Home maintenance tips for extending appliance life

Washing machine in a blue and purple light

Home maintenance is part of life, whether you own or rent your home. There are certain tasks that you just need to take on in order to keep your house in good working order. Take appliances for example. Maintaining them keeps them in top shape and extends their life for as long as possible.

Why must you maintain your home appliances. Well where do we start? First of all, they can be super expensive. You won't get away cheap buying a new dishwasher, washing machine, or oven, especially if you're looking for good quality stuff. Even smaller appliances can come with pretty hefty price tags. Second of all, just think of how much waste these mighty machines will create if they all end up in landfill before their time.

Thankfully, every appliance comes with an owner's manual outlining basic maintenance. Follow those instructions. When you need to go above and beyond, put on your creative hat. Think outside the box for innovative solutions to keep your appliances working longer.

Here are some ideas designed to get those creative juices flowing:

1. Repair a broken toaster handle

Toaster handle replaced with Sugru

A toaster is one of the most basic small appliances in your home. Chances are it has a plastic handle attached to the metal arm that operates the toaster. What happens if that plastic handle breaks off? Don't throw the toaster away. Make a new handle from Sugru.

Sugru is a mouldable glue that turns into a strong and flexible rubber material once it sets. This makes it the perfect choice for creating a new toaster handle from scratch. Just take a small piece and knead and mould it in your fingers to form a ball. Then attach the Sugru ball to the metal arm.

From there, you can use your fingers to shape it into anything you want. You will have plenty of time to work with it, 30 minutes to be precise, so don't worry. Once you're satisfied with the shape, use your finger and some soapy water to smooth out the surface. That's it. Give it 12-24 hours to set and your toaster handle will be like new.

See how simple and easy some home maintenance projects can be? Sure, there are plenty of difficult home maintenance tasks that require some knowledge and a basic set of hand tools. But there are also some pretty simple ones you can do with little more than your hands and some imagination.

2. Keep the stainless steel clean

Kitchen stove with blue pots and pans

People love stainless steel appliances, don't they? Stainless steel seems like the hottest trend for refrigerators, dishwashers, and even cookers. Here's a dirty little secret: if you keep stainless steel clean, it will look like-new for years. The key is to clean it regularly.

A stainless steel cooker should be cleaned after each use. Fridges and dishwashers should be cleaned whenever they show fingerprints, water spots, etc. Guess what? You don't need a high-priced commercial cleaning product. You can make your own DIY solution. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • White vinegar and olive oil
  • Dish soap and baby oil
  • Club soda
  • Window cleaner

The key to cleaning stainless steel is to go with the grain. Spray a bit of your cleaning solution on the surface, then rub it in and wipe it clean using either a microfibre cloth or a cotton towel or rag. Don't use paper products as these can actually scratch stainless steel.

If you can't tell which way the grain goes, start on a small area that isn't in plain view. Rub your cleaning solution in both horizontally and vertically. Whichever direction doesn't leave residue behind is the direction of the grain.

3. Repair the broken dishwasher rack

Hand repairing dishwasher rack with blue Sugru

A broken dishwasher rack can be a real inconvenience. They're prone to wear, causing the plastic coating to chip off and expose the rack to rust, making it difficult to get your dishes truly clean. Not to mention it can leave your metal frames vulnerable to snappage. Replacing these parts doesn't come easy either. They can be expensive, and often the components are no longer available, making the whole appliance unusable.

But a simple repair with Sugru may just do the trick. Sugru is the perfect maintenance and repair tool for this sort of thing. It resists high temperatures and is waterproof. You just need enough Sugru to cover the damaged area.

Make sure the rack is dry before you attempt this repair. When you're ready, form a piece of Sugru into a sausage shape and then press it flat. The next step is to wrap the Sugru around the rack at the site of the damage. Then use your finger to even out and smooth the application. Give it 12-24 hours to set properly.

If you'd like more detailed instructions along with pictures, check out this guide. The guide also contains links to other common household fixes you might be interested in.

4. Clean the dishwasher filter

Open dishwasher with dishes inside

While we are talking about the dishwasher, did you know there is a plastic filter in the bottom of the unit? That filter is designed to catch large bits of debris you don't really want going down the drain. Over several years of service, this filter can get clogged. If that happens, dirty water can settle in your dishwasher and create a foul smell. A clogged filter can also reduce the unit's ability to get your dishes clean.

The good news is that cleaning the dishwasher filter is pretty easy. Every model is different, so check your owner's manual for instructions. The basic process is to remove whatever holds the filter in place – be it a screw or some kind of cap. The filter should pop right off.

Solid debris can be thrown in the bin. The rest of the filter can be cleaned with some soapy water and a sponge or an old toothbrush. Put the clean filter back in and you should notice that your dishwasher does a much better job.

