Regular care and routine maintenance can help extend the life of your appliances. Your washing machine, dryer, refrigerator and dishwasher help make everyday chores that much easier. Avoid breakdowns and unexpected repair costs through regular cleaning and continuous operation. Here are a few basic care tips to help increase your appliances’ longevity and save you money in the long run.
A properly functioning washing machine can leave you with fresher-smelling, stain-free clothes. Follow these tips to help ensure that laundry day leaves you with cleaner, better-smelling clothes:
- Avoid overloading the machine: When you haven’t done laundry lately, it can be tempting to pack it all in at once to get it over with. However, overloading the machine can put a lot of strain on it. Avoid wearing down the transmission, motor and belts by doing smaller loads.
- Don’t use excess detergent: Using extra detergent makes it difficult for the machine to rinse your garments, extending wash time and wasting energy. Help conserve water and save money on your energy bill and on detergent by using the recommended amount and type of detergent.
- Install a water softener: Hard water can cause mineral buildup in your pipes, which can lead to faster wear on your washing machine. These minerals can also trap soap and dirt on your clothes, making them feel stiff or unclean. A soft water system can help your machine last longer and leave your clothes softer.
- Prevent mold buildup: Depending on your washing machine, it’s recommended that you run the “tub clean” feature at least once a month or every 50 cycles. You can also help prevent mold by keeping the lid open between cycles, allowing the machine to fully dry.
Steps you can take to extend the lifespan and improve the safety of your dryer include:
- Avoid overloading the dryer: Just like your washing machine, overloading the dryer can put added strain on the appliance. Cramming the machine can cause the motor to overheat or damage the sensors, resulting in costly repairs. If your dryer is rattling and shaking, that means it’s overloaded. If there are too many items in the machine, then clothes can’t dry properly. More clothes also means more lint buildup, which can cause your dryer to overheat and potentially create a fire hazard.
- Reduce drying time: Save energy and decrease strain on your machine by restricting your drying time. In general, a load of laundry should take between 30 to 45 minutes to dry, depending on the loadsize and fabric type.
- Remove lint and dust buildup: Monitor your external vent cap regularly for lint and debris. Too much buildup can restrict airflow and prevent the dryer from working properly. This can cause the motor and thermostat to fail, costing you in repairs.
- Dry the door: Moisture can form on the dryer door after a cycle, which can lead to mold. Keep the area around the door’s seal dry to ensure your clothes smell fresh.
Dryers can be a fire hazard if not properly maintained. Common signs that your dryer may need maintenance include:
- Clothes take longer than usual to dry: This is often an indicator that the drying vent is clogged, which can cause an increased drying time.
- Clothes are extremely hot when pulled from the dryer: Hotter than normal temperatures could mean the dryer vent isn’t exhausting the air properly.
- A burning smell whenever the dryer is on: Lint buildup can cause your dryer to work harder, creating more heat. This heat is enough to set the lint on fire and create a potential hazard for your home and assets.
You rely on your refrigerator to keep perishables cold and well preserved. Take these steps to ensure your items stay safer and fresher:
- Clean the refrigerator gaskets: The plastic strips, or gaskets, that form a seal between the refrigerator and door can easily build up residue, creating less of a seal. Keep the door sealed and maintain your refrigerator’s cool temperature by regularly wiping down the gaskets.
- Reduce dust in the back of the refrigerator: Dirty refrigerator coils can restrict airflow through the refrigerator, which can lead to overheating and a potential breakdown. Use a handheld vacuum to periodically remove any dust that has collected in the back of the refrigerator.
- Remove the kick plate: Air flows to the condenser coils through the kick plate at the bottom of the fridge. Removing and cleaning the plate once a week can help extend the lifespan of your appliance.
- Declutter and organize your food: Airflow plays an important part in regulating the temperature inside your refrigerator. When there are too many items stacked inside, it can prevent airflow from keeping your food cool. Before restocking your refrigerator, throw out any items that have expired to make room for fresh groceries. When placing items inside, be careful not block any vents or controls to allow for maximum airflow.
- Minimize frost buildup: Frost inside your freezer and refrigerator can lead to foul odors, cause frostbitten food and prevent the door from sealing. You can help prevent this buildup by maintaining a consistent temperature inside, ensuring the door is sealed properly when closed and drying off your food before storing it.
A dishwasher is a must-have appliance for many homeowners. When running properly, it can save you valuable time and effort. It’s important to give your dishwasher the attention it needs so it can continue working for you. Here’s what you can do:
- Remove food residue: Food particles and residue can accumulate between the door and tub over time. This can cause odors and mold, and it can prevent the door from sealing properly. Use white vinegar to remove any gunk found on the seal.
- Scrape dishes before loading the dishwasher: Food particles in your dishwasher can clog the drain house, tear the filter and damage the pump. Help the dishwasher do its job by scraping off food before loading dishes.
- Don’t overload the dishwasher: Too many dishes in one cycle can get in the way of proper water distribution and prevent a thorough cleaning. This may cause you to have to rewash your dishes, which can create more wear on your dishwasher and increase your water bill.
- Reduce hard water buildup: If you’re finding residue in and around your dishwasher, it’s most likely the result of hard water. Minerals can build up inside your machine over time, causing discoloration and wear. Furthermore, it can leave your dishes looking streaky or spotty. Installing a water softener can help extend the lifespan of your dishwasher and ensure it functions properly.
Residue left behind by hard water can wear on your water-using appliances and shorten their lifespan. Regular maintenance, continuous operation and a water softener can help your machines run longer and more efficiently.