Keeping your appliances clean is the best thing you can do to help them work their best for the long haul. And right now, when we’re putting extra miles on our appliances, doing more cooking, laundry, and dishes, they could use some extra love. For instance, if you’re running your dishwasher two or three more times a week than you used to, its filter is going to need to be cleaned out that much more often. If you’re thinking, What filter? Don’t worry. We’re going to break down an easy, effective appliance cleaning routine for you, step by step.
Can pantry staples like distilled white vinegar, baking soda, and lemon treat really help keep your appliances clean? The short answer: Yes. Natural cleaners like these treat finishes more gently and remove stains and odors from appliances effectively, without added chemicals. Read on to learn how to use these natural wonders to get your refrigerator, microwave, oven, dishwasher, and washing machine super clean, and keep them that way.
How to Make Sure Your Fridge is Sparkling Clean – Inside and Out
First, take everything out of your refrigerator (and we mean everything, even that jar of pickles in the way back). You can put it in a cooler if you really want to take your time. This not only protects your food but also lets you wipe down the shelves and drawers well. After removing all your food and drinks, take out all the shelves or drawers that you can. These removable parts can be washed in the sink with soap and warm water; if they’re especially large, you can use a clean bathtub instead.
Now for the fridge interior. It’s important to never use harsh, aromatic cleansers or bleach in here. You don’t want your food to absorb the smell of the cleanser later on. For best results, we recommend a solution of either baking soda or distilled white vinegar.
How to clean a fridge with baking soda: Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of hot water.
How to clean a fridge with white vinegar: Mix one part distilled white vinegar with three parts hot water.
After mixing up your cleaner, pour it into a spray bottle and spritz the entire fridge interior. Wipe it down with a microfiber cloth or a sponge. Just make sure it’s soft, not rough—you don’t want to scratch the finish.
Make sure the interior of the fridge is completely dry before restocking it with food and beverages. This is also a great opportunity to toss any spoiled or rotten food. Only fresh food and beverages are allowed back in your clean fridge!
But what about the outside of your refrigerator? If you have a stainless steel refrigerator, you can use a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface and rinse with warm water. Make sure to dry the surface fully to avoid smudges and water marks.
For best results, make sure to clean with the grain of the stainless steel. Although these directions are geared towards stainless steel refrigerators, this method is safe to use on just about any refrigerator.
How to Clean a Microwave and Keep It Smelling Fresh
The microwave is one of the most used but most overlooked appliances when it comes to cleaning. It’s not uncommon for pasta sauce to splatter up onto the sides of the microwave, or for butter to leak out from your bag of fresh popcorn. Keeping this appliance clean is especially important around the holidays, since you’ll probably have to reheat food that you prepared hours or days in advance. (Your guests will most likely be helping out, and you want it to look clean for them.) But how can you clean your microwave? The best way is actually quite simple.
Grab a microwave safe bowl and fill it with water and a few slices of lemon. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of water and white vinegar. Turn the microwave on high for several minutes until the mixture comes to a boil. Let the bowl sit for several minutes, then carefully remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the microwave with a cloth or sponge. The steam from either solution will loosen any grease or grime in the microwave and make it easy for you to get off those cooked on spills. The lemon also gives your microwave a fresh and clean smell.
How to Ensure Your Dishwasher is as Clean as the China Inside
I know what you’re thinking. I have to clean an appliance that’s made for…cleaning? Well, yes. Yes, you do.
Many dishwashers have a self-clean function, which is a great option if it’s available. If not, you can place a bowl of our favorite cleaner—white vinegar—in a dishwasher safe bowl, and place it on the bottom rack of the appliance. Run your dishwasher on a hot water setting and enjoy a cup of coffee as you wait for the cycle to end. Unlike cleaning your microwave, cleaning a dishwasher doesn’t require any scrubbing afterward. The vinegar will help to loosen any caked on debris or soap scum, and the rinse cycle will wash the residue away, down the drain. This can be done every few weeks to ensure your dishwasher looks and smells fresh.
You also want to check the filter. Many dishwashers have a removable filter at the bottom of the tub. Food particles can build up inside it and become stinky. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove it, then hand wash it in the sink with mild dish soap and warm water, using a toothbrush or other brush you’ve designated for cleaning to remove any stubborn gunk. Replace it, and move on.
How to Clean Baked-On Stains in an Oven
It’s probably been a while since you thought about cleaning your oven. This task is even more important around the holidays, as burned soot and grease can transfer and affect the taste and smell of other dishes. Having burnt-on crumbs in the oven can even cause excess smoke in your home, making the house smell more like burnt food than, say, turkey or sweet potato pie.
One of the most common misconceptions about cleaning an oven is that you can simply utilize the self clean mode once a month. However, you should only use this setting once per year (and only if you really have to). Instead, you can use either an oven cleaner or a simple homemade mixture.
Before you begin, remove any racks, pots, or pans that are in your oven (don’t worry, we’ll clean them in just a minute). Once the inside is clear, bring your oven up to 200 degrees F, and place a bowl of water inside. Sales team member Joey Cocuzza recommends adding a little ammonia to the water; ammonia is especially good at breaking down grease and grime. The liquid will steam your oven and help to eliminate some of the more stubborn buildup. After it cools back down, grab a gentle sponge or microfiber cloth, and wipe down the walls—it’ll be easy.
Alternatively, you can create a paste using a half a cup of baking soda and two to three tablespoons of water. Although this is an overnight process, it’s a great alternative to chemical cleansers.
After mixing the baking soda and water, spread this paste all over the inside of the oven, making sure to avoid any heating or gas elements. After you apply the paste, close the oven door and let the mixture sit overnight, or for about 12 hours.
The next morning, you can use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe away the paste. If you have trouble removing the baking soda, spray a little vinegar on top of the stubborn spots. Take your sponge or cloth and continue to scrub until the oven’s interior is clean.
How to Clean Oven Racks
After closing your oven door for the night, bring your racks into the bathtub (yes, the bathtub). Cover the racks in baking soda and vinegar and wait for the foam to settle. Next, fill the tub with hot water, and let the racks soak overnight. In the morning, you can use a rag or sponge to scrub off any grime or debris. Dry them off and pop them back into your clean oven.
How to Clean a Washing Machine
If you have a front-load washer, simply spray the inside of the machine with diluted white vinegar and wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth. Next, pour half a cup of baking soda into the drum and run your washing machine on the longest and hottest setting.
For a top-load washer, add four cups of white vinegar to the drum and start the washer on the longest and hottest setting. Allow the tub to fill with water and pause the washing machine. The mixture of water and vinegar should sit for an hour. After the hour is up, continue the wash cycle. After the first wash cycle is complete, add a cup of baking soda into the drum and run the machine on the longest and hottest setting.
For both types of washers, you can also spray the door with vinegar and wipe with the same microfiber cloth. Be sure to wipe the gasket of a front-loading washer carefully, then wipe out the detergent dispenser as well.
When you’re done cleaning your washing machine, leave the door ajar to prevent mold or mildew from building up. In fact, this is a great tip to put into practice after every load of laundry.
Have you tried any of the tips above? Or do you have additional tips we may have missed! Let us know in the comments.
What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?
Baking soda is better for cleaning because of the fizzy reaction it produces (think back to the classic science fair volcano). It’s also popular in cleaning because it has to power to effectively neutralize odors. Baking powder, on the other hand, is a leavening agent used for baking.
Join the Conversation
See what other Designer Appliances readers are saying.
SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on August 12, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.