Regular maintenance for appliances around the home and office can not only save you money, but will extend the life of them and cut down the huge piles of ‘dead’ machines in tips.  The recycling of these is by no means an exact art and so it is way better to mend things than to get on that treadmill of buy, break, replace.

Let’s look at a few easy things you can do:

  1. Dishwasher: If it isn’t washing properly, firstly examine the way you load the machine.  Each article needs to be in the path of the spray arms or they will not clean anything.  To give a routine clean, place a cup of White King in a bowl on the bottom of the dishwasher (on the rack) and run through the wash cycle, turning it off before the dry cycle.  Then refill the bowl with white vinegar and run the full cycle.  This removes scale and freshens up every part of the machine.  Once a year is enough or after a big party, perhaps! Don’t combine the two chemicals though.  You MUST do this as described above.  The chemicals cannot be mixed as they will make a poisonous gas.  Afterwards, unscrew the arms and check that all jets are clear.  Strainers should be cleaned after every couple of uses. It should be as good as new!  NOTE: Don’t leave any silverware in while doing this or you will strip the silver from the item and the repair of this will be horrendous (voice of experience!).
  2. Toaster: empty the crumbs out weekly to avoid fires and burning the elements. Also a crumb-filled toaster is a health risk attracting cockroaches and mice.
  3. Fridge: Vaccuum the condenser coils at the back every season at least. The fridge will not work well if these are dusty.  Check seals. Scrape out and bleach any mildew in the seal cracks.  Clean underneath to remove dust which again may stop the fridge from working at an optimum level.  Defrost regularly.  Wipe out with vanilla and place a box of bi-carb soda inside to absorb odours. If you have spills, clean them quickly and wipe out with a wet rag dipped in carb soda.
  4. Microwave: Clean spills immediately. Never let them dry and set. Again, check door seals.  If you have set food on the walls and roof of the oven, place a bowl of water in the oven and heat it for 5 minutes.  The steam will loosen the food.  Repeat till it is all softened and easily wiped off.
  5. Oven and cooktop: Always clean up spills and spatters as they occur. When racks have become grimy with roast spatter, orange spray will soften it.  Carb soda cleans all surfaces safely and well.
  6. Beaters and mixers: Don’t overfill and you won’t blow up your machine as I did once or twice when making bulk bread.  Flour in the machine is a killer, so it is a good tactic always to add the flour by hand.  Better cooking result this way anyhow!!
  7. Lawnmower: After each use, clean all the cut grass from beneath it.  Check the spark plugs once a year.  If a petrol mower trade it in for a battery mower from your council as many have this opportunity to purchase a subsidized machine, your old gas guzzler being traded in for parts recycling.  Take the blades to your local scissors sharpener and have them rejuvenated annually for a great cut.  You can sharpen them yourself with a file and those clever chaps at Bunnings will show you how!
  8. Light globesClean them with a microfibre cloth (damp) when they are OFF to remove dust and maximize light output.  When they die, wrap them in newspaper (thickly) and put in the garbage bin.  Replace with an energy-saving equivalent but check whether you prefer a warm or cool light.
  9. Sewing machine:  an annual checkup is really worthwhile if you are a compulsive needleperson!  Make sure your machine maintenance person is appropriate to the brand and model of yours.  Make enquiries at a patchwork club for the skinny on this!!!  They will know EXACTLY who is the best in the area.
  10. CarRegular grease/oil change is essential for you to avoid polluting the air and to make the car run well for many years.  Find a mechanic you trust and stick with him/her.  We have a terrific chap who never lets us down and our car (LPG) is very old but has some impressive trips to its credit.
  11. TV: Turn it off and go for a walk.  But seriously, all that home theatre stuff does need maintenance – mainly keeping it free of dust, checking cables for tight connections and ensuring that they have adequate airflow to avoid overheating.
  12. ComputerSwitch it off when not in use.  Printers – they need to be used regularly to stop cartridges drying out. Print a page every so often just to keep it going.  Again, it should be kept free of dust and with airflow around it.
  13. Hair dryer: these overheat, especially if  the back inlet becomes clogged with fine dust or hair.  You can unscrew it and carefully dust the machine and it will run well.
  14. General hint for all appliances; check cords for fraying on a regular basis.  Be aware of the safety issues with using a hairdryer in the bathroom. Keep it well away from water.
  15. Vacuum cleaner: empty it often – always BEFORE it reaches the danger zone and you won’t lose suction nearly as fast.  Place a handful of dried lavender on the floor and vac it up each time you change the bag or empty the bagless kind and wipe that type out with a cloth with some orange spray on it.  I am very pro-vacuum cleaners as these have prevented much disease through being able to clean small crevices and rid houses of flea infestations. A regular check of all hoses and heads is good practice.
  16. Coffee machine: follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning regime and avoid the oil build-up.
  17. Phones: clean the mouth and earpiece with anti-bacterial handwasher in small quantities (just a wipe) to avoid germs.
  18. Kettles in hard water areas:  These get a build up of lime/calcium.  Clean out with white vinegar and then put a couple of very hard old-fashioned marbles in it.  They will bounce around when the water boils and loosen a buildup.
  19. Windows: keeping windows clean is actually important for the glass.  The old newspaper and metho doesn’t necessarily work, but this does: ¼ cup vinegar, ½ teaspoon liquid soap or detergent, ¼ cup of methylated sprits and 2 cups of water. Mix in a spray bottle. Spray on your windows and wipe off with newspaper scrunched up.  Wear rubber gloves to avoid the printing ink.  Use a Teflon cleaning Scotchbrite to remove any stubborn bits. By the way, this mixture costs around 10% of the most popular brand of blue window cleaner especially if you recycle an old spray bottle.
  20. Washing machine: If you always leave the lid open after doing a load of washing, you won’t have any major problems unless you overload or flood it.  Always release the pressure in the hoses after use. (ie. Turn off both taps and then turn the machine to ‘fill/warm wash’ – it will buzz and suck out all the residue of water from the hoses. Remember to turn the tapes on before washing again.  To remove calcium buildup, or prevent it, add a dash of orange spray to the wash or use Lectric water crystals as directed.

The old proverb ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is very true. Keep on top of maintenance and cleaning and you will rarely need the big overhaul!

Of course, that goes for health as well and we will have an article on how good health saves money and is a social responsibility elsewhere on this site.

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