Yes, You Need To Clean Your Hair Dryer—Here's How

Hair Dryer on Blue Background

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That hair dryer you’ve been using multiple times a week for years? Yes, it needs to be cleaned! It’s true that the more thoroughly you care for your appliances, the longer they will last. Below, we’ve asked two experts to give us the step-by-step on how, exactly, to clean your hair dryer and how often to do it, too. 

Why You Need To Clean Your Hair Dryer

When you turn your dryer on, whatever is in the air is sucked into the dryer. “Clearing your dryer of any dust, dirt and lint, especially around the air intake grill, allows for optimal operating performance,” explains Jen Ju, Director of Brand and Product Marketing at T3. The better the airflow of your dryer, the faster your blow-dry will be. Unfortunately, a dirty dryer filter will slow your drying time and, even worse, possibly overheat your dryer.

  • Jen Ju is the Director of Brand and Product Marketing at T3.
  • Joel Calfee is the Director of Education for Bio Ionic.

Considerations Before Getting Started

If your dryer comes with instructions, you should always reference them before cleaning. “Make sure to unplug your dryer and clean it above a flat surface (verses over the top of your bathroom sink),” explains Joel Calfee, Director of Education for Bio Ionic. “This way, if you drop any small parts, they aren’t lost.”

Some dryers have an outer filter guard with a mesh filter that rests against a permanent metal filter. You will need to clean all three of these items if they exist. “A dryer filter guard can be fragile, so make sure you remove them gently and follow the same positioning orientation when reinstalling,” suggests Calfee. “If a plastic tab breaks off into the dryer, be sure to remove it before running the dryer with heat.”

Newer, high-tech dryers, such as the Bio Ionic Smart X™ High-Efficiency dryer, have a self-cleaning cycle feature that reverses the airflow to help clean the dryer. “In all cases, be sure to read the instructions of any new dryer you purchase and refer to the care and maintenance guidelines,” says Calfee.

What You Need

  • An old toothbrush, clean spoolie, or a cotton swab
  • A slightly damp cloth
  • Isopropyl alcohol or shampoo for heavy product buildup   

How To Clean Your Hair Dryer

  1. Unplug your dryer. 
  2. Wipe the exterior of the dryer with a slightly damp cloth. 
  3. Using an old toothbrush, spoolie, or cotton swab, manually remove all debris from the exterior of the filter guard. “If your filter guard is removable, remove the filter and continue to clean the permanent filter fixed to the back of the dryer,” suggests Calfee. “If a soft mesh filter is present, gently brush off debris, rinse the filter under water, and set aside to dry.”
  4. If heavy buildup is present, it may be necessary to wash the mesh filter. “Shampoo or isopropyl alcohol can be used if necessary,” Calfee explains.
  5. Continue cleaning your filter assembly as needed and reassemble your filter system. If water was used on any parts, allow items to fully dry before reassembling.
  6. After everything has fully dried, Calfee suggests running the dryer on cool speed for only 15 to 30 seconds while pointing the dryer downward. “This will allow any loose debris to exit the dryer and will prevent burning on the heater coil,” he says.

How Often To Clean Your Hair Dryer

For optimum performance, it is best to inspect your filter daily and clean your outer filter guard at least once a week, according to Calfee. “Deep cleanings should be done every 1 to 2 months,” he says. “If the dryer is being used by multiple people daily, a monthly deep cleaning is necessary.”

In most cases, a deep cleaning should only take five minutes at most. “Meanwhile, a dirty dryer filter could be adding 10 minutes to your drying time every day,” explains Calfee. “It’s worth it to maintain your dryer regularly.”

How To Know When To Replace Your Hair Dryer

It’s time to get a new hair dryer if your previous dryer has stopped working or if you’re seeing a performance decline and it is not performing to its previous standards (like taking longer than before to dry, making extraneous noises, etc.). “It’s also a good idea to upgrade to a new dryer when you’re looking for additional features that benefit your hair and improve your drying and styling experience,” suggests Ju. 

Calfee agrees, saying that choosing a hair dryer for your hair type or lifestyle is the best option. “Dryer technology has come a long way in the past few years and these newer dryers have innovative features, are more efficient, and are way faster,” explains Calfee. “If you find yourself having less time to style your hair or maybe a lifestyle/hairstyle change has impacted your styling routine, a new more efficient dryer could be the one item that could change how fast you style your hair.”

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