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True Trick to Save Money on Appliances

And the trick is…CLEAN THEM.  Yeah, I was shocked too, lol.

This is SUCH a simple trick for saving money on appliances and I can't believe I had never thought of it before. It definitely works and there's no way I would have thought of it myself.

After reading this post on Yahoo, I realized that we are way behind on appliance maintenance.  Here’s their list of appliances and how they need to be cleaned occasionally:

Dishwasher: Take out the racks. Check the corners and the rubber lining around the door for cracks and food residue. Clean out both with a sponge and plastic-bristled brush (don’t use metal as it can damage the machine). Consult the owner’s manual and remove the spray arms and wash them with soap and water. If you’ve got a filter basket at the base of your dishwasher, carefully remove the filter itself and give it a rinse as well. Slide your hand in the filter hole and check for debris. Put the pieces back together and run the machine empty with a bit of detergent.

Refrigerator: The coils underneath the machine tend to get clogged with dust, which can make it hard for the compressor fan to circulate fresh air. To make sure they’re all clear, unplug the machine, get down on the floor, and pull out the vent plate that covers the coils. Then use a vacuum hose to clean the coils. It’s also good to wipe down the door gasket as with a warm damp cloth to make sure there’s no sticky build-up there, which can cause the gasket to tear (and inhibit your fridge’s ability to refrigerate).

Air conditioner: Similar to refrigerators, air conditioner coils need to be cleaned every once in a while—now, a.ka. the beginning of the season, is a particularly good time to do this. Remove the filter cover and run a vacuum brush over the coils. While you’re at it, pull out the filter and clean or replace it, depending on what kind of model you have.

Vacuum: This is one of the most oft-neglected household gadgets. Filters and bags need to be swapped out at least annually. If you have a bagless model, wipe out the canister with a sponge. Test it’s suction power: try to vacuum up a bit of sand, and see if your vac sucks up the majority of it (if so, it’s in good shape—if not, take it to a local repair shop to see if it’s just a question of changing out a part. If you’ve got motor issues, it’s probably more cost effective to buy a new vacuum).

Ceiling fan: If you notice the blades on yours are wobbling, you’re in for trouble—this wears out the motor a lot faster. Dust off the tops of the blades and tighten the screws to make sure everything is locked into place.

Stove and oven: Gas stoves in particular need to be kept clean to ensure burners and igniters will keep on for years. A warm cloth and a bit of dish soap is all you need to get them spic and span. Mr. Fleshman from Fleshman Appliance Repair tells The New York Times that the self-cleaning feature should be avoided, since the super-high-temperature can be hard on your oven’s wiring and electrical components. Instead, after you’ve used your oven, wait until it’s cool enough to touch but still warm, and wipe it down with a moist cloth. Fleshman also says not to worry about stains, “always tell my customers, if people are looking in your oven and complaining about it being dirty, you shouldn’t have those people in your home.”

Here’s how we stack up after living in our house for 3 years:

Dishwasher:  I’ve never done anything with it except add soap and Jet Dry (which seems to be useless).

Refrigerator:  I’ve been meaning to do this since last year.  We have two dogs and the sheddy Mr. Pug stays in the kitchen at night (he snores too loud to come upstairs)…I’m surprised our fridge hasn’t died yet.

Air conditioner:  My husband’s grandfather occasionally checks our A/C since he used to work in that field.  I should pay attention to what he’s checking…

Vacuum:  We change the bags pretty often but I hadn’t thought of the filter for a while.  I know we changed it about two years ago, but since we got wood laminate floors downstairs, we barely use the thing.  Yes, I know I only said “downstairs”, but just don’t go upstairs, okay?

Ceiling fan:  I only dust the blades every year or so, but none of our fans are wobbly.

Stove and oven:  We have an electric oven/stove combo and our housekeeper cleans the outside every two weeks.  I don’t see any problems on the inside…

How do you add up?  Anybody have any ideas on motivating me to take care of the things on the list that I obviously need to get to?  I hope that by the time this post pops up in 3 weeks that I have some better news about the refrigerator at least…

17 thoughts on “True Trick to Save Money on Appliances”

  1. everyday tips

    My maintenance plan is similar to yours, except I don’t have a grandpa to check out central air unit. As a matter of fact, it makes a really loud ‘cluck’ when it starts up that drives me nuts. I need a grandpa here stat!!!

    I did rinse my vacuum cleaner filter the other day. I am now applauding myself!

    Great info!

