Summer is a time for outdoor activities. Whether you're camping, canoeing, barbecuing, playing sports, or spending a day at the beach, eventually you have to head home and clean things up. That means extra loads of laundry, overloading refrigerators and freezers, more time in front of the stove or range feeding all those hungry mouths, and an endless supply of dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Even appliances in new homes need proper maintenance.
To keep all your appliances working efficiently during the busy summer months, consider these maintenance tips for your 5 most used home appliances:
1) Washing machine
High-efficiency and high-capacity washing machines are great for all your daily laundry needs, but when you add the high volume from summertime needs, you could be headed for breakdowns. Follow these useful tips to keep your machine operating efficiently:
- Try to wash smaller loads. Heavy loads, especially with beach towels, can put a strain on your washer. Don't wash carpets or rubber mats at home. Even though they will fit in your washer, it will put excess pressure on the motor and cause internal damage. They should always be washed in a commercial-grade machine.
- Leave the door open when not in use. This will allow moisture out and help you avoid that musty smell.
- Clean the inside drum weekly with a damp cloth. This will reduce residue from soap, dirt, grease and remove any slimy buildup. You can run the machine with white vinegar or lime juice to cut through grease and detergent buildup.
- Remove and clean out your lint filter. Accumulated lint can clog water pipes and result in an Error Code F21 on Maytag Washers. In addition to improperly washing your clothes, this could lead the machine stopping mid-cycle, the door staying locked, or not completely draining the water.
- Always use the proper amount of detergent for the load size you're using. Using excess detergent won't get your clothes cleaner, but instead can actually damage your clothes, water pipes and washer motor.
- Use the proper machine setting. You may be tempted to throw everything into one load and use the maximum setting to save time. This method will ultimately damage both your clothing and the machine. Separate delicates from heavily soiled fabrics for the best results.
- Avoid slamming the door or continually dropping the lid. To save yourself the cost of a new switch when your washer error code appears, gently close it each time you use it.
2) DryerPool parties, summer rain showers and extra washer loads will all give your dryer a real workout this summer. To keep it running properly:
- Avoid overloading it. Just as it can cause problems with your washer, cramming more clothes into your dryer than is recommended can damage the motor, belts and other moving parts. Smaller loads will dry faster and save energy.
- Don't forget to clean out your lint filter after every load. A clogged filter will reduce airflow and ultimately shut the thermostat down before the clothes are dry. It can also lead to overheating which can shrink your clothes and damage the machine.
- Occasionally, clean the lint filter by lightly scrubbing it with water and a mild detergent. Water should flow through, not pool in the filter.
There's nothing more refreshing than an ice cold glass of water after a day in the sun. Of course, you'll want to make sure your refrigerator is up to the job of keeping more than water cold, so keep these tips in mind:
- Resist the temptation to overload your refrigerator. The more food and beverages you store, the more the compressor must work to keep things cold and fresh. Both the fridge and freezer spaces work most efficiently when air can circulate around foods. Over packing can lead to inefficient cooling, spoiled foods and eventually damage to the compressor.
- Try to limit the number of times you open the doors. Every time they're opened, the temperature inside drops several degrees. This will make the compressor work harder to maintain the inside temperature.
- Save energy by leaving one to two inches around your fridge.
- Keep your door gaskets clean so they seal properly. A buildup of sticky foods on the gasket can require you to pull harder to open the door and eventually tear the gasket. A little warm water and a sponge will clean it right up, save on repair bills and electricity.
- Vacuum off the refrigerator coils along the bottom front or rear of your appliance. This will keep your fridge running efficiently and save you money.
- Don't forget to discard rotten and expired foods. This will prevent contamination and keep your fridge smelling fresh and clean.
4) DishwasherNot every meal can be prepared using paper plates, so that means your dishwasher will be working overtime this summer too. From pots and pans to loads of dishes to an endless stream of glasses, you'll want your dishwasher running at peak performance. Try these ideas to keep your dishes looking sparkling clean every time:
- Keep the filter clean. When your dishwasher starts leaving food particles behind, your filter might be plugged. This will limit the flow of water to the spray arms. Pull out the lower rack and remove the filter cover. Clean the screen with a wet/dry vacuum.
- While you're in there, clear out any debris trapped inside the food drains, and check the water spray arms too. Remove the arm and soak it in warm white vinegar to loosen mineral deposits. Use an awl or pipe cleaner to clean out each spray hole.
- Keep door and frame gaskets clean with a soft brush or sponge. Food debris can build up and weaken the seal. This can then allow water to leak out during the wash cycle. Check for gaps or cracks. A damaged gasket should be replaced.
- Inspect the racks for nicks or scratches with exposed metal. These areas can rust and lead to permanently stained dishes. Repair kits are available for small areas. More serious damage will require replacement.
- To keep your dishwasher running efficiently and odor-free, once a month, pour a cup of white vinegar into the basin and detergent cup and run a cycle. Dishwasher cleaning solutions are also available where detergent is sold.
5) Range/StoveSummer favourites like corn-on-the-cob, baked beans and potato salad always taste best when they're homemade. Make sure your range/stove is working properly by keeping it clean inside and out.
- Use a light-duty cleaner or soap and water to wipe down the knobs and control panel. Never use abrasive cleaners or pads as you can damage the decal indicators. Clean the front door panel and glass when it's cool to prevent spills from staining.
- Smooth electric stove tops can look like new with a cooktop cleaner and protectant. Remove large food deposits with a straight-edge scraper and scratch-free pad.
- On gas cooktops, food spills often block the electronic igniter so the stove burner won't come on. A toothbrush works great to clean off debris. Be sure to replace the round ceramic strike plate so the flame lights evenly.
- Porcelain-coated steel cooktops can be cleaned with a heavy-duty degreaser and non-abrasive pad. Use care around the knob shaft holes as water can short out burner switches.
- Clean up spills and drips from the inside of your oven as soon as possible to avoid smoke and fires. You should do a heavy-duty cleaning three or four times a year for both self-cleaning and non-self-cleaning ovens.
With a little time and effort, your appliances will keep running smoothly and your summer activities will too.