Short answer: A burning smell inside your dryer may indicate overheating or lint buildup. Stop using it, clean the lint filter and vents, and check for faulty wiring or parts. 

Every household appliance comes with its quirks and occasional malfunctions, and dryers are no exception. Among the various issues one might face, a burning smell emanating from a dryer often tops the list of concerns. Whether you’ve just purchased a brand-new unit or have been using your dryer for years, detecting a hint of smoke or a peculiar odor can be disconcerting. This article aims to demystify the reasons behind this occurrence, distinguishing between the ordinary and the problematic, and offering practical solutions to ensure your laundry routine remains uninterrupted. Dive into the intricacies of your dryer’s workings and find out how to tackle that troubling aroma.

Why There Is A Burning Smell Inside The Dryer?

Inspecting dryer thermal fuse
Checking thermal fuse

A burning smell inside a dryer is a concerning issue that signals potential problems with the appliance. This odor can be indicative of several underlying issues, including overheating components or the presence of flammable materials within the dryer. Furthermore, a burning smell can result from malfunctioning internal components such as thermostats, drive belts, or the dryer motor. These components, if damaged or operating incorrectly, can generate excessive heat, leading to a distinct odor.

Common Causes Of Burning Smell Inside Dryer

Some causes of burning smell are given below:

Lint Buildup:

Lint is a common byproduct of drying clothes, and it can accumulate in the lint filter and the dryer’s vents over time. When there’s excessive lint, it restricts the airflow, causing the dryer to overheat. This can lead to a burning smell and, in severe cases, pose a fire hazard. Regularly cleaning the lint filter and venting system is crucial to prevent this issue.

Failing Thermostat:

Dryers use thermostats to regulate the temperature. If a thermostat fails or malfunctions, it may not accurately control the heat, leading to overheating. The excess heat can result in a burning odor. Replacing a faulty thermostat is necessary to prevent this issue.

Bad Drive Belt:

The drive belt is responsible for rotating the dryer drum. If it becomes damaged, loose, or misaligned, it can create excessive friction as it interacts with other components. This friction generates heat, producing a burning smell. Replacing a worn or damaged drive belt is essential to resolve this issue.

Damaged Dryer Motor:

The dryer motor powers the drum and blower fan. If the motor is damaged or experiences electrical problems, it can overheat and emit a burning odor. Addressing motor issues may require professional repair or replacement.

Overheating Elements:

Dryers have heating elements that produce the heat needed to dry clothes. If these elements become faulty, they can overheat and cause a burning smell. Replacing the heating elements is necessary to remedy this issue.

Thermostat Failure:

If a thermostat fails to accurately sense and control the dryer’s temperature, it may cause the dryer to become too hot. This overheating can lead to a burning smell. Replacing a malfunctioning thermostat is crucial to maintain proper temperature regulation.

Jammed Clothing:

Occasionally, clothing items can become trapped in the dryer’s drum, creating friction between the clothes and the drum or other components. This friction generates heat and can result in a burning odor. Always check for and remove any jammed items before using the dryer to prevent this issue.

Why There Is A Burning Smell In A Brand-New Dryer?

It’s not uncommon for brand-new dryers to release a smoky aroma upon their initial use. This is attributed to the coils and other elements inside the dryer that haven’t yet undergone a heat cycle. During manufacturing and installation, these parts can gather dust, residues, and other particles. The first heat cycle burns these off, often producing a smoky scent in the process.

For those who have just invested in a new dryer, here’s a handy tip: Before you throw in your first load of laundry, let the dryer run empty on a “time dry” setting for about 10-15 minutes. This will season the coils, burn off residual particles, and should eliminate any initial smoky smells. If, however, the scent persists beyond 20-30 minutes or after several cycles, it’s time to call in a professional.

What To Do If Your Dryer Smells Like Burning?

Step 1: Switch It Off and Unplug It: The first and most crucial step is to immediately turn off the dryer and unplug it from the electrical outlet. This ensures safety and prevents any potential electrical or fire hazards.

Step 2: Check the Lint Filter: Start by inspecting and cleaning the lint filter. A clogged lint filter restricts airflow, causing overheating and a burning smell. Remove any lint buildup from the filter. If it’s damaged, consider replacing it.

Unscrewing the lint filter cover
Removing the cover from the lint filter

Step 3: Test the Thermostat: The thermostat regulates the dryer’s temperature. If it’s malfunctioning and allowing the dryer to overheat, it can lead to a burning smell. It’s best to consult the dryer’s user manual or seek professional help to test and replace the thermostat if needed.

Step 4: Check the Drive Belt is Properly Connected: Ensure the drive belt, which rotates the dryer drum, is correctly attached and not damaged. A loose or damaged belt can create friction and generate a burning odor. Realign or replace the belt as necessary.

Step 5: Make Note of Strange Sounds: While investigating the burning smell, pay attention to any unusual or grinding sounds. These may provide additional clues to the problem and can help a technician diagnose the issue more accurately.

Step 6: Consider the Clothes You’re Drying: Some fabrics or clothing items with synthetic materials may emit an odor when dried. If the smell is coming from the clothes themselves, it’s usually not a concern. However, if the odor is different from what you’re accustomed to, check for foreign objects or contaminants in the drum.

Step 7: Check the Motor: The dryer motor powers the drum and blower fan. A malfunctioning motor can overheat and create a burning smell. Consult a professional technician to diagnose and repair motor-related issues.

Step 8: Clean Inside of The Dryer: Remove the dryer’s front or rear panel (consult your user manual for instructions) and check for lint and debris inside the dryer’s housing. Clean out any accumulated lint, which can pose a fire hazard.

