In times like these, it’s even more important to take care of the kitchen appliances that take care of your family.

Over the past few months, we’ve all been doing a lot more cooking than normal. In times like these, it’s even more important to take care of the kitchen appliances that take care of your family. With all of these tips, make certain that you follow manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines that are specific to your particular appliance model. Always refer to the recommended cleaning suggestions in the Appliance Owner’s Manual. Every model is different, and what cleans and disinfects the surface of one may damage the interior of another. (Think stainless steel vs. plastic dishwasher interiors, for example.)

Dishwashers.

Have you ever pulled your dishes out of the dishwasher and had to wash them again because they either had food particles embedded on the bottom, foggy finishes or just didn’t look clean? Before you replace your appliance, make certain you are following some simple maintenance practices. Every time you run the dishwasher, remove any leftover food particles from the bottom with a paper towel. Once a week, clean the filter, which is likely found in a central cylinder under the bottom rack. Once a month, clean the spray arm – you may have one or two depending on your model – and run a cleaning cycle to refresh the interior with one to two cups of vinegar in bowl on the top rack. Alternately, you can use a stronger commercial cleaner to eliminate odors.

Garbage disposal.

Since the garbage disposal is often connected to your dishwasher, keeping its lines in tip-top shape helps your dishwasher work better. To clean your garbage disposal for free, simply run some ice cubes through it while running cold water – you’ll hear the cubes grinding and getting gunk off blades. If you notice an unpleasant odor, put the stopper in your sink on the garbage disposal side, add some dishwashing soap and fill the sink about halfway with hot water. After you remove the stopper, run the garbage disposal as the soapy mixture is draining. (Obviously – watch your hands – make sure they are out of the sink before you turn on the disposal.) This cleans the upper portion of the unit as well as the lines. Other methods include pouring baking soda into the drain, followed by vinegar and letting the mixture sit for an hour or so before turning on the water and running the disposal for a minute.

Microwaves.

You don’t need harsh chemicals to get your microwave’s interior sparkling. Simply take a (microwave-safe) bowl filled with water and run the microwave on high for several minutes until the water boils. The steam will make cleaning the interior with a sponge simple. Want a clean, fresh smell? Add a few slices of lemon, lime or orange, or a few tablespoons of white or apple cider vinegar to the water. To get grease off the exterior, use a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water or your favorite dishwashing soap.

Refrigerators.

Yes, these take a bit longer to clean, but it doesn’t have to be too time consuming. Take everything out, tossing expired food or lonely leftovers as you go. Then, spray down the interior with a mix of vinegar and water and let it soak in as you remove the shelves and wash them with dishwashing soap. Wipe down the interior with a sponge, and then clean containers as you place them back in the refrigerator. The exterior of your fridge – particularly the handles – takes a lot of abuse. Clean the door and handles with a mild dishwashing soap or recommended cleaner if your model is stainless steel. A couple of good stainless steel cleaners we like are Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish and Kenmore Stainless Steel Cleaner.