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How to Get the Most From Your Home Appliances

Our appliances work hard for us each and every day. Refrigerators keep our food cold and safe to eat. Our dishwashers and washing machines ensure our dishes and clothes are sanitary. Our dryers make sure that our towels and blankets are nice and warm when we need that cozy feeling. 

It’s easy to take all that our appliances do for granted — until something goes wrong. When this happens, replacing your appliances can quickly become costly. Similarly, having major appliances repaired can be an expensive and time-consuming inconvenience. 

Fortunately, there are all sorts of little steps you can take to get the most out of your appliances, and keep them running effectively for years to come. 

Want to keep your Chicagoland home in tip-top shape? Let’s explore some everyday ideas you can use to help your major appliances last longer, run more efficiently, and keep producing effective results when you need them most: 

1.) Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

There may have never been a bigger debate — should you, or should you not have to rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?  If you want your dishwasher to run more efficiently, experts say you should rinse them first. Putting dishes caked with food in the dishwasher can clog the drainage pipes and make washing dishes more difficult. 

To keep things running smoothly, perform regular maintenance on the drain filter or trap by removing it and washing it in the sink. It’s also important to keep your dishwasher clean. Wipe down the door at least once per month to remove any food or gunk that may be stuck inside. Wipe down the walls regularly, or run your empty dishwasher on “self-cleaning” mode; you can also clean the machine by running it on a normal cycle with vinegar or a dishwasher cleaning agent.

2.) Let Your Washing Machine Dry Out

If laundry isn’t your favorite chore, you may look for ways to get it done faster — such as washing as many clothes as possible all at once. Unfortunately, this can prevent your clothes from getting the full cleaning they deserve. 

To get the most out of your washing machine, don’t fill it up too much. Leaving more space between clothes and linens allows them to agitate against each other, rubbing out dirt and stains more effectively. 

To help ensure your machine’s longevity, leave the door open for a while after washing. Letting your washer “dry out,” instead of closing the door and closing in all of that moisture, can help prevent mold and mildew growth. It can also prevent the machine’s metal from rusting. If your washing machine has a lint filter or trap, be sure to regularly clean it out. Similarly, take care to regularly wipe down the bleach or detergent dispensers to prevent gunk from building up. You can also keep your machine smelling fresh by running a cycle with vinegar or bleach. Always be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to clean your washer. 

3.) Give Your Refrigerator Some Space

Unlike the dishwasher and washing machine, one tried-and-true way to keep your refrigerator running more efficiently is to make sure it is fully loaded. While a fridge that is jam-packed may prevent proper air circulation, a comfortably full fridge can help things stay cooler for longer — especially if you are prone to frequently opening your refrigerator doors.. 

Make sure your refrigerator is set to a healthy temperature. Remember that a fridge that is too warm is a dangerous fridge! Food must be kept cold to be safe to eat. Set it too cold, however, and you could impact your energy bills. The FDA recommends a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below; other home experts encourage setting it a bit lower, between 35 and 38 degrees. 

One design trick to keep in mind if you’re planning on renovating? Your fridge might have to work harder if it’s right next to the oven. To keep your refrigerator working optimally, make sure it’s placed at least one cabinet away from the stove. Additionally, your fridge should be a few inches away from the wall to allow air to circulate and cool the coils in the back. 

In terms of everyday maintenance, take some time to clean dust and debris from the refrigerator’s coils on a regular basis. Keep the fridge door closed as often as possible. Let warmer items cool before you put them in the fridge, and use air-tight containers to prevent items from giving off too much moisture. 

4.) Take Care of Your Dryer

The quickest and easiest way to make your dryer last longer is to thoroughly clean out the lint screen in the front of the dryer after every cycle. This is important to ensure air flows freely to dry your clothes. A blocked lint screen will make your dryer work harder, reducing its lifespan. It can also pose a fire hazard if lint is left to accumulate over time. 

You should also have the exhaust vent and ducts cleaned out by a professional on a regular basis. If you notice your clothes aren’t getting dry in one cycle, it could be that there is too much lint or debris stuck in the exhaust vent. 

While your appliances can handle a lot, you should never put certain things in the dryer. Flammable stains, sandy clothes or towels, and items covered in pet hair can cause immediate damage to your dryer, and are potentially dangerous! To keep things running smoothly, it is also best to avoid overloading the dryer. To get rid of mold and residue, give the drum of the machine an occasional wipedown with a clean microfiber cloth.

5.) Don’t Let Your Oven Get Too Hot

It’s important to keep your oven clean! An oven caked with burnt-up food can create smoke and send  unpleasant odors in your home — while also posing a fire hazard. 

Many modern ovens have a self-cleaning feature that locks the oven door, and raises the internal temperature to around 1000 degrees! While it sounds great to have a self cleaning oven, experts agree you shouldn’t actually use this feature on a regular basis. The high temperature can actually damage fuses and electrical elements. 

Instead, you can clean this appliance yourself with a scrubbing tool and a good oven cleanser. This could be a store-bought cleaning product, or a homemade solution using common cleaning supplies like vinegar and baking soda. Remove the racks and wash them in the sink for a deep clean. Regularly wipe down the top and side of the appliance to make sure it’s gleaming. Take special care if you have a stainless steel appliance, as these surfaces can dull or scratch easily. 

Making the Most Your Time at Home

Whether it’s now serving as a school, office, playground, or simply a safe space, our home has never been more important. We know this is as well as anyone. At Baird & Warner, Chicagoland has been our home since 1855.

Looking for new ideas to make the most of your space in 2021? Curious about what steps you can take to get your home ready to sell in the months ahead? Ready to start the search for a new place to call home? Whatever your real estate goals may be, we get you — and we’re here to help make things easier, at every step of the way.