our major appliances work hard for you. So why not pay some attention to your washer, dryer, dishwasher, fridge and stove?
“Lots of people think that the function of the washing machine or the dishwasher is to clean, so it must just clean itself,” says Melissa Maker, who runs a cleaning service and the Clean My Space blog. “This isn’t the case. Over time, if you don’t keep these machines clean, there are things that can lead to their demise.”
First, dig out each appliance’s manual. If you’ve misplaced it, you can probably get a version of it online. You might be surprised at what you find. I just pulled out the manual for my seven-year-old KitchenAid dishwasher to see whether it had a filter I needed to clean (it doesn’t). While reading it, I discovered my flatware basket has holes to fit chopsticks.
“If you want your appliances to last longer, clean them,” says Becky Rapinchuk, cleaning expert and blogger at Clean Mama. “It doesn’t take long and in some cases, you just push a button and let it roll.”
We asked experts for ideas on the best ways to clean the major appliances in your home.
Many washing machines have cleaning or sanitising cycles. You can use vinegar or washing machine cleaner (made by a number of companies including Tide and OxiClean) in that cycle to refresh your machine. Or just use those products and run a regular hot-water cycle.
“The internal parts of our appliances are often kind of disregarded or seem like they don’t need upkeep, but they do,” says Brendan Bosch, marketing director for Affresh, a washing machine cleaning tablet made by Whirlpool. Cleaning the interiors is especially important in high-efficiency machines, because they use less water than conventional washers, and excess detergent and clothing fibres can build up inside and cause odours.
Jill Notini, a spokeswoman for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, says wiping down the gaskets with dish soap or vinegar is a good idea. She does not recommend bleach, because you might end up staining your clothes.
If you’re not already emptying your lint trap after every load, vow to be better about it. Buildup will clog your dryer duct and, in extreme cases, could cause a fire. Meanwhile, if you haven’t had your vent cleaned recently (by you or a professional), do an inspection. Vacuum out any lint clogged in there that might be affecting your dryer’s performance.
Rapinchuk pours a bit of white vinegar on a cloth and wipes down the seals on the door of her dryer frequently. You can also use that to wipe the inside of the drum. It’s nice to rinse your lint catcher under running water once in a while.