When we were younger, appliances were truly built to last, with fridges and washing machines designed to run upwards of 20 years. Nowadays, electrical items have a much shorter shelf life – despite their hefty price tags – but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep them running efficiently for years to come. These simple tips and tweaks could help prevent costly repairs and replacements.
How to make your fridge/freezer last longer
Fridges should last: 13 years
Freezers should last: 11-12 years
- Dust off the compressor coils (usually at the back or in the bottom) on your fridge every six months. They are designed to keep heat out of the inside and if they stop working efficiently, the fridge’s compressor will have to work harder and will burn out faster.
- Don’t leave the door open longer than necessary. Not only will this cost you more in bills, but it will shorten the life of the fridge too. Similarly, keeping it too crammed with food will make it hard for it to regulate the temperature.
- Wipe down the rubber seal with a damp cloth to stop cold air leaking out. You can test the efficiency of the seal by closing the door on a piece of paper and tugging it – if it slips out easily, it may be worth replacing the seal to save on energy bills.
- Regularly clean underneath your fridge and freezer as dust and dirt can interfere with the air circulation.
- Defrost your freezer when the ice build-up is around a quarter of an inch thick – any more will make the motor work harder and may burn it out.
How to make your dishwasher last longer
Should last: nine years
- The single best way to prolong the life of your dishwasher is to clean the filters. Check the ones at the bottom of the machine on a regular basis and pick out any food scraps lodged there. Read the manual to find out the best way to do this, or if you’ve lost it, look up the make and model online to download the instructions.
- Run a cleansing cycle at least once a month. This is a hot rinse with a completely empty machine – add a cup of white vinegar for extra cleansing effects. It will keep things running smoothly, as well as getting rid of any nasty smells from old food debris. You can also buy dedicated dishwasher cleaners to remove limescale too. We love Ecozone’s environmentally friendly Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaner, £4 for six uses, available at John Lewis and Ocado.
- Most modern dishwashers should be made from stainless steel parts, but older models might be prone to rust. Check yours for corrosion and replace any parts that have rusted.
- Give plates a good scrape – or even a quick rinse – before popping them in the dishwasher, to prevent food build-up.
- If you live in a hard water area, mineral deposits can build up in the sprayer arms (you can usually detach these for cleaning, so check the manual). Give them a rinse with warm water, or use a toothpick to gently remove mineral build-up.
- The seals around the door can accumulate a greasy build-up so clean them regularly with a damp cloth to avoid damage.
How to make your tumble dryer last longer
Should last: 13-14 years
- As well as emptying the lint trap where all the fluff is collected after every cycle, it’s worth checking the exhaust vent and outside air vents at least once a year too, because build-up is a fire hazard. You could also consider vacuuming inside the machine every so often, too.
- Make sure it’s sitting level. If the dryer is tilting or hopping around when you run it, the components supporting the drum will wear out more quickly – not to mention the noise it will make!
How to make your microwave last longer
Should last: nine years
- Keep the inside clear. Food particles stuck to the insides too long can cause electrical sparks, so wipe it down regularly. If the food is too encrusted, heat up a microwave-safe glass of water until it boils – the steam will
help loosen things up.
- Clean the control panel with a damp cloth only – cleaning products can seep underneath and cause malfunctions.
How to make your washing machine last longer
Should last: 10 years
- Leave the door open after a wash. This will allow air to circulate in the drum and reduce the risk of mould or mildew forming.
- Although it’s tempting to get the washing over and done with, it’s important not to over-fill the machine as this can wear out the motor. Look for the manufacturer’s guidelines on how much your machine can handle in one go. This also means clothes will come out cleaner.
- Check the rubber seal around the door for leaks, cracks or grime, and give it a wipe down with a hot cloth every month or so to keep it in good condition. Also make sure not to slam the door shut as this can damage the seal.
- Run an empty, hot cycle every couple of months – or use a specialist cleaning tablet – to keep everything running smoothly and kill off bacteria.
- Double-check your pockets before washing – loose coins and other objects can damage the drum.
- Check the fill hose – the rubber hose that supplies the water. These can often crack or break over time, resulting in an expensive bill. It’s worth replacing them at the first sign of damage.