Cleaning a gunked up lint filter

izeveAugust 30, 2012

I have moved recently and had to downgrade from my wonderful FL LG washer and dryer to an old Kenmore TL washer and dryer set. The washer seems to work well enough. One big plus is that it is old enough so it doesn't have ATC which means that I can actually get a hot wash (as hot as my water heater permits). I am having a hard time figuring out the right detergent dosing but I am experimenting and will get there eventually....

The dryer is doing fine as well except that the lint screen is really gunked up with what I assume to be fabric softener residue. I tried scrubbing it with warm water and dishwashing detergent but it hasn't helped much. Any ideas of what I can use to degunk it?

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Cavimum

Soaking in a strong 'regular' Dawn dish detergent solution in HOT water would be my first try. (you didn't mention which dish detergent you used.) Dawn cuts grease & fat, and I use it as a laundry pre-treat on bad oil/grease/fat stains.

Try something along the lines of Citra-Solve or GooGone, which are citrus turpene based products. Definitely dilute them. They will dissolve a lot of stuff, including some plastics if used full-strength.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 5:18PM
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dave1812

never, in over 45 years of owning a dryer has the lint screen ever gunked up. (then again, when we DO use softener, it is diluted 5:1. towels and clothes are PLENTY soft, using that dilution. we also have totally soft water--zero grains)

You might rethink the dilution ratio for your FS. :)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 5:39PM
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sparky823

You might try soaking it in some vinegar water, then wash it with hot water if the Dawn doesn't clean it.

About dilution: I read a 7-1 dilution rate is best for front load washers.? I tried it and seems to work as well as when I was using more.

Izeve wasn't the one that clogged the filter with softener, said it was a dryer inherited in a move. Bet it was dryer sheets.

Izeve--Be sure to check your vent also. It is probably coated too.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:07PM
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izeve

Thank you all for helpful suggestions. I will try them this weekend.
Sparky is right, I inherited the problem with the rented condo. I was thinking about just getting a new screen but it appears that they are no longer available.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 6:49AM
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Cavimum

Izeve--Be sure to check your vent also. It is probably coated too.

Good suggestion, @sparky. I can always smell the dryer sheets perfumes in the air from homes in our neighborhood, when I go walking in the morning. Eeewwww...

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 7:58AM
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suburbanmd

Unless softener residue is sticky, I don't think a thin coating in the vent really matters. How would you clean it anyway, if it's so hard just to clean the filter? You'd have to take it apart to clean it, in which case you might as well just replace it.

Be careful about replacing the lint filter. The filter in my new Whirlpool dryer looks very similar to the one in my old Whirlpool-built Kenmore. The new filter would've fit the old dryer, but would leave an unfiltered gap.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 9:53AM
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whirlpool_trainee

Run it through the empty dishwasher, maybe?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:07AM
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dadoes

Where have you checked for a replacement filter? I got replacements within the past year for a 26-years-old Whirlpool and a 33-years-old Kenmore (same filter, different handles) ... although availability may have changed. What's the model number of your dryer?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:38AM
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izeve

dadoes, the dryer is 110.97283100. The part number for the lint screen shown on the sticker is 3394995.

I checked the Sears parts website and did a general search by the part number. That didn't turn up anything. I will try searching by the dryer model number.

And how embarassing, but I didn't even realize it was a gas dryer!! I saw that it was plugged into a regular 110V outlet but really didn't connect the dots until I looked at it closer today. I've never had a gas dryer before....

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 11:41PM
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dadoes

Per the parts diagram, this is a 27" model (filter inside at front of the drum, yes?). The design is still being produced, so the filter surely is available.

Original part number 3390721 subs now to W10120998. SearsPartsDirect.com lists it $36.47 (try discount code PARTS at checkout for 10%). Several other sources I use are $31.xx. eBay brings up 20 listings ranging from $7 to $48 (some new, some probably used).

