If your tumble dryer smells like something’s burning, don't be tempted to keep using it as normal. Built-up lint could be clogging the filter or vent hose. While rare, this can lead to the lint catching fire inside the machine. So, it’s important to find out exactly what’s causing the issue.

What should you do first?

Stop using the dryer right away. Then, follow these instructions…

1. Switch the power off

If it’s safe, switch the appliance off at the plug. You should also give it time to cool before taking out any laundry.

2. Check the lint filter

Lint is highly flammable. In extreme cases, it can travel to parts of the machine like the dryer’s heating element, which can cause it to catch fire. This is why you should clean the filter after every use.

With most dryers, the filter is inside the door. If you have a condenser or heat pump dryer, there might also be a second filter outside, below the door. Check your machine’s user manual for tips on where to find the filters.

Once you’ve found the main filter, take it out of the machine by lifting it up. Then brush away the lint (if there’s lots of it, use a vacuum cleaner or rinse the filter under the tap). Just remember to let it dry before putting it back in.

For more details and maintenance tips, see our guide to cleaning a tumble dryer’s filter

3. Unblock the vent hose

Any lint that doesn’t collect in the filter can build up in the vent hose. To remove the lint, you should:

  1. Move the dryer away from the wall for easy access
  2. Check the appliance is switched off before disconnecting the hose
  3. Have a look inside it and remove any blockages
  4. Ensure there are no kinks or bends in the hose (this makes it harder for air to leave your machine)
  5. Reattach the hose
  6. Move the appliance back (be careful not to crush the hose against the wall)

If you have a condenser dryer, you don’t need to worry about the vent hose.

How to prevent tumble dryer problems

Here’s how you can help keep your dryer running safely. And if there are other issues with your dryer, we can give you a hand with them too. From odd noises to power issues, our guide covers common tumble dryer problems.

Don’t overload the drum

Even though it seems easier to stuff all your laundry in at once, it can damage your dryer. Plus, it doesn't really save time. Check your machine’s instruction manual for advice on how much to load.

Clean the lint filter regularly

If lint builds up in the filter, it creates a fire hazard, causes longer drying times and wastes energy. So, remember to clean the filter every time you use your machine.

Check the vent hose too

Unlike the filter, you don’t have to clean the vent hose after every use. But you should still check it often to stop lint from building up and causing bigger problems.

Keep the condenser unit clean

If you have a condenser tumble dryer, you need to keep an eye on the condenser unit, which also collects lint and debris.  

To check the unit, remove the access panel at the bottom of your appliance. This might involve pressing a button inside the main door or removing the panel with a screwdriver. When the panel’s open, you can take out the condenser unit and clean it in your sink or shower.

Contact us to arrange a repair

Tried everything but your machine still smells of burning? Are the filter, hose and unit lint-free? In that case, another part could be faulty, like the motor, drive belt or thermostat. For internal parts, it’s best to get an engineer to repair your tumble dryer.

About the author

Richard Dellow

Richard has been working as an engineer at Domestic & General for over 4 years and is keen to share some of the ways our customers can avoid paying for an appliance repair.

As the Regional Field Service Manager, Richard works very closely to our network of engineers and is an integral part of helping our customers ‘self-fix’ wherever possible.

With special expertise in maintaining many household appliances, especially gas appliances, Richard is a source of great expertise when it comes to making these essential home appliances run smoothly and for as long as possible.

In his free time, Richard enjoys spending time with his family and loves being outdoors, endurance and trail running are his passions, but loves any opportunity to take part in big challenges.

To make the most of Richard’s appliance wisdom, take a look at the articles below- they might save you a hefty repair fee…

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