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Have you been neglecting your laundry appliances? It's time to clean up your act. Regular maintenance of your clothes dryer can extend its life considerably, saving energy, time, hassle -- and plenty of dough in the long haul (repairs can be pricey).

You're probably familiar with the usual dryer tips and tricks when it comes to your actual laundry (like tossing in a tennis ball for wrinkle-free clothing), but when was the last time you brushed up on your dryer maintenance knowledge?

If it's been a while since you read your dryer's manual -- or if you're not even sure where you put that darn thing -- here's some need-to-know tips for ensuring your dryer's best performance:

1. Keep the lint trap clean before and after each load, as lint build-up is one of the easiest ways to start a fire in the home.

2. In addition, clean the back of your dryer periodically, where lint can sometimes become trapped.

3. Twice a year, I'd recommend cleaning the interior of the dryer and venting system. If you notice your drying time is longer than usual, clean your vent system thoroughly to ensure proper airflow.

4. If your dryer has plastic, vinyl or aluminum foil venting, consider replacing your vent system with flexible metal venting. Here's an easy DIY tutorial. (When shopping for a new dryer, always check the vent system for more durable metals.)

5. Never dry clothing or fabrics that have been stained with flammable ingredients (i.e. cooking oils, spot removers or alcohol). Flammable substances give off vapors that put your dryer at a higher risk of igniting or exploding.

6. Lastly, be sure to read any warning labels on the interior of your dryer's lid for additional hazards and/or information. It takes just seconds, and can add years onto your dryer's life.

Of course, if you're interested in maintaining a greener environment for your dryer, check out some fantastic tips from Green Living.

Now, don't you have some laundry to do?


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