Find Out Why Your Dryer is Damaging Your Clothes

Find Out Why Your Dryer is Damaging Your Clothes

Get ready for wrinkle-free, damage-free laundry days!
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There’s something amiss in the laundry room. While going through your freshly dried clothes, you notice rips, tears, and holes that weren't there before. Your dryer may be damaging your clothes! And if you've been hearing odd sounds from your machine, it's high time to investigate. It might be because of an easy-to-fix issue, or perhaps the drum, seals, rollers, or glides are showing their age.

Is Your Washer or Dryer Damaging Your Clothes?

Maybe you're not sure if it's your washer or dryer creating those mysterious rips. Trying to pinpoint whether your washer or dryer is ruining your clothes can be a bit of detective work. Here's what you can do:

Listening to Your Washer and Dryer

Run an empty cycle on both your washing machine and dryer. Listen carefully. If either of them produces loud rattling, scratching, or scraping noises, it can mean there's a stray object inside or maybe a part isn't working properly.

Doing Your Laundry with Rags or Old Clothes

You can try washing and drying some old clothes or rags you no longer need. This way, you can see if they get damaged without ruining your favorite outfits.

If these test clothes come out just fine, take another look at your damaged clothes. If you notice several small holes that grow over time, it might not be your machines but moths or bugs. You will need to address the infestation using pest control measures.

Understanding Different Types of Clothes Damage

If you suspect that it’s your dryer that's damaging your clothes, different parts might be causing the types of damage you see:

  • My clothes are getting snagged: Clothes might get caught if the filter cover is out of place or has sharp edges. Also, tiny objects can get wedged inside the drum and pull at your clothes.
  • My clothes have holes in them: Damaged or rough sections on the drum assembly can create holes in your laundry as it rotates.
  • My clothes are ripped and torn: When the parts that help the drum spin smoothly (like the support rollers or glides) wear down, the drum can shift and create a pinch point where clothes can get caught and rip. Missing felt seals can also lead to torn clothes as they trap clothing between the drum and outer housing.

Troubleshooting Guide for a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

If you notice your dryer is causing clothes to tear, it might not seem like a big deal, but it could lead to a serious problem – a dryer fire.

When clothes get damaged, they leave behind more lint. This lint is highly flammable, and if it builds up in your dryer's vents and ducts, it can block airflow and cause the dryer to run too hot. Leaving broken parts unaddressed may also lead to electrical issues and up the chances of a fire.

Follow these steps, and your dryer will be up and spinning again in no time:

Common Issues Causing Clothes Damage

Before cracking open your dryer, make sure you’re not making these common mistakes:

  • Are you running your dryer with the correct cycle? Spinning delicate garments too fast or using too much heat can harm them. Familiarize yourself with the care labels on your clothes; they tell you the best way to dry them.
  • Are you overloading your dryer? Jamming too many clothes into your dryer causes the drum and the components supporting it to warp and wear out faster. A good rule of thumb is to not fill the drum more than three-quarters full.

Safety Precautions

Don’t forget to disconnect the dryer from its power source. To do this, simply unplug the dryer from the wall, remove the appropriate fuse from the fuse box, or turn off the correct breaker in your circuit breaker panel. You may also need to pull the dryer away from the wall to give yourself space to work.

How to Fix the Filter Cover in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

The filter cover, typically located at the front or top of the dryer when you open the door, holds the lint filter in place. If it is broken or not sitting right, it may have sharp edges that can catch clothing as they’re tumbling.

How to Access, Inspect, and Replace the Filter Cover in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

If the lint trap doesn't fit snugly, there may be debris buildup in the trap's slot. To address this, open your dryer door and pull out the lint trap. Using a long slender brush, reach into the shaft to dislodge any lint and then clean it with a handheld vacuum that has a crevice tool nozzle attached.

Once cleaned, insert the lint trap back in, ensuring it sits flush without any protruding edges. If it fits snugly and has no rough edges, you're good to go. If not, consider replacing it.