  2. Little House

    I haven’t done any of these things, which is probably why our really old fridge is running day and night! The one thing my husband does clean religiously, are all our stand-alone fans. He’s the king of fans and has multiple ones running through the house. However, we haven’t cleaned our ceiling fans in a while. I guess this should be my summer project!

  3. BFS

    everyday tips, sorry, we do not have national grandpa service for you, lol. 🙂

    Little House, can I borrow your husband for our ceiling fans too? I hate cleaning them since I always get dust balls in my eyes and my asthma starts up…stupid fans…I love them and hate their maintenance. I could get my hubby to do it, but I shudder to think how much nag I would need to use, hahaha. 🙂

  4. Mike - Saving Money Today

    I never seem to be as on top of these things as I should be. I usually forget about cleaning the vaccuum filter until its completely clogged and won’t work anymore. Usually happens 20 minutes before we’re having company.

  5. Money Reasons

    I’ve done some, but others I missed.

    I’ve never done what you type above for the dishwasher… I’ll have to try that! There is special soap that cleans the dishwasher that we occasionally use.

    Great list! 🙂

  6. BFS

    Mike, isn’t that the truth!!! Nothing ever breaks until you REALLY need it…

    Money Reasons, what kind of soap cleans the dishwasher?

  7. Joe Plemon

    OK. You are either making us feel bad because we don’t maintain appliances as we should or good because you don’t either.

    But I have a short story on our vacuum. It is the one my neighbor had set out front for the trash man. I snuck it into our house (peering over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching) and discovered that it was completely clogged with dust and hair balls. I took all the hoses off and cleaned them all, cleaned the filters and discovered a great vacuum. We have been using it for about a year now…works like a champ. And my neighbor moved, so she will never find out. 🙂

  8. BFS

    Joe, hahahaha! Let’s say that I’m not afraid to pass along great tips even if I’m too lazy to follow them, lol.

    I love the fact the vacuum is still being used! I’m a huge fan of Freecycle and the free section of Craigslist simply because it’s sad how many things I was going to throw away that would probably still work with some elbow grease (yeah, did I mention that I’m lazy…). I love the fact that someone makes use out of it all instead of it just being junked.

  9. Rob

    Those are some good tips and they make perfect sense. I had never heard of cleaning out your dishwasher before. I have vacuumed the refrigerator once or twice but it is probably due up for another cleaning. My wife cleans the ceiling fan blades at least once a year. And we replace our vacuum filter once a year (it is bagless) but we have never cleaned the inside. We are probably best about keeping the stove and oven clean since we use it the most. And it is good to know we shouldn’t worry about stains because we have plenty!

    I am surprised the article didn’t mention anything about cleaning your washer and dryer.

  10. Benjamin Bankruptcy

    Dude I didn’t even know my vacume cleaner had a filter. I am such a bad maintenance person. I don’t think my fridge has exposed coils underneath. I used to clean the back of our old fridge but the new one has a smooth back.

    I clean my dryer filter but given that I use it maybe once a year It more of an every olympic year I clean it.

  11. Rebecca The Greeniac

    err… ummm… I resemble that remark? I vacuum the stuff from the refrigerator vent now and then, but I never knew it came off! Guess some cleaning is in order. Great post!

  12. BFS

    Rob, it sounds like you are ahead of the game!

    I didn’t think about the lack of mention for the washer and dryer. To my knowledge, you need to run one load a year in a washer that’s just water and bleach. You also need to clean out the lint filter on the dryer at least once every other load (we do it for every load out of habit). I also sweep out the escape lint every year or so, but I’m sure you should do that more often. Lastly, once every year or two, the whole air flow system of the dryer needs to be “flushed”. I have never done that…oops…

  13. BFS

    Benjamin, that is hilarious…glad I could be informative. 🙂 Does “Olympic Year” refer to the Summer and Winter Olympics or just one or the other, lol?

    Anyway, I know what you mean. I suck at maintenance too…my fan blades and refrigerator probably hate me…

  14. BFS

    Rebecca, good luck on that cleaning spree! I’m not motivated enough to tackle all of it yet, lol. 🙂

  15. Funny about Money

    Be a little careful in sticking your hand down where the dishwasher filter fits. If you’ve ever broken a glass in the washer, there could be some small, sharp pieces in there.

    I’ve never been good with the fridge coils, because I can’t get that stupid vent cover thingie BACK ON!!

    And one thing to add: drain the gunk out of the water heater every six months or so.

  16. BFS

    Funny about Money, that is an excellent point about the dishwashser! Thanks for reminding us about the water heater too. I had to flush ours when I replaced the heating elements and thermostats…

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