As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to maintain your appliances to minimize repair and replacement needs. Even if you have a home warranty, the contract won’t cover items that aren’t properly maintained. For this reason, caring for your home appliances even when they aren’t broken is key to preserving your budget and the items you use every day.
If you don’t know where to start with DIY appliance maintenance, no problem. We’ve created a list of the best hacks for every major home appliance to get you started.
Major Appliance Hacks You Need to Know
The following sections will discuss some simple ways to keep your appliances in good condition for longer. By performing these tasks on a routine basis, you’ll prolong the life of your household items and lower the frequency of expensive repairs.
Your refrigerator is your biggest and most used kitchen appliance. These handy devices run day and night to keep your groceries fresh, and just one breakdown could cost you hundreds of dollars worth of food.
Luckily, refrigerator maintenance is easy to do on your own. American Home Shield provides the following DIY cleaning hacks for refrigerators:
- Keep the refrigerator door closed at all times to prevent it from working extra hard to maintain cool temperatures.
- Replace your refrigerator’s gasket seals if they’re old or cracked. This simple DIY repair will keep your food fresher and preserve energy.
- Wipe the fridge shelves with a wet sponge or paper towel to reduce moisture and grime buildup.
- Empty the ice cube dispenser every few months to keep the ice on the bottom of the dispenser from becoming stale.
- Change your refrigerator’s ice and water dispenser filters every three months to keep them clean and help them run efficiently.
- Vacuum the fridge’s coils to improve airflow and remove dust buildup. Clear out any debris under the fridge while you have it pulled away from the wall.
Your dishwasher helps you save water and avoid handwashing all of your dirty dinner plates. The following hacks from Select Home Warranty can help your dishwasher last longer and clean better:
- Rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher to keep food particles from clogging the drain.
- Clean out the dishwasher’s filter to improve efficiency and prevent the device from becoming smelly.
- Wipe down the dishwasher’s spray arms regularly to remove grime buildup that could prevent the arms from moving. Hard water can also create mineral buildup on the arms and around the holes, which you may need to soak with white vinegar.
- Vinegar helps clean the rest of your dishwasher, too. Place a bowl of white vinegar on the top rack and pour some straight into the bottom of the machine. Then, run a cycle while the machine is empty of dishes.
- Keep your dishwasher air gap in good condition, and consider cleaning it every month or so.
Keeping your oven tidy is an excellent way to keep it working properly.
Clean up spills in your oven as soon as they occur to prevent the food from burning into the heating components. Perform a deep clean every four months to prolong your appliance’s life span and improve efficiency.
Wash the oven by hand instead of with the self-cleaning option, when possible. This feature is helpful but can damage the appliance’s electrical components when used repeatedly. Instead, try these DIY oven cleaning hacks:
- Unplug the appliance to ensure no heat is on during the cleaning process.
- Carefully place a pot of boiling water into the oven and close the door. The steam from the pot will loosen any buildup, allowing you to easily wipe away the grime with a sponge or paper towel.
- Once you’ve wiped down the oven racks and interior walls, remove the racks and wash them in the dishwasher for a thorough disinfection.
- While the racks are out of the oven, you’ll deep clean the hard-to-reach areas inside. Avoid letting the cleaning solution touch the oven’s heating elements. This could produce burning smells and damage when the oven turns back on.
- Make a DIY cleaning paste with half a cup of baking soda and warm water. Apply the paste to the oven’s stubborn stains and leave it overnight. Wipe the paste away the following day, and use a paper towel soaked in white vinegar to remove any remaining stains.
After cleaning the inside of your oven, give the outside some TLC. Before plugging the appliance back in, pull it out from the wall and vacuum off the back. Remove any dust buildup and lubricate the blower motor to improve the machine’s temperature maintenance.
Gas stovetops are perfect for temperature control, versatile cooking options, and instant heat. These stoves have raised cooktops with grates over an open gas flame, making it easier for particles and grime to fall and create hard-to-reach messes. If you have a gas stove, know routine maintenance and cleaning is the best way to keep your appliance in shape.
Consider these gas stovetop maintenance hacks from Flamingo Appliance:
- Wipe up drips and spills ASAP to prevent them from burning into the range.
