What’s the single best way to save money on appliances? Not purchasing new appliances, of course! (Trick question.) But how can you get away with that? It’s easy: With a few simple tips, you can dramatically increase the functional life of your current appliances, so there’ll be no need to shell out for repairs or new purchases. And it’s easier than you might think. Keep reading to learn how to prolong the life of your fridge, dishwasher, oven, and more kitchen necessities.
To prolong the life of your fridge: Wipe down the seal.
A recent survey found a whopping 37 percent of fridges don’t last even 10 years. One of the top reasons for their early demise is a poor seal on the door. “The rubber gaskets around refrigerator doors keep cold air from escaping, but they often get dirty, weakening the seal so cold air gets out,” says handyman Rick Berres, owner of Honey-Doers.com. “Over time, this will cause the fridge motor to work harder and burn out.” The good news is that cleaning the gaskets is easy: Once a month, wipe them down with a damp sponge, then dry with a paper towel to prevent mold. This simple step will add years to your fridge — and because a new one can set you back one or two thousand dollars, extending the life of your old(er) fridge will be a welcome penny-saver!
To keep your dishwasher running: Clean the hidden filter.
“Ask yourself, ‘When was the last time I cleaned my dishwasher’s filter?’” says the internet’s favorite grandmother, Barbara Costello, of the social media account Brunch with Babs (BrunchWithBabs.com). If you’re like most of us, the answer is “never,” which is why so many of us run into problems after the machine is five years old — half its expected life span. That’s because a clogged filter can damage the motor. Luckily, cleaning the filter takes just seconds, says Costello: “You can find it at the bottom of the dishwasher. Simply unscrew it and pull it out, then remove the gunk with a sponge and sudsy water. Screw it back into the dishwasher, and it’s good to go!”
To sidestep oven repairs: Give it a ‘spa day.’
Built-up grease in your oven can damage the seal that keeps it tightly closed. Over time, this can cut the appliance’s average life span of 15 to 20 years in half. Rather than hit the “self-clean” option — whose extreme heat can melt the oven’s electronic parts — grab a pumice stone, suggests professional cleaner Jane Wilson (FantasticCleaners.com). The go-to tool for removing callouses from your feet also makes quick work on the seal and oven interiors. Dampen the stone with water to prevent scratching, then use it to wipe off buildup. It’ll be as gentle on your oven as it is on your heels!
Keep smaller appliances clean and humming too!
Sure, these kitchen appliances are less expensive than those big-ticket items up above, and theoretically more easily replaceable — but even little replacement costs can add up. Rather than buying a new toaster, learn how to clean yours to keep it toasting bagels for years to come.
- For your coffee maker: Removing mineral buildup from your coffee maker prolongs its life. To do: Once a month, run a cycle without coffee grounds through the machine using 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts water. Then simply follow up with a cycle of just water to rinse it out.
- For your Instant Pot: Every few weeks, remove the silicone ring around your pressure cooker and soak it in a mix of cold water (fully submerge the ring) and ¼ cup baking soda overnight. This will remove any machine-eroding buildup and lift stubborn odors.
- For your toaster: Crumbs around the toaster’s heating coils can burn the appliance out. The fix: Unplug it, then hit the coils with the air from a hair dryer (on its lowest setting). Blowing the bits into the crumb tray makes for easy tossing.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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