From bad smells to wasted electricity, not maintaining your home’s appliances can come with annoying consequences.
Fortunately, a few preventative steps can stop these issues before they start. Even better, these maintenance tips take almost no time at all.
To keep your home running efficiently and safely, try out these maintenance tips that take less than eight minutes each to complete.
Dishwasher: Clean the Filter
Your dishwasher sees a lot: chunks of spaghetti, bits of stir-fry, unwanted ketchup… the list goes on. After so many cycles, your dishwasher filter starts to clog, which can stop your dishwasher from cleaning properly.
To clean the filter, open your dishwasher and remove the bottom rack (you’ll want your dishwasher to be empty for this). You’ll find its reusable filter on the bottom, right in the center. Pull out the filter, empty the gunk into the garbage using a pencil or toothpick, put the filter back where you found it, and you’re done!
Dishwasher - Repair Broken Tines
While in the dishwasher, let’s take a look at the racks themselves. Those little plastic stems that make up the racks are called “tines.” After enough cycles of holding your plates, bowls, and pots in place, the plastic coating covering the tines often chips or breaks, revealing the metal below. This exposed metal can damage your dinnerware.
If you have any broken tines, order a DIY tine-repair kit. A tine kit should include a handful of plastic tine caps and a small tube of super glue. Once you have the kit in hand, apply a little glue to the exposed metal of the tine and slide the new cap overtop. Repeat until every tine is just right and the job is complete.
Refrigerator - Tighten Your Door Seal
Now let’s move to the fridge. When you open the fridge or freezer doors, you’ll notice a long rubber seal running along the inside of the door. This seal keeps the cold air tight inside the fridge. If this seal chaps or breaks, your fridge will waste electricity trying to stay cold as the worn-out seal lets in extra heat.
To soften the rubber and tighten the seal, cover the rubber seal in a thin coating of petroleum jelly. It may sound strange, but it’s for a good reason: the jelly protects the rubber from chapping, just like it would your skin. After closing the fridge door, this task is over and done.
Refrigerator - Clean the Coils
Your fridge uses a system of metal coils that capture and release heat to cool its interior and keep your food fresh. If these coils get choked with dust and debris, they become worse at getting rid of heat, making your fridge worse at staying cold and more expensive on your electricity bill.
Although this fix takes the most time of all the ones on our list, it’s one of the most worth doing, and you’ll still be done in about 8 minutes.
First, purchase a coil cleaning brush. Next, unplug your fridge from its outlet (the water hose can stay). Now, you’ll need to access the back of the fridge—you may have to move it.
Once you can access the back of the fridge, take a peek at the part of the unit closest to the floor. If this part of the unit is exposed (and you can see coils), skip this next step. If this part is closed, remove the back paneling by unscrewing the screws around the edges.
Now that the coils are exposed, it’s time to clean them. The coils will look like a tight series of metal pieces, kind of like the rack of an oven. If they’re dusty, run your coil brush through them until they’re clean. If they’re extremely dusty, start this process with a vacuum extension, then switch over to the brush.
Once you’re done cleaning, move the fridge back to its starting position and plug it back into the outlet.
Refrigerator - Replace the Water Filter
If you have a refrigerator that dispenses drinking water, you’ll want to replace the filter every six months. If you’ve lost count since the last filter swap, look at your fridge’s tap. If the water trickles out slowly or smells funny, it’s time to replace the filter.
This fix is a cinch.
- First, purchase the appropriate water filter per your refrigerator’s requirements (you can check your owner’s manual or look online for the right one).
- Replacement filter in hand, open your fridge door, find the water filter unit (typically located in the top row, towards the back of the fridge), and place a washcloth below the filter unit.
- Next, open the water filter unit to reveal the old water filter, twist this old water filter ¼ turn in a counterclockwise direction, and remove it.
- Now reverse the process to install the new filter: insert the new filter, twist it ¼ clockwise, close the unit, and shut the fridge door.
Garbage Disposal - Deodorize
Similar to the gunk that can pile up in your dishwasher, your garbage disposal can also get build-up from leftovers. Over time, tiny micro-pieces of food collect in the disposal blades, making your sink smell of rotting food.
There’s a fun trick to easily deodorize your garbage disposal.
- First, take about three or four peels from limes, lemons, oranges, or any other citrus fruit.
- Once you have your peels, make sure your sink is empty.
- Running a stream of cold water directly into the disposal, drop the citrus peels into the disposal, and run the disposal until the peels are ground away.
Now you’re all done, and your disposal blades will smell like your favorite citrus fruits!
Microwave - De-Grime the Interior
Bubbling pasta sauces, exploding soups, any type of fish… microwaves can get pretty gross, pretty fast. To remove any odors and grime from your microwave, try this easy trick.
- In a microwave-safe, shallow dish, mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one cup of water.
- Microwave the mixture for five minutes on the highest setting.
- Once complete, open the microwave door, remove the microwavable dish with an oven mitt, and find a clean sponge or rag.
- Gently wipe at the interior walls of your microwave, being careful not to burn yourself on the condensed water.
Just like that, this job is complete and your microwave is free from grease and smells.
Washing Machine - Keep It Open
Ever noticed a funky smell coming from your washing machine, or walked past someone who smelled musty? The washing machine is probably at fault.
Washing machines are beautifully designed feats of engineering, able to soak, soap, and spin your clothes within the hour. However, no matter how fast they spin, they’re not able to fully dry out without your help.
This tip is the easiest yet: after removing your clean, wet clothes from the washing machine, keep the door ajar. The remaining water will evaporate within a few hours, leaving your next load of clothes fresh and clean.
If you accidentally leave the door closed for a day or so, the musty smell won’t go away with a quick wash cycle. To get rid of it, prep a small load of towels or blankets (any material that absorbs water will do). Now add your usual amount of detergent. Before hitting the start button, toss in a mixture of ⅓ cup of vinegar and ⅔ cup of cold water directly into the load of towels. Run the cycle on cold, and you’ll notice the moldy, musty smell is out.
Some Maintenance is Best Left to the Pros
Even with routine maintenance, eventually your home’s systems and appliances will wear out or need a major repair. Whether you’re dealing with a very difficult fix (e.g. HVAC or stove) or a very dangerous fix (e.g. garage door or electrical), or something you don’t have time or energy to take care of yourself (looking at you, refrigerator coils), it’s sometimes best to ask a professional for help repairing or replacing an appliance.
With help from a home warranty, you can find professional technicians for nearly any appliance or system malfunction, who come at nearly no cost to you. To find out if home warranty coverage is right for you, check out our list of the best home warranty companies out there.