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  Appliance Care & Cleaning

Many issues and problems that people have with appliances, especially washing machines and dishwashers, can often be solved just by simply taking care your kitchen appliances and carrying out regular maintenance and cleaning.

Here we explain the best ways to do that and how to avoid problems like bad smells, odours, dirt, mould, residues and a host of useful information and tips to keep your appliances in tip top condition and save yourself loads of time and money.

Many problems that you can easily resolve yourself without an engineer's help.


 

Washing Machine Not Cleaning

All too often we see people having issues and stating that their washing machine isn't cleaning properly, not washing right, not removing dirt and so on but, is it the washing machine that's the problem?

For some people, we hate to break it to them but, your washing machine is a dumb machine that saves you from a laborious chore. That's all it is.

It is not, as some marketing might have you believe, a magical instrument that will somehow solve all your laundry woes, it's just the bit where it all comes together and does the hard manual labour for you.

Think on these important points, before you even put an item in your machine and press START

Pile of laundry

  What are you washing?

You (NOT your washing machine) has to decide what clothing your washing.

You need to sort out whites form dark and colours, delicates and so on as no washing machine on the planet, regardless of how good and supposedly smart it might be claimed to be can do this. Only you can do this.

If you don't, it's all going to go horribly wrong.

From there you can move on to…

laundry detergents

  What detergent to use?

You need to select the correct detergent for each load.

Yes, you need more than one and no, you cannot use one for everything!!

wash program

  What program to use?

Then, for the load of laundry you want to wash, depending on the two above points, you need to select the correct program on our washing machine.

If you think you can just fire in whatever laundry, with whatever detergent and use whatever program you like and your washing machine will figure it all out for you, sorry but, you're very wrong. It won't.

  Error

By far and away, an order of magnitude more than a problem with a washing machine causing a poor wash result, one of the above or often more than one will have been carried out or judged incorrectly.

You are the judge of what you put in, what detergent you put in it and what program you select.

Your washing machine, it only does what you told it to do with whatever you put in it.

If oyuget any of those vital things wrong, bad things will happen!

Perhaps you can now better understand why it is that, when we see a "washing machine not washing correctly" type complaint we just sigh and wonder what bit it is that someone got wrong as, the chances of a washing machine not doing it right, very, very low.

You see if there's a fault with the machine in any way it'll usually stop, make horrific noises or something far more dramatic than just deciding to not remove a few stains.

  Save Money

Doing all this basic, basic stuff right can save you a ton of cash on detergent use, electricity and from ruined clothing.

In other words, it's really valuable knowledge that can save you a lot of money and possibly embrarrasment as well. We really can't stress enough how much knowing this stuff can save you, way more than using some silly Eco program ever would.

  More Help & Info

Browse the site, the stains and cleaning sections where you will find a wealth of information and help to ensure that you get your clothes clean and, undamaged.

You can find a lot more on what detergents to use, what programs and much more.

If you don't learn about this stuff though and you end up throwing out or damaging items of clothing, well, we really can't help you with that can we.

Do You Need Fabric Conditioner?

We explain the pros and cons of using fabric softener in your washing machine

This is a topic we’ve avoided for a number of years because it can become a bit of a heated debate in some quarters with some people loving the fabric conditioner and others saying that it is an unnecessary additive and a waste of money.

The truth of it is that, fi you like it them use it.

If you don’t then don’t.

But before you decide that you’re in one camp or the other how about a little bit of unbiased advice and help on whether or not using fabric conditioner is a good or a bad thing.

Do you need fabric softener

  Sales Pitch

Fabric softener found its way into the market in the 1950’s so, it’s not at all new.

Even well known UK brands like Comfort have been around for decades and washing machine manufacturers have almost universally designed a compartment in the dispenser drawer to get this additive into your wash at just the right time. The right time, for you reference, is on the final rinse cycle in cold water.

The big promise of softener is that it makes your laundry feel softer and smell nicer. However it is also supposed to lessen wrinkles. make ironing easier, offer better colour retention and give greater stain prevention.