Step 9: Inspect The Exterior Cover: Examine the exterior of the dryer for any signs of damage or melted plastic components. If you notice any, this may indicate a more serious issue with the dryer’s internal components, and you should seek professional help.

Opening exterior of dryer
Unscrewing the dryer back cover

How To Prevent From Dryer Burning Smell?

To prevent a burning smell from your dryer and ensure its safe and efficient operation, follow these preventive measures:

Regularly Clean the Lint Filter: After each drying cycle, remove and clean the lint filter. Lint buildup restricts airflow and can lead to overheating and a burning smell.

Clean the Venting System: Periodically inspect and clean the dryer’s venting system, including the ducts and exhaust vent. Lint can accumulate here as well, reducing airflow and increasing the risk of overheating.

Avoid Overloading: Overloading the dryer can strain its components and increase the likelihood of overheating. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended load capacity guidelines.

Use Appropriate Heat Settings: Select the appropriate heat settings based on the fabric and garment type. High heat settings can cause excessive heat, so choose lower settings for delicate items.

Inspect Clothing for Foreign Objects: Before loading clothes into the dryer, check for items like pens, coins, or other objects that can get lodged in the drum and create friction.

Properly Install and Maintain the Drive Belt: Ensure the drive belt is correctly installed and in good condition. Replace it if it becomes worn or damaged to prevent friction-related issues.

Clean the Interior of the Dryer: Periodically remove the front or rear panel of the dryer (consult your user manual) to clean the interior and remove any lint or debris that may have accumulated.

Inspect and Maintain the Thermostat: Have the dryer’s thermostat checked and calibrated by a professional technician regularly to ensure it accurately regulates the temperature.

Schedule Professional Maintenance: Consider scheduling routine maintenance with a professional appliance technician. They can identify and address potential issues before they become major problems.

Install a Vent Hood Cover: If your dryer vent exits through a wall or roof, install a vent hood cover to prevent debris, animals, or weather from obstructing the vent.

Use Metal Venting Ducts: If your dryer uses flexible ducts for venting, consider replacing them with rigid metal ducts. Metal ducts are less likely to become clogged and reduce fire hazards.

Keep the Dryer Area Clear: Ensure the area around the dryer is free of flammable materials, such as cleaning products, paper, or clothing, to reduce fire risks.


How often should I clean the interior of my dryer to prevent a burning smell?

Cleaning the interior of your dryer, including removing the front or rear panel to access lint buildup, should be done every six months to a year, depending on usage and lint accumulation.

Is a burning smell always a sign of a serious issue?

Not necessarily. Sometimes, a minor issue like lint buildup or a foreign object can cause a temporary burning smell. However, it’s crucial to investigate and address it promptly to prevent potential hazards.

Can a damaged dryer cord cause a burning smell?

Yes, a damaged or frayed power cord can lead to electrical issues and generate a burning odor. Replace a damaged cord immediately.

Why should I avoid overloading my dryer to prevent a burning smell?

Overloading can strain the dryer’s components, leading to increased friction and heat, which may result in a burning smell. Follow the manufacturer’s load capacity recommendations for safe operation.

Is it safe to continue using my dryer if the burning smell goes away?

It’s not recommended to continue using the dryer without investigating the cause of the burning smell, as it can recur and potentially pose fire hazards. Inspect and resolve the issue before using it again.

Are there any signs of a burning smell that I should never ignore?

Any burning smell that persists, intensifies, or is accompanied by smoke or unusual sounds should never be ignored. It indicates a potentially serious issue, and you should cease using the dryer and seek professional repair immediately.


Whether you have a brand-new dryer or an older model, understanding its components and the importance of maintenance is key. Keeping an ear out for unusual noises, an eye out for smoke, and a nose alert for strange smells will ensure you catch any issues before they escalate. Always prioritize safety and efficiency, and your dryer will serve you well for years to come.

Key Takeaways:

  • Regularly cleaning the lint filter and venting system is essential to prevent lint buildup and overheating.
  • Periodic inspection of the dryer’s interior and internal components helps identify and address potential issues early.
  • Using appropriate heat settings for different fabric types prevents excessive heat and burning odors.
  • Adhering to the manufacturer’s load capacity guidelines and avoiding overloading the dryer ensures safe operation.
  • Installing rigid metal venting ducts and vent hood covers can enhance safety and prevent obstructions.
  • Keeping the dryer area clear of flammable materials reduces fire risks.
  • Scheduling professional maintenance and seeking timely repair assistance for persistent issues is crucial for dryer safety.
Causes Fixing Tips for Prevention Warning Signs
– Lint buildup – Regularly clean lint filter and vents – Clean lint filter and vents regularly – Persistent burning smell
– Failing thermostat Test and replace faulty thermostat – Avoid overloading the dryer – Unusual or grinding sounds
– Bad drive belt – Ensure proper drive belt installation or replacement – Use appropriate heat settings – Foreign objects in the dryer drum
– Damaged dryer motor – Consult a professional for motor repair or replacement – Inspect clothing for foreign objects – Melting or damage on the dryer’s exterior
– Overheating elements – Replace faulty heating elements – Schedule professional maintenance
– Thermostat failure – Test and replace malfunctioning thermostat – Install a vent hood cover for external vents
– Jammed clothing – Check for and remove trapped items – Use rigid metal venting ducts
– Address unusual odors or issues promptly – Keep the dryer area clear of flammable materials
– Clean the interior of the dryer periodically – Follow the manufacturer’s load capacity guidelines
– Inspect and maintain internal components

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