and spread them out to remove any remaining heat. The ‘cool down’ cycle lowers the temperature of the drying clothes and reduces the risk of hot clothes in the drum igniting.

      Avoid removing clothes from the tumble dryer, or piling or stacking them while hot. If you must stop a tumble dryer during the drying cycle or before the ‘cool down’ cycle is finished, ensure items are removed and aired to quickly disperse the heat.
    Last updated
    12 September 2019

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