On some of those points, we’ll get to the truth of them later.

But to get all that you can expect it to cost around 5p per wash to 10p per wash depending on the product, which is often down to the scent we think.

To put that into perspective for you, that’s almost as much as half or more of the cost of the electricity used in a modern washing machine.

  What It Does

One person at a producer of conditioners and detergents put it like this, “conditioner is basically a big tub of grease with perfume added”.

Nothing fancy then!

It is actually a bit more than that of course with a slew of fancy chemicals used including conditioning agents, emulsifiers and so on but we’re not here to dig into the technical specifications but more look at this in more easy to understand terms.

All that this chemical trickery does really is to try and prevent static build up and effectively “coats” the fibres of the laundry in what was described by the detergent company employee as grease which contains silicon elements that make the fibres separate which in turn makes stuff feel softer.

It doesn’t mean that it is any softer really, only that it feels that way.

  Alternatives

We’ve often seen online people saying that they use vinegar and goodness knows what else to mimic the effect of fabric conditioner but in truth, the chemical reality is that this is most probably wishful thinking more than what is actually happening.

The common one is vinegar and it is an extremely mild acid with not much more in it so, it cannot possibly mimic the effect of fabric softener proper. Sorry but the physics and chemistry are just so wildly different it is unreal.

Of course out there in internetland you can find any number of alternatives and hone brewed recipes for softener but whether they work, are any good and won't damage your clothes, who knows as they are not subject to testing or any form or regulation.

loads of laundry using fabric softener

  Limitations

There are a number of very important things you need to bear in mind if you use fabric conditioner.

The biggest and most important one is that you cannot use it on towelling or the like of nappies, ever!

The reason is pretty simple and why you can see claims of better stain protection, as this is a kind of grease based additive water will sheer off it, it will repel water to a degree. So anything you want to absorb moisture to for example, dry yourself with or soak up stuff in any way, will be far less effective if you use softener on it.

If you use it on towels then they may well feel nice, soft and fluffy, but they’ll be rubbish at drying you which is pretty much the point of a towel.

The better ironing claims, to be truthful it depends on who you ask. Some people agree with it, some don’t but most don’t even notice it. If it’s that much of a thing you would think that more people would notice.

It only really works well on cotton so, all the fancy mixed fabric stuff you have and most designer clothing, forget using softener on it as you’re just wasting money and, possibly even damaging the items. We can’t say for sure it can or will cause damage as, bluntly, there’s not enough information on the topic to form a good solid opinion in that regard so in the absence of information, caution is advised.

You should also never use fabric conditioner on bedding as common sense would tell you that when in bed we all sweat and the sheets soak that up. If you cover those sheets in grease and chemicals it’s really not going to work like that so, a very bad idea.

From what we learn talking to people, fabric softener is probably unsuitable for use on many if not most of the things that they wash in the real world.

  Do You Need Softener?

Short answer from a technical standpoint is, no, you don’t.

Many people appear to think that it has to be added as there’s a compartment in the washing machine drawer for it but, you don’t, it’s optional. There is no requirement for it to be used at all, regardless of what you might be led to believe.

From a cost only point of view then, you would be better off to save the cash.

If you want the nice smell though and you’re prepared to live with the limitations, the additional cost and the use of chemical additives to your laundry that, you really don’t need, then fine, use conditioner.

Our take on it is, we don’t use it and never have done. It’s easier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

Things You Shouldn’t Put In Your Fridge

It really common to open someone’s fridge and see a raft of things that, really shouldn’t be in there. This all the more so on large fridges and American style side by side fridge freezers.

Thing is, a lot of people could get a lot more space freed up in their fridges if they didn’t put things in there that should not be there. Now for us, it’s more space for beer and so on but how you use the space is completely up to you.

Here’s the top items often found in fridges that really shouldn’t be in there and, why not.

Bread

Refrigerating bread does absolutely nothing to extend the life of it at all.

