How to Get Soot Out of a Dryer

A clogged vent pipe, a burnt dryer gasket, or a small article of clothing wedged in the motor can lead to soot in the dryer, as well as soot-covered clothing. Leaving the soot in the dryer will cast dull gray or black stains on clothing coming out of the dryer. Removing the soot is necessary to restore the dryer to a useful state.

Soot inside a dryer will leave stains on clothing.

Step 1

Pull the dryer's plug out of the wall receptacle. 

Step 2

Set up a drop light to shine into the dryer's drum. 

Step 3

Vacuum up loose soot with a vacuum hose.  Attach an upholstery brush to the end of the vacuum hose, if possible.

Note that the soot may ruin the brush attachment. 

Step 4

Wipe the inside of the dryer with a specialized chemical soot sponge.  Begin at the back of the dryer, and make overlapping row-by-row passes over all surfaces inside the dryer.

Turn the dryer drum by hand as necessary to gain access to the surfaces.  When the sponge becomes dirty, slice off the black, sooty area with a utility knife or razor blade.

Step 5

Fill a bucket with warm water, and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of a grease-fighting dish detergent. 

Step 6

Use a rag and the soap solution to wipe all surfaces inside the dryer.  When the rag and water become dirty, dump the water and begin again with a clean rag and fresh water.

Continue until you no longer see soot inside the dryer. 

Step 7

Dry inside the dryer with a clean towel, if necessary. 

Things You Will Need

  • Drop light
  • Vacuum
  • Upholstery brush attachment
  • Chemical soot sponge
  • Utility knife or razor blade
  • Bucket
  • Grease-fighting dish detergent
  • Rags


  • Cleaning soot with a dry chemical soot sponge is less messy than cleaning soot with water.
  • Soot is an oil-based byproduct of fire that requires an emulsifying detergent to remove the oily film.


  • Do not use flammable cleaning solvents to clean the inside of a dryer.
  • If you do not know where the soot is coming from, stop using the dryer until you find the source.
  • Avoid working on electrical appliances with the power connected.

About the Author

Sal Marco began writing professionally in 2009. He has written many online home improvement articles based on his more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement and building industries. He has worked as both part of a team and as a site supervisor. Marco has a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University.

Photo Credits

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