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Where Does the Lint Go in a Ventless Dryer (Pictures)

To most folks in the USA, the concept of a ventless dryer is a novel one; most homes in America have vented dryers. Lint and the dangers thereof, however, is not a new concept. With a vented dryer, it’s fairly obvious where the lint goes but with a ventless model, you may be left wondering.

Ventless dryers have lint traps or screens. Although it would be ideal if these were the only places where lint accumulated in your dryer system, this is sadly not the case. Let’s look at the places lint should go in a ventless dryer and the places it shouldn’t.

In ventless dryers, lint is caught in the normal lint screen (inside the dryer door), but there’s also another filter in the front panel. These two filters must be cleaned regularly. Yet, not all lint is caught by the filters. It can also gather at the condenser, air inlet, blower wheel, and heat exchanger.

What Causes the Lint to Form in Dryers?

Lint can occur both naturally through wear and tear as well as through the process of washing and drying.

Man cleaning the lint from the trap in front loading tumble dryer

The formation of lint occurs when short fibers have become loose due to friction and accumulate into balls of lint. As you wear clothes more and more, lint is bound to accumulate.

Because washing and drying include tumbling, agitation occurs in fabrics. This will lead to more lint “appearing” on your clothing.

Furthermore, clothing is sensitive to higher temperatures, which are essential to most functions of washers and dryers. Heat can lead to more lint on your clothing.

The agitation involved in the washing and drying processes not only causes lint to form but also frees the particles from the fabrics.

Some Loosened Fibers Get Caught in the Lint Screen

The lint screen is made of wire mesh and is typically located at the bottom of the dryer door opening. 

When dryer exhaust is forced through the lint screen and through the rest of the machine, the lint is caught on this mesh to be removed after the cycle.

man opening box in ventless dryer

As far as why we need lint screens, they are important for two main reasons:

  • Without this filter, large amounts of lint would find their way into your dryer. This could cause clogging and other issues. Clogging can lead to decreased efficiency, higher energy bills, a decreased dryer lifespan, and potentially costly repairs. 
  • Lint caught in your dryer also poses a fire hazard. It is highly flammable and at risk of starting fires because of the exposure to high temperatures in the dryer. 

The lint screen actually only contains about 25% of all trapped lint. The rest is caught in various other areas of your dryer system.

Ventless Dryers Have a Second Lint Filter

Ventless dryers, like the Whirlpool heat pump dryer, have two lint filters. The one described above and a second one. In the case of the Whirlpool dryer, the second filter comes out like a drawer at the bottom of the front panel.

While vented dryers have excess lint exit through their vents, ventless dryers must find another area to store excess lint. This is the job of the bottom lint filter.

The lint that is not first initially caught by the lint screen will be circulated through the system and, hopefully, make its way to the bottom lint filter where it is collected in another wire mesh.

Unfortunately, not all lint is captured by the lint screen and the bottom lint filter.

Lint Accumulates on the Condenser / Heat Exchanger

It is possible that lint can bypass these two lint traps and accumulate elsewhere in the dryer.

removing the box full of lint in ventless fryer

The imperfect seals around the edge of the dryer drum can allow lint to accumulate on the inside of the dryer. The same is true for the lint filters. They are not perfectly sealed and so lint can accumulate elsewhere in the appliance.

It is easy for lint to build up on your condenser or heat exchanger since they sit at the bottom of the dryer, which is naturally where the lint would fall and accumulate. 

When lint accumulates on your dryer’s condenser or heat exchanger, the airways of these parts can get clogged, which impacts their performance negatively. Lint is also flammable and the heat generated by these appliances can cause a fire.

Lint Particles Collect Near the Air Inlet

Although it can be difficult for lint to settle near the air inlet since the opening is raised, lint can still find its way here.

man cleaning the lint from the trap

The air intake in a dryer does not involve fans until the end of the process when the exhaust is pushed out of the dryer. This makes air intake a fairly passive process, so there is little force that can move lint away from this area.

