/ Home & Energy

How often do you clean and maintain your household appliances?

washing machine

A recent survey has found that many of us don’t regularly clean our home appliances and have to replace them more frequently as a result. Are you guilty?

A friend was all set to buy a new washing machine because it was leaking, when someone suggested she clean out the detergent drawer – a job she’d never thought to do before. After wiping away the soap residue, the washing machine was as good as new and she saved herself hundreds of pounds in the process.

Similarly, my housemates and I recently had to throw out our microwave due to rust forming inside the cooking cavity. This could have been prevented by cleaning it out every time we used it (or at least more regularly than the odd time something spilled inside).

This got me thinking: do we even know, let alone do, all the maintenance jobs our appliances need to function at their best?

Clean living

We all expect to just plug in our expensive household appliances and for them to work for years without any problems.

Manufacturers will often tell you how to best look after your new product, with details buried in a lengthy instruction manual. However, many of us don’t ever bother to read these and it just doesn’t occur to us that our appliances might need a bit of TLC from time to time.

Then there are the products where you know full well that you have to do certain tasks to ensure they keep working. Despite your best intentions, you never find time to actually do these, then wonder why it packs up prematurely.

A good example here is with the filters on a vacuum cleaner – you might put it off until you notice your machine slowing down or failing to work properly, rather than doing it regularly to prevent problems in the first place.

Of course, there are those who make a habit of checking, cleaning and otherwise maintaining all their appliances, preventing most of the common faults that cost money.

But as a recent survey of more than 1,000 UK adults revealed, 71% of Brits admit they don’t regularly clean their home appliances. And nearly a quarter admitted they replaced their appliances more frequently as a result.

How would you sum up your approach to maintaining and cleaning your household appliances? Are you fastidious about it or somewhat lackadaisical?


I look after everything, washing machine, dish washer, kettle, but also computer, extractor fan in shower room and fire alarm (lightly hoover them), drill and sewing machine, etc. Look after your tools and they will look after you. I wouldn’t say I’m fastidious, however, just careful.

Absolutely agree with you Sophie.

I keep my appliances clean and well maintained. I’m not keen on cleaning, so my approach is to avoid them getting dirty. For example, I use the lower power settings on the microwave oven and that means I don’t need to stand over it or clean up spattered food. This also helps to allow the food to be heated evenly rather than being overdone on the outside but still cool on the inside. The microwave is coming up to 30 years old and is used every day, but it is as good as new inside. I live in a hard water area and descale the kettle monthly.

I’m not very keen on my ovens, which had a lot of burnt-on grease when I moved in. I don’t know why because the rest of the house was immaculate. I looked at replacing them but new ones of the same brand did not seem well built so I kept the old ones and they work well.

One of Alice’s links provides useful information about keeping washing machines clean, one of my hobby horses. Low temperature washing is effective at cleaning as long as quick washes are avoided but it is essential to do regular high temperature maintenance washes with a powder or tablets (these contain bleach, unlike liquids and gels) to prevent the internal surfaces becoming coated in a slime of bacteria and moulds – which will be transferred to the next load.

I try to take precautions to avoid my appliances getting dirty, of course, they do still need a clean. I probably could be better at this, especially for washing machines/dishwashers.

I’m always careful when using a microwave because I hate it when the food goes everywhere. I once had an incident at work with a bowl of soup, spent most of my lunch break trying to clean up the mess 🙁

Another interesting article from the company – and something I know some of us will find interesting if not necessarily the logic.

” So, how often should appliances be replaced?…
Dishwasher: 9-15 years
Oven: 13-15 years
Refridgerator: 13-19 years
Washing Machine: 8-14 years
Vacuum Cleaner: 5-10 years
Commenting on their findings, marketing manager, Mark Kelly stated “It’s surprising to see just how little British adults know about their household appliances and how regularly they need to be replaced.
“Ensuring your home has up to date appliances can not only save money due to energy efficiency, but is also much safer”


We generally replace failed appliances, so presumably this is what is meant by “should be replaced”? If we should expect appliances to last the times shown (presumably the range partly allows for differing usage and quality) and it has proper data to support it, we have the beginnigs of the means to support durability claims under the Sale of Goods and Consumer Rights Acts. Perhaps Which? could look at this and similar data to help consumers.

I cannot accept in full the comment “Ensuring your home has up to date appliances can not only save money due to energy efficiency, but is also much safer”. One has to take into account the replacement cost or payback time. It is not sensible to replace things just because they have reached a certain age – it depends on the amount of use they have had and their inherent build quality. While in general newer appliances will have better safety features this is not guaranteed, especially if the replacement is a lower grade model. New things need to be like-for-like or better but that implies a higher replacement cost thus reducing the available savings.

Well I would not think that the marketing manager of a company that sells household products would be the best source of reliable advice. Modern products do tend to be more efficient than older ones but that needs to be weighed against the cost of replacement and hopefully the potential purchaser might understand a little about the environmental cost of manufacture and disposal of products. Depending on the product, reliability of new products can be less good than the ones they replace.

Other questionable advice is available from trade associations, for example: http://www.t2c.org.uk on the Amdea website.

I have often thought it would be handy to have a reliable resource where you could just enquire about cleaning equipment and products and tricks to make the process easier.

I note from a recent survey that the least handy age group are : ” On top of this, it seems that age plays a role in cleaning habits – those aged 25-34 years old were found to be the age group who clean their appliances the least.” Hmmm I wonder how old …..

“More than one in three (34 per cent) participants admitted that they hire a professional to do this cleaning work for them and 23 per cent revealed that this lack of cleaning means their appliances are replaced more regularly.

I am slightly concerned as to the quality of the survey as we have not seen the questions. The number calling for professional help to clean appliances seems excessively high.

As an example of problem questions .:

Do you descale your kettle? The answer from me would be NO – as I do not have a kettle. And some surveys demand answers before you can proceed. Was it a Y/N question

Do you clean out the drawer of your washing machine? For many who use tabs this question is a NO.

So yet again a suspect survey of 1021 has formed the basis of quite a few on-line articles and advertising for a company. Personally I believe unless the questions that the answers are derived from can be seen then surveys should be off-limits.