I'm the kind of person who gets attached to things pretty easily (read: I have hoarding tendencies). I don't actually know how long I've had my various hot tools (except for curling irons I've bought in recent years for their different sized barrels). But those tools that you really only need one of, like hair dryers and straighteners? I might be using the same ones I've had since I was 13... I can't really be sure anymore. And although I don't tend to heat style often, I've definitely figured out ways to make my hair dryer last longer. But regardless, 10 years seems like a long time to be holding on to the same dryer. So how often should you actually be replacing your hair dryer? And how do you know when it's time to do so?
You don't have to replace your dryer just because it's old if it seems to still be working fine. However, you should keep a stronger eye on it, as older hair dryers have a higher risk of overheating. Thankfully, with new hair dryers comes better technology. These days, most dryers have safety switches that will cut off power to the dryer if it starts to overheat. But as with most things, knowing when it is time for a new dryer depends on how often and to what extent you use it. So if your hair dryer is older than five years, you might want to inspect it for signs of existing or potential damage. Here are two ways to extend the lifespan of your hair dryer, and the respective signs that it needs to be replaced.
1. Store it Properly (This Applies to All Hot Tools)
If you wrap a hot tool's cord around itself for better organization, you might be secretly doing damage to your tools. Constantly wrapping a cord tightly around an object can slowly wear away at the cord because it receives more stress from the tighter angles created. Instead, try to collect the cords into loose loops. (You'll know it's the right size if you don't have to touch the cord and the loop stays put.) If you have multiple hot tools, just tie a twist-tie around each cord-loop so you can distinguish them.
Exposed wires are hazardous because they can shock you. If you notice that the protective covering on the cord is wearing away, it's time to replace your dryer.
2. Clean it
You might not have ever noticed it, but there is a little vent at the back or side of every hair dryer. All you have to do is pop off the vent cover, and clean out the lint. (I like to do this with an old toothbrush.) Try to do this on a monthly basis if you use your dryer most days of the week. If the vent becomes too dirty, it could cause your dryer to overheat. (You'll notice a burning smell if this is the case.) This not only shortens the lifespan of your hair dryer but could even cause a fire in the worst case scenario.
If your hair dryer still smells funky even after you've cleaned it, or you are not able to remove all of the lint from the vent, it's time for your dryer to be replaced.
Images: Andriy Goncharenko/Fotolia; Miki Hayes (3)