Dire dryers: Easy cleaning hack that could avoid a deadly fire and tens of thousands of pounds in damage

30 May 2023

Homes across the UK could be playing host to dire tumble dryers, full of fire-risk lint, as figures reveal millions of us never clean the lint filter of our tumble dryers.

A survey of more than 4,500 adults across the UK found 1 in 20 (5%) admit to never cleaning the lint filter on their tumble dryer, the equivalent of more than 2 million people across the UK[1].

Brits are being urged to add their tumble dryer to their spring-cleaning list and clean their lint, after new financial figures also reveal the costly impact a tumble dryer fire can have.

New figures supplied from Admiral Home Insurance found that the average insurance claim for a tumble dryer fire over the last three years was an eyewatering £25,000.

Tumble dryers account for a large number of appliance fires across the country. In the last five years, fire services across England have attended over 3,200 tumble dryer fires – almost two a day.

“One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of a tumble dryer fire is to clean your lint filter after every use,” says Giuseppe Capanna, product safety engineer at Electrical Safety First. “Forgetting to clean your lint filter isn’t just potentially costly, it could put you and your home at risk. Lint is very flammable, and an excessive build-up could cause a fire that not only causes severe damage to your home but also puts you and your family’s life at risk.”

A build-up of lint, which caused a tumble dryer fire. Credit: Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

Research commissioned by the charity found that tumble dryer owners are increasing their risk of fire in several ways from not cleaning their lint filters to using extension leads to power their tumble dryers.

Whilst many Brits admit to never cleaning their tumble dryer filter 1 in 12 (8%) only do this fire reducing task once a year or less[2] leaving them at risk of a build-up of lint, which can ignite and start a devastating fire when heated up during a cycle.

Aftermath of a tumble dryer fire caused by a build-up of lint. Credit: Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Powering tumble dryers by extension leads proved popular, as almost 40% of UK tumble dryer owners admitted to using them.[3] Extension leads can be overloaded if too many high-power appliances, such as tumble dryers, are connected, begin to overheat, and result in a fire. Electrical Safety First is urging households to plug their tumble dryers directly into a wall socket.

One-in-seven (14%) of respondents admitted to using their dryers overnight whilst they slept, meaning their response time in the event a fire occurs could be greatly reduced [4]. Worryingly, almost one-in-ten (10%) admitted to not having working smoke alarms in their properties, leaving them without an early warning system should a fire take place – especially at night.[5]

Giuseppe Capanna added: “Get into the habit of cleaning your lint filter after every use to prevent a build-up of lint and fluff, avoid powering them by extension leads which can be overloaded and, where practically possible, avoid leaving it on whilst out of the house, especially overnight.”

The charity also urged households to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every floor in the home.

Claire Charlton, Head of Household Claims at Admiral, said: “A fire that starts in a tumble dryer can be devastating. If the fire spreads, it can result in thousands of pounds of damage. Nobody wants to see their home ruined by a fire, so taking some time to ensure you clean your lint filter regularly can prevent heartbreak further down the line.”

The Dire Dryer List – Electrical Safety First reveals the top 10 cities where tumble dryer owners never clean their lint filters:


















































Electrical Safety First provides the following guidelines for the safe use and maintenance of your tumble dryer:

  • Register all appliances with the manufacturer for easy safety recall contact.
  • Check for recalls using Electrical Safety First’s online portal.
  • Clean the lint filter after every use.
  • Read the manufacturer's instructions; other parts of the appliance may also need to be cleaned periodically.
  • Check for scorching/burn marks and loose or worn wires.
  • Avoid overloading and take large items to dry-cleaners.
  • Allow all drying programs to complete fully.
  • Do not stop the dryer mid-cycle unless removing items quickly and leaving the door open.
  • Do not put clothes contaminated with combustible substances in the dryer.
  • Where possible, avoid leaving appliances on overnight and unplug or switch off when going out.


  • Survey: The research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 4,502 UK adults aged 16+, nationally representative on age, gender and region. The data was collected between 14.04.2023 - 20.04.2023.
  • Electrical Safety First examined the Home Office Domestic Appliance Fires Dataset from 2017-2022, and applied the ESF methodology (Accidental, Electric, Faulty Fuel Supplies, Faulty Appliances and Leads, Misuse of Equipment and Placing Articles too close to Heat, and then filtered further to Tumble Dryer fires to achieve this data.  
  • *9.55% x 54,098,971 (2019 ONS mid-year population estimate figures) = 5,166,451.73
  • Photo credit: Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service