5. Apply a quick fix to the refrigerator

Fridge shelf repaired with yellow Sugru

A good refrigerator can keep going for decades. But every now and again, you wind up with a cracked drawer or shelf. The moulded parts on the inside of the door can chip and crack as well. You might even notice pieces of plastic missing from the front of the door.

Once again, it's Sugru to the rescue. As a tough and resilient mouldable glue, Sugru is a quick fix for all sorts of fridge parts. It can be easily shaped into just about anything, so you can affect easy fixes that don't impair function at all.

We have a guide discussing how to fix broken parts in the fridge with Sugru. Check it out for more details. But just as a quick example, here's how you would fix a cracked drawer:

  1. Remove the drawer and clean it thoroughly.
  2. Knead some Sugru in your fingers for 30 seconds or so.
  3. Flatten the Sugru and then apply it over the crack.
  4. Use your finger to shape and smooth the Sugru as you see fit.
  5. Leave the drawer to set for 12-24 hours before putting it back into the fridge.

What a simple and easy repair, right? Sugru is just as easy to use on broken shelves, cracked doors, etc.

Speaking of fridges, did you know that keeping unopened packs of Sugru in the fridge triples the amount of time you've got left to use them? Pretty neat tip huh? 😉

6. Replace a blown microwave fuse

A mircrowave under the countertop in a kitchen

You head over to the microwave and pop in a mug of soup. You're expecting that in under a minute, you'll have a nice hot soup to enjoy. But you press the start button and nothing happens. Time for a new microwave? Maybe not. You might just need to replace the fuse.

Blown fuses are a pretty common problem with microwave ovens. It's a shame to throw away a microwave with a blown fuse for the simple fact that replacing the fuse is pretty simple. In many cases, it is a matter of removing a few screws and taking off a panel.

We won't go into the details here. Every microwave is different, so consult your owner's manual or look for a DIY repair guide online. You will also need to know the make and model of your microwave so you can buy the right fuse. Just remember this important safety tip: unplug the microwave before you begin the repair. Microwaves are high-powered devices that can hurt you if you don't treat them with respect.

7. Fix the Gasket On Your Washing Machine

Washing machine seal repaired with Sugru

Our next home maintenance tip involves front-loading washing machines. Every front loader has a rubber gasket around the opening to provide a tight seal against the door. Over time, that rubber gasket can dry out and crack.

Sometimes, a piece of the gasket might completely fall off. No worries. Whether a piece is missing or you're just trying to repair cracks, Sugru will get the job done. It's strong, it's waterproof, and it's super easy to use, allowing you to have that gasket working like new.

As with all Sugru repairs, you start by kneading a piece in your fingers to loosen it up. Form it into a rectangular block or sausage shape, then press the Sugru into the gasket to cover the damaged area. Smooth everything out with your fingers to create a uniform shape. Done and done.

Sugru needs 12-24 hours to properly set up, so don't do any laundry during that time. Also note that Sugru will adhere better if you clean the gasket before making your repair.

8. Revitalise a worn stovetop

Before and after of worn out lettering on stovetop, refreshed using Sugru

One of our customers did a fantastic job of revitalising an old and worn stovetop using our mouldable glue. Her stovetop featured a stainless steel panel into which lettering was etched. As you know, this lettering can fade over time as the paint wears away.

You can refresh the worn-out lettering on your stovetop, or on any appliance, or object for that matter, by working Sugru into the etching. It is actually pretty easy. Best of all, you'll get many more years of reliable service out of your beloved things. A simple trick that makes the world of a difference.

9. Clean your upright vacuum

Person cleaning with a red vacuum cleaner

If you use an upright vacuum, you can extend its life and replace belts less often just by cleaning it every now and again. The big problem with uprights is that the beater bar (the cylinder with the brushes attached to it) tends to collect hair and other debris over time.

A dirty beater bar is less effective at picking up dirt. It also doesn't rotate as easily, putting unnecessary stress on the vacuum motor. Clean it and the problem is solved.

As always, check your owner's manual for detailed instructions. Most vacuums are pretty easy to work with. You can remove the beater bar by unscrewing its protective cover and sliding it out. Then just remove all the hair and debris and reinstall it. Your vacuum will be as good as new.

Maintain, fix, and throw away less

Wrench and spanner

Home maintenance is part of life. It is not necessarily pleasant, but it's something we all have to do. Here's the thing: maintaining the things in our homes guarantees they last longer. That ultimately saves money and reduces waste.

As for fixing things, we are big fans (if you hadn't already guessed 😛). There are so many things we could fix but throw away instead. Fixing is a lost art. However, it doesn't have to be. Anyone can learn to do minor fixes on appliances and other things in the home. If that means throwing away less, we think this is a good idea.

Perhaps this post has inspired you to give your home a once over. If so, take a good look at all your home appliances. Whether in the kitchen, laundry room, or elsewhere, addressing those little fixes can keep your appliances in tip-top shape. They will last longer, and you'll spend less money replacing them.

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