Appliance Maintenance Tips

Look below to find information on do-it-yourself maintenance for your appliances. These tips will help you keep your appliances in tip-top shape!

Dishwashers | Garbage Disposals | Clothes Washers | Electric Dryers | Electric Ranges & Ovens
Microwave Ovens | Refrigerators & Freezers | Automatic Ice makers | Problems During Clothes Washing


  • Remove food particles and any broken glass that may have fallen to the bottom of the tub.
  • Clean the bottom edge of the dishwasher tub (sealed off by the gasket when the door is closed) to remove food and liquids that drip there.
  • Clean the control panel with a soft, damp cloth—don’t use abrasive powders or cleaning pads
  • Look for and remove any objects (food pits, bottle caps, etc.) from the opening of the pump to avoid the drain system getting clogged.
  • Check the racks for nicks or cuts (which can be repaired).


Garbage Disposals

  • If the disposal drains into a septic tank, keep organic wastes (such as the shells of eggs, lobster, crab, and shrimp) to a minimum.
  • Before running the disposal, always check it for any foreign objects (silverware, glass, china, bottle caps, tin can parts) which may have fallen into it. These can damage the disposal and plug its drain.
  • Always run cold water into the sink when using the disposal. Water is needed to keep waste moving to the drain, and the cold water helps cool the engine.
  • For a continuous feed disposal (one which usually has an electric switch that’s separate from the disposal itself), start running both the cold water and the disposal itself before placing food into the disposal.
  • For a batch feed disposal (where the on-off operation is controlled by the hopper of the disposal), place food into the hopper first. Insert the stopper when you are ready to grind up and dispose of the food.


Clothes Washers

  • Read the use and care manual for your specific washer before you begin to use it.
  • The interior is normally self-cleaning, but you may need to check for an remove objects from the inner basket.
  • Clean the control panel and outer cabinet with a soft damp cloth; don’t use abrasive powders or cleaning pads.
  • Inspect under the interior under the washer
  • Know if your water is hard or soft. Phosphorus works in hard water to soften it and boost the cleaning action of the agitating water.
  • In soft water, you can use a low-phosphorus detergent, instead. Water hardness is measured in grains:

0 – 3 grains = soft water
4 – 9 grains = medium-hard water
10 – 15 grains = hard water
Over 15 grains = very hard water

Contact your local water department to find out your water’s hardness.

  • Check into your local regulations—if there are any—regarding phosphorus restriction. Some areas restrict phosphorus content to 8 percent or less. If this is true in your area and if you have hard water, you may need to add a little more detergent to your wash loads
  • Make sure that the washer is installed and levelled on a firm floor – this minimizes vibration when it’s running.
  • When placing clothes into the washer, distribute them evenly in the basket to avoid creating an unbalanced load.
  • If there are any problems with the washer not draining, check to be sure the drain hose isn’t kinked or containing a blockage. If neither is a problem, you may need a professional servicer to determine other reasons for the issue.
  • If the washer doesn’t fill up with water or very little water is entering the washer, check to be sure that the water faucets to the washer are turned on completely.


Automatic Electric Dryers

  • Before or after every load of clothes dried, clean out the lint trap. Lint is combustible. Remove any lint from the general area of the dryer.
  • Inspect the exhaust duct and exhaust hood (the place with the duct vents to the outside of your house) periodically. Clean out any lint that appears.
  • Inspect taped exhaust duct joints to insure that the taping remains intact. If repairing, only use duct tape; do not use screws that protrude into the duct, as that will cause lint to build up and eventually clog the duct.
  • If the exhaust duct sits adjacent to an air conditioning duct, insure that the exhaust duct is insulated to prevent moisture buildup inside it.
  • Remove lint collected in the door opening.
  • Every 1-2 years, you may want a professional to check inside the dryer’s cabinet and base, as well as other places that lint can accumulate (heather assembly, blower assembly, etc.) and which homeowner’s don’t usually access in order to clean out lint, which accumulates in these areas, as well.
  • Every 1-2 years, completely clean out the exhaust duct to remove accumulated lint.
  • Wipe down the outside of the cabinet with a damp cloth.


