In our family, we pride ourselves on keeping our appliances until they literally give out. Cars, phones, televisions, vacuum cleaners…we even have our own little electronics "hand me down" ring going. For instance, my tuner used to belong to my brother. My television was a hand-off from my dad. My DVD player came from a downsizing friend. My blender came from Mom. If someone else doesn't want their household appliances/electronics, chances are good I do. If you, like me, want all of your appliances to last a long time, these tips can help to keep each in good working order day after day, year after year!

1. Microwave

Microwave maintenance is oh-so-simple—which also makes it oh-so-easy to forget! Because of how the microwave works, any food particles left inside will over time reduce heating efficiency (your microwave heats everything inside equally, regardless of age).

What to do:

  • Fill a cup with water or white vinegar and place it inside the microwave.
  • Set the timer so it will boil.
  • This loosens the stuck food particles so you can clean them off with the solution of your choice (white vinegar and water or glass cleaner is recommended).

2. Blender

One big cause of premature blender "death" is failure to read manufacturer cleaning instructions. Some blenders can be cleaned in the dishwasher—others cannot. Some can be washed in the dishwasher, but only on the top shelf. When in doubt, always clean by hand.

What to do:

  • Unplug the unit.
  • Take it apart (blade, gasket seal, pitcher, top).
  • Clean each part by hand using a soft cloth or brush soaked in warm water and soap.
  • Soak as needed for difficult-to-remove food particles.
  • Allow to air dry, then reassemble, plug in and use.

Also take care never to overfill your blender, which can cause damage to the blades and motor and shorten its useful life (you can be guided by fill markings on the pitcher).

3. Toaster/Toaster Oven

Maintenance of a toaster or toaster oven is so important to avoid kitchen fires!

What to do:

  • Unplug the unit.
  • Shake out all dried food particles (best to do this over a trashcan or outside).
  • If your toaster/oven has a tray, slide it out and dump the contents.
  • Use a fine, soft brush (a toothbrush can work well here) to dislodge food particles in the coils and along the inner walls—then shake again.
  • Clean the entire outer area of the toaster and cord to be sure food particles are gone.
  • Plug in and use!

4. Fridge/Freezer

When it comes to the fridge/freezer, maintenance centers around the coils. Where your coils are will depend on your unit (beneath, above and behind are all options).

What to do:

  • Unplug the fridge.
  • Remove the protective grill (if needed).
  • Use a coil brush (an example on Amazon) to brush away debris.
  • Replace the grill.
  • Plug in the unit.

For extra points, take a clean cloth dampened with a bit of soap and water and clean the gasket seal (the rubbery material edging the doors) to be sure debris is removed and the seal is firm when you close the door(s).

5. Range (gas or electric)

Your range needs simple, regular attention to perform well.

What to do:

  • Refrain from using aluminum products (even as covers) because they can cause short-circuits in your range.
  • Clean all dried food particles off between uses (this includes in the burner trays and under the burners).
  • Replace burner trays as needed (when they are no longer shiny, they are no longer reflecting heat, which wastes energy and drives up your utilities costs).
  • As needed, use a needle, cotton swab or very fine soft brush to clean out the burner ports (do not spray cleaning solution into burner ports or poke/prod them).

6. Oven

As with your fridge/freezer, one of the biggest reasons ovens do not perform to expectations is an ineffective door seal. As well (and as with ranges), use of aluminum foil is a no-no in any capacity (even to line the bottom of the oven to catch drips and spills).

What to do:

  • Use soap and a little water on a soft cloth to clean the door gasket seal and make sure the seal is tight when door is closed.
  • Clean all dried food particles off the racks, interior walls and floor/ceiling of the oven as needed.

Newer ovens may have "self cleaning" or "steam cleaning" features, which may or may not be adequate based on how often you clean your oven.

  • Vital note: Do not use self-cleaning oven features near pets or little kids. The fumes are toxic and can be fatal to birds and small pets! For everyone’s safety, run the vent/fans and open windows while using the self-cleaning feature.

7. Dishwasher

What your dishwasher really needs to perform to its best capacity is periodic calcium removal. Calcium can build up every 3-6 months and impede even distribution of water and soap.

What to do:

  • Fill a cup with white vinegar (or any citric acid-based cleaning product).
  • Place it on the top rack.
  • Run the dishwasher using hot water for a full cycle.
  • Voila! No more calcium buildup!

For extra points, if your dishwasher has a manual filter, be sure to remove and clean it out according to the recommended maintenance schedule in your manual.

 

How to Keep Your Kitchen Appliances in Good Working Order