Get down and dirty with your appliances

523038_dishwasherFancy a spring clean? If you enjoy drilling down into the deepest, darkest nether regions of the money saver’s craft, why not get down and dirty with your appliances and gadgets?

The idea is this: clean appliances run better, cost less to run and last longer.

I pulled my my desktop computer tower away from the wall yesterday and found a massive cat hair-filled dust bunny. Nasty. It was probably blocking the fan vents, making the fan work harder and use more energy. It could have killed my PC stone dead eventually through overheating – a close call.

On a roll, I checked the back of our ‘fridge freezer, which hasn’t been moved since we bought our house in 2004. Yuk… it was a dusty, sticky disgrace.  As was the tumble drier vent. Urgh.

Next, our hoover. Four years down the line I’d never washed the filters. How slatternly is that. I imagine the poor thing was using silly amounts of extra energy trying to suck dust through its guts. No wonder it was making choking noises.

The cooling fan at the back of our telly was horribly dusty too. And because the iron was mucky I buffed its face to a high sheen to let the heat glow through. I’m not sure whether sparking clean ovens work better than greasy ones but I de-greased it anyway, using washing powder mixed with warm and plenty of elbow grease instead of a scary, poisonous proprietary oven cleaner. Then, on a roll, I de-furred the kettle with white vinegar to remove the limescale from the element.

We don’t have a dishwasher. I’ve ranted about them before. I hated our old one. It took ages to fill run and empty it. It used loads of water and electricity and took a lot of effort to keep clean. The insides, when I dismantled it to get rid of the gunk, were absolutely disgusting, all greasy and filthy, and I didn’t like using those weird chemical products to clean it. Worst of all, when it was clean, the dishwasher tabs left our crockery with a strange chemical squeaky clean-ness that just didn’t feel natural. At the end of the day it proved easier and faster to wash up the old fashioned way. But loads of people love their dishwashers. Like most appliances they apparently work best and cost least to run when clean. Before we ditched ours I used to soak the removable parts in water and biological washing up liquid, which did a fine job. And baking soda is great for removing stains.

Last but not least I attacked the microwave, de-greasing it with washing powder and warm water.  If you put a 3:1 mix of water and white vinegar into a cup and nuke it for a couple of minutes ’til it boils, the steam strips stubborn stains and rock solid dried-on stuff from the inside of the machine with remarkable ease – just wipe with a damp cloth.

I’m sure I’ll find more appliances and gadgets in need of attention. It’s a spring thing: the minute the nights get a bit lighter I’m driven to clean our nest to within an inch of its life. It’s the time of year when I actually hoover under the rugs…!

What about you? As always we love to hear our readers’ money-saving tips. What about your ideas for making appliances last longer and use less energy?

(Thanks to for the fab free image!)