There may be more than stray socks lurking in your laundry room — there are safety risks as well.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2014 - 2018, an average of 13,820 fires were responded to that involved dryers. And in 2021, according to the Association of Poison Control Centers, as of September 30, 2021, more than 7,000 children 5 and younger have been treated for exposure to laundry detergent packets.
Here's what needs to be cleaned, checked and stored in order to maintain a safe laundry room.
Make sure your laundry room is clean
- Spills: Wipe them up as soon as they happen. Soapy detergent can cause falls, and clear bleach could be mistaken for water.
- Dryer ducts and vents: Hire professionals to clean your ducts and vent if you notice a decrease in dryer performance. If you have pets or a large family, this could be necessary as often as twice a year.
- Washing machines. Wash the washing machine with a store-bought washing machine cleaner or a solution of hot water, vinegar and baking soda. Learn more washing machine maintenance tips.
- Clean the lint traps. Empty it after every load, and clean it with a nylon brush every six months. Discover more ways to care for your dryer.
What to periodically check
- Dryer ducts: Plastic dryer ducts are a fire hazard. Replace them with straight or flexible metal ducts.
- Dryer manual: This should tell you the space a dryer needs for proper airflow. Keep your dryer cool by keeping the area around it clutter-free.
- Dryer vent: Check the vent's exterior output for blockages, such as leaves or bird nests. If you notice dryer lint all over the laundry room make sure the dryer vent and exhaust duct are securely attached. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends to clean the venting every three months.
- Washing machine base: Make sure to place the machine in a pan connected to a drain to catch leaks before they cause major damage. This is especially important if your washer is located on an upper floor in your home.
- Hoses: Replace washing machine supply lines every three to five years as part of a proactive maintenance plan.
Discover more ways to keep your home safe and secure by performing a DIY home safety audit.
What to store
- Detergents: Store detergents, detergent packets, bleach and fabric softeners in their original containers and out of reach of children and pets. Also, institute laundry room rules and discuss what's safe to touch and what's not.
- Fire extinguisher: Thousands of fires start in laundry rooms each year. It's smart to keep a fire extinguisher close.
- Important numbers: Keep your local poison control center's number posted in the laundry room in case of an emergency.