Kitchen Basics: Care Tips for Constantly-Used Appliances

Toasters and refrigerators are notoriously difficult to keep clean. They get used so often, that crumbs, dried juice, drippings, and mysterious stains are commonplace and many people don’t even think about it. But, if you’re the type of person who does think about it, here are some ways to keep these appliances clean, regardless of who uses them.

Set a Regular Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning your kitchen on a regular basis will help to keep it looking clean. This is sort of common sense, but most people set weekly cleaning schedules. Instead, consider a small daily schedule that includes basic cleaning at the end of the night, after dinner.

So, for example, when you do dishes at night, consider adding a quick wipe-down of all fridge surfaces, countertops, and appliances. This will help them stay clean between weekly cleanings and it doesn’t take long to do.

Cleaning toasters is as easy as turning it upside down. Alternatively, blow some compressed air in the bread slots. Fridges can be cleaned with some Simple Green or an all-purpose cleaner. Bleach works wonders for sanitizing sinks and most countertop surfaces.

Check Electrical Wiring

Periodically check electrical wiring on kitchen appliances like microwaves, toasters, and any other small appliance that you move around a lot. If you have a toaster oven or a blender that frequently gets shuffled around on the counter, check it once in a while.

Wires can become pinched and easily fray when they get caught on things like drawers or folded up and put into cupboards. Microwave ovens present a special danger in that they are usually placed near a sink where there’s a lot of water.

Change Filters

Change filters on all appliances with them - vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, furnaces, fridges, and dishwashers. Dirty filters reduce the efficacy of machines and can make them appear broken when they’re not. Furnace filters are especially important since, if you have a central AC and Heating system, the filtration system is responsible for cleaning the air.

Check Hoses, Belts, and Everything Else

Check hoses on all appliances like dishwashers and fridges - leaky hoses decrease the efficiency of the appliance and can cause a malfunction. Hoses are also susceptible to bulging, deformation, clogging, and cracking.

So, even if there are no visible signs of damage, you should still replace abnormal hoses to prevent catastrophic failure. Don’t forget to check belts while you’re at it. Belts on motors tend to wear down over time.

One of the most unusual maintenance items is the belt on your washing machine. This tends to wear down over time, producing a less efficient wash cycle.

The heating element in a dryer, a $30 part in most cases, is the cause of many dryer failures, yet most people go out and replace the entire unit when the dryer fails because they believe the whole thing is beyond repair.

Have Professional Maintenance Done Periodically

Some appliances, like air conditioners, have refrigerants that need to be checked periodically. Most refrigerators also use refrigerants that can and should be checked. But, these appliances are often assumed to be “maintenance-free.”

That’s just not true, especially with appliances like air conditioners that need refrigerant levels checked to keep it running at peak efficiency.

This maintenance usually requires the help of a skilled professional that’s trained to work with these chemicals. Not doing it could mean premature failure of the appliance - increasing the lifetime cost of your household items.

Robert Hopkins is always cooking and using his kitchen appliances constantly. A retired chef, he loves to help others by sharing what he has learned. You can find his articles mainly on cooking, food and lifestyle websites.