Major appliances—and by that we mean those that have pre-designated spaces in your kitchen and laundry area—are a major investment well worth protecting. Too often it’s easy to take these appliances for granted until there’s a problem. The good news is that they’ll last much longer and work much better if you follow a few regular routines to keep them in top shape. Here are some general rules to follow to protect your investment – and your health.
Because gas and electric stoves have slightly different maintenance routines, let’s start with a few general rules and then a few that apply to each type of stove individually.
To begin with, memorize this mantra: “Wipe down daily, scrub weekly, deep clean monthly.” For daily wiping, use a mild cleaning solution made with vinegar and dish soap. Together, they can dissolve almost anything and there are no toxic chemicals involved. At least once a week, really scrub all the surfaces, especially where grease is likely to build up.
About once every three weeks you should take all the removable parts like burner gates and knobs off and soak them in a mixture of hot water, dish soap and vinegar for about two hours. If you have removable burner caps, use a pipe cleaner to remove built of debris from the metal channels. As far as the oven goes, a lot depends upon how much you use it. Most experts agree that a minimum of twice a year is essential; however, if you use your oven a lot, it might be best to give it a deep clean every three months. If you follow this routine, the soap and vinegar solution should do the trick with a little help from a microfiber rag.
For electric stoves, use a soapy cloth (or if they’re really grungy, an old toothbrush) on the burner elements. Wipe down the coils with the same damp cloth rinsed out to clean away the soap. If it’s a stove with a smooth, glass-top surface, the vinegar, dish soap and water mixture mentioned above will do the trick. For this article, let’s assume your oven is equipped with a self-clean feature. Our advice: use it. If you use your electric oven often, self–clean it at least twice a year and more frequently if you do a lot of baking. Wipe out the ash with a wet cloth.
Seals and coils are the most important maintenance routines for your fridge. Clean your seals at least twice a year by pulling the fridge away from the wall, unplugging it and vacuuming the coils with the brush attachment. To make sure your seals are up to par, try the dollar-bill test: Close it in the door so it’s half in and half out. If it slips out easily, get the seals checked by a pro.
Checking the interior temperature helps the refrigerator operate at its best. The temperature should be set between 37 and 40 -degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees. Also keep in mind that an empty refrigerator is an inefficient one. It needs what’s known as “thermal mass” to maintain the correct temperature. If you’re the takeout type, store a couple of jugs of water in there.
Dishwashers do best when they’re used regularly. Be sure to run a hot wash cycle at least once a week—even if it’s not completely full— to prevent hard water spots. To deodorize and remove grease, pour two cups of white vinegar into the bottom of the empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle about once a month.
Also check dishwasher filter traps at the bottom center or back of the dishwasher to prevent clogs. And if you start to notice musty smells coming from your dishwasher add 1 cup of bleach to an empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle.
Every 3-6 months, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of vinegar. The fizzing reaction helps scrub the disposal walls. Let it sit for 15 minutes then flush with hot water Once a month, grind up a few ice cubes and lemon or orange peels to freshen it up. The citrus oils help break up grease and grime while the ice sharpens the blades.
Washer and Dryer
Run a hot wash cycle once a month using two cups of white vinegar in place of detergent. The vinegar disinfects and deodorizes, removing built-up grime and mildew. Check and clean your washer’s drain pump filter every few months. This prevents clogs from accumulating that can damage the pump. Remove any debris with a pair of pliers and wipe down the filter screen.
For dryers, vacuum the vent duct and lint trap before each use. Clogged vents and traps are fire hazards and reduce efficiency. Also, wipe down the dryer drum with a damp cloth once a month to prevent built-up lint.
Do you need more tips and tricks to settle in your new home? Check out our other blogs for a wealth of other helpful, time—saving information.