Dryer and Washing Machine
Safety Tips

In light of the recent fire on Mission Hill, Brownstone would like to summarize some pretty shocking statistics regarding washer and dryer fires as well as some safety tips so you can help ensure this disaster does not happen to you.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryers and washing machines were involved in one out of every 23 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments between 2003 and 2006. Approximately 17,700 fires were reported last year that involved washers and dryers. These fires resulted in 15 civilian deaths and 360 civilian injuries and over $190 million in property damage.

Dryers accounted for 92% of those fires, washing machines accounted for 4% and washer/dryer combinations were responsible for 3%.

The leading cause of fires caused by washing machines or dryers were: failure to clean (29%), mechanical failure or malfunction (24%) and electrical failure or short circuit (13%).

Want to know how to keep this from happening to you? Follow these easy steps:

  1. Have your washing machine and/or dryer installed by a professional.
  2. Do not attempt any repairs or regular service by yourself. Hire a professional or utilize your warranty.
  3. Never operate your dryer without a clean lint filter!
  4. Clean the lint filter in your dryer before using it, each and every time.
  5. Proper metal venting material should be used to maintain adequate air flow.
  6. Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
  7. Do not operate the washer or dryer if you are planning on leaving your home or going to sleep.
  8. Never overload the washer or dryer.
  9. Dryers should be inspected for worn wires, belts and pulleys that can cause a spark.


There is more to dryer vent cleaning than removing lint from the dryer duct.  Lint can also accumulate inside the dryer cabinet, on and around wiring.  When flammable lint becomes electrically charged, it can easily ignite with the high temperatures associated with dryers.  The entire venting system as well as the dryer cabinet should ideally be cleaned by a professional every few months.

Also, overloading a dryer not only wastes energy, but it can cause the wiring and motor to overheat from exertion and ignite the lint that's accumulated in the duct or dryer cabinet.