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12 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Appliances

From microwaves and refrigerators to ovens and coffee makes, here are a few tips from experts on how to extend the life of your appliances.

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Home appliances

When you buy an appliance for your home, you expect it to last for a long time. However, sometimes things happen and you have to either fix your home appliance or buy a new one. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make your home appliances last for as long as possible. Read on for a few things you can do to keep your appliances alive. Make sure you know these 11 brands that make the most reliable appliances, according to Consumer Reports.

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Clean each unit every month

One of the best things you can do for your home appliances is simply give each appliance a quick cleaning. “Hands down, the best thing is to clean the units every month,” Jeff Neal, project manager for Capital Coating, a commercial and industrial blasting and cleaning company, tells Reader’s Digest. “Grease, dirt, debris, char, and other contaminants build up on the appliances. And that build-up, over time, will eat and corrode the substrate of the metal, destroying the appliance. Most homeowners only need degreasers and a stiff bristle brush.” Neal adds that steam cleaners are also effective for cleaning. Make sure you know these 12 ways you’re shortening the life of your home appliances.

Make sure you avoid over-usage

Sometimes the easiest way to extend the life of an appliance is to turn it off. “Something common that many people do is to leave their air conditioner on even when they are not at home,” Albert Lee, Founder, Home Living Lab tells Reader’s Digest. “They do it so that they can come back to a cool and comfortable home. This may not seem like much, but over time, this places unnecessary stresses on the system and wear is just a natural progression.” Know these 11 ways you’re shortening the life of your air conditioner.

air conditioning controls

Use a programmable timer for your home appliances

If you’re going to be out for most of the day, a great resource to use is a programmable timer. “A function commonly overlooked but immensely useful is the programmable timer,” says Lee. “Most air conditioners have this now and homeowners can utilize it to turn on the air conditioner just before they return home. Some newer models even have remote access and can be switched on via Wi-Fi using the mobile phone. There is simply no reason to leave the air conditioner on while you are away now.” Here are 10 more air conditioning mistakes you can’t afford to make.

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Use the right dish soap for your dishwasher

Reading the owner’s manual will come in handy after all, especially for dishwashers. “Use the right kind of soap,” Abe Navas, the General Manager of Emily’s Maids, a house cleaning service in Dallas, Texas, tells Reader’s Digest. “Sometimes if you are in a rush you can think that you could put any kind of soap in there, but that is not true. Some soaps could, over time, clog your soap dispenser. Try to use the kind of soap recommended by the manufacturer.”
Air conditioning maintenance

Be sure to schedule regular servicing and maintenance

If you don’t remember the last time your appliances have been serviced, it might be time to create a list and start keeping track. “Air conditioners are machines and all machines need regular maintenance to ensure they are running in optimal conditions. This is especially so for a unit that operates for 8 to 10 hours every day,” says Lee. “Neglecting servicing causes dirt and debris build up in the air conditioner which may damage critical parts. Clogged air filters disrupt airflow and the air conditioner has to work extra hard to overcome the clogged filter. In addition, this results in poorer air quality and damages the homeowner’s health as well.” Here are a few tricks to keep your air conditioning costs down.

Close up of oven display flickering, control panel blinking. Stove electricity problem
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Don’t use the oven’s self-clean feature

However, just because an appliance comes with a feature doesn’t mean you have to use it. “The best way to increase the life-span of an oven is not to use the self-clean feature if it comes with one,” Werner Jorgensen, a Sales & Marketing Manager at HeatXperts, a retail business based in the U.S. and Denmark, tells Reader’s Digest. “The use of intense and overload of heat can prematurely wear out your appliance. Instead, it is better to take the racks out and either wash them by hand or put them in dishwater.”

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Degrease the grease filter in your microwave

Cleaning out your microwave is a necessity and doesn’t only need to be one after a spill. “When cleaning the microwave, always remember to degrease the grease filter. The underside of the machine captures steam and cooking fumes,” Jorgensen says. “If these fumes keep accumulating over time, they can cause the microwave to work less efficiently and the chances of a fire hazard also increase.”

Cleaning stove burners

Clean the burners regularly to avoid having to replace them

“Many stoves have removable burners and cleaning these can save you from the fees that come with having to replace them,” Bailey Carson, Head of Cleaning at Handy tells Reader’s Digest. “Before cleaning, make sure your stove is completely cool from the last time it was turned on. Then, remove the burners and scrub them with soap and the rough side of a sponge or steel wool to remove any cooked-on food remnants. Make sure to always use caution when removing or cleaning near anything flammable. If you have an electric stove, simply spray with a multipurpose cleaner and wipe with a clean rag.” Know the 13 ways you’re shortening the life of your stovetop.

Top of fridge

Clear the top of the fridge

One thing you can do to extend the lifespan of your refrigerator is to make sure that the top of the refrigerator is clear of any storage items. Consumer Reports recommends not using the top of the refrigerator for storage because the refrigerator still needs space for the appropriate airflow. Anything stored on top of the fridge might cause problems for the refrigerator trying to get rid of any heat. Become a fridge organizing experts with these 11 secrets of people who always have an organized fridge.

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Clean all lint after every dryer load

“Clean your lint every load, but not only the one in the tray, but lint should also be getting out by other parts of your machine,” says Navas. He recommends cleaning behind your dryer because lint will be there as well as in the machine. “It’s not only dangerous, it hinders the power of your machine.”
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Don’t combine vinegar and bleach in your dishwasher

Not all cleaning products can work well together. “Vinegar is said to clean any impurities that exist. However, don’t combine it with bleach in any quantity at all,” Jorgensen says. “Vinegar can eat away at the door seals and bleach produces dangerous fumes. Hence, combining the two products together will only destroy the machine.” Here are 8 other cleaning products you should never mix.

coffee pot

Use white vinegar and water to decalcify your coffee maker

By appliances, you may be thinking of larger appliances like refrigerators and ovens, but small appliances like coffee makers need your attention, too. “Coffee makers are an often overlooked appliance when it comes to kitchen cleaning,” says Carson. “Regular maintenance can help prevent water mineral buildup and keep your cup of Joe tasting fresh. While you should rinse removable parts of the machine with dish soap after every use, you should also make sure to decalcify your coffee maker with white vinegar at least once a month. To thoroughly clean your machine, fill the reservoir with equal parts white vinegar and water, and brew the solution like you would with coffee. Halfway through the cycle, turn the machine off to let it soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then switch it back on to finish brewing. Give your machine one final rinse with water and then you’re all set.”

Don’t forget about vacuum maintenance

If you have pets in your home, then you know the drill with cleaning up after your furry friends. “Vacuums need regular maintenance in any home, but it’s even more important if you have pets,” Matt Clayton, Founder and Chief Editor of Pet Hair Patrol tells Reader’s Digest. “If you have a bagless vacuum, don’t let the dust cup get packed with pet hair, dirt, or debris. It may block the airflow causing the vacuum to overheat.” Next, check out these 11 genius ways to save on every household bill.


  • Consumer Reports: “How to Make Your Refrigerator Last Longer”
  • Abe Navas, the General Manager of Emily’s Maids, a house cleaning service in Dallas, Texas
  • Werner Jorgensen, a Sales & Marketing Manager at retail business HeatXperts
  • Bailey Carson, Head of Cleaning, Handy

Madeline Wahl
Madeline Wahl is a former associate editor and writer at RD.com whose work has appeared on HuffPost, Red Magazine, McSweeney's, Pink Pangea, The Mighty, Golf Channel and Yahoo Lifestyle, among others. More of her writing can be found on her website, madelinehwahl.com.