how to clean a condenser dryerMy laundry blog posts have been mostly devoted to detergents recently, so I thought I’d change things up a little and put together this step by step tutorial on how to clean a condenser dryer. If you’ve read my Miele W3038 review you probably know that I also own the corresponding condenser dryer – the Miele T8023C. Unlike the more common in the US type of vented dryer condensers do not blow the air outside and do not require any kind of special connection other than a 220V electric plug. They also require a different kind of maintenance, which I’m going to illustrate in this tutorial.

Cleaning the condenser is part of the regular maintenance process and should not be confused with cleaning the lint filters. Lint filters must be cleaned after every use, while the actual condenser needs cleaning less often.

HOW TO CLEAN A CONDENSER DRYER: STEP BY STEP

I’m going to be using my own dryer as an example – your setup might be a little different based on the machine. But the overall principle is the same for all condenser dryers. Consult your manual if you have any doubts!

STEP 0:MAKE SURE THE MACHINE IS TURNED OFF

This is an easy one – always make sure your machine is turned off before you do anything with it. My manual recommends actually unplugging it or turning it off at the circuit breaker.

STEP 1: LOCATE THE CONDENSER

how to clean a condenser dryer - front of dryer

Now on to the very basics: the condenser element is usually accessible from the front of the machine. That large “window” below the dryer door is where it’s hiding. (By the way, have I mentioned just how much I envy people who have actual laundry rooms? This is our laundry/linen closet and it’s all I get with our current condo setup. Still much better than no laundry of course!)

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STEP 2: REMOVE THE ACCESS PANEL

Removing access panel

Next you have to remove the access panel. On my Miele machine it’s easy to do with this little orange tool – when not in use it clips in to the detergent drawer of the washer, so you never have to go rummaging for it.
Tip: the access door is usually made out of plastic, so be careful not to scratch it when removing and setting aside.

STEP 3: REMOVE THE CONDENSER DOOR

Removing condenser door

Behind the panel you’ll find another door that seals off the condenser. Unlock the orange latch and take it out.

STEP 4: PULL OUT THE CONDENSER

Removing condenser element

Now that you’ve gotten past all those different doors, you can finally see the condenser. Once again, unlock the latch and carefully pull it out.
Tip: there might be some lint falling off of the condenser so don’t shake it around too much.

STEP 5: WASH THE CONDENSER

Cleaning condenser element

This is the fun part! Put your condenser in the tub or sink and give it a good rinse with warm water (no soap). You want to rinse it from all sides with a fairly strong stream of water until all the lint and debris is gone, but be careful not to bend any of the “wires” that are accessible from the sides.
Tip: make sure you have a net on your drain to catch the lint.

STEP 6: DRY THE CONDENSER

Drying condenser element

Put the condenser on a towel and let it dry overnight. I’ll be honest, I have put it right back in while still wet on a couple of occasions, but my manual recommends air drying so I try to comply whenever possible.
Tip: spread the towel out ahead of time.

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STEP 7: WIPE OFF ANY REMAINING LINT AND PUT EVERYTHING BACK TOGETHER

Once you’re ready to put the condenser back in place, give all the seals a good wipe with a damp microfiber towel and clean out the inside of the condenser area of the machine if you see any lint there. Then assemble everything back together and you are ready to use your dryer again!

WHEN TO CLEAN A CONDENSER DRYER

Now that you know how to clean a condenser dryer, how often do you actually have to do this? Different machines will have different instructions regarding how often maintenance is needed, but the Miele T8023C condenser is supposed to be cleaned every 6 months or every 100 uses, whatever comes first. I use the dryer quite a lot, so I try to clean it every 3-4 months if I remember. If not, a sure sign that the condenser needs cleaning for me is when I start seeing lint in the water reservoir.

You do want to make sure that you clean the condenser as frequently as the manual recommends – if it gets clogged up with lint that will affect drying times (by making them longer) and waste a lot of energy. We live in MA, home of some of the highest electricity rates in the country, so I am very, very cautious about keeping our energy consumption as low as possible. Even though the dryer is energy efficient, I’m still not taking any chances!
We’re also currently replacing all of our lighting with LED bulbs – I could never force myself to use CFLs, but LED technology is pretty amazing right now. (I actually get excited about LED bulbs… If you are the same, check out this awesome post by The Sweethome where they went searching for the best general purpose LED bulb.)

I’d love to hear from any condenser dryer users in the comments – did you know how to clean a condenser dryer when you purchased the machine? How frequently do you clean the condenser? Have you ever seen a decrease in performance due to the condenser not being cleaned on time?

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