Watch CBS News

Tips To Keep Your Appliances Running

When it comes to maintaining major appliances, you need to do a bit more work than just making sure they're plugged into the wall. Neglecting basic maintenance on home appliances can cause premature wear. With some basic maintenance, you can keep your appliances running and save money by not having to call a repair person.

What's the best way to keep your maintenance to a minimum? Prevention is key. "Clean your appliances regularly in addition to when they get dirty, and make sure you are using them correctly," says Jeff Sluss, owner of The Appliance Man of Colorado in Denver, Colorado. The following tips will help keep your appliances running smoothly.

1. Clean the lint trap. For clothes dryers, wiping the lint trap screen clean is the first step to good maintenance. But to keep the dryer running efficiently, unplug your dryer and vacuum the lint screen trap at least once per year. How frequently it needs to be cleaned depends on use. Families that use the dryer at least once per day will likely need to clean it much more frequently than families that use the dryer once or twice per week.

2. Clear the dryer vent. Phil Grajeda, owner of A&J Appliance Repair Service in Sacramento, California advises homeowners to make sure the dryer vents on the outside of the home are clear. "Your dryer needs to be able to breathe and get that hot air out, but it can be blocked on the outside by animals making nests near the vents," Grajeda explains. While your dryer is running, stand outside by the dryer vent and see if you can feel the heat. In addition, Grajeda recommends having the dryer vent cleaned professionally, annually to ensure lint does not build up in the dryer duct.

3. Clean your microwave. Ever heat up lasagna in the microwave and have to deal with a saucy explosion? When that happens, you definitely want to clean the inside of your microwave. "Keep the microwave interior clean from food. If you don't, food gets into the microwave's enamel," Grajeda recommends. Wipe down your microwave at least once a week to keep it clean.

4. Don't clog the dishwasher. According to Sluss, homeowners might see buildup in their dishwasher after not using it correctly. "Stickers, small pieces of plastic, paper and hard food like nuts, can clog the dishwasher. Scrape off excess food before you load up the dishwasher," he advises.

5. Keep your clothes washer mold-free. You can't really get your clothes clean in a washer that has mold in it. If you usually wash your clothes using only cold water, Sluss recommends using the occasional hot wash. In addition, take a towel and wipe down the washer's door after the last load of the day.

6. Use your washing machine correctly. To prevent buildup in your washing machine, use the correct amount and the appropriate kind of laundry detergent recommended by the manufacturer.

7. Get rid of grease on the stove. Grease and other food debris can build up on your stovetop. In addition to a dirty appearance, the buildup can hinder your stove from working efficiently. Grajeda advises homeowners to clean their stovetops immediately after a spill, and at least once per week for routine maintenance.

8. Minimize use of the garbage disposal. Use caution when putting food items down the garbage disposal. Tony Andrade, appliance service manager at Abt Electronics in Glenview, Illinois, advises against throwing all food scraps down the disposal. Chicken bones, for instance, can clog the disposal unit and may break a blade. When in doubt, throw it out in the garbage can.

9. Is your refrigerator running smoothly? Keep your refrigerator's doors spotless and diligently clean out the drawers. But there's still more cleaning to be done with the refrigerator. "The most neglected part of the refrigerator is the condenser coil," Sluss says. "This part of the refrigerator needs to be cleaned so it can release heat. When the coils aren't clean from hair and pet fur, it can make the refrigerator work harder, which means it isn't running as efficiently and may cause premature wear," he explains. To clean the coils, remove the kick plate and use a vacuum or brush to remove any hair or dust. Clean it at least once per year. Households with pets or heavy foot traffic in the kitchen should plan to clean the coils every month.

10. Clean the refrigerator's gaskets. To prevent your refrigerator door from sticking, make sure to clean the gaskets, which are the seals that line the door. "If your gasket gets sticky, it can can stick to the fridge and you might end up ripping it when you open the door," Andrade explains.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in "-er." She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I'm a Trader Joe's Fan. Her work can be found at

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.