Basic Appliance Maintenance Tips

by Rachel Laurendeau on December 6, 2012

If you didn’t include some basic appliance maintenance and cleaning in your spring or fall cleaning routine, it is probably high time to tackle this less than glamorous home improvement task. Most appliances benefit from yearly preventative maintenance and cleaning.

Since each appliance is different, we highly recommend that you look at the owner’s manual for your appliances to see exactly how your particular model should be cared for. If you no longer have the manuals, they are often available in PDF format online or can be ordered from the manufacturer.

Refrigerator
Unplug the fridge and clean the dirt and dust that has accumulated on the condenser coils. The coils are usually located at the back, near the top or bottom. Since you’ve pulled out the fridge to access the coils, you may as well wipe down the top, sides and back and give the floor a good cleaning too.

In addition to the usual interior cleaning, you can clean the water and ice dispenser and change the water filter.

Dishwasher
If your dishwasher has a filter or trap, remove it and clean it out to ensure proper drainage. You may also need to remove and clean out the spray arm if there is any food or debris that has lodged itself inside the small holes.

Microwave
The biggest issues with microwaves are stains and odors. For caked-on messes, fill a large glass measuring cup with water and half a lemon and heat on high for about three minutes, let it stand with the door closed for five minutes then wipe clean. The lemon will also help with odors. For stubborn stains that won’t come out with soap and water, try a mild baking soda and water mixture and scrub them away.

Washing Machine
There is a valve and lint filter on most new washers that should be cleaned out regularly. (I just learned last week that mine is meant to be cleaned every two months, yikes!)

Dryer
Aside from cleaning out the dryer’s main lint trap after each load, the entire length of your dryer vent pipe and the exterior exhaust should be cleared of lint build-up at least once a year to prevent fire hazards.

Green Tip: you really don’t need to use toxic chemicals to clean your appliances. Some of the best cleaners available are simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

Performing basic yearly preventative maintenance on all of your appliances will help prolong their lifespan, prevent costly repairs and save you money on your energy and water bills. If your appliances are aging and inefficient, you may want to replace them as part of your kitchen remodeling project. If you have any questions about this, talk to your local home remodeling or home improvement expert.

Resources: Repair Clinic and This Old House

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