What do I do if I accidentally dropped a rag down the lint trap in the dryer?

Updated December 15, 2016

If you took the lint screen out of your dryer to clean it and accidentally dropped a rag down the lint trap while the screen was removed, you may think the rag is lost forever. More importantly, running your dryer with a rag stuck in the lint trap could cause a fire hazard. Fortunately, it's not very difficult to remove a rag or any other article of clothing from the small, deep space, if you have the right tool for the job.

Safety First

Disconnect your dryer from the electrical socket and move the dryer so that you have easy access to the lint trap. Do not attempt this while the machine is plugged into a power source, even if it's not running.

Get the Right Tool

Straighten a metal coat hanger so that you end up with one long metal stick. create a hook on one end. This end will be used to grab the rag at the bottom of your lint trap. A metal coat hanger works well because it's easily bendable and is long and thin, perfect for fitting down the trap.

Removing the Rag

Insert the straightened hanger, hooked end first, into the lint trap. Do so slowly to avoid scratching the inside of the lint trap with the end of the coat hanger. Feel around for the rag until you locate it. Be gentle, as the dryer vent leads to a flexible exhaust duct; you don't want to poke a hole in it. Wiggle the hanger until the hooked end catches the rag, then slowly pull up the hanger with attached rag.

Back in Business

Once you have recovered the rag, reinsert the lint screen into the lint trap. Then, plug the machine back into the wall socket and move the machine back into place. You're now ready to use the dryer again.

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About the Author

Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.