In fact the opposite is true as it tend to get dried out and turn stale faster than it would kept in a bread bin or bread bag.

Also bread should be stored in a cool dry place. That is not your fridge!

Melons

If you have a fresh whole melon it should not be kept in the fridge.

After you cut it up it should then be wiped in cling film and stored in the fridge, normally used within 24 hours or so to get it at its best.

Bananas

Nope, while they are not ripe they also should not be stored in your fridge either.

After they ripen (no green bits) then they can be stored in your fridge but not before that as they can turn black and go mushy inside if you do.

Avocados are the same deal although they won’t go much as such, they won’t ripen if you put them in your fridge.

Fresh Tomatoes

Once more these should not be stored in the fridge as they tend to keep longer outside it and the flavour is better.

The science behind it says that the cooling actually causes the membranes and stuff to break down inside the fruit and does more harm than good.

Potatoes

Okay hands up, a number of us in the office were guilty of this one!

Apparently keeping potatoes in the fridge isn’t just bad, it’s potentially harmful to us. We didn’t know that and now, we don’t keep the potatoes in the fridge any longer.

The Food Standards Agencys says that, "When these are stored in the fridge, the starch in the potato is converted to sugar. When baked or fried, these sugars combine with the amino acid asparagine and produce the chemical acrylamide, which is thought to be harmful."

So, don’t do it is the advice basically.

All that is needed to store potatoes is a cool dry place, so a dark cupboard that’s cool is all you need.

Cakes

Fresh cream in it, okay, put it in the fridge.

No fresh cream, don’t.

That’s the simple advice but so long as a cake is in a tin or covered decently like that it won’t last any linger if you put it in your fridge. And, any icing will go brick hard making eating it not so pleasant.

Coffee

We didn’t get this one at all as, nobody in the office did this but apparently many people do keep their coffee in their fridges.

All you need to do is stick in an airtight container, you don’t and shouldn’t refrigerate it.

Moreover the beans will soak up other smells around them so, you really don’t want all the food smells in your fridge to be in your morning cup of coffee. Not nice.

Onions

Like potatoes, cool dark place is all that’s required.

The fridge is not the place for them as they can taint other foods with their odour.

Often we will see onions chucked in with a load of other veg in a storage drawer and, that’s obviously not good.

Garlic

As with onions, they shouldn’t be in the fridge and, garlic will transfer it’s odour to other things.

Honey

Lasts forever, doesn’t need refrigerated.

Pickles

These are preserves, an ancient way of storing food that would ordinarily not keep long for ages. This method came about long before mankind worked out how to refrigerate stuff in the modern manner so, they were designed for a long shelf life.

You don’t need to keep them in your fridge.

Jam

You don’t need to refrigerate it as, it is a preserve after all so the clue’s in the billing.

Peanut Butter

Nope, get it our of your fridge, it’s got no business being in there, ever!

Cleaning Electric Hobs

  Electric Hob Cleaning

Cleaning your hob the right way so it looks better for longer and lasts

Cooker heating element rust

When we refer to “electric hobs” what we mean is the more traditional type of hob on a cooker, built in hob or range cooker but one that is not a ceramic glass type hob top.

This will leave only two types, the older radiant ring type that was generally only seen on older cookers in the UK and rarely on built in hobs and of course the newer sealed version of those that are commonly referred to as as hotplates or sealed hob heating elements.

Hopefully the tips here will prevent you from having to change the heating elements sooner than you really should need to or ending up with an unsightly hob like the one on the image which is beyond saving if you ask us.

Following the simple tips here may save you expense and hassle.

  Radiant Rings

The older radiant ring types have been on the decline for many years as they aren’t really pretty and not exactly energy efficient so, in the modern era of “going green” they’ve largely been phased out here in the UK and the rest of Europe but do seem to have an enduring popularity in some other regions, notably the USA.

In essence these are the same idea as the newer sealed heating elements but they are more open.

