Most of us don’t give our kitchen appliances a second thought until they stop working. Oh, we might wipe up a spill or toss in some baking soda to capture foul odors. But to keep appliances performing their best and lasting as long as possible, they need more attention a few times per year. Our app for iOS, Home Manager by UpsideDoor, is focused on the smart way to maintain and shop for appliances, but in the meantime, here are a few ideas to get you started!
The Mighty Kitchen Refrigerator
Even if you wiped up spills in the refrigerator when they happened and tossed the moldy foods when you discovered them, a refrigerator needs a deep cleaning every season to inhibit bacteria and fungi growth.
Start by emptying the fridge completely. If shelves and bins are removable, pull them out for easier cleaning of walls and components. This is a good time to check expiration labels on foods and condiments and toss anything that’s past its prime. The health of your family may depend on your diligence in the kitchen.
Mix a solution of one-quart hot water and one teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap. Use a fresh sponge or microfiber cloth to wipe down all interior surfaces and wash shelves and bins. Rinse with a solution of one part vinegar and one part water. Dry well and replace all components. Add a new, opened box of baking soda to help combat odors.
Unplug the appliance and pull it away from the wall and vacuum behind and beneath. Remove any vented covers so you can reach every crevice. Excessive amounts of dust and pet hair collect on the fan and condenser coils making the fridge work harder to keep things cold. If you detect an odor, the drip pan under the appliance may need to be removed and cleaned.
Whether you have a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer with an ice maker or a free-standing machine, an ice maker needs regular maintenance to perform well and produce good-tasting ice.
Unless you only use distilled water, all water contains minerals. In some areas, the concentration is especially high resulting in build-up on both the plastic and metal parts of an ice maker. If the cube molds aren’t releasing ice easily, it is because of the mineral build-up on the non-stick coating.
At least once a year, unplug the appliance. Replace any filters in the water line or ice maker. Empty the bin and clean with a solution of one part water and one part distilled white vinegar. If you live in an area with hard water, allow the bin to soak in the solution for at least 30 minutes before rinsing.
Disassemble as many parts as possible and clean in the same solution. For mechanical parts that cannot be removed, clean with a microfiber cloth dipped in the vinegar solution. Dry everything well before reassembling the ice maker.
Dishwasher and Garbage Disposal
To ensure the best performance and the cleanest dishes, start with a clean dishwasher. Cleaning is very simple and a thorough cleaning should only be needed about four times a year.
With the dishwasher empty, remove the utensil basket and racks. You may also be able to remove the bottom sprayer arm. Inspect the strainer and scrub with a soft-bristled brush dipped in distilled white vinegar. Replace the racks. Place a glass bowl with one cup of vinegar on the top rack. Run a hot water wash cycle. You can skip the drying cycle. Open the dishwasher after the cycle ends and sprinkle one cup of baking soda on the floor of the tub. Run a pre-wash or short hot water cycle. Open the door and allow the interior to air dry.
Since almost all garbage disposals are tied into the same plumbing as the dishwasher, why not give it a good cleaning at the same time? The quick grinding of citrus peels may make it smell better but doesn’t get rid of the clogging build-up that can slow the disposal down.
With the disposal is off, pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the opening. Slowly add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar. Go slowly because the combination will create a foam. Use a stopper to trap the foam inside. That foam will rise up to reach every crevice helping to eliminate bacteria and grease build-up. When the foaming stops, flush with a strong flow of hot water.
Range hoods can be small, simple inserts or soaring decorative features in a kitchen. No matter the style, every hood features task lighting and filtered fan that helps trap odors and airborne grease molecules. Quarterly cleaning will leave you with brighter lighting, a sweeter smelling kitchen, and help inhibit the severity of cooktop fires.
Check under the hood for light covers and filters that can be removed. Most are dishwasher-safe making them simple to clean. Some hoods have charcoal filters that must be discarded and replaced.
To clean the remaining parts, use a commercial degreaser, hot water, and a microfiber cloth to remove build-up. If you have never cleaned the hood, it may take some elbow grease as well. Finish by rinsing with a cloth dipped in a vinegar and water solution to remove any residue. Dry with a soft cloth.
For the outside of the hood, you should follow the manufacturer’s directions for the specific finish especially if it is uncoated metal to prevent discoloring.
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