How to clean your appliances so they last longer

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If you want your appliances to last longer, clean them

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.

“The machine that cleans your everyday forks and spoons needs attention,” says Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute. “Yes, the utensils look clean, but you want the device to be clean inside also.”

Dishwashers are not an appliance most of us think of cleaning. But models with stainless steel interiors in particular will look shiny and fresh if you wipe them down or use a dishwasher cleaning powder or tablet.

Some newer models have removable mesh filters that can clog with pieces of food, especially if you’re not a big pre-rinser. Pop out the filter and rinse under warm running water or gently brush with a toothbrush. If you see mineral deposit buildup inside your dishwasher, put two cups of vinegar in a glass container on the bottom rack facing up and run a hot cycle, says Nathan Kryglowski, senior product marketing manager at KitchenAid. This way it splashes out throughout the cycle and doesn’t immediately rinse down the drain. If your spray arms pop off, check the water jets to see whether they may be clogged with minerals and rinse them off as well, Notini says.

Wiping down refrigerator shelves should be part of a regular cleaning routine (Getty/iStock)

Refrigerator

Wiping down refrigerator shelves with warm soapy water should be part of a regular cleaning routine. But taking everything out of your refrigerator and giving it a larger dose of TLC is a worthwhile spring chore. “We’ve found on surveys that people don’t clean refrigerators enough,” Sansoni says. “It’s especially important to scrub out the shelves where you keep your meats.”

Pulling your refrigerator away from the wall and cleaning any debris or dust from the back of the unit and the floor is also important, Notini says. If there is a grill on the front of your refrigerator that can be removed, clean behind there and make sure air can freely flow through.

Run your oven’s self-cleaning cycle to clean it 

Oven

If your oven has a self-cleaning cycle on it, activate it on a warm spring day when you can leave windows and doors open to air out your house during the several hours that it’s cleaning itself.

To remove that baked-on gunk from your removable metal stovetop burners, Rapinchuk says, run them through the dishwasher. Or you can soak them in hot soapy water and then scrub them with a paste of kosher salt, baking soda and dish soap. If you have a stainless steel stove top, Rapinchuck suggests wiping the surface using a sponge or a cloth dipped in warm soapy water and wrung out well. Avoid the gas burner holes. Notini says most ceramic stove tops can be cleaned with warm soapy water or a vinegar and baking soda paste. Check your manual for specifics.

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October 2019
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