Find Out Why Your Dryer is Damaging Your Clothes

How to Fix the Drum Assembly in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

The drum in your dryer is the part that spins and holds your clothes while they dry. If your clothes are getting torn or snagged, it could be because of a damaged part in the drum or because things that have been left in pockets, like keys, are stuck inside.

You will need to open the dryer cabinet to reach the drum itself. Because every dryer model is a bit different, having your user manual nearby will be helpful. The manual will show you how to open up your dryer's cabinet correctly.

How to Remove the Kickplate in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Some dryers have a panel at the bottom front, called a kickplate. If it has interior spring catches, you will need to use a putty knife to press on and release them.

If not, you'll probably find screws at the bottom. Just unscrew these, then gently pull down on the kickplate to take it off the dryer.

How to Remove the Top Panel in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Does your dryer have a console panel on top of the cabinet? If so, start there. Begin by removing any end caps, followed by the console screws. Once they're out, slide and flip up the console to access additional screws at the back of the cabinet top. Remove these and slide the cabinet top towards you and lift it off the unit.

For most dryers, there are also spring catches under the top panel, usually one on the left and one on the right. Use a putty knife to disengage them. For some models, the screws securing the cabinet top are found inside the door; open it and remove these screws. Slide the cabinet top forward and lift it off the unit.

Remember, the exact locations of the screws and catches might vary slightly depending on the make and model of your dryer, so always consult your dryer's user manual when in doubt.

How to Remove the Front Panel in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

When removing your dryer's front panel, keep in mind that the weight of the drum is resting on it. So, if you're not careful, the drum might fall or move.

If it has two bottom screws, start by slightly loosening them without taking them out completely. You might also find more screws either inside the top or near the door, which need to be removed.

After all the screws are undone, gently disconnect the door switch and any other wiring, making a mental note or take a picture to remember their placements for reassembly. Hold onto the drum to keep it steady and then gently tilt the front panel away from the dryer before removing it.

If your dryer has a front bulkhead, find any screws that are attaching it to the unit so you can remove them and separate the bulkhead from the drum.

How to Remove the Drum Assembly in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Now, you can release the belt that's around the drum. To do this, reach under the drum until you find the idler pulley arm. Push on it with your thumb to make it loose. Then, use your fingers to slip the belt off the motor pulley before carefully letting go of the idler pulley arm. You may have to do your best to hold the dryer in place while you remove the belt tension.

After the belt is loose, you can easily slide the drum out of the cabinet frame.

How to Inspect the Drum Assembly in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Before looking inside your dryer's drum, gather a nylon stocking or a similar item and roll it up. Gently move it all around the inside of the drum. If it gets caught or stuck in any spot, that's probably where your clothes are getting damaged. If the drum is broken in any way, you'll need a new drum.

If the drum looks good but was just sitting wrong, you will need to check its supporting parts, like the seals, guides, and rollers. The next section will tell you about checking the rollers that help the drum turn. Hold off on putting the drum back for now.

But if the drum was positioned correctly and you've got a new one to put in, you can go ahead and install the replacement drum assembly into the dryer.

How to Replace the Drum Assembly in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Start by wrapping the belt around the drum. Reach under the drum and make sure the two rollers underneath the drum fit perfectly into the drum's back groove.

With the drum in place, align the belt to it. Create tension in the belt by making a loop with it and slipping the loop under the idler pulley arm. Then, wrap the belt loop around the motor pulley.

Now, you can put the front panel back on the same way you took it off. Try turning the drum around by hand a few times. Pay close attention to the belt to ensure it lies flat and even all the way around the drum's circumference. Check the rear seal to ensure it is not pinched or caught around the drum anywhere. Once that's good, you can put the rest of the dryer back together.