The good thing in is that they will usually be very easy to keep clean, most things on them are very obvious and often the hob to will lift up making access and replacement of these heating elements pretty easy for most people.

Older elements can be treated with Collo cleaner to bring them back to looking “black” and hiding minor imperfections, some minor rust pitting and so on.

If you clean these every few uses just with a cloth or sponge they are usually fine and normally don’t really need a lot of maintenance.

Sealed Heating Elements

Sealed plates look prettier to most people but they do require a bit more in the way of maintenance.

These tips whilst not essential will extend the life of your hotplates and quite probably the hop top by a fair way, you can get a lot more years of use with only a modicum of care and maintenance.

Show your hob a little love and you will get more from it.

  Seasoning Plates

The first thing to know is that you will need to “season” the every so often to prevent them from pitting or rusting on the top cooking surface.

Doing this is much the same as you would season a wok or a pan that doesn’t have a non-stick coating.

All you need to do is put the hob zone on at the lowest setting, very lightly cover with olive oil (we find olive oil works best) using a cloth or a bit of paper kitchen towel and then after the whole surface is shiny turn the heat up a bit and leave it for a few minutes.

Turn the hob off and allow it to cool down.

This is real simple but stops water getting to the metal as the oils forms a barrier that will protect it, at least from the worst and doing this can immeasurably extend the life of these heating elements. Correctly maintained doing this will get you many time the life so, it’s well worth dong on a regular basis.

How often is hard to call as mileage will vary depending on your use but, as a rough guide for most people, once a month or every second month is usually okay.

Don’t worry if some of the oil goes over the chrome trim and onto the hob, it will wipe off and probably seal the gaps there and this is nothing to be concerned about, so long as you keep up with the maintenance.

  The Chrome Trim

Which brings us to the chrome trim that we’ve mentioned before in several places on the site.

They are a pain the proverbial!

They all discolour, often after only a single or a few uses you will see an iridescent (rainbow effect) type pattern form on them and many people think this is wrong, it’s not, it’s just the way they are.

If these get damaged or start to rust, which we will point out is always a result of poor maintenance, spillage or both, there’s no coming back from it. There’s nothing you can do other than replace the whole element to clean that up.

  Restoration

Collo hob plate heating element cleanerYou can restore the plate surface, the black bit. However, there are limits.

We see adverts online where you see pictures of these types of plates being magically transformed from old and scrappy looking, covered in rust and pitting, to looking like brand new using some “wonderful” product or cleaner.

The first thing we’re going to tell you is, that’s complete manure. It ain’t going to happen.

We recommend Collo cleaner, it’s German, works, has been about for decades and it’s the same or similar to most of the types of cleaner we’re talking about here but we think this is the best one. So much so we don’t bother with the clones of it as, far as we know, Collo is the original and still the best.

What it does as they all do, is to go on a little bit like boot polish that melts onto a warm (not hot) plate and re-blackens the plate masking any pitting, rust and so on as well as putting a protective coating on the plate itself.

It’s really good stuff and can make the plates look a million times better but, it’s not a miracle thing that will give you shiny new plates. It will cover up and hide most minor issues and make the plates look a lot cleaner but if you’ve got major pitting or any holes it won’t solve that.

And importantly, no cleaner will.

The ads we often see for this sort of cleaner are annoying as they can give what we feel is a false impression, we’d rather tell people the truth as we usually do.

Our opinion is that Collo is the best of the bunch but if the plates are really bad, the only choice is to replace them.

If you need any advice on whether to give Collo a shot or replace, just email us a picture of the zones and we will try to advise as best we can on wether you will get away with using a restorer like Collo or the better option is to replace the plates.

But products like Collo cleaner are like seasoning, if you do it reasonably regularly then your hob heating elements will last longer, no doubt about that at all. So it's best to look at this as a thing to use on a regualr basis, not just in crisis.

  The Enamel Hob Top

Dirt build up on enamel hobFor all types, radiant ring or solid heating element, there will be an enamel top around the heating zones.

