Appliance love: How to care for hardworking heroes of the kitchen and utility room

Appliance love: How to care for hardworking heroes of the kitchen and utility room

Kya deLongchamps shows her affection for those hardworking heroes of the kitchen and utility room.

THE floor’s awash in the utility room, I think I’ve nudged out a vertebrae and I have one wing-nut I can’t quite explain, but I’ve just “fixed” my Bosch Exxel 8 — and I’m feeling horribly smug. Let me condescend for just a moment.

If I asked you to tell me where the instruction booklet was for say your washing machine is, would you know? Most of us spend weeks weighting these relatively big spends.

We bump the washer/dryer/dishwasher/fridge over the threshold, crack open the packaging and flip the sealed booklet into “that” drawer with the cat’s worming pills, kicking it shut on the way through.

To continue: If you did ever bother to paw through the idiot-proof starter guide or download the PDF manual, you would be reminded that these major appliances need regular TLC to perform to the optimum – to not stutter from an A++ energy rating or to seize up in a mechanical huff.

It’s not a mark of weakness to read instructions m’dears – its empowering.

Having the man (or woman) out in the van to extract as strangled Elastoplast and a rusted hair clip from the trap of the washer is a ridiculous happening (€75 call-out fees sans parts and additional labour are not unusual).

Yes, alright, so that was me — two months ago. Still, the bill cured the passive dopiness that ailed me. So, this tip sheet is your medicine.

Be very wary of performing anything beyond suggested maintenance – it might void your warranty on the machine.

New EU “Right to Repair” rules coming in in 2021 will ensure parts for machines are easier to obtain and to fit by owners and available for ten years from the date of the model’s manufacture.


- Water minerals vary from locality to locality. Get to know how much powder or liquid gives optimum results for your machine. This avoids sliming up the interior.

- Wash out the detergent drawer in dry, soapy water and clean the niches with an old toothbrush to prevent jams.

Appliance love: How to care for hardworking heroes of the kitchen and utility room

- Wipe out the door seal regularly. A mixture of warm water with a dash of white vinegar will kill most bacteria. Check for punctures, loose seals and any debris in the heavy cuff.

- Empty the filter from time to time and be suspicious if the machine is not spinning out enough water before transfer to the dryer. There will be a small flap to access with a short rubber tube with a bung, used to drain any excess water.

Use a low tray or shallow bowl to catch the excess and clean the drain out. Rinse the filter and replace the water bung carefully when finished.

- Run occasional hot washes to clean out the machine if you are using cold/30C cycles as standard — my local engineer tipped me to this, and tells me it can otherwise cause the machine to clog up and thrill with bacteria around the seals. A cup of white vinegar at 90C will super clean the drum.

- Leave the detergent drawer and the door of the washing machine slightly open when the machine is not in use.


- Above all else, clean out the lint filter after every cycle. There may be a drop-in filter in the drum and a second larger mesh filter elsewhere under the front panel. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Not heating – call in a pro.

- Ensure your Indesit, Hotpoint, Creda, Swan and Proline dryer (2004-2015) is not on a recall list for faulty engineering. This could potentially bring lint into contact with the motor and cause a fire. Find the serial and model number inside the edge of the door area and log onto: or call 1800-804-320.

Appliance love: How to care for hardworking heroes of the kitchen and utility room

- Every three-four months wipe out the drum and the internal drum sensors with a cloth dabbed in white vinegar to clean it, and remove any debris that could cause the wetness sensors to malfunction.

- Spray some white vinegar on an old bath towel and run it for 20 minutes to freshen the drum.

- Condenser dryers have a heat exchanger that transforms steam into water collected in the reservoir. This needs occasional cleaning. Refer to the instructions from the manufacturer to optimise its drying power.

- If you have a vented machine – check the hose is free of damage and not bent at an acute angle that could lengthen the dry and cause the machine to over or under heat.

There are means to trip a machine by over-heating, but be wary of taking the back of the unit off to re-set this safety switch without the maker’s clear instructions.


- Clean out the dishwasher filter at the base of the machine every week. Take it apart if necessary and rinse the unit in hot running water, fishing out any debris (peas are regular stowaways). Replacement filters are available for all major brands and models.

- Clean the door seals weekly. Again, you can use a white vinegar and water mix — pure vinegar if it’s really smelly with a wipe of water to finish. Prop the door of the emptied machine open to air. Check the inside edge of the door. It is possible to replace failing seals yourself — take the manufacturers advice and only use dedicated brand products.

- Remove and examine the spray arms every four-six weeks. Most easily clip, screw or pop off. Examine with an eyeball to see any blockages in the jet holes and poke them out with a cocktail stick or suitable tool. Rinse the arms and clips in hot water, shake out the residue and replace.

Make sure they are turning properly when clipped back.

- Ensure you add salt and rinse aid to the machine. Yes, some tablets offer salt, but if you find the machine is scaling up, it’s worth using the reservoir. Rinse aid is cheap and should be topped up regularly – look for the indicator light to alert you.

- Ensure the temperature and length of the cycle is full dissolving those multi-tab detergents.

Appliance love: How to care for hardworking heroes of the kitchen and utility room

- A standard domestic machine handles up to 8,000 items a year. Fully clean the machine of grease and starch every six-eight months.

Run the machine with a cup of vinegar or lemon juice to scald out those pipes and the cavity — don’t use bleach.

Choose the hottest cycle and run it empty of dishes. Pop the door and let it dry out thoroughly.


- Clean the fridge out regularly. An overloaded fridge will not allow air to circulate correctly and will become less efficient and a charming box of malodorous horror. Turn the fridge off and empty it off food and shelving. It should be gleaming most of the time — not just occasionally.

Appliance love: How to care for hardworking heroes of the kitchen and utility room

- Check seals. If you can shut the door on a bank note and hold it in place, the seals are good. Go all around the doors to ensure they are working. Clean the seals with hot soapy water and a sponge, sliding through the gaps where crumbs and smudges collect. Dry the cavity completely before turning on.

- Check the coils. If you have coils on the back of the fridge they will attract dust, which will reduce their ability to dissipate heat from the unit. A vacuum cleaner hose and crevice tool is useful.

- Check the temperature in the cavity (fridge and freezer) is correct. If it continues to under-perform call out the engineer.

- Reload only when the fridge/freezer is up to temp.

More on this topic

Brilliant books and Christmas collectables  - here's our wish listBrilliant books and Christmas collectables - here's our wish list

‘Break the rules and have fun’: Meet interior designer Jackie Tyrrell ‘Break the rules and have fun’: Meet interior designer Jackie Tyrrell

Gifted choices: Home interiors gift blend practicality and thoughtfulnessGifted choices: Home interiors gift blend practicality and thoughtfulness

Irish art auction fetches record €5.5mIrish art auction fetches record €5.5m

More in this Section

Plan that family car journey with some useful tips to make traveling with kids easierPlan that family car journey with some useful tips to make traveling with kids easier

Why sprouts earn a place on your plate all year roundWhy sprouts earn a place on your plate all year round

This much I know: Singer Jake CarterThis much I know: Singer Jake Carter

The Islands of Ireland: The miracle of BeginishThe Islands of Ireland: The miracle of Beginish

Latest Showbiz

The actress is best known for playing Arya Stark in Game Of Thrones.Maisie Williams lends her voice to water charity campaign to ‘fight injustices’

The actor said he plans to return to Coronation Street as early as next week.Andy Whyment says I’m A Celebrity fame will not change him

More From The Irish Examiner