Why Do My Clothes Smell Burnt After Drying – Helpful Tips

Burning smells from a dryer can indicate lint buildup, clogged vents, or mechanical issues. Regular cleaning of lint traps, dryer drums, and vents can prevent these problems. Mechanical issues might require professional repair. Proper ventilation and avoiding freshly painted items can also help prevent odors.

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Written by: Mohammad Waseem

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Notice a burning smell on your clothes after drying? This unsettling odor can indicate various issues inside the dryer.

Common culprits include lint buildup, a clogged dryer vent, or a malfunctioning thermostat. These problems not only make your clothes smell like they’ve burned but also pose significant fire hazards.

Understanding how to troubleshoot and maintain your dryer can help eliminate the bad odor and prevent any potential safety risks. 

Key Takeaways

  • Burning smells in dryers indicate lint buildup, vent clogs, or mechanical issues.
  • Regular cleaning of lint traps, dryer drums, and vents can prevent these issues.
  • Mechanical problems might require professional repair.
  • Proper ventilation and avoiding recently painted items can prevent odors.

Why do my clothes smell burnt after drying?

Why do my clothes smell burnt after drying?
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Lint buildup: Lint can accumulate in the dryer, especially around the heating element or exhaust vent. This can burn and cause a smoky, burnt odor. Regularly cleaning the lint trap and vent is super important to prevent this[1].

Restricted dryer vent: A clogged or restricted dryer vent makes the dryer overheat, which can singe lint and fabrics, resulting in that burnt smell. You should clean the vent at least once a year.

Mechanical issues: Problems with the dryer’s thermostat, motor, or drive belt can cause overheating and burning smells. If the smell persists after cleaning the lint, your appliance might need a repair.

Trapped clothing: If clothes get stuck in the door seal or tumbler, the friction and heat can scorch the fabric, creating a burnt odor. Always check the drum for any trapped items.

Fumes from painting/staining: Volatile fumes from recently painted or stained surfaces can get pulled into the dryer and burned, transferring the smell to your clothes. Ventilating the room helps.

How to stop a dryer from burning clothes?

Dealing with that burnt smell in your dryer can be a real pain, right? It can totally mess up your laundry and leave you frustrated.

But don’t worry! There are some steps you can take to stop your dryer from burning clothes and get it working right again.

Let’s jump into it.

Clean the Lint Trap Every Time

Open the dryer door and pull out the lint trap.

Use your fingers or a lint brush to get rid of all the lint you see.

Image of Using your fingers or a lint brush to get rid of all the lint you see.

Wipe the trap with a damp cloth to catch any leftover lint or debris.

Image of Wiping the trap with a damp cloth to catch any leftover lint or debris.

Pop the lint trap back into the dryer, nice and secure.

Regularly Clean the Dryer Drum

When the dryer’s empty, grab a damp cloth or paper towel and wipe down the drum inside.

Image of Cleaning the Dryer Drum
Image credit: hgtv.com

Pay special attention to spots where lint might be hiding, like around the drum rim and behind it.

Use a small brush or vacuum attachment to reach those hard-to-get areas and remove any built-up lint.

Annual Dryer Vent Cleaning

  • Disconnect the vent hose from the back of the dryer.
  • Use a dryer vent brush or vacuum hose attachment to knock loose and remove lint from inside the vent.
  • Clean up any lint that falls out of the vent.
  • Reattach the vent hose securely to the dryer.

Check for Mechanical Issues

  • If that burnt smell is still hanging around after cleaning the lint, it might be time to call in a pro.
  • Have a technician check out the dryer for problems with the thermostat, motor, or drive belt.
  • Overheating from mechanical issues can cause burning smells and even fire hazards.

Avoid Recently Painted or Stained Items

Run a Cleaning Cycle

  • Once you’ve cleared out the lint, run an empty cycle on high heat to burn off any remaining lint residue.
  • You can also add a cup of white vinegar to the empty drum to help get rid of any odors.

Monitor for Improvement

Why is My 3 Year Old Dryer Not Drying My Clothes ?

If your 3-year-old clothes dryer isn’t drying clothes, there could be a few things going on. First off, is there a strange smell coming from your dryer? A dryer smell like something burning can be a clue.

Maybe you’ve noticed your dryer smells like burning rubber. Yikes! Or it could be more of a musty smell, which is also a problem.

When clothes coming out of the dryer still smell a bit off or damp, it’s time to investigate.

Check the duct and the area where the dryer is for any blockages. Sometimes, a quick clean-up using a vacuum can make a big difference.

If your gas dryer is the issue, there might be an odor like something burning coming from it, which isn’t good at all.

Make sure to unplug the dryer and check behind the dryer and inside of the dryer thoroughly.

In some cases, a professional dryer repair or appliance repair might be needed to figure things out.

burning smell coming from the dryer isn’t something to ignore! Sometimes, it’s just a matter of using too much detergent or old dryer sheets.

Free up some space for your load of clothes to dry properly.

Hopefully, these tips help the odor coming from your dryer dissipate and get your clothes drying like a pro again!

