Why Does My Dryer Smell Like It's Burning

There is nothing worse than walking into your laundry room and smelling that putrid, burning smell coming from your clothes dryer. Your first instinct might be to call a handy man or start saving for a new dryer, but more likely than not it is one of the simple solutions below. It is important to note that anytime you smell burning in a dryer you should turn it off and unplug it, just to stay on the safe side.

What is in your clothes load?

Before you start thinking it is a short in the electrical system, look at the clothes and make sure there is nothing in there that is not dryer friendly. Thinks like rubber, elastic and soft plastic can produce a horrible smell if they get too hot. Sometimes it is as simple as removing the offending item from the dryer. You may however, need to rewash the load as the smell of burning plastic can stick to your clothes.

Check your lint tray

Somewhere on your dryer, there is a tray that collects lint. If this is full, it may give your dryer an unpleasant smell and there are some cases where too much lint has ignited, especially in gas dryers. In addition, even if you clean your tray regularly, if you use fabric softener or dryer sheets you need to wash it every few loads. These products cause a film to form on your lint screen and prevent the lint from collecting, causing your dryer to overheat.

Check your dryer exhaust duct

If this is blocked in any way, the exhaust has nowhere to go. This can cause the hot dryer exhaust to back up into your house and can be the cause of a burning smell.

Check the belt rollers and the dryer belt

Sometimes it is as simple as keeping them lubricated. Often your owner’s manual will have information on how to do this. You may also want to look at the dryer’s belt. If it is worn or frayed that also could be a source of the burning smell. There are many how-to videos on the internet that can show you how to do this.

Electronics or motor

Do not attempt to fix electronics or the motors on a dryer unless you are a professional. Still, do not be afraid to call one if not all the above solutions work for your dryer. More often than not, the service call and repair is reasonable and definitely far cheaper than replacing the appliance. Just ensure to get an estimate and hold the repair person to it.

It is also important to keep your dryer well maintained. Follow the guidelines set out in your owner’s manual, keep your lint tray cleaned out and washed and, in general, keep your dryer clean. A well-maintained appliance is far less likely to break down and create that nasty smell than a dirty, neglected one.

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