Cleaning Tips to Help Appliances Last

If you are not a fan of spending a lot of money replacing big-ticket appliances on a regular basis then you should take good care of your appliances. Cleaning your appliances doesn’t require much time or effort, and it is easy to incorporate the process into your regular chore routine. When they’re working in optimal condition, you’re not only saving money by keeping your appliances longer, but you’re also saving on your electric, water and gas bills.

Here’s a list of what I found to help make your appliances last longer.

Refrigerator – Every 6 months

Dust, dirt and pet hair are attracted to dark, hard-to-reach places. It’s scientifically proven (I think). On your fridge, these things just love to attach themselves to the condenser coils. The condenser coil is typically located on the back of the appliance and is the main component to keeping your refrigerator cold. If the coil is covered in dirt and grime, then it has to work harder, use more energy and can actually overheat and burn out.

Cleaning your fridge takes 10 minutes tops. The first time you do it may take a little longer, depending on the level of dirt you find hanging out back there, but ultimately, routine upkeep makes this an easy job. All you have to do is unplug your refrigerator and slide the unit out away from the wall. Then take your vacuum cleaner brush attachment and remove all visible dust and hair. If your fridge has a fan, make sure you vacuum that as well. You can take a soft, damp cloth (not wet) and get any final stubborn dirt off the coils and voila! You’re done! Don’t forget to plug in the fridge when you’re done.

Dishwasher – Once a year

The appliance that started it all! It may seem silly to clean something that is expected to clean other things, but you’d be surprised at how much dirt actually accumulates in parts you never expected. First, take a look around the seals on the washer door, taking extra care to inspect the corners and the part that seals at the top of the door. Accumulation of food and grime can impact how well the door is sealing in water and heat. It’s easily cleaned with a sponge or a soft-bristled brush.

Next, check the spray arms for clogs. Sometimes food gets wedged inside the little holes of the jets, or even your water can create a build-up of mineral deposits. If the jets are clogged, the water isn’t getting out and if the water isn’t getting out, your dishes aren’t getting clean.

Once you’re done, let the washer run one time – empty – with detergent, to get any residual particles you might have missed.

Washing Machine/Dryer – As needed

Like the dishwasher, I never thought I’d have to clean something that, by all accounts, cleans itself every time I use it. However, once I started doing this as part of my monthly “deep clean routine” I really noticed a difference in how my clothes felt – fluffier, more ‘new clothes-y’, I guess. If you have a new washer, you might have the option of running a cleaning cycle. This will help eliminate any detergent build-up that hurts washing efficiency. If yours doesn’t have this cycle, then all you have to do is add chlorine bleach to the dispenser and run a cycle with hot water.

Don’t forget to check your inlet hoses and filters for clogs or debris. They’re the hoses that supply your washer with water. If they’re clogged, your washer isn’t getting water and your clothes stay dirty.

As for your dryer, this is something you’ll want to make sure you do on a regular basis, because a dryer full of dust and lint can actually be a fire hazard. To clean your dryer, first start by vacuuming out every area of the lint trap that is accessible. Like with the refrigerator, lint and dust likes to gather under the dryer. Slide it out and vacuum as many accessible places as you can get to. Next, unplug the dryer and, if possible, remove the exhaust duct. Vacuum out as much accumulation as you can. Don’t forget to check out the “exhaust hood” that is usually located outside your home for any debris or lint.

Vacuum Cleaner – Every 3-9 months, depending on use

Vacuum cleaners are often the most neglected of all appliances. First of all, clean that brush roll. I have cats and a dog and long hair. You wouldn’t believe what – hand how much – gets twisted around that little spinning brush! Depending on your make and model, you may have to remove a couple of screws to take off the bottom plate holding in the brush. Typically, the brush will pull out of a slot on one side and slide out from the belt on the other side. Once you’ve removed all debris attached to the brush, unscrew the cap on either end of the roll and remove any gunk trapped around the bearings.

While the brush roll is removed, take a look at the belt for any signs of wear. You may need to remove another plate to see the belt, but don’t let that discourage you. The plates are easy to remove and put back, I promise. Replace the belt if it feels loose, is stretched or worn, or if it is cracked and uneven.

While the plates are off, remove any dust and accumulation of gunk out of the air passages with a cloth. Put the plates back on and replace any filters you may have on the machine. Easy as 1-2-3!

(by Amanda Pallay)

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