These Simple Cleaning Tips Could Potentially Save You Hundreds of Dollars a Year
Some people like to think of themselves as savvy shoppers, saving their money ahead of time to make big purchases, researching deeply to make sure they buy the best of the best they can afford, and then lying in wait, ready to pounce as soon as a sale hits. If this is you, your vigilance shouldn’t end once your items are in hand. So much of what you do after you’ve made the purchase determines how wisely you’ve spent your hard-earned cash.
Taking care of your possessions in large part determines their lifespan. This is a big part of why proper cleaning techniques and routine maintenance tasks are so important: They protect your investments, big and small. Spending time and energy to take care of things the way you’re supposed to might seem tedious and perhaps even unnecessary at the moment, but doing it can save you a good deal of money in the long run.
Rather than having to pay for costly repairs or replacements on items that haven’t been well-maintained, you can add years to the possessions you already have. Here are some examples.
Not all clothing requires special care; many items can be tossed in the washer and dryer repeatedly without much concern. Other garments, however, demand a bit more attention when it comes to getting them clean without undue wear and tear. And sometimes, the way you wash your clothes can cause more harm than good.
“When people wash their clothing at home, they tend to overfill or overstuff their machines,” shares Don Holecek of Crown Cleaners. “You need clothes, especially in a washer, to move around because part of that movement is the friction to release soil. When you pack it too much, that friction is actually causing abrasion and potentially damaging the fabric. That’s how sweaters get pilled. They’re very sensitive to abrasion.”
Surprisingly, Holecek’s best advice doesn’t involve taking specialty items to the dry cleaner. Instead, he encourages washing your clothes, one way or another, as opposed to letting them sit without getting washed. Soiled clothing, even if the dirt isn’t visible, is what’s causing the most damage to your garments.
And this isn’t to mention the invisible stains from external sources. “A good example is white wine or Sprite,” says Holecek. “Those become invisible stains — but what’s in those drinks are simple sugars, which turn yellow over time.”
Moral of the story? Wash the clothes you wear, any way you can. “I’m an advocate for, if you can clean it at home, it’s better than nothing,” says Holecek. Holecek does acknowledge that you don’t have to wash your clothes every single time you wear them, but after a couple of wears is a good rule of thumb.
Proper maintenance is arguably more important with larger investments like household appliances. It’s all too easy to forget to care for the things that help you manage chores — washer, dryer, dishwasher — but being diligent to clean and care for these big-ticket items can add years to their lifespans and save you hundreds of dollars in expensive repairs or early replacement costs.
Stacy Nelson of Pinpoint Appliance estimates that appliances aren’t lasting as long as they used to overall, but with proper care and maintenance, you can add a good five years to an appliance’s lifespan. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the life expectancy of a typical appliance all depends on its use, so if properly maintained as Nelson suggests, it can last longer. On average, dishwashers and microwave ovens have the shortest lifespan (nine years), while dryers and refrigerators last about 13 years.
Nelson offers her expert tips on the most important tasks people should routinely perform to keep their appliances from breaking down prematurely.
For washing machines, Nelson recommends running the self-cleaning cycle as often as your owner’s manual suggests, particularly for front-loading washers. “When you do not follow all the necessary maintenance, you end up with a broken spindle (due to detergent buildup),” says Nelson. That’s the piece that holds the tub in place for your front loader, and replacing it can cost you at least $600 or more.
For top loaders, Nelson suggests running vinegar through the unit about once a month or so to address odor. You’ll also want to drain your washer — which you can do yourself or get done professionally — periodically.
When it comes to dryers, the single most important thing homeowners should do to maintain them is to have their dryer vents cleaned professionally once a year, which can cost roughly $100 to $200. “Otherwise, you could blow the thermal fuse,” warns Nelson. A thermal fuse is a safety component to help prevent fires — so a blown one can lead to even more issues, repairs, and money spent.
Another easy maintenance tip that you can do is to make sure the lint trap is clean and doesn’t build up or fall inside the dryer. This is an easy, zero-cost habit to build into your laundry routine: Clean out the trap every single time you put clothes into the dryer.
An unexpected-yet-useful tip Nelson had on dishwashers: Never run them during an electrical storm. This is due to the potential power surge that can fry the control board. While this can happen to any appliance, it’s most common with dishwashers. Repairing the control board could cost up to $500, so putting this simple information to good use is a no-brainer.
A crucial-yet-overlooked task for refrigerator maintenance is changing the water filter. Not only does the filter’s condition affect the taste of water and ice that comes out of your fridge, but it can also cause the whole filter housing to tear, which can lead to water leaks that’ll potentially cause damage to your floors.
Educating yourself about routine maintenance and scheduling time to do those tasks can save you hundreds of dollars on repairs and purchases. Whether you’re considering your clothing, appliances, or any other home-related possession, the old saying about a stitch in time-saving nine proves to be true.
March is Smart Spending Month on Apartment Therapy! We’re here to help you put your hard-earned dollars and cents to use — the right way. Head over here to learn how to do no-spend challenges, buy a home for below its listing price, and so much more.