Every year $80 million in property damage is caused by clothes dryer fires, many of which are ignited by lint build-up in or around the machine. It's a problem that manufacturers have been trying to solve for decades. One of the most recent efforts is the Lint Lizard, a tube-like device that connects to your vacuum and snakes into the nether regions of your dryer to suck out the lint. In our tests the Lint Lizard found a mint of the fuzzy stuff.
Promotions for the $10.99 Lint Lizard say "It's like a magic wand!" We compared the results to removing lint by hand and vacuuming it out with a crevice tool. In our first test, we were able to remove 8 grams of lint by hand and another 4 grams with the vacuum cleaner and crevice tool. The Lint Lizard found an additional 15 grams. In the second test, using only the crevice tool and the Lint Lizard, the crevice tool removed just 0.3 grams of lint, after which Lint Lizard found a whopping 52 grams. It was almost like magic.
In earlier lint-busting tests, we found that the Lint Alert also worked. While it doesn't remove lint, the Lint Alert has a sensor that detects low airflow and sounds an alarm when too little air is moving through the duct. The Lint Alert worked but you still need to remove the lint once it's detected. In our clothes dryer tests, we evaluated vent-blockage indicators on some models but found they were too inconsistent to count on.
With an average of 6,100 dryer fires a year, it's a good idea to be diligent about removing lint from your machine. Here are some tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes.
- Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically.
- Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up.
- Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal ducts.
- Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains.
—Mary H.J. Farrell