One Tip for Major Appliances In Your Home

You use these appliances every day, but you've probably never tried these handy tricks.

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charcoal and newspaper in a freezer
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Refrigerator

You don’t have to live with a stinky fridge. Follow these instructions for using newspaper and charcoal, and the odors will be gone within a few days.

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hands putting a dutch oven with water in oven for steam cleaning
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Oven

The advantages of traditional oven cleaners are power and speed. But for many of us, the disadvantages outweigh the good, specifically, the corrosive chemicals and caustic fumes that this type of oven cleaning can produce.

A simple, more natural way to clean your oven is to place an oven-safe pot or bowl filled with water inside. Set your oven to 450 degrees for 20 to 60 minutes to loosen dirt and grease with the steam. Once your oven is cool, wipe off the condensation and the grease will come with it. If stubborn spots persist, scrub with a paste of baking soda and lemon or vinegar. This steam-cleaning option doesn’t take as long as pyrolytic cleaning and doesn’t produce smoke, either. It’s a win-win!

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hand putting salt in a full washing machine
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Washer

You can use salt to prevent colors from fading. Just toss a teaspoon of salt in with your dark clothes to help make the color last longer. Washing colored clothing inside out can also help maintain color.

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cleaning lint trap on dryer
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Dryer

Once in a while it’s important to clean the area around your dryer’s lint trap, as the screen doesn’t always catch all of the debris. A paint stir stick with a clean rag wrapped around one end makes a great tool for this task.

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Disinfect Legos In Dishwasher
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Dishwasher

Children’s toys are a breeding ground for germs. A dishwasher makes quick work of disinfecting toys that are washable, like Legos. To quickly clean Legos:

  1. Drop the Legos in a laundry bag to keep them contained.
  2. Run your dishwasher as usual.
  3. But, remove the Legos before the drying cycle, letting them air dry completely on a towel.
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Lemon peels in kitchen sink
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Garbage Disposal

If your disposer has developed an odor, it may contain bits of rotten food. Here’s how to clean them out:

  1. With the water running at about half throttle, drop in orange or lemon peels. Run the disposer for five seconds. Citric acid from the peels softens crusty waste and attacks smelly bacteria. Give the acid about 15 minutes to do its work.
  2. Turn on the water and the disposer and drop in a few ice cubes. Flying shards of ice work like a sandblaster inside the disposer.
  3. Run the water until the bowl is about half full. Then pull the stopper and turn on the disposer to flush it out.
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Midsection Of Man Holding Air Filter
Steven Heap/Getty Images

Furnace

Upgrade your furnace filter. Your home’s forced-air heating or cooling system helps to control dust by filtering the air. A standard cheap fiberglass filter protects your furnace from large dust particles and provides maximum airflow, but it does little to reduce household dust.

More expensive pleated filters usually provide a good balance between cost and filtration efficiency. These filters trap 80 to 95 percent of particles five microns and larger.

But if you have family members with allergies, consider spending more on high-efficiency filters, which capture 99 percent of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns (bacteria and viruses, fumes and pollen). These furnace filters are one of the best for how to remove dust from air.

Be aware that you’ll have to run your furnace fan full time to get the maximum benefit from a high-efficiency filter, and you’ll have to change the filter frequently to prevent damage to your furnace from the reduced airflow.

If you go the high-efficiency route, install a filter monitor such as FilterScan, which automatically alerts you when your furnace filter needs changing, or the GeneralAire G99 Filter Gage, which requires you to manually check it.

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Air conditioner outside
Thelma Lanteigne/Getty Images

Air Conditioner

If you already have a newer condenser, the worst noise is probably coming from the compressor. (Fans on newer units are very quiet.) Contact the manufacturer to find a sound blanket for your model or buy a universal blanket. Installation is easy.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex Shoemaker is a Florida-based journalist and  handyman who has extensive experience in home remodeling and house flipping. He has worked for numerous print and digital publications and has won awards for writing, photography and pagination.