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Household Appliance Cleaning Tips

A Maintenance and Cleaning Checklist for Your Appliances

© 2012 by All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.

Jenn Air Electric Range

A Jenn Air electric range

This article was last revised on 12/18/20.

We are currently overwhelmed with Energy Star appliances with their integrated circuit boards rather than replaceable parts. Our household devices cost more than ever before; that is an excellent rationale for regular cleaning and maintenance.

Like other household chores, it pays to have a checklist. Here is one that should prove helpful. As you hang your calendar in your home office or kitchen at the beginning of the year, make notes for the days you need to do cleaning.

Central Air Conditioners and Heaters

Obviously spring is the best time of year to maintain your AC. This consists of a cleaning and tune-up. You will have to call a licensed HVAC technician for things such as adding or recovering refrigerant.

However, there are certainly many air conditioner money saving tips that include cleaning that you can take on yourself.

Some of these tasks include inspecting and replacing flex ducts, cleaning, troubleshooting, and fixing your thermostat. While you're at it, install an A/C misting system. It will not only cut your electricity bills; it will save wear and tear on your HVAC system.

Electric Ranges and Stoves

Modern ranges tend to be rather complicated due to all the convoluted electronics, but believe it or not, troubleshooting your electric range is indeed possible using a few basic tools and knowledge (see the link at the bottom of this article).

A thorough and frequent cleaning is also extremely important. Why? Because a build-up of grease is flammable. This tends to be more of an issue with open-element models rather than flat-top model ranges.

In most cases, de-greasing is easy using 2 fluid ounces of orange oil mixed with a quart of warm water. Orange oil is usually available at gardening nurseries that carry organic gardening supplies or you can get it from It is also handy as a pesticide against ants, roaches, etc.

Gas Ranges

Gas units are simpler from a technical point of view than electrical models, although a thorough cleaning and an inspection of all the gas fittings are essential. It is important to make sure that any appliance that is gas-fueled be properly vented. Burning gas produces deadly nitrogen dioxide (carbon monoxide).

Chances are that you building code will not permit you to change gas fittings if you find a bad one; that usually calls for a plumber that has been gas certified, but you can certainly use a portable gas detector to check for leaks.

Clothes dryers

Clothes dryers are also available as electric and gas models. The principal concern with both with respect to safety is lint accumulation. Your removable lint filter needs to be cleaned after drying each load (or before the next one, same thing).

An important thing to look at is your hot air venting tube. Be sure it is clear with no obstructions. If you’re replacing a damaged venting tube, use a metal one.

Why? Metal is a better choice than plastic because of less static electricity build-up. Remember that lint is a very flammable material and can easily ignite and cause a household fire. Tip: keep your cardboard toilet paper tubes and stuff them with lint. They're perfect for starting a roaring fire in your fireplace.

Cleaning Refrigerators Monthly

Modern refrigerators are problem-free for the most part, however the coils in back of and/or underneath it should be vacuumed out periodically. Your goal here is proper air circulation. If you have pets in your home or apartment, you know what I'm talking about. It accumulates.

Next, inspect and clean your door seals. They can be cleaned using liquid dish soap and warm water. Dry them off and wipe them down with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of soap to 1 quart of water. This will sanitize them. I use Dawn Ultra but just about anything will do.

Handy tip:Your freezer will be far more energy-efficient when it’s relatively full, even if only with milk jugs filled with frozen water. Water never goes to waste, right?


Modern dishwashers have come a long way as far as efficiency and noise control are concerned over the past few years. Obviously, keeping the water inside is important so be sure to clean and inspect those door seals as you did with your fridge.

Whirlpool dishwasher fill valve and motor; photo courtesy Kelly Smith Shopping for a new one? Removing your old dishwasher and installing a new one is a doable job for the handy homeowner but it can be time-consuming. Again, follow the link at the end of this article.

Check that you don’t have any standing water in the bottom of the unit. Often this is caused by the hose linking to the garbage disposal drooping down.

Clothes washers

The first things to look at are your water supply hoses. Be sure that they are not cracked or brittle. Replace them if they are not in good shape. Next clean the washer tub. This is easily done by running a full load with no clothes.

Simply use hot water, and add 2 cups of vinegar and 2 fluid ounces of orange oil. See, yet another use for orange oil. This stuff is magic. I've seen it kill bugs, dissolve floor tile mastic, and deodorize funky places. What's not to love?

These are just a few ideas to clean and maintain your appliances to help them stay running smoothly and efficiently and hopefully add to their lifespan as a bonus. If you happen to have any tips of your own, please share them with others in the comment box below.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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© 2012 All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.