Before modern washing machines and tumble dryers, people would wash their cloths in the nearest river or lake. It was hard, time consuming work. Cloths were air dried outside by hanging them on lines, trees, or bushes – great in the summer, not so great in the winter.
Today, things are a lot easier – washing machines can thoroughly wash large loads of clothes, way better than hand washing, and condenser tumble dryers finish the process of washing and drying without the need for external ventilation, all completely hands free.
It’s only when something like your washing machine breaks down that you really appreciate the machinery we have to help us with the laundry. For busy households who went from slowly drying all their cloths indoors to investing in a condenser dryer wonder how they ever lived without one.
To keep your condenser tumble dryer running optimally and prevent a breakdown, some periodic cleaning and maintenance is required.
As long and daunting as the process may sound, it’s actually not that difficult if you follow the right steps. Further, you don’t even need to do it that often. Once every 2 – 3 months should be enough to keep you dryer ticking over in tip-top shape.
Let’s walk through the process of cleaning a condenser tumble dryer, step by step.
Read the Manual
The first step should always be to read the instruction manual that came with your dryer when you first installed it. You will most likely find a cleaning section that will guide you through the process that’s specific to your model of dryer.
However, if you don’t have a manual, don’t worry, because condenser tumble dryers are all very similar in design. For example, if you look at a Beko and Candy condenser dryer, all the parts are in similar locations and are removed and cleaned in much the same way.
Turn the Machine Off
Before you start any removal of components or cleaning, make sure the dryer is turned off. Also, make sure the machine is cool – don’t start cleaning immediately after a drying cycle.
Find and Remove the Condenser Box
Typically, you’ll find the condenser box at the front of the tumble dryer, at the bottom behind a kickplate cover.
The efficiency of your dryer relies upon the regular cleaning of the condenser box plates. The condenser box is a heat exchanger which cools the warm moist air flowing out of the drum. If it gets clogged up with lint and dirt, air flow is reduced and it won’t be able to dry fabrics efficiently.
To remove this box, open the kick plate door. Behind you’ll see two or three clips – turn to unlock. Then, simply pull the box towards you and it should slide right out.
Wash and Dry the Condenser
Once you have managed to pull the condenser out, take it to the bathroom and shower it down with warm water over the bath. Spray water from the shower head into the vents where the air would flow and you should start to see clumps of fluff wash out.
Try to clean it as thoroughly as possible in a way that you remove all the lint and dirt from it. You don’t need to use any soap for this process, just a steady firm stream of warm water will work.
After washing it well, let the water drain out properly. Leave the condenser to dry for some time before reinstalling it.
Clean the Lint Filter Frequently
This step should be carried out each time you use your tumble dryer for best energy efficiency and drying. After several cycles of use, a lot of dust, tiny fibres, and lint will collect on the filter, which is usually located just inside the base of the door frame. This is the first stage of air filtering, before the warm damp air reaches the condenser box. A blocked lint filter means restricted air flow to the condenser, and drying will take longer.
Simply pull the filter out in an upwards motion. Then open it up – usually it will be sandwiched together with a hinge, so you’d open it like a book. Inside, you’ll find a densely packed mass of lint that can be removed by hand and put in the bin. Do not try to wash this lump of lint down the sink, as this could cause a blockage – throw it in the bin.
Take the filter to the sink and wash it over, just with warm water to clean the tiny filter element. Let it dry fully before use, as a wet filter will clog quickly.
If you notice some fluff inside where the lint filter goes, then use a vacuum cleaner nozzle to vacuum it all out.
When putting the lint filter back in, check to see if your machine has a drum sensor. You’ll be able to spot this inside the drum, just behind the lint filter. Give this sensor a wipe over with a damp cloth, so that it’s not becoming insulated with dirt and giving off inaccurate readings.
Clean the Inner Drum of the Dryer
Occasionally, make sure you clean the inner drum of your tumble dryer with some mild vinegar or just a damp micro fibre cloth. You can also use a cleaning wipe like Flash or Dettol wipes to wipe down all the drum walls and fins, if your dryer has them.
Also inspect the drum for build ups of hairs or pet hairs and remove by hand.
Clear Out the Water Tank
Make sure to empty the water tank after every drying cycle. You’d be surprised at how quickly this tank can fill up, and if the tank is completely full, then your dryer won’t be heating or drying your cloths. Typically, you’ll find the tank located at the front top right hand side of the machine, in the same location as you’d find a washing machine drawer. Simply slide this tank out like a drawer and empty the contents down the sink or toilet – job done!
This part does not require any cleaning. There should not be any dirt in this tank, as all that collects in it is condensed water which has passed through filters.
Some Words of Caution
It is important to note that while these are generally universal steps for condenser dryers, you can expect minor variations based on which model you own. For this reason, make sure you refer to the instruction manual to save time and energy for yourself as well as for your dryer.
Another thing to remember each time you use your dryer is to only fill in as many clothes as it can hold. Try not to overload it as this will reduce its drying efficiency. Install a large load 9kg condenser tumble dryer of you have a large family or need to dry large heavy fabrics.
This is all you need to know about cleaning your condenser tumble dryer. Performing this regular act of cleaning will increase its lifespan, maximizing energy efficiency and drying power.
Cleaning thoroughly once in 2 – 3 months is a good starting point. However, if you notice any issues before that, it might be a good idea to check if anything needs cleaning. Don’t forget to clean the lint filter and water tank after every use and not simply once in a few months!