How To: Clean Any Appliance

Kitchens can be pretty filthy places: dirty dishes in the sink, spilled food on the counters, cooking oils and grease on the stovetop, and even pet food on the floor. Neglected for just one day, the kitchen may become a haven for germs, insects, and other pests. Regular deep-cleaning—going beyond simply wiping up spills and doing the dishes—is of paramount importance. Take a critical look at your kitchen appliances, and tackle some of the toughest jobs with a few simple cleaners and a little bit of elbow grease. Here are a couple of tips and basic cleaning techniques to keep your appliances both looking and working great.

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  1. Freshen That Fridge


    Did you know that a clean fridge is actually more energy efficient? It's true, so toss out your spoiled food and scrub those shelves and drawers with warm soapy water. Remember: Don’t wash a cold glass shelf with hot water; the glass could shatter. Wipe down the exterior thoroughly with a nonabrasive cloth and—last but not least—vacuum the refrigerator coils on the back of the unit.

  2. Keep an Orderly Oven


    Oven spills can be tough to remove, because typically by the time you notice them, they're burnt to a crisp. To handle baked-on spills, spread a paste of baking soda and water over them, and scrub with a toothbrush or plastic scrubbing pad. Add a little vinegar for extra cleaning oomph. Extremely dirty ovens may require a commercial oven cleaner—follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

    Related: 10 Ingenious Home Uses for Baking Soda

  3. Clean Your Iron, Protect Your Clothes


    When residue builds up on an iron, stop everything and clean it—or you might just mar your couture next time you press laundry. Apply a paste of baking soda and water to a cool iron, and rub it into the soleplate until stains are gone. To remove mineral deposits from steam ducts, use pipe cleaners. Finish up by filling the water reservoir with a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water, then turning the iron on high for 15 minutes. Cool it down, then dump out the liquid. Repeat with plain water.

    Related: 10 Laundry Room Storage Ideas That'll Knock Your Socks Off

  4. Make the Microwave Sparkle


    When food splatters build up in the microwave, they can seem impossible to remove—but lemons and water can do the trick. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a microwave-safe dish, and add one cup of water. Microwave on high for 10 minutes, then let sit for 10 minutes, allowing the citrusy steam to work its magic. Then simply wipe up, and you're done!

    Related: Beyond Zesty—10 DIY Uses for Lemons

  5. Tidy Up Your Toaster


    If the interior of your toaster is a crumby mess, a good cleaning is long overdue. Here's a trick to make the job a snap. Unplug the toaster and place it on top of several layers of newspaper. Pour a tablespoon of kosher salt in each toast slot, and tape a sheet of paper over the slots. Shake vigorously to dislodge any particles. Empty the toaster out and wipe down.

    Related: The Tiniest Appliances You Never Knew Existed

  6. Shine the Stovetop


    There's no reason for your stovetop to be plagued by greasy buildup and cooking spills. It's easy to clean—just time consuming. For a gas range, remove burner caps, grates, and control knobs, and place them in hot, soapy water. Clean the stovetop with a scrubbing sponge and dish soap, then rinse. For an electric range, soak drip pans and knobs, but not the burners; clean around the burners.

    Related: How To—Clean Everything

  7. Practice Humidifier Hygiene


    Humidifiers that run constantly benefit from weekly cleanings. Unplug the unit and remove the filter, rinsing or replacing as needed. Pour undiluted white vinegar into the base and allow to stand for 15 to 30 minutes. Scrub gently with a soft scrub brush and rinse with plain water. For warm-mist humidifiers, gently brush away any mineral buildup on the heating element. Dry and replace the filter.

    Related: Combat Dry, Stale Air with 7 Tricks and Tips

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