- Scrub the grate weekly to prevent grease buildup, using a mixture of white vinegar and mild dish soap. Chemical cleaners can damage the gas elements and burn when the stove turns on, so milder solutions are best.
- Remove the stove grates once a month to deep clean in and around them. While cleaning around the gas components, let the grates soak in a mixture of hot water and dish soap. After letting the grates soak for 30-40 minutes, scrub them with a sponge.
Glass cooktops are generally easier to clean than gas models because they have fewer nooks and crannies. However, these smooth-topped surfaces still accumulate a lot of grime, making regular cleaning and maintenance a must.
Whirlpool provides the following tips for maintaining your glass stovetop:
- Spray white vinegar on any spills or blemishes to soak while your cooktop cools.
- While the surface is still warm, remove any remaining residue with a cooktop scraper like this one from Amazon. Avoid using steel wool scouring pads that could scratch the glass surface.
- Apply a non-abrasive cooktop cleaning solution to the surface and buff it away with a soft cloth. Alternatively, make a DIY cleaning paste from baking soda and warm water. Apply the paste to the cooktop, allowing it to soak for up to 20 minutes before wiping it away.
Microwaves are one of the handiest appliances in your home. They allow you to create instant meals and cozy beverages in a flash.
Cleaning your microwave regularly will keep your food safe and your appliance efficient. Leaving spills in the microwave to cook repeatedly can damage the device’s interior and produce nasty burning odors. Luckily, regular maintenance and cleaning for these nifty appliances is a breeze.
American Home Shield offers the following hacks for a functional microwave:
- If your microwave has charcoal or grease filters, clean these out at least twice a year.
- Close the microwave door gently to avoid damaging the seal or blowing a fuse.
- Thoroughly clean your microwave every few weeks to keep it in good condition. Wash the turntable plate in the dishwasher and use baking soda paste and white vinegar to clean any buildup from the walls and base.
Washing machines are valuable laundry room appliances that take the backbreaking labor out of cleaning clothes and linens. If your clothes washer breaks down, you’ll be stuck with heaps of dirty laundry and the tall task of handwashing everything. Avoid this unpleasant possibility by maintaining your washing machine with these DIY appliance hacks:
- Check your washer regularly to ensure it hasn’t vibrated off balance. Make sure the appliance sits upon a level surface to prevent the machine’s inner mechanisms from suffering damage.
- Avoid loading washers too full for each cycle. Overloading the machine with heavy piles of clothing can strain its components and shorten its life span. At the same time, you should also avoid only washing a couple of items in each cycle. Underloading the machine can cause the washer’s drum and drive components to fall out of balance. Your best bet is to run loads that are full but not overflowing.
- Clean your washing machine’s pan, drain and filter regularly to prevent lint and grime buildup. Use a paper towel to wipe down the filter; then, pour hot water over the drain and filter to break down detergent residue.
- Don’t leave wet clothes in the washer after the cycle ends. This puts your clothes and appliance at risk of developing mold.
Clothes dryers are undoubtedly convenient appliances in your home’s laundry room. However, they produce high heat that can be hazardous near flammable lint and cloth materials.
The best way to improve your dryer’s safety and efficiency is to keep it clean with these maintenance hacks from Sears:
- Clean the lint filter between every load of clothes, ensuring you get down in the trap.
- Clean the filter thoroughly in the dishwasher every three to four months.
- Avoid overloading your clothes dryer repeatedly. Over time, hefty loads can decrease the machine’s energy efficiency and create a musty smell.
- Clean out the dryer’s exhaust vent every couple of years to prevent fire hazards. You’ll need to pull the dryer away from the wall for this task, but it’s well worth the safety and cleanliness of your appliance.
- Ensure the dryer vent on your home’s exterior is clear of debris and precipitation. Clean it out two times a year to ensure proper ventilation.
With these hacks included in your home maintenance schedule, you’ll have functional, efficient, and clean appliances. Remember that keeping your household items in good condition is the best way to prevent unnecessary appliance repair needs and costly replacements.
Even with the best cleaning and maintenance hacks, your items will develop repair needs over time. Investing in a home warranty is a good way to save on these needs and budget for the potential of pricey replacements. Some home warranty providers offer add-on maintenance and tune-up packages, which can also help you preserve your home appliances for years to come.