Your Trickiest Appliance-Cleaning Questions Answered
Spring is (finally) here, and while this sunny new season brings with it warmer temperatures, fabulous fashion, and the promise of exciting summer travels, for those of us committed to an annual spring cleaning, it also comes along with a lengthy checklist of chores. If you’re like us, the idea of tackling a year’s worth of dirt and grime in your home’s appliances feels especially overwhelming… and even with the plethora of apps out there to help us kick-start the cleaning process, there isn’t one (yet) that can just take care of tidying our refrigerators and ovens for us.
Instead, we asked for advice on how to clean common household appliances from Chris Granger, the vice president and general manager of Sears Home Services. While his expert tips may not save you any elbow grease, they will give you the answers you’ve been looking for about how to get those items truly clean. Keep scrolling for all of the details!
1. Dishwasher: If you run your dishwasher regularly, you’re already getting a jump on keeping it clean and avoiding the growth of mold and mildew (gross). To go the extra mile, check the drain at the bottom for debris. Scrub stains and stinky smells with a dishwasher cleaner like Dishwasher Magic. If those tricks don’t solve the nasty odors, it’s likely that food is caught in the filter, so check out your owner’s manual and find out the best way to remove and clean the filter of your particular model.
2. Washing Machine: Mold and bad smells can build up in your washing machine if it’s not tended to regularly, and who needs that? If your machine has a self-clean cycle, running it according to your owner’s manual will make your life a lot easier, and using a combination of diluted bleach or white vinegar can take care of other smells and build-up. In order to minimize that build-up in the first place, make sure you’re adjusting the load size selector on your machine to accurately reflect how many clothes you’re washing, and resist the urge to use more detergent than necessary. Excess water and soap can damage your machine — and your clothes.
3. Dryer: Keeping your dryer’s lint screen clean is key to the long-term maintenance of this appliance, so remember to clean it after every load. You can use a lint brush or vacuum to deep clean the filter, and you should take it out and wash it every six months or so.
4. Refrigerator: The first step to making sure that your fridge is clean and healthy for food storage is to keep it well-organized. When you overcrowd the items in your refrigerator, it can block the circulation of cold air, which causes warm spots and, as a result, bad food. Keep foods where they belong — meat and cheese in the meat drawer, produce in the crisper drawers, condiments on the door, and covered leftovers and prepared foods on the top shelf. For a deeper clean, consult your owner’s manual (or an expert!) for instructions on how to maintain the condenser coils, door gasket, and ice maker of your machine.
5. Microwave: It’s pretty amazing what your microwave can do (from poaching eggs to roasting garlic), but this compact kitchen appliance is far from mess-proof. Leftover splatter isn’t a good look, but it can also generate sparks later on and damage the microwave in the process, so it’s important to remove caked-on food regularly. The best method is to heat a bowl of water with a squirt of dishwashing liquid or white vinegar on high for one minute (in the microwave… irony!) and to use that hot mixture to wipe out the inside with a sponge or paper towel.
6. Oven: Safety always come first, so before you test out these tips on your oven, make sure it’s unplugged! Clean the knobs by removing them and placing them in warm, soapy water (using cleaning fluid under the knobs can damage the electrical system). Soapy water is also your best bet for cleaning the grates inside the oven, and if that doesn’t work, you can spray them with oven cleaner and let them sit inside a plastic bag overnight. If all else fails, you can get those grates squeaky clean inside the dishwasher. Wipe down your oven’s gasket (the seal that runs along the edge) with a soapy cloth, and use a mix of water and ammonia to loosen up debris that’s caked onto other parts of the appliance. It’s a multi-step process, but you’ll feel super accomplished when that oven is perfectly clean and ready to cook your next amazing recipe!
7. Stainless Steel Appliances: If you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen full of updated stainless steel appliances, you’re living every HGTV viewer’s dream… and there are specific measures you’ll need to take to keep those items looking shiny and new. The good news? You won’t need to look much further than your sink or kitchen — water, vinegar, and olive oil are the best cleaning agents for stainless steel. Use clean cotton or microfiber cloths instead of paper towels to wipe things down, and be sure to clean and polish those appliances with (not against) the grain of the steel.
Which appliances are hardest for you to clean? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Brit + Co and Getty)