Surprisingly Minor Habits That Hurt Your Major Appliances

running water in a sink

Appliances are a major purchase and can make your life incredibly convenient when in proper working condition. If your appliances are in bad shape, however, they can become difficult to use and costly to repair.

In order to ensure your appliances are in good shape, there's a lot you can do to properly maintain them. Beyond just some of the major maintenance, there are also a lot of things you can do on a daily basis to aid you in keeping your appliances looking and working great.

On the flip side, there are a lot of things you may be doing that, while minor, are actually hurting your appliances. Here are a few of those habits you may want to stop to ensure the longevity of your major appliances.

Running Hot Water with Your Garbage Disposal

Contrary to popular belief, you should not use hot water when running the garbage disposal. Hot water can melt grease and fat, which can be seen as a good thing but can actually clog your drain.

Instead, use cold water when running the garbage disposal. It will help the machine work properly.

Constantly Running Water

Do not constantly run water when you are doing dishes, particularly hot water. This can be bad for your sink and disposal. It also will run up your utility bills. And if you are in an area of the country in a drought, you should be trying to conserve water whenever possible.

Not Taking Stock of What's in Your Fridge

There are a lot of small things you may be doing that hurt your fridge, which is arguably the most important appliance in your kitchen. One easy mistake to avoid is leaving the fridge open for large periods of time. Instead, make sure you know what you want before you open the fridge door or doors.

Also, make sure that you dispose of old food properly. Leaving food that has gone bad in the fridge can also end disastrously. Food that has gone back can smell and create a terrible odor that permeates the fridge as a whole, making some of the food that is still technically good smell as well. It can also lead to flies or other bugs which no one wants.

Food that has gone bad can also get moldy. If it is touching other food, the mold can spread, causing other food to go bad as well. This is easy to prevent by simply disposing of food that has gone bad quickly.

Another thing you may be doing wrong with your fridge that is not as commonly known is leaving it to empty. A well-stocked fridge holds in coldness better than one that is nearly empty.

On the flipside, do not overstock your fridge or freezer. The devices use vents to circulate cold air. If the appliances it too full, food and drinks may block the vents which will decrease how well they work. Make sure you do not cover or block these devices when filling your fridge and freezer up with food.

Not Using the Correct Cleaning Products

cleaning sandwich press with spray

All cleaning products are not created equal and not all cleaning products can be used on everything, For example, a spray designed specifically for use on hardwood floors should not be used to clean your carpet and vice versa.

While an all-purpose cleaner and vinegar are pretty versatile, many other cleaning products are not. Still, make sure you are using the correct amounts and dilute them when necessary.

Appliances do need to be cleaned regularly to ensure they last a long time. Make sure to consult your owner's manual to understand recommendations on how to clean your specific appliance. Take special care on appliances like stoves and radiators which can get quite hot.

Improperly cleaning appliances can cause corrosion, make the color fade, and decrease the lifespan of the items.

Using Too Much Cleaning Product

There is too much of a good thing. Even if you are using the correct cleaning products, make sure not to use too much cleaning product. Do not, for example, overfill your dishwasher with cleaning solution or drench your appliances with a cleaner.

Using the appropriate amount of a cleaning solution will save you money as you will need to stock up less frequently and also ensure that your appliances look the best they possibly can.

Waiting Until the Trash Is Full

You do not have to wait until your trash bin is to the rim to empty the trash. If you have a lot of food products or anything smelly in the trash, take it out immediately. This will prevent odors from getting into your house and also decrease your chance of attracting flies, ants, and other pests.

Knives and Other Sharp Objects in Dishwasher

knife in dishwasher

It is best to avoid putting sharp objects like knives in the dishwasher. This does not mean avoiding putting knives you would use to spread peanut butter in the dishwasher, but shaper ones should not be placed in the dishwasher.

Instead, wash them by hand. If you insist on putting them in the dishwasher, put them in a cutlery basket. There is some disagreement, however, on if the sharp side should be placed pointing up or down. It is better for your dishwasher if they are facing up because they are less likely to scrape the racks.

Even a small nick can cause the coating to scratch and rust. However, knives pointing up can be dangerous when loading and unloading the dishwasher, so some people instead recommend having the knives point down to decrease the risk of you cutting yourself during the loading or unloading processes.

Putting Wood in Dishwashers

Resist the urge to put your fancy new wood cutting board or salad bowls in the dishwasher. The combination of the water and the heat in a dishwasher's cycle can hurt and even warp the wood, ruining its appearance and useability.

