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What Causes a Dryer to Burn Small Holes in Clothes?

Meredith Jameson

Clothes dryers can come with some impressive features, such as wrinkle prevention and steam cycles as well as sensors designed to monitor the temperature and moisture inside the dryer. But none of these fancy features mean much if the dryer burns holes in your clothes. Generally speaking, burnt holes in clothes are caused by a buildup of lint inside the dryer, which raises the temperature inside the drum so high that it can cause fabric to burn.

Lint Screen

Cleaning the lint in the system regularly can help prevent improper temperatures.

The lint screen, usually located in the bottom or side of the dryer door, should be cleaned before every cycle. If it is not cleaned, lint builds up and eventually blocks the air flow. This raises the internal temperature in the dryer, which can cause fabric to burn. If fabric softener sheets are used in the dryer, the chemical residue created from the softener sheets can coat the lint screen, also reducing air flow. Wash the lint screen with warm water and a nylon brush until water runs through the screen easily. Air dry thoroughly before returning the lint screen to the dryer.

Dryer Housing

Lint also can build up in the area beneath the lint screen, which is an area often overlooked by owners. A build-up of lint here also blocks air flow and raises the internal temperature to dangerous levels. Disconnect power to the dryer and remove the lint screen. Use a flashlight to look into the lint screen housing and clean out as much lint as possible. Use a vacuum cleaner suction attachment to remove the lint if it cannot be reached by hand, again with the power to the dryer disconnected first.


Poor ventilation also can reduce proper air flow during dryer use, which causes the dryer to overheat and burn holes in the items inside the drum. Use the dryer in a well-ventilated area if possible and keep doors and windows open nearby. Check the rear and sides of the dryer to make sure there are no objects blocking the vents and avoid storing items next to or behind the dryer.

Air Vent and Hose

If the air vent or vent hose behind the dryer gets clogged with lint, air flow is reduced and temperatures inside the dryer can rise. Disconnect power to the dryer and clean out the vent on the back of the dryer to remove any lint or debris. Straighten out the vent hose, which is usually made out of a flexible material, and check inside for possible clogs. Clean the hose if necessary. Look at the outside exhaust duct and clean out any lint or debris there.

Temperature Check

Once the above troubleshooting techniques have been performed, disconnect the vent hose and pull the dryer away from the wall so that there is clear access to the rear vent. Load the dryer with a medium-sized load of wet items and start a timed dry cycle with high heat. Allow the dryer to run for several minutes and then check the temperature of the air coming out of the rear vent, which should be between 150 and 180 degrees. This temperature will cycle on and off until it falls about 20 degrees at the end. If the temperature reaches above 200 degrees or does not cycle lower, disconnect power to the dryer and contact a service technician.