Appliance Cleaning FAQs - And the Sometimes Surprising Answers

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    “Clean my appliances?” you may ask. “I thought they were supposed to make life easier, not harder!!” Well, yes. But occasionally cleaning appliances will not only keep them fresher and cleaner, it will also help them work more efficiently and last longer. And it’s a simple procedure once you know how. Find out more.

    Q. My washing machine is only 8 months old but it’s developed a weird moldy smell that hits me every time I walk into the laundry room. Why? And how can I get rid of the odor?

    A. Your washer needs a little TLC. Over time, mold and bacteria do tend to collect in washing machines, especially front loaders.

    Try one of these fixes (all of them if the appliance is really smelly):

    1. Wipe around and under the rubber door seals.
    2. Pull out the detergent drawer and give it a good scour.
    3. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the detergent dispenser. Follow up with a hot water or “sanitary” wash cycle.

    To help prevent odor build-up in a front-loading machine, leave the detergent drawer, as well as the door, open between uses. Make sure small children and pets won’t be able to get inside.

    Q. I remove lint from the filter in my dryer door after every load. That should be enough to keep my dryer in good shape. Does it really need any more cleaning?

    A. Yes, indeed it does. If you use fabric softener in your wash, you will need to remove the lint screen occasionally and wash it with soap and water. This will remove softener build-up that tends to interfere with the dryer’s functioning. Let the screen dry completely before replacing it. In addition, once a year, you should have a handyman clean the lint out of your dryer’s ductwork to eliminate a potential fire hazard.

    Q. I bought stainless steel kitchen appliances because I love their sleek look. But I’m not feeling the love so much now that they’re full of fingerprints from my kids. How do I clean them (the appliances, not the kids)?

    A. Here’s how to clean stainless steel appliances without scratching their elegant surface:

    1. Wipe down with warm soapy water, using a soft cloth or a sponge.
    2. Rinse off with clean water. This is especially important for your stainless steel range, which might otherwise develop a permanent soap stain when you heat it.
    3. Buff with a soft, dry cloth.
    4. Never use abrasive cleansers or pads on stainless steel.

    DID YOU KNOW? An environmentally safe stainless steel conditioner is great for quick touchups, and prevention of annoying fingermarks and grease stains. It also leaves your appliances nice and shiny. Use a soft cloth and always apply in the direction of the grain.

    Q. My family’s favorite lasagna overflowed on the floor of my oven while I was baking it. How do I deal with the mess?

    A. Make life easier on yourself; deal with it ASAP. Sprinkle the overflow with salt immediately (it will help loosen the residue) and finish your cooking process. After turning off the oven, take out the casserole dish. Scrub the floor with a damp sponge; be careful to avoid contact with the oven racks, which will still be very hot. Enjoy your dinner!

    HELPFUL HINT: The salt trick also works miracles with burned food in the bottom of non-coated metal cooking pans.

    Q. I just read that I should clean my dishwasher regularly. Why? It’s in contact with soap and hot water all the time!

    A. True, but it also comes in contact with leftover food, grease, and soap scum. (Yuck!) Giving it a good cleanse will increase its efficiency. Remove the bottom rack and clear particles out of the drain. Next, place a dishwasher-safe container full of white vinegar (about 1 cup) on the upper rack and run a hot-water cycle to remove grease and odors. If the interior is stained, sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda over the bottom surface. Once again, run a hot-water cycle – a short one will be fine this time.

    Laura Firszt writes for

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