At the beginning of a new year, it’s a great idea to take care of your appliances. After all, they will have just been through two of the biggest cooking holidays. Make yourself a note to take care of them after the holidays because maintaining your appliances is necessary to prolong their life as well as keep them in good working condition. Here are a few maintenance tips to help get you started.
When you clean your kitchen, harsh chemicals are out! Stick to cleaning products that are safe to eat or use on dishes like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and dish detergent.
- If you’ve been busy baking pies, casseroles and turkey, your oven is probably in desperate need of a good cleaning. The self-cleaning cycle on an oven can be a lifesaver. The cycle raises the temperature in your oven to about 900 degrees, so it burns off anything that spilled while you were baking. Cut back on energy costs by using the self-cleaning cycle right after baking. This allows your oven to use an already partially heated oven as it raises the temperature for cleaning.
- If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, you can clean your oven when it’s cold by placing a bowl of ammonia on the top rack and a bowl of boiling water on the bottom. Leave it overnight and wipe the oven clean in the morning.
- Check your oven door seal to be sure it is clean and working properly. A leaky seal can waste energy and leave your kitchen, and your house, hotter than it should be.
- Test the temperature of your oven and if necessary, calibrate with a cheap thermometer. If it’s off, even if by just a little, you could be wasting energy and money.
- If your stovetop or drip-pans have baked on spills, using a little baking soda can help remove them without scratching the surfaces. Remove knobs and soak them in warm soapy water.
- Splatter and greasy build-up can be removed with vinegar and water. Add 1/4 cup vinegar to 1 cup of water and boil the mixture for 3 minutes. Leave the door closed and let it stand for about 10 minutes before wiping clean.
- To deodorize your microwave, combine 1 cup of water with 1/2 cup of lemon juice and heat on high for 3-5 minutes. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before removing.
- Clean interior – Toss old and expired food. Wash down the shelves and drawers starting at the top and working down. Place removable parts in a tub of warm water and a splash of baking soda. While they soak, wipe interior surfaces and take a small scrub brush and clean the places that you wouldn’t be able to get to when the removable parts were in place. Make sure parts are completely dry before returning them to your refrigerator.
- Vacuum the coils. Use a bristle brush to brush away dust and your vacuum’s nozzle attachment is perfect to clean between the coils and suck up the debris that you loosen with the bristle brush.
- If the ice maker is making stale cubes, clean the removable parts with baking soda and water.
- If your refrigerator has a drain hole and drip pan to remove condensation, it’s important that these function properly. Wash the drip pan & clean the drain hole, removing food particles & mineral deposits. Some newer models do not have a drip pan that can be accessed, so check the specs for your refrigerator.
- Check gaskets – The gaskets on refrigerator and freezer doors are designed to seal cool air in and keep warm air out and they are vital to the efficiency of your fridge. Make sure the seal is as strong as it should be. Check the gaskets for cracked or otherwise damaged places. Then shut a dollar bill in the door and make sure you cannot pull it out easily. If either test turns up problems, consider replacing the gasket.
- Rust stains in your dishwasher can be removed by running an empty cycle with citric acid, such as Orange Tang, in the soap dispenser.
- Running a cycle with a bowl of three cups of vinegar on the bottom rack can get rid of mineral buildup.
- For dishwasher odors put a cup of baking soda in the dishwasher and run a rinse cycle.
- Running a cycle with a cup of bleach and no clothes will clean the drums and eliminate any musty odors. It’s important to leave the door open after you run a load, so it can completely dry out. If you have a front-loading washer, wipe the door seal and glass with a dry cloth after you finish your laundry.
- Inspect the rubber door seal of your front load washer for mold and mildew. Be sure to pull back the seal to examine the hidden crevices. To clean, mix 1 cup of liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of warm water. Moisten a clean white cloth with the bleach water solution and wipe down the seal to remove any mold and mildew. Allow the solution to remain on the seal for five minutes, then wipe down the door seal with a clean, dry white cloth.
- Check hose quality – Hoses from years ago were made of rubber and susceptible to breaks after years of use. Newer hoses are reinforced and more durable. Take a little time to look at your hoses to insure that they’re in good shape and avoid a water disaster that’s more common than you think.
- Make sure your lint trap is clean. As a test, take your trap to the sink and run water into it. If the water does not freely flow through the screen, it needs to be scrubbed. Scrub with dish soap and water with a toothbrush to make sure air can properly flow through. Keeping the screen free of lint and fabric softener film can prevent fires and decrease dry time, which can lower your energy bill.
- Check your vents. Make sure the flapper on your exterior vent is not held open by excess lint buildup. If the flapper does not close tight, a bird can open the flap with its beak and head inside to nest.
- Vacuum around, behind, and between washer and dryer.
Cleaning and maintaining your appliances may take a little time, but will add years to the life of your appliances, making it completely worth it.