Find Out Why Your Dryer is Damaging Your Clothes

How to Fix the Drum Support Rollers in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Your dryer's drum is supported by little wheels called rollers. Most dryers have a pair of these wheels at the back, and some have another pair at the front. Over time, the axles that hold these wheels can wear out, making the rollers wobbly. When this happens, the drum dips down and creates a space at the bottom where clothes might get stuck.

How to Access and Inspect the Drum Support Rollers in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

To see these rollers, you should've already taken out the drum from earlier steps. The rollers can be at the bottom of a part called the front bulkhead, or they can be behind the drum.

If you're looking at the front rollers, place the front bulkhead on a flat area. For the back rollers, you'll see them since the drum is already out. To see if a roller is bad, try turning each one.

If a roller is shaky or hard to turn, you should replace it. Sometimes, one roller can get old faster than the other. That's normal, but it's still a good idea to replace all of them at the same time. These rollers can be held by a nut or a clip, so you'll need to take that off first before changing the roller.

How to Replace the Drum Support Rollers in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Discard the worn drum support rollers and replace them with new ones. Put just a drop of oil on the hub. Don't use too much oil, because it will collect dust and lint, which can shorten the life of your rollers.

Find Out Why Your Dryer is Damaging Your Clothes

How to Fix the Drum Seal in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Now you can move onto inspecting the drum seals.

Felt seals are used to keep the hot air from escaping from around the drum. Depending on the dryer model, there might be a felt seal at the front of the drum, or there could be one at the front and another at the back. If this felt gets ripped or goes missing, clothes can get stuck between the big drum and the dryer's outer cover, which is called a shroud.

How to Access and Inspect the Drum Seal in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Put the drum on the ground and take a close look at the seals. Remember, not all dryers have two seals; some have just one. See if there are any signs of wear or damage in the seals that could be causing problems with your clothes. Check if it is seated firmly in place around the drum's opening.

How to Replace the Drum Seal in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

If a seal looks old or worn out, it needs to be replaced. Strip the old seal off from the dryer drum. Scrape and clean off as much of the old adhesive as you can. If your new seal doesn't come with its own sealant, make sure to get a tube of some. Squeeze the sealant tube under the felt seal, spreading it lightly and evenly around the edge. Wait a few hours for the adhesive to dry fully before you put the drum back in the dryer. Place the new seal where you removed the old one, ensuring that the stitched side faces downward.

How to Fix the Drum Glides in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

Last but not least, let's turn our attention to the drum glides.

Drum glides, also known as slides, are the small plastic pieces that support the front part of the drum so that it can move smoothly. They keep the drum lifted, but over time, they can wear down. When they do, the drum may droop at the front, creating a pinch point at the top where clothes can get torn.

How to Access and Inspect the Drum Glides in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

With the dryer’s cabinet opened, look for the glides. They could be around the rim of the drum or on a supporting panel at the back of the front cover. You can usually pop them off with something flat like a screwdriver. If they're held on with a rivet, you might need to remove them with a drill, as seen below:

While they might not look heavily worn, replacing them is advised to prevent future issues.

How to Replace the Drum Glides in a Dryer That is Tearing or Snagging Clothes

If you decide to replace your dryer's drum glides, slide the new glides into their spots, and secure them with a rivet gun if they are held in place by rivets.

Phew! Who knew a dryer could have so many quirks? But hey, now that you've got the lowdown, no more surprise tears in your favorite clothes! And if you're more of a visual learner, don't forget to check out our YouTube channel for video demonstrations to troubleshooting your dryer parts.

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Content Team
The PartSelect Content Team has a passion for DIY and we pride ourselves on being a resource for quality, expert content to help you accomplish any DIY project. Alongside our expert repair technicians, our team of experienced technical writers works to provide safe and reliable information on all tasks and jobs around your home. We spend time learning about the problems and projects that our customers are working on, and we make it our job to answer key questions and provide resources for every step along the way. Repairs and DIY projects are what we do, and the PartSelect Content Team wants to help you do them, too.
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PUBLISHED ON October 16, 2023
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