Putting Pots and Pans in a Dishwasher

You should also avoid putting nicer pots and pans in a dishwasher. While some brands' pots and pans are made to be dishwasher-safe, many others are not. And even the ones that say they are dishwasher safe often mention online or in a user's manual that the pots and pans will have a longer shelf life if they are washed by hand.

If you are buying cheaper pots and pans it may not be worth it to wash everything by hand, but if you are using expensive pots and pans, it's definitely worth considering as a way to extend the life of the pots and pans.

Not Cleaning the Oven

Another common mistake people make is not cleaning their oven. While an oven does not need to be cleaned frequently, if anything has spilled in your oven, you should wash it right away. Not doing so can damage the heating coils.

Not cleaning up stains and debris that has fallen off your food can also lead to smoking the next time you turn your oven on.

To prevent this, you could put aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven to catch anything that spills over during the cooking process. To clean your oven, all you will need to do is remove the aluminum foil.

If it is time to clean your oven, make sure you read your owner's manual. Many ovens have a self-cleaning function. Basically, the oven will get really hot and burn off a lot of dirt and debris. This process takes a while and should not be done on a day when you need to use your oven or stove for other uses.

For smaller spills, an oven cleaner spray may be all you need.

Using Cast Iron on Ceramic Stovetops

cast iron cooking pots

Heavy-duty cast iron pots and pans can cause a lot of damage to a ceramic stovetop. Ceramic stovetops scratch easily, meaning the brought bottom of heavy-duty cast iron appliances is a huge concern. Instead, use pots and pans with smooth bottoms, and never drag pots and pans across the stovetop.

If you are going to use cast iron pots and pans, consider getting a more conventional stovetop instead.

Using Soap on a Gas Stove

You should avoid using soap on the burners of your gas range stove. The soap can actually cause the stove to corrode over time.

Soap can also get in and clog the lighting hole. This will slow down how fast your burners are able to ignite. Even worse, they can make it so that your burners do not ignite at all.

Instead, follow the device's manufacturer's instructions on how to clean it. There are a lot of products out there designed to be used to clean a gas stove that you could consider using.

To make cleaning easier, remove the grates first.

Not Checking Pockets

Moving away from the kitchen, there are also a lot of small things you may be doing that are actually damaging your washing machine and dryer. One common issue is not emptying out pockets before putting clothes into the machines.

Make sure you check for bills and coins but also things like Airpods. Leaving them in your pockets as your clothes go through a wash cycle can damage a variety of things you may have in your pockets.

Things left in your pockets can also damage the machines. Coins, for example, are known to damage the drum of the washing machine. They can also get lost in the small nooks of your machine and cause a jam over time.

Many washing machines and dryer repairs can be quite expensive, and some can be easily avoided by simply checking the pockets of your clothes before you put them in the wash.

Overloading the Washing Machine

overloaded washing machine

If it's been a while since you've last run the washing machine, it may be tempting to fill the machine up as much as possible. Instead, consider separating your laundry into multiple loads.

An overloaded washing machine does not clean all the clothes properly, which defeats the purpose of washing clothes in the first place. An overloaded machine can also put stress on your machine and even push your drum out of alignment.

Again, these repairs can be quite expensive, but they can be easily avoided by simply not overloading the machine.

Not Removing Lint from the Dryer

It's tempting to simply move your clothes from the washing machine directly to the dryer as soon as the washing cycle ends. Before you do so, however, you should check the lint trap in your dryer.

If there is lint, the machine will not work as well as if it is lint-free. If the machine has a lot of lint in it, it can become a major fire hazard. When there is a lot of lint, it can travel and get clogged in the vent pipe which can cause a fire.

Removing lint from the dryer's lint trap takes a matter of seconds and should be done in between every load.

Not Changing Air Filters

Not changing air filters regularly is another big mistake many homeowners and renters make. Changing air filters regularly can make your home more energy efficient and save you money. It also will ensure that your home has clean air circulating at all times.

The furnace is the major appliance you will need to change an air filter for, but there are filters in other areas as well, such as the vent above your stove.

Make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions on how often to change the filter out and how to do so. It's usually quite an easy process. The filters can also be purchased in bulk rather than you needing to buy one each time you are ready to replace the filter.

Not Turning Things Off

Make sure you remember to turn off devices that you are no longer using. Some devices turn off when not in use but there are others that you will need to place end or off on after they ding.

Not making sure devices are properly turned off can decrease their lifespan and cause other issues if they get overheated.

Some smaller appliances, like a Kitchen Aid or a toaster can even be unplugged.