Ready or not, the holidays are coming. Are your kitchen appliances ready for the marathon of dinners, parties and baking that you’ll be doing in November and December?
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, so it’s time to get going with cleaning and maintenance tasks that will ensure your oven, refrigerator and more are up to the jobs ahead. And here’s a bonus: Clean, properly functioning appliances use less electricity.
It’s time to get going with cleaning and maintenance tasks that will ensure your kitchen appliances are ready for the holidays.
Walton EMC has created a checklist of appliance maintenance reminders and cleaning hacks to help with the chore. Tackling these projects in small bites — one each evening after dinner, for instance — can make the difference between you being festive or frazzled when holiday guests arrive.
A clean oven conserves energy because it will reach the desired temperature more quickly and distribute heat more efficiently than a dirty one.
Clean: If you have a self-cleaning oven, run the cleaning cycle at least two weeks before holiday cooking begins. Here’s why: The cleaning cycle can produce heat and odor that can last several hours. Plus, self-cleaning ovens have a tendency to malfunction after a cleaning cycle. If your oven fails after cleaning, you’ll have time to call for a repair without disrupting your holiday dinner.
Check: Don’t wait until you’re ready to slide in the turkey to check your oven temperature and working condition.
- Temperature. Place an oven thermometer inside, and turn the oven on for 15 minutes to check whether the thermometer temperature matches the oven’s settings. If the temperature is off, consult the owner’s manual for recalibration instructions or call for service.
- Seal. If the door seal (gasket) is hard, brittle or torn, heat will escape and result in fluctuating temperatures and poor baking results. Replacing a gasket is easy and the part can be purchased at a home improvement or appliance store.
Clean your refrigerator twice a year to maximize energy efficiency.
- Vacuum condenser coils. According to the Consumer Energy Center, cleaning condenser coils can reduce the amount of energy your fridge uses by up to 30 percent. To clean: After unplugging the refrigerator from the power supply, locate coil access on back or lower front of unit. Use your vacuum's hose attachment or a special condenser brush to remove dust, dirt, lint, per hair, etc. After cleaning, reconnect power and push the fridge back in place, taking care to leave a few inches between the wall and appliance so air can circulate.
- Interior. An overfilled fridge uses more energy. Remove all items, tossing old food and expired condiments. Wipe down shelves and drawers; clean air vents. Take care not to block vents when replacing items in refrigerator, so air can circulate and evenly cool foods.
- Ice maker. Switch it off. Pop out the bin and dump the ice into the sink (see garbage disposal section for how to use ice). Place bin on the top rack of your dishwasher and wash on delicate cycle. While the load is running, wipe down the ice maker with a solution of 1/2 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water.
- Water filter. If your refrigerator has a water dispenser, replace the water filter as directed in the owner’s manual. A functioning filter prevents bacteria growth that can pollute any part of the appliance where water flows, including the spigot and ice maker.
- Seals. Test rubber seals (gaskets) surrounding the inside of your fridge seals by placing a dollar bill halfway inside the door. If the dollar pulls out easily, you might be losing cold air from the refrigerator and should consider replacing the seal. Prevent cracked and torn seals by cleaning them with mild soap and water twice a year.
The stinky slime that can build up in your disposal is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli.
- Disconnect power. Unplug the disposal from the outlet under the sink, or turn off the disposal's breaker in your home's service panel (breaker box) to prevent accidental activation.
- Drain. Use a flashlight to check for objects that may be lodged in the drain or the disposal’s blades. Look for items such as vegetable scraps, bottle caps or utensils. Remove these items with needle-nose pliers or tongs — not your hands.
- Baffle and sink. The power should still be disconnected for this step. Combine white vinegar and baking soda to make a paste. Use an old toothbrush or an abrasive sponge to thoroughly scrub under the baffle, on top of the grinder and around the edges of the sink. Reconnect power when you are finished.
- Grinder and Drain. Fill the disposal with ice cubes you dumped when cleaning the ice maker. Pour 1 cup white vinegar into the disposal. Turn on water and disposal; grind up ice completely. Add more ice and repeat. Finish off by pouring 1 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda into the disposal. Let the combination fizz for about 15 minutes before rinsing with water.
Dirty burner drip pans absorb more heat, reducing efficiency.
Clean: Shake off crumbs from cool pans, then rinse them in hot water. Immerse pans in a 1:1 mix of liquid dish soap and baking soda; scrub vigorously for 1-2 minutes. Liberally coat pans with mixture and allow them to sit for an hour. Then rinse away gunk. Tip: While pans soak, shine the rest of your stovetop with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda.
Check: Unplug and inspect the power cord for dirt or damage, which can be a potential fire hazard. If it’s in good shape, wipe off the dirt and reconnect.
Clean: Fill a microwave-safe bowl halfway with water. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. This process will steam up the walls of the microwave and loosen the dried-on gunk. Carefully remove the glass container and wipe down the walls with a clean rag. Remove the turntable and wash in the dishwasher.
Grease, soap scum and food debris build up in dishwashers, providing a breeding ground for germs and also reducing the efficiency of the appliance.
Clean: About once a month, completely empty the dishwasher and remove the bottom dish rack to inspect the drain. Remove any gunk or food caught there. Clean the dishwasher by placing 1 cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the upper rack of the machine. Run through a hot-water cycle.
Test to make sure countertop appliances — such as slower cooker, pressure cooker, food processor, stand mixer and blender — you might be using for holiday recipes are working. Clean them according to the owner’s manual. If a new part is needed —a knob for the slow cooker, for instance — add it to the shopping list.
Check your smoke detector and CO2 detector batteries, and replace them if needed. Make sure you have an operational fire extinguisher on hand, too. Learn how to inspect your fire extinguisher (https://www.allstate.com/blog/how-to-maintain-your-home-fire-extinguisher/)
Time for a replacement?
If your pre-holiday prep reveals an appliance is on it’s last leg, keep in mind that November is a good time to shop for a replacement. Read this Walton EMC blog post for shopping tips.