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It’s spring cleaning time for your appliances, too

This March 17, 2015 photo shows a small motion detector on the side of an oven in Dorothy and Bill Dworsky's home in San Francisco. Each time Bill or Dorothy uses the oven, opens the refrigerator, closes the bathroom door, or lifts the lid on a pill container, tiny sensors in their home make notes on a digital logbook, which their son Phil Dworsky monitors daily on his smartphone. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

When spring rolls around, homeowners get motivated about house cleaning – like having the carpets cleaned and windows washed. This year, do some deep cleaning for your appliances as well. Here are some tips on what to do:

Your fridge – Move your refrigerator out from the wall and clean the back side of the refrigerator and the flooring under the refrigerator. Find the location of the refrigerator’s coils by checking the owner’s manual. Sometimes they’re on the back of the appliance; sometimes they’re under a toe grill at the front of the fridge. You may have to remove a panel or grill.

Then pull the plug on the electricity, gently dust the coils with a rag or brush and vacuum the coils. When dirt and dust builds up on coils, it takes more electricity to keep food cold. You’ll also want to replace the filter on your refrigerator water dispenser every six months.

You might also take all the food out of your refrigerator and wipe the surfaces of the interior with a water solution that includes baking soda or vinegar. Throw away food that’s been around too long.

Your oven — There are several possibilities for cleaning a grungy oven. You can use the oven’s self-cleaning cycle if you have one. You might not want to try it on a hot day due to high heat that the process generates. If you do want to use it, wipe up loose soil in the oven and remove any racks and pans. Follow instructions in your appliance manual. Newer ovens may let you set a shorter cleaning time. Don’t leave the house while cleaning is going on.

You can also buy oven cleaner at the supermarket. Read instructions carefully and wear rubber gloves, goggles and old clothes for this job. Or try the baking soda and vinegar method. However, some homeowners complain it’s difficult to get the baking soda off the oven afterward. At any rate, mix a couple spoonfuls of baking soda with water to create a paste to spread over the walls of your empty oven. Let the oven sit 12 hours; the paste may turn brown. With a wet rag or sponge, wipe out the paste. Use vinegar to sponge surfaces where the baking soda gets stuck. Use the baking soda on the oven window and let it sit for 30 minutes before removing.

Your dishwasher – Over time, grease, soap scum, and food debris build up in dishwashers. The appliance becomes less efficient and can get a little too aromatic.

So remove the bottom dish rack and clear the drain of any debris. Then run a hot water cycle in the dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar sitting in a sturdy container on the top rack. This will wash away odors and grime. After the cycle finishes, sprinkle a handful of baking soda around the dishwasher bottom and run a short cycle using hot water. It’s also possible to buy a bottle of dishwasher cleaning fluid at the grocery store. You simply put the bottle on the top rack and run a hot-water cycle in the empty dishwasher.

After a cleaning cycle, wipe the inside of the dishwasher down with a clean towel to remove any residue left behind.

Your clothes dryer – You’re probably careful to regularly remove lint from the trap in your dryer. Once in a while, it’s good to wash down the lint screen. You may also hire a vent cleaning company to vacuum your lint duct. It’s hard for a homeowner to clean out the duct that exits on the roof or in a vent high on a wall. Really dusty ducts can be a fire hazard.

Your washing machine – To keep your machine smelling clean and sweet, fill the tub with hot water, pour in three cups of vinegar and a half cup of baking soda and run the mixture through a complete cycle. Sponge off the agitator and tub surfaces with a water and vinegar mixture. Check the washer hoses for weak spots or leaks and replace them every five years or so.

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