If the air intake of a dryer begins to fill with accumulated lint, it is likely that the dryer won’t receive the air influx required for efficient use. This can lead to longer drying times, higher electricity bills, and possible dryer lifespan deterioration.

Lint Builds up in a Blower Wheel

If you begin to hear a thumping noise in your dryer, it is likely that the problem is due to a loose, broken, or sliding dryer belt. If your dryer belt passes inspection, though, the thumping noise may be due to a clogged blower wheel. 

One of the many places that lint can accumulate is in your dryer’s blower wheel. The blower wheel is the mechanism that pushes hot air generated by the heating element into the dryer drum so that the clothing can be dried. 

If this blower wheel becomes filled with lint, the performance of the wheel will be negatively impacted. This would lead to dryer loads not drying completely after a cycle, possibly higher energy costs, and decreased lifespan of the dryer since it would have to work harder to dry clothing.

Can Lint Affect the Operation of Ventless Dryers?

As you will have seen in the previous sections, a lint buildup is not healthy for your dryer and its function will be impeded in one way or another. The longevity of your ventless dryer can also be impacted by the accumulation of lint when all the parts have to work harder to function normally.

Another potential problem has to do with the dryer’s moisture sensor bar. A moisture sensor bar is a device that detects the moisture levels in your laundry. Once the moisture levels are high enough, the sensor bar notifies the dryer to stop the cycle since the laundry should be ready and dry. 

Lint can coat a moisture sensor bar. So can limescale, dirt, and soap or dryer sheet residue. All of these factors, aided by lint, will decrease the accuracy of the moisture sensor bar.

If the moisture sensor bar is covered in these particles and residues, your dryer may turn off too early when your clothes are still wet. For this reason, it is important to clean the moisture sensor bar if it seems to not be working properly.

Less connected to the functioning of ventless dryers but still worth mentioning is the fact that lint can make recycling the dryer water less viable. For example, if you want to use the water to clean your house, you certainly don’t want the water filled with lint particles that did not get removed by the filter(s).

It Is Necessary to Clean the Dryer From Lint

Hopefully, you will by now understand how important cleaning lint from the dryer is.

Even if the impaired function of your dryer is not a concern for you, it is still important to clean out lint often to avoid fires in your home.

How to Clean the Dryer Lint Traps

Remove the screen wherever it is located in your dryer. The layer of lint accumulated can be removed with your hands and thrown out. Do this after each cycle of the dryer.

The second bottom lint filter can be accessed by pushing the button for the filter compartment at the base of your ventless dryer. A flap will open and your filter compartment will then be able to be pulled out by the handle.

A filter looking similar to the lint screen will be located opposite the handle. It can be pulled out in an upwards motion and cleaned similarly to the lint screen.

It is advisable to clean out the bottom lint filter after five cycles or when the light for the bottom filter comes on.

If you regularly clean out your lint filters, you may have to clean the inside of your dryer less since lint is less likely to build up here if your filters are regularly cleared.

How to Clean the Condenser Unit

A condenser unit can simply be cleaned by removing it and then rinsing it with either a hose or a strong flow of water. It is important to rinse each side of the condenser thoroughly as well as to allow it to air dry. It must be visibly dry before it can be returned to the dryer. 

This should be done at least four times a year.

Other Maintenance

Extra maintenance would include cleaning components inside of the dryer such as the air inlet, blower wheel, and heat exchanger.

Unlike condensers, these cannot be removed or are more difficult to remove. For this reason, it would be wise to vacuum them for precise cleaning but little disturbance. 

I recommend ANBOO’s Micro Tools Attachment Set (amazon link) for its wide range of uses and compatibility. 

The heat exchanger and air inlet should be cleaned routinely, maybe once or twice a year. It would also be wise to check these systems when your dryer is not running efficiently and you don’t know why. These parts may be the culprits. 

A blower wheel could be included in this yearly inspection but it would also be wise to check it when you hear a thumping sound and your dryer belt is not to blame.


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