The number 3394995 that you referenced is something else, possibly an vendor production number. Always begin a parts search by the appliance model number.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 8:54AM
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suburbanmd

dadoes, both dryers I mentioned above are Whirlpool 27" with filter at the front of the drum. Their lint filters are similar but not identical. The old dryer was a typical 1999 model with mechanical timer, the new one is the current Cabrio design. The picture shows the new lint filter on top of the old one. The old filter slides into the new dryer but doesn't go all the way down. The new filter looks like it would fit in the old dryer, but would allow some lint straight through.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:23PM
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dadoes

The 27" mechanism is being used for a 29" machine (Cabrio, Bravos and some frontloader matches) to garner a bit more capacity ... which likely accounts for the slightly changed filter. The part substitution is "official" per Whirlpool, so they approve of it even if the fit is slightly off-kilter in an older machine.

If the pictures on eBay are accurate, a few of the offerings (search on the old number 3390721) are the old-style filter.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:37PM
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dave1812

Sparky, been using dryer sheets in ever load for decades, and like I said earlier in reference to using softener, no clogged screens ever. we use the unscented ones, btw...

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 6:13PM
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sparky823

Dave, why do you use both liquid in the washer and then a dryer sheet in every load? Doesnt that make things feel too soft? I dont use sheets very often. Most time only diluted liquid like you and most time use the clothesline.

I have read articles where a tech will say if you use sheets you need to clean your screen(wash it) every 6 months. I have washed mine just to make sure it is clean but have never had an air flow problem because of the filter being clogged or the vent either.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 10:58PM
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dave1812

no it doesnt. the sheet is to prevent any static cling, more than to soften clothes. i don't find that JUST using a sheet results in suitably soft towels and clothes.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 1:03PM
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dave1812

sparky, don't care what you read, like I said, I've not had to clean a lint screen--I always clean the lint filter after each load, and I can easily see that the screen is CLEAN. believe me, I am picky and a clean-freak, so if it was clogged, I'd be cleaning it in a second. I don't put much of the diluted (1:5) FS into the FS receptacle in the washer. it's not just the dilution ratio that matters. I'm sure folks do go overboard with softener. I use just "a tad". :)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 1:07PM
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izeve

Cavimum - thank you! GooGone has done the trick. Sprayed it and let it sit for a few minutes. Then scrubbed clean with a soft brush and washed with dishwasher soap. The screen is as good as new!

I also unscrewed the part that holds the screen in place from the dryer and vacuumed as much as I could from the inside using a crevice tool. There were gobs of lint clogging the opening to the vent. I cleaned it as much as I could but I really should take this dryer apart and clean it thoroughly one weekend. Maybe when I feel more ambitious....

As an aside, I have been reading the manual for the washer that I now have - Kenmore 70 series - and have to say that this manual is so much more informative and helpful than any manual for a front loader these days. It spells out the temperatures of the wash water and gives washing instructions and tips that actually make sense and work well. I don't know what happened to the manuals in recent years but this one actually makes sense.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 5:06PM
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sparky823

If around the filter had a lot of lint,I bet the vent needs cleaning out also. Either vacuum it out or take it off and clean it out outside. Do you know where your vent exits the house? Either straight out the wall or maybe through the attic depending on how laundry room/condo is built. Might clean that out with a leaf blower.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 5:57PM
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izeve

Yes, I definitely need to clean the vent as well. Probably next weekend's project ;-)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:58PM
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dualref

If you had that much lint in the lint filter chute, I'd be worried about a buildup inside the machine. The machines cover should be removed and the entire machine vacuumed out.
Too much lint could cause a dryer fire!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 1:09AM
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izeve

Dualref, agreed - I am planning to do a thorough cleaning of the rest of the dryer and the vent next weekend. It also looks like there is a leak in the flexible connection between the dryer and the vent pipe so I need to fix that as well. The owners of this place were not handy in the least and it seems that they didn't pay attention to their washer and dryer.

Does anyone have any tips on what I should check in the washer? I don't want it to stop working because of some simple maintenance task that needed doing... Before I started using it, I disinfected it by setting it to hot water wash, high water level, and I added some bleach to the water. I also cleaned the fabric softener dispenser (not bad - it appears that they were using dryer sheets and not liquid softener) and flushed the bleach dispenser with water.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 6:30AM
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sparky823

You could do a vinegar wash to clean out the washer if you want to. That would help with mineral deposits if there are any. Only other thing might be check the strainers in the end of the hoses both at the faucet and at the valve end and clean them if needed. Otherwise, you sound good to go.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 3:41PM
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