PSA: check your dryer vents

Dryer fires happen


This weekend we experienced a dryer fire. Fortunately, we were home. We were able to contain the damage to the dryer and everyone is safe. BUT, this could have been disastrous. And what makes it even scarier is: the dryer wasn’t running.

Quick recap: my son, who is a massage therapist and yogi, had clean massage sheets in the dryer early Saturday morning. He tossed in a shirt to “de-wrinkle”. We’ve all done this. Then he turned OFF the dryer, closed the dryer door and left for his yoga classes. His two daughters, 12 and 10, were home watching a show before walking up to my house next door to bake cookies. Luckily, they smelled the noxious odor and knew to run to our house.

My husband immediately unplugged the dyer, which was coughing out trickles of smoke and toxic fumes so awful you couldn’t be in the laundry room for more than a few seconds. As I opened windows and set up fans, my husband raced to his shop for a dolly and a respirator.

We removed the dryer from the laundry room and got it into the driveway before opening the door. The contents immediately burst into flames.

You’re probably wondering how the fire started without a heat source? My theory: the sheets–warmed from a quick tumble–retained their heat. Years of accumulated lint had built up in the vent, blocking the heat from escaping. Heat+residual oil on massage sheets=internal combustion.

You may tell yourself this couldn’t happen to you–and you’d probably be right about the self-immolating sheets–but, please, do yourself a favor, anyway: check the ventilation on your dryer, and never leave the dryer running when you leave the house. I would go so far as to suggest you crack the dryer door if you have dry clothes that you don’t have time to deal with.

We consider ourselves very lucky.

PSA over. Please return to your previously scheduled reading. 😉 FIRST KISS will return next week with something sexy and heartfelt. I promise.


PS: I inhaled the noxious fumes and wound up sicker than a dog this week. Now, I know how people who are in fires die–from smoke inhalation.

6 Replies to “PSA: check your dryer vents”

    1. That’s a great idea, Eileen. I wish we’d thought of that.

      I had my first acupuncture today. Hoping the treatment will help me get rid of this cold.


  1. Happened to my friend Suzanne.

    Make sure to use metal venting instead of the old coiled venting and cleaning the lint trap regularly. I have to get on my teens for this. If you use dryer sheets, make sure to clean the screen with an old tooth brush and rinse with water, too. It leaves a residue. It’s the lint most of the time which is so flammable.

    Glad everyone is safe!

    1. I take a vacuum to the inside of my lint trap every few months. I don’t know how stuff escapes the screen but it does. And that’s good advice about the dryer sheet residue. I’ve had to do that, too.

      Safe, yes, but still getting over the smoke inhalation. I had my first acupuncture treatment yesterday. I feel better today. I can take a deep breath again.

      Hope your friend was okay.


  2. This is very scary. I’m glad no damage was done or anyone hurt. I need to get my husband to get the vent off of our dryer to clean inside. We had it get blocked once and my clue was the lengthy time it took to dry things. When he pulled it off, it was packed.

    1. You’re so lucky you caught the plug in time, Janine. I put this out there as a reminder to people because it’s one of those things you just don’t think about.

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