As you’re sprucing up for fall, here’s a DIY that’s probably fallen way, way down your list: cleaning your appliances. Yes, they work hard so you don’t have to. But they’ll last longer and work better if you take the time to deep clean them.

Here are tips on how to clean the 4 that you use the most.


Wait, you have to clean the appliances that clean YOUR things? Yes, actually you do! But cleaning the dishwasher is super easy and uses 2 environmentally safe cleaners: vinegar and baking soda. Pour distilled white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe cup, then set it upright on the top rack of your empty dishwasher and run a full cycle. Next, sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the tub and run the dishwasher on a half-cycle. Then leave your dishwasher open overnight to air it out.

So that’s painless, right? Unfortunately there’s one more area you have to attend to and it can get a little gross: your drain filter. If you don’t scrape your dishes adequately (seriously, you should before you load them!), food gets trapped in the mesh filter. It can start to smell and even deposit particles on your dishes as they clean. Fortunately, it’s easy to take care of: just twist it out of the drain and wash it in your sink.

Washing machine

Again, it seems counterintuitive to clean your washing machine, but all that moisture and soap scum can cause it to be less … fresh. And if you have a front loader, it can be even worse.
In fact, you should probably wipe down the door and rubber gasket every time you use it and then leave the door ajar so it can air out. But when you’re ready for a little more intense maintenance, try the easiest cleaning you’ve ever done: add a cup of bleach to the bleach dispenser and run a load. That’s it! There are special cleaners you can buy to “clean your washing machine,” but honestly the bleach works just as well.


But the dryer dries clean clothes! What could possibly need to be cleaned on that? You know where we’re going. Yes, you have to clean your dryer. And honestly, it’s even more important than the other appliances because dryer fires are serious.

U.S. municipal fire departments respond to almost 16,000 home fires involving clothes dryers each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. And one-third of those fires were the result of a lack of cleaning, which led to lint and dirt being trapped and catching fire.

But the fire is primarily preventable with just a little attention. Vow to clean the lint screen every (EVERY!) time and then clean the ducts at least every year. First, go outside and make sure there’s no obstruction, which could happen when an animal cozies up to the warm vent. Then use a brush with an extendable wand that grabs the lint, or blow it out with an air compressor. And don’t neglect to clean under, around, and behind, where lint can also find a home.


We won’t even get started on the food that’s festering in your fridge. That should be cleaned out every week (like on garbage day). While you’re at it, wipe down the spills and any other messes.

And though that really should be regular maintenance, you can also occasionally clean the coils of the fridge to help it keep its cool. Just unplug the fridge and use a coil brush to whisk out the coils in the front and below. Done!

DIY hacks | Home and garden


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.