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Dispelling the Myth | Does Using a Gas Dryer Make Your Clothes Smell

The convenience, energy efficiency, and cost savings of gas dryers have kept them from becoming obsolete in the face of the electrical takeover. There is, however, a common concern among potential buyers and or owners: whether or not they make clothes smell as many people believe they do.

Knowing how gas dryers function will help you to understand the potential of your clothes smelling as a result of the gas.


Gas dryers can make clothes smell "gassy". However, this indicates an issue; it is not a normal occurance. Common reasons are excessive gas release, a faulty ignitor, leaking gas valves, and ventilation issues.

Dryer Gas Can Enter the Drum

Gas dryers need a steady stream of hot air to function.

Gas is released from the gas burner assembly, and the electric igniter will begin to heat up as soon as you turn it on. When it gets hot enough, it will ignite the gas in the burner with a spark.

Burner assembly parts of a gas dryer illustration

The burner then heats the air that will be circulated through the drum.

It is through the ducts that the heat from the burner is transferred to the drum, which dries the clothes.

Since there is no complete seal between the gas supplied to the burner assembly and the drum, combustion products or even unburned gases can make their way into the drum, causing clothes to smell.

Gas Should Be Burned up Before Entering the Drum

Even though gas can enter the drum, a properly functioning dryer should not allow natural gas (or LP) to enter the drum.

As the ignitor heats the gas, the reaction takes place rapidly, so when it leaves the burner assembly, it is in a different form (combustion byproducts).

The two gases that will enter the drum are carbon dioxide and water vapor. It is worth noting that these gases do not have the same odor as gas and should be drawn out of the drum through the vent.

Therefore, it is unlikely that you will smell them strongly, if at all on your clothes.

Reasons Why Clothes Smell Like Gas

1. Excessive Gas Release

For the dryer to function, gas has to be released into the burner assembly. A certain amount is released in a normally functioning dryer. This is just the right amount to be burned up to provide heat.

However, excessive gas release from your gas dryer could be causing your clothes to smell like gas since not all of it will be ignited.

Gas release of a burner assembly, woman pinching her nose because of the smelly clothes caused by the excessive gas release

The excessive gas release is usually due to a malfunctioning gas pressure regulator or a faulty gas burner. 

Gas dryers are equipped with a gas pressure regulator to ensure that an appropriate amount of gas is released into the burner. This device serves as a protective measure for efficient functioning.

However, a problem with the gas pressure regulator can result in the dryer releasing more gas than it should. If the gas is not entirely ignited, it may leave a gaseous smell on the clothes. 

For your gas dryer to work properly, it is essential to have it serviced regularly and to replace any worn parts. 

2. The Ignitor Is Faulty

An ignitor is an electrical component of a gas dryer that generates heat and sparks when turned on. Once the spark ignites the gas in the burner, heated air is released into the drum to dry your clothes. 

A faulty ignitor will not create enough spark to ignite all of the gas. This means that when the heated air enters your drum, it is accompanied with some unburned gas. This can then permeate your clothing.

ClimaTek Upgraded Gas Dryer Igniter Ignitor fits Kenmore Whirlpool 279311 AP3094138 239233

In addition to producing unpleasant smells, a faulty ignitor can also become a safety hazard. If no flame is present when you start your dryer, it may lead to hazardous levels of unburned natural gas in your laundry room and home.

To ensure the ignitor is functioning correctly, you should test it for sparks, heat, and any cracks or damage that could lead to a decrease in performance.

3. The Gas Valves Are Leaking

If gas is being released at an inappropriate time, it may not be ignited and will move into the drum. If this is the case, you might also notice a gas smell when you open the dryer to put clothes inside.

Causes of Gas Valve Leakage

  • Occasionally you can have a loose fitting at the gas valve. This may be caused by a loose or damaged gas valve seal. The seal can also wear out over time, causing the valve to leak.
  • There is a possibility that the solenoids controlling the gas valve are weak, and they open slowly or not enough to create a correct mixture. By the time they open, the igniter will have cooled down too much. After the flame sensor cools and resets, the valve will close again.
  • The seals around the plunger in the solenoid may have cracked, which occurs more often as a machine ages.
Gas  valve and gas coils of a gas dryer illustration

4. There Are Ventilation Issues

Ventilation issues occur when exhaust stays in the drum longer than it should. This can be caused by blockages, such as lint buildup or clogged vents, which keep the exhaust in the drum.

If the dryer vent is clogged or jammed, moisture and toxic gases produced from gas combustion will remain in your dryer. These gases can then spread to your clothes.

The vent is usually filled with lint collected from the laundry. That’s why it’s recommended that you clean your dryer’s vent at least once every six months—use a vacuum or stiff brush to do so.

A problem with the ventilation system could also cause the exhaust to be pulled back into the drum instead of being expelled outside.

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Sources

https://www.washington.edu/news/2011/08/24/scented-laundry-products-emit-hazardous-chemicals-through-dryer-vents/

https://allareaappliancellc.com/gas-odors-from-dryer-need-professional-attention/

https://youtu.be/4XUC93PkiXE

https://nextmodernhome.com/gas-dryer-smells-like-gas-possible-causes-and-fixes/

https://www.espares.co.uk/advice/careandmaintenance/how-to-diagnose-tumble-dryer-drying-and-heating-problems

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