Real-life Case Study: Diagnosing and Solving the Wet Dog Smell from a Samsung Front Load Dryer

Reddit, In November, a user adopted a dog and began noticing a persistent “wet dog” smell on their clothes, particularly after using their Samsung front load dryer.

This issue primarily affected synthetic, moisture-wicking athletic wear such as polyester blends. Despite extensive cleaning and maintenance efforts, the odor persisted, leading to frustration and confusion about the cause.

Initial Observations and Actions

  1. Cleaning Routine:
    • Lint filter cleaned after every use.
    • Drum disinfected with Lysol.
    • Lint trap and below it vacuumed.
    • Entire aluminum exhaust pipe replaced.
    • High heat cycle with a vinegar-soaked rag run.
  2. Internal Inspection:
    • Back of the dryer removed, internal exhaust pipe checked.
    • Vacuumed dust and lint from inside the unit.
    • No mold, dead animals, or obvious sources of the smell found.
  3. Washer Maintenance:
    • Washer thoroughly cleaned.
    • Lysol additive, white vinegar cycles, and Tide washer cleaning solvents used.
    • High-efficiency washer ensured proper detergent removal.
    • Clothes hung to dry smelled fine, confirming the dryer as the source.


  1. Pet Hair Accumulation:
    • Dog hair might be getting stuck in the lint catcher.
    • Despite regular cleaning, the heat might be baking the odor from pet hair into clothes.
    • Action: Use a lint roller on clothing before washing to reduce pet hair.
  2. Heat Damage to Synthetic Materials:
    • Excessive heat might be causing odors in synthetic fabrics.
    • Although previously worn similar materials without issue, the current suspicion arose.
    • Action: Use cold water washes and low heat dryer cycles to prevent potential damage.

How to Get Rid of the Burnt Smell from Clothes?

So, you notice a nasty burnt smell coming out of your dryer, and it’s definitely noticeable around the dryer. Yikes! That burning smell may mean more than just a one-off issue.

First off, there are a few things that can cause a burning smell; excess lint gets stuck in the dryer cabinet or vent ducts.

Make sure you clean the lint filter after every use to remove as much lint as possible.

It’s also a good idea to check the rubber belt and blower for any signs of wear every 6 months.

If your dryer is making weird noises, it might be the temperature inside the dryer causing the issue.

You can test the thermostat with an ohmmeter after removing the back of the dryer.

Sometimes, mildew or excess lint could be causing the scent, so give your dryer a good wipe down.

Also, remember to do thorough maintenance and cleaning twice a year to prevent buildup.

During the wash cycle and especially the rinse cycle, make sure your clothes are thoroughly cleaned to prevent any funky smells when drying.

Regularly check the vent ducts every 6 months to remove any lint, and keep an eye on your dryer’s performance.

Sometimes, the room or area around the dryer might need some fresh air too. 


Why does my dryer smell like burnt clothes?

If your dryer smells like burnt clothes, it could be due to trapped lint, a malfunctioning thermostat, or other issues. Ensure that the lint filter is thoroughly cleaned to prevent lint fires.

How can I troubleshoot my dryer smells like burning?

To troubleshoot why your dryer smells like burning, start by cleaning the lint filter and vent. Then, test the thermostat to see if it is malfunctioning. If you’re unsure, consulting repair experts may be necessary.

What should I do if my dryer smells like burning plastic?

If you notice a burning plastic smell, unplug the appliance immediately. Check the drive belt; if it’s wrapped snugly around components, it could be the source. You might need a repair man to fix this.

Can a faulty thermostat cause my clothes dryer to overheat?

Yes, a faulty thermostat can cause your clothes dryer to overheat by failing to control the temperature inside properly. It’s a good idea to also check the thermostat if you notice unusual smells.

How do I test the thermostat in my clothes dryer?

To test the thermostat in your clothes dryer, you’ll need to unplug the appliance. Using a multimeter, you can check for continuity. If it’s faulty, replacing it can prevent further overheating issues.

Could a lint fire make my dryer smell like burning?

Absolutely, a lint fire can make your dryer smell like burning. To prevent this, thoroughly remove all lint from the filter and vents. Regularly cleaning these areas can help remove any trapped lint that might catch fire.

What are the signs that my dryer’s drive belt needs replacing?

If you hear squeaking noises or if the dryer smells like it’s burning, the drive belt could be worn out or wrapped snugly around components. Consult a repair man for replacing the drive belt.

How often should I clean the lint filter?

It’s best to clean the lint filter after every drying cycle to thoroughly remove all lint. This practice helps prevent lint fires and ensures your clothes dryer operates efficiently.

Do I need a repair man if my dryer smells like burning?

Yes, if cleaning the lint filter and vent does not eliminate the burning smell, it’s wise to consult repair experts. A professional can help identify and fix internal issues, including the thermostat or drive belt.

Is it safe to rewash clothes that smell like burning?

Yes, rewashing clothes that smell like burning is safe, but make sure to inspect and clean the dryer first. A good cleaning can help remove the source of the smell and prevent any damage to your clothes.

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