Image: Stacey Brandford
These are six appliances you should clean regularly, as well as advice on how to do so and how often.
Cleaning, no matter what time of year, is a task most dread. That’s especially true when it comes to the maintenance of household appliances. Haven’t cleaned out your fridge in months? Same here. Have you washed your washing machine? Didn’t even know that was possible. While the task can seem daunting, we’ve broken down which appliances you should always be cleaning and how to do so.
The washing machine seems like one of those household appliances that you don’t ever have to worry about actually cleaning, right? Wrong. While it may seem a bit silly to wash your washing machine, studies have shown that bacteria from garments can harbour and build up in your machine over time.
To clean: Ensure you’re not washing your clothes in bacteria from previous cycles by running an empty cycle with just warm water, white vinegar and baking soda about once a month to kill bacteria. To prolong the freshness of a clean machine, leave the lid open between each use to allow the inside of your machine to dry out and prevent mildew.
Your dishwasher is another one of those appliances that seems maintenance-free considering it can do an amazing job of cleaning dishes—but bacteria and leftover bits of food can harbour and create nasty, unwanted odours, which can make the machines less effective over time.
To clean: After each use, check the drain beneath the lower rack for any leftover food and wipe it away—this will prevent the food from clotting the drain. Spray the drain with white vinegar to ensure it stays fresh in between washes. Also, clean your dishwasher about once a month by placing a dishwasher-friendly cup on the top rack filled with about two-thirds of white vinegar and run it on a normal cycle with hot water to sterilize.
The microwave is one of the most-used appliances in the kitchen and often causes food to splatter all over the machine. It’s also a breeding ground for germs, specifically the exterior, like the handle.
To clean: Wipe down the handle and exterior with an antibacterial wipe to sanitize after each use to avoid the spread of germs. You can simply use some soap and water to clean the inside, but here’s a better trick: Put some lemon slices in a microwaveable bowl filled with water, and microwave it until the water boils (about 3-5 minutes). This will create steam, which will allow any grease and grime to loosen up for easy clean up.
Most start their day off with a nice hot cuppa joe in the mornings, but did you know that your coffee maker may be serving you up more than that? A study from the NSF International found that about half of the coffee makers tested had yeast and mold growing in their chambers.
To clean: Ensure you’re always serving up a fresh, contaminated-free cup of your favourite brew by deep-cleaning your coffee maker once a month. Pour equal parts white vinegar and water into your coffee maker’s chamber and use a paper filter to brew until it’s half empty. Turn it off and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then finishing brewing. Make sure you’re cleaning the carafe, lid and basket after every use with a simple mix of soap and warm water.
It’s easy to ignore the spills and splatters of cooking on the stovetop, as well all the buildup of food bits on the inside of the oven, but this negligence over time can lead to unwanted bacteria building up.
To clean: Your stovetop should be cleaned after each use with an all-purpose cleaner and microfibre cloth. The front of the stove and control panel should be cleaned about once a week. Most ovens are self-cleaning and usually require a maintenance check about every three months. You may need to clean sooner depending on how often you’re using it. Make sure to remove racks and clean separately, and follow your manufacturer’s directions for best practices.
The refrigerator is probably one of the most neglected appliances when it comes to maintenance and because of this, it tends to be the most vulnerable to germ buildup. The storage of meats, dairy products and produce can lead to listeria harbouring and thriving in refrigerator temperatures, which can be harmful to those who are pregnant, the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems.
To clean: For weekly maintenance, make sure any spills are wiped up right away with antibacterial wipes. Do a deep clean monthly by removing all food contents as well as shelves and drawers and wiping down with warm water and soap. You can also use a mixture of warm water and baking soda to sanitize and deodorize. Be sure to throw out spoiled food products and wipe down packaged items with antibacterial wipes before placing back into the fridge. Use a fridge filter like Arm & Hammer’s Baking Soda Fridge Fresh Air to keep the inside of your fridge smelling fresh and clean.