Electric Ranges/Ovens

  • Self-cleaning pyrolytic (high-heat) ovens should be set for cleaning periodically, depending on how much use they’ve had and how much materials has accumulated on the surface of the oven cavity. Allow 1-3 hours when the oven will not be needed, as the door cannot be opened after the self-cleaning process begins. After the cleaning cycle is over, wipe out the small amount of ash that is left
  • You will want to remove chrome racks and clean them by hand; if allowed to remain in the oven during the self-cleaning cycle, they will discolor permanently and lose their slippery surface (and it will become hard to slide pans onto and off of them when baking).
  • Keep surface and cooking areas clean and free of spills and grease.
  • Do not use aluminum foil to line drip bowls on the burners; it can cause an electrical shock or become a fire hazard.
  • Clean the range, oven, or cooktop with warm water, mild detergent, and a soft cloth on all cleanable parts, as recommended in the use and care manual.
  • Don’t use abrasives not specifically recommended by the manufacturer
  • Grease is a fire hazard; clean all spillovers.
  • On glass surfaces, use a glass cleaner to clean any soil stains. Remove stubborn soil stains using a paste of baking soda and water. Don’t use abrasive cleaners on glass surfaces.
  • Don’t clean the heating elements; when you turn on the elements, soil will burn off.
  • Do not use chemical oven cleaners on the oven cavity of self-cleaning ovens; this causes hazardous fumes to be created when the self-cleaning cycle is turned on.


Microwave Ovens

  • Make sure that air vents are clear of debris for proper ventilation.
  • Keep the interior and the exterior clean. Clean the interior with a damp cloth and a mild detergent. Don’t allow any food particles to remain as they can become carbonized, causing arcing, improper heating, or possibly damage to the components.
  • Clean the control panel with a damp cloth only, don’t use spray cleaner or harsh chemicals on the touch panel to prevent the touch panel from shorting out or interfering with the keypad functions.
  • Inspect the service cord and outlet periodically; check the cord prongs for a tight fit. A loose connection can cause the cord to heat up and short out. This is especially important on built-in microwaves due to the amount of heat these models generate.
  • Keep the area around the microwave clean.
  • If cockroaches are a problem in your area, you may want to place a fine mesh over the intake and discharge vent areas to prevent roaches from entering the microwave (the smell of food lingers for a long time after cooking, and there have been cases where roaches entered the microwave, traveled to the electronics area, and ate wires and metal traces off of the printed circuit boards). If you do place a screen over the vents, clean it often to prevent dust/dirt buildup.
  • Remove food odors from the microwave by combining one cup of water, grated lemon peels, lemon juice , and several slices of lemon. Stir and place in a microwave-approved glass container. Cook on high power, letting the mixture boil for several minutes. After cooking is done, let the mixture cool before removing it from the oven and wiping off the interior with a damp cloth.


Refrigerators & Freezers

  • Clean the inside of the refrigerator cabinet at least once a month to prevent odors from building up.
  • Wipe up any spills immediately.
  • Wash all removable parts by hand with warm water and a mild detergent, then rinse and dry before putting back into the refrigerator.
  • Wash the inside walls of the cabinet, the door liners, and the gaskets with warm water and a mild detergent and rinse and dry them.
  • Don’t use cleaning waxes, concentrated detergents, bleaches, or cleansers containing petroleum products on plastic parts.
  • On the outside, use a sponge with warm water and a mild detergent to clean off dust and debris. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Once a month, clean out the defrost pan (located behind the toe plate or behind the cabinet).
  • Also once a month, clean the condenser coil at the back of the cabinet so that it’s free of dust and lint.
  • At least twice a year, wax the outside of the cabinet with an appliance wax or with a good auto paste wax. This provides protection against rust.
  • Make sure that the floor is free of dust and debris when the refrigerator is rolled out away from the wall. After you roll it back, check to be sure that it is level.


Automatic Ice Makers

  • Insure that the ice maker stops producing ice cubes correctly when the bin is full.
  • Check the ice cubes periodically to be sure they are uniform in size and shape. Thinner, thicker, or too-small cubes can indicate problems with the ice maker which might require servicing.
  • Insure that the temperature of the freezer compartment is set at normal temperature or colder; warmer freezer temperatures can slow down ice making operations. The more the freezer door is opened, the colder the temperature setting should be in order to maintain proper freezing temperature.
  • If the ice maker is not making ice, if water runs out of the machine when it tries to make ice, if the ice cubes are hollow, if ice cubes aren’t releasing from the mold, or if you have any other issues, please call us to service your ice maker. Unfortunately, ice makers are fairly complicated and many of their problems require a professional servicer.

Problems during Clothes Washing

Even though the following information isn’t really related to regular maintenance of the washer, we thought you might find it valuable, so it’s included below.

Removing Stains From Clothing

You really need to know what caused the stain before you can remove it. Following are some stain removal tips that might be helpful.

