Some Dryer Softener Sheets can Clog your Lint FilterTruth!

Summary of eRumor:

The eRumor is a first-hand account of a person whose heating unit in a clothes dryer failed.
The man who repaired it pulled out what appeared to be a clean lint filter but when taken over to the kitchen sink would not allow water to run through it.
It was clogged.
The repairman said it was the result of using dryer sheets, that they result in a film that clogs the filter and that can only be removed by scrubbing the filter with a brush as well as soap.

The Truth:

There appears to be some truth to this one, although not all dryer sheets are the same.

We did some checking and found several manufacturers of clothes dryers who discouraged using dryer sheets.

The owners manuals for  Eurotech brand tumble dryers say “We recommend using a liquid fabric softener in the washer’s rinse cycle.  We do not recommend using fabric softener sheets in the dryer. Over time, the chemicals on these sheets can build up inside the lint filter and clog the holes that circulate the air.”

The Asko Corporation, which makes washers and dryers, publishes a “Dryer Use and Car Guide.”
They have the same recommendation against using fabric softener sheets in dryers because of chemical build-up that can clog the filter.

Frigidaire in its FAQ about dryers says that not only should the lint screen be cleaned after every load but occasionally washed in soap and water to remove built-up residue from dryer sheets.

Dave Harnish of Dave’s Repair Service in New Albany, PA, publishes a newsletter about appliances titled DRSNews.
In his 10/18/03 edition, he said “If you use dryer fabric softener sheets, be careful to use only one sheet per load (or two). The chemical used in these sheets can clog lint filters…”
He recommends washing them with hot water and soap, scrubbing with a brush.

Most of the articles we found said the build-up on the lint filters is because of chemicals used in the dryer sheets.
There are some products that claim to reduce static, soften fabric, and do not use chemicals, but we’ve not seen an independent evaluation of those.
Doing a search at  for: dryer sheets “chemical free” will list some of those.

.Last updated 2/24/05

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:


I had a wonderful morning, the heating unit went out of my dryer! Why does
everything seem to fall apart this time of year!??? The guy that fixes
things went in to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean.
We always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes. He
told us that he wanted to show him something. He took the filter over to
the sink and ran hot water over it. Now, this thing is like a mesh – I’m
sure you know what your dryer’s lint filter looks like – WELL……the hot
water just laid on top of the mesh!!! It didn’t go through it at all!!! He
told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh and that’s what burns
out the heating unit. You can’t SEE the film, but it’s there. He said the
best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your
electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy
water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He
said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about
that???!!!! Learn something new everyday!

I certainly didn’t know dryer sheets would do that. So, thought I’d share!
Note: I went to dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The
water collected a little but ran though the screen. I dried it off and was
ready to put it back in the dryer since the water ran through it but, I
thought was the heck it won’t hurt to wash it while I had it out. Warm soap
water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds. I then ran the
water over the screen and what a difference the water just gushed through it
with no puddling at all and this time I was running the water at a faster
rate. That repairman knew what he was talking about.