The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 1998, clothes dryers were associated with 15,600 fires, which resulted in 20 deaths and 370 injuries.
Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust
duct. Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up,
and result in a fire in some dryers.
Dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 21 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments in 2002-2005.
Facts and figures
- In 2005, an estimated 14,500 reported U.S. non-confined home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines resulted in 14 civilian deaths, 440 civilian injuries and $207 million in direct property damage.
- Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 5%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 3%.
- The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean (29%), followed by unclassified mechanical failure or malfunction (23%). Thirteen percent were caused by some type of electrical failure or short circuit.
The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires is failure to clean them.
Download these NFPA safety tips on washers and dryers. (PDF, 105 KB)
Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
- Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter.
Clean the lint filter before or after each use. Remove accumulated lint
around the drum.
- Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
- Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not
restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is
operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking
longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent
pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
- Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers
should be inspected by a professional to ensure that the gas line and
connection are intact and free of leaks.
- Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
- Avoid overloading a washing machine or dryer. Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
- Do not leave a dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
- Washing machines and dryers should be properly grounded.
- Make sure sure the outdoor vent flap is not covered by snow.
- Nevery dry items that have come in contact with flammable substances, such as cooking oil, gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol.
- Keep the dryer area clear of things that can burn, such as boxes or clothing.