  • If you find stains on clothes after they’ve been washed, they might consist of cooking oil or grease that wasn’t visible when the strain first occurred. During washing, the stain can act like glue and attract dirt that is loosened by the wash cycle. Use only cold or warm water to remove stains; hot water will set a stain permanently into fabric.
  • When using a bleach, choose one that is safe for the fabric being washed/treated. Dilute chlorine bleach with water to prevent the bleach from destroying clothing fibers.
  • Test stain-removal products on a hidden corner of a garment to see if the color remains in the fabric (this is called being “color-fast”). If the color changes, don’t use that product on that garment.
  • If transmission oil from the washer itself is leaking into the wash water, clothes may come out stained with a brownish-yellow stain in a random pattern. A solvent is needed to wash out these kinds of stains; they cannot be removed simply by washing again.
  • When preparing to remove a stain from fabric, place the cloth so that the stained side is face down on top of a paper towel or white cloth. Apply the stain remover to the back of the stain so that it is forced off of the fabric rather than through it.
  • Remove protein stains with an enzyme pre-soak or try using meat tenderizer.
  • Alcoholic beverage stains: these turn brown the longer they stay on fabric, so treat as soon as the stain appears. Wash or soak it in cold water, then wash the garment.
  • Blood stains: rinse or soak in cold water with an enzyme pre-soak. Diluted chlorine bleach can be used on white fabrics; for colored clothing, use a powdered oxygen-type bleach instead. After treating, wash the garment.
  • Chewing gum stains: use ice on the stain to harden the gum. Scrape as much off the fabric as you can. Apply a non-flammable dry-cleaning solvent with a sponge to remove the rest of the gum. Wash.
  • Coffee or chocolate stains: soak the clothing in warm or cold water. Make a paste out of detergent and hot water, and brush it on the stain. Wash.
  • Milk and milk products: Use a non-flammable dry-cleaning solvent and apply with a sponge. Follow this by washing the clothing.
  • Antiperspirant and deodorant stains: wash the garment in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric using the normal amount of detergent. If the stain remains, place garment face-down on a white towel, and treat the stain with a paste of ammonia and a powdered oxygen-type bleach. Keep the paste on the clothing for 30 minutes. Wash in the hottest safe water for that fabric again.
  • Fruit stains: soak the stain in cool water. Don’t use soap, as that will set the stain into the fabric. Then wash as normal. If the stain doesn’t go away, make a paste of powdered oxygen-type bleach, a few drops of hot water, and a few drops of ammonia and let it sit on the garment for 15-30 minutes. Wash as usual.
  • Iron/rust stains: apply some lemon juice mixed with salt. Place the garment in the sun. Then, wash as usual. You can also substitute a commercial rust-removing solution for the lemon juice/salt mixture.


Other Fabric Problems

Yellowing: this can be caused by poor body soil removal, body oils, the use of a water softener, hard water or minerals (such as iron) in the wash water, or the water supply picking up the color of decaying vegetation.

  • To remove yellowing if caused by body oils, increase the detergent amount and use 150-Farenheit wash water. Increasing the frequency of using bleach in the wash will also help.
  • If a water softener was used to treat the water, decrease the amount of detergent used to the point where the decrease won’t affect soil removal, and increase frequency of using bleach.
  • Hard water or minerals in water: treat with a water-conditioning apparatus. Possible drain the hot water heater and flush its tank (see Hot Water Heater). Do not use chlorine bleach.
  • To remove body oils from a garment, make a paste of detergent and water, and place on fabric for 15-30 minutes. Wash as usual.
  • To remove yellowing caused by decaying vegetation, increase the detergent per wash load, and bleach more often.


Fabric Softener Stains

For stains caused by fabric softener used in the wash cycle, instead of the rinse cycle, pretreat the stain with liquid detergent and follow washing procedures listed in the use and care manual for your washer.


Lint is cotton fiber that’s broken away from the cotton garment. It is attracted to synthetic fabrics. If you find that your synthetics have gained a garnish of lint, be sure to separate your wash load by fabric. For example, keep cottons away from permanent press and knits, and separate light colors from dark colors.

Another cause is over-washing, which causes clothes to wear out faster. Use only one minute of wash time per pound of dry laundry that is normally (not heavily) soiled.

Excessive drain time may also cause lint to remain on garments:

• Check that the drain hose is not kinked.
• Drain hoses should not be over 10 feet long, or located more than 5 feet off the ground.

If drain time is excessive even though the above issues are normal, you might need a professional to check the filter, pump, and/or look for obstructions in the drain system or water circulatory system.

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