How to Convert a 4-Prong Dryer Cord to Fit a 3-Slot Outlet

Things You’ll Need

  • 4-prong dryer cord
  • 3-prong dryer cord
  • Wire strippers
  • Screwdriver
  • Electrical tape
  • Voltage tester

Step 1: Turn Off Power and Disconnect Dryer

The first step is to make sure the power is turned off at the breaker for the outlet you’ll be working on. Unplug the dryer and disconnect it completely before doing any work on the cord. Make sure the dryer cannot be accidentally plugged in while you are working.

Step 2: Remove Cover Plate from Outlet

Use a screwdriver to remove the cover plate from the 3-slot outlet you’ll be connecting the dryer to. This will expose the interior wiring and allow access to connect the new cord.

Step 3: Cut Off the 4-Prong Plug

Use the wire strippers to cut off the 4-prong plug from the existing dryer cord. Make sure to strip back a few inches of the outer insulation to expose the inner wires. There should be 4 wires – black, white, red, and green.

Step 4: Attach Wires to 3-Prong Cord

Take the 3-prong dryer cord and match up the colors:

  • Black wire to black
  • White wire to white
  • Red wire to red

Twist the matching wires together securely and wrap each connection with electrical tape. Make sure there are no exposed wires showing.

Do NOT attach the green ground wire. Tuck it safely out of the way.

Step 5: Attach Cord and Replace Cover

Feed the new 3-prong cord through the outlet and screw the cover plate back into place. Make sure the connections are secure.

Step 6: Test Outlet

Turn the power back on and use a voltage tester to make sure the outlet is properly wired before connecting the dryer. Plug in the dryer and test it on a low heat setting to verify proper operation.


Is this setup safe long-term?

Converting to a 3-prong outlet should only be a temporary solution until the circuit can be properly updated with a 4-prong outlet. Lack of a ground connection can be a safety hazard.

What if I don’t have a voltage tester?

You can substitute a simple plug-in circuit tester, but a non-contact voltage tester is ideal for this job. Only proceed if you can verify the outlet is correctly wired.

Do I need to update the circuit breaker?

If the existing breaker is matched to the dryer’s power needs, it should not need replacement when converting to a 3-prong cord.

Can I use any 3-prong cord?

No, you should match the wire gauge on the original 4-prong cord you are converting. Use a 3-prong cord specifically rated for electric dryers.

What should I do with the unused ground wire?

Tuck it safely back into the outlet box, securing it with electrical tape so it doesn’t make contact with other wires. Cap it with a wire nut if possible.

How do I reconvert back to 4-prong later?

When you are ready to upgrade, connect the green ground wire to the outlet’s ground screw or grounding clip. Install a new 4-prong outlet if needed.


Converting a 4-prong dryer cord to work temporarily with a 3-slot outlet can be done safely with some basic DIY electrical knowledge. Make sure to use caution and turn off power before working. Verify connections with a voltage tester before running the dryer. Remember this is only a short-term fix, and you should have the circuit properly updated to a 4-prong grounded outlet as soon as possible for maximum safety. With the right materials and safe installation, a 3-prong connection can get a dryer working again quickly.