August 04, 2020

Dryer not drying clothes? Could be fabric softener!

How to clean fabric softener build-up from a dryer lint screen.
How to clean fabric softener build-up from a dryer lint screen.

If your dryer takes longer than usual to dry your laundry, your fabric softener might be to blame. Most people know they should remove the lint from the dryer’s lint screen or filter after every load. What they might not realize that fabric softener residue can clog the tiny holes in the screen, limiting airflow and causing longer drying times.

This video shows how to check your lint trap for fabric softener residue buildup and how to clean the residue from the screen.

If you need a replacement dryer lint screen—or another dryer part—search your model number on our Dryer replacement parts page. For more dryer troubleshooting articles and videos, repair guides and error codes, check out our DIY dryer repair help.

Hi, I’m Wayne from Sears PartsDirect. Today we have a great tip to help keep your dryer working more efficiently.

Every few months, or when you notice it takes longer for clothes to dry, wash the lint screen in your dryer. Yes, it’s important to remove lint from the screen or filter after every use, but washing regularly also can help your dryer run its best and save energy.

How to clean a dryer lint screen

  1. Remove the lint screen from your dryer and remove lint from the screen.

  2. To remove residue from fabric softener dryer sheets, run warm water over the lint screen while wiping with a soft-bristled brush. Some owner’s manuals also recommend using detergent or vinegar to help clean deposits off the filter.

  3. Let the lint screen air dry completely before reinstalling it in the dryer.

Now, you might look at your dryer's lint screen when cleaning off lint and think to yourself "I don't see any fabric softener deposits. I can skip washing the screen."

Not so fast! You typically can't see the fabric softener deposits just by looking at the lint screen. Before you shove that lint screen back into the dryer, pour some water on it to see if water easily flows through the screen holes. If water seems trapped on the filter, then you'll definitely want to wash the lint screen.

Well, that’s all for today—we hope you found this video useful. You can find more DIY tips in the repair help section of our website at or on the Sears PartsDirect YouTube channel. And if you need a replacement lint screen, we have those, along with many other dryer parts.

Symptoms common to all dryers

Choose a symptom to see related dryer repairs.

Main causes: bad timer or electronic control board, door switch failure
Main causes: lack of electrical power, bad power cord, wiring failure, bad control board, blown thermal fuse, bad door switch
Main causes: clogged exhaust vent, bad motor relay, loose dryer door catch, bad door switch, control system failure, faulty drive motor
Main causes: bad drum support roller, damaged idler pulley, broken blower fan blade, worn drum glide bearing, bad drive motor
Main causes: door switch failure, lack of power, broken belt, blown thermal fuse, bad drive motor, control system failure
Main causes: damaged door strike, worn door catch
Main causes: bad gas valve coils, broken heating element, tripped safety thermostat or fuse, bad operating thermostat, control failure
Main causes: clogged exhaust system, heating system failure, deposits on moisture sensor, control system failure

Repair guides common to all dryers

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your dryer.

How to replace a dryer drum support roller

If your dryer thumps or squeals, replace the drum support roller to restore quiet to your home.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 90 minutes or less
How to replace a dryer thermistor

The thermistor senses the air temperature in the dryer. If your dryer overheats or doesn't heat at all, the thermistor could be the problem.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
How to replace a dryer idler pulley

The idler pulley exerts pressure keeps the drive belt tight so it can rotate the drum. A worn idler pulley squeals or squeaks when the dryer is running. Follow these instructions to replace it.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 90 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all dryers

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your dryer.

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