If moisture from spillage gets under the enamel it’s game over. It will rust and once that takes hold the hob top will just gradually deteriorate over time and this will often happen quickly.

It is really important to clean up especially major spills as quickly as you can.

Given that this can only be caused by spills and often a lack of care most manufacturers don’t cover this (or anything else in this article) even in warranty. Some extended warranty companies will cover it but that varies depending on the policy of the company and the level of cover.

When we spoke earlier about the oil from seasoning the plates getting into the gaps between the plates and the hob this can actually help with this problem. Th oil can form a barrier that helps prevent moisture from getting underneath the hob and starting it to rust.

It won’t save you from major spills or from constant poor care but, it’s no bad thing for most people.

When you clean the enamelled surface of the hob, don’t use abrasive cleaners, you’ll wreck it!

Try to clean spillage as soon as possible, the longer it sits on the hob the more it can become a problem and some stuff you cook can “eat” into even the best enamel coating.

Even stuff you can’t see there, when the hob is used again and gets hot can start to burn leaving unsightly residues or coatings, especially so around the heating elements where they start to rise out the hob or meet it.

Washing Machine Quick Use Guide

  Washing Machine Use Guide

Checklist of do's and don't with your washing machine

 

Getting the best from your washing machine

This is a quick explanation of use with links to more in-depth explanations if you need them. 

You will find us advising you to avoid some of the features that washing machines are often sold with to "save time" or "make your life easier" etc as, they are all too often not all they're cracked up to be. Many are actually complete nonsense.

Following these golden rules you'll save money, your washing machine will probably last longer, your laundry will last longer and your clothes will be cleaner. Plus, you can avoid most of the common problems that people have when using a washing machine.

Best of all, it's all free, common sense and easy.

  Do Not Overload The Machine

This can damage your machine and your laundry badly and quickly.

Don’t do it.

It causes damage to your washing machine, the laundry and means things don't get washed properly.

Follow our guidance on loading here.

  You Need To Separate White/Lights From Darks/Coloured

You need to do this as both need different detergents to keep your clothes and your washing machine healthy and for them to last as long as possible.

It stops colurs bleeding dye from one item to another and means they stay brighter, better for longer when washed correctly.

There's a lot more information about detergents and their use here.

  You Need Two Detergents

You need to use a colour detergent for dark and coloured washes.

You need a detergent with bleach in it for whites and lights, this cannot be a liquid.

If you wash woolens, silks or any other natural delicate fibres then you need a third detergent specifically for them. Using normal powders or liquids can damage them irreversably and in one wash.

  Avoid Fast Wash Programs

They do not wash properly or fully, they are intended for things that are "worn once, not next to skin". In other words, not much at all.

A lot more information on fast washes can be found here but our advice is, avoid them wherever possible.

  Do Not Continually Use Low Temperature Washes

Many items need to be washed at higher temperatures, especially towelling, bedding and the like to kill bacteria both in the laundry and in your washing machine.

Using low temperature and more so with liquid detergents is just asking for problems with a smelly washing machine, mildew in your washing machine and other issues.

    Don’t Use Fast Spin For Light/Delicate Items

Turn the speed down as it’s often not required and the wrong cycle can damage items but using the fastest spin you can is a more common cause of holes in clothes and other damage.

You might things feel more dry when spun st ridiculously high spin speeds but, the reality is that this is probably a minor gain.

  You Don’t Need To Use Softener

Many people think you have to use softener, you don’t. It’s not required and all it does is cost you more money, make stuff smell a bit nicer, maybe.

On towels especially it’s a bad thing and should be avoided.

  Leave The Door Ajar After Use

This allows air into the machine, helps it to dry out and cuts down on the formation of bacteria in the machine.

  Clean Your Machine Regularly

Clean outside and the soap drawer as well as around the door seal on a regular basis.

Your machine will last longer and probably perform better.

Clean the inside using regular maintenance washes or using the like of Affresh to get that clean.

If you follow the guidance on detergent and wash temperature above then the need for this swill be reduced.

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