How to maintain and care for household appliances: Keeping dishwashers, tumble dryers and more in perfect working order

This week it’s the dishwasher, next week the tumble dryer... Nothing is more annoying than household appliances that give up the ghost. And to cap it all, an eye-watering bill pops into your letterbox once the thing is finally up and running … Of course, you can stop all this from happening in the first place, provided you give your household appliances regular maintenance and care. But how often is "regular"? Read on for more pointers on which devices to clean, when and how.


Father and son look smiling into the oven


  • When/how often: Every 6 months or no later than the time the dishwasher starts to stink.

  • Why: Over time, the rinse water causes limescale to accumulate in the dishwasher, creating an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Keeping your dishwasher clean also helps it work more efficiently and use less electricity.

  • How: Remove the sieve and spray arms and clean with water. A toothpick may help unplug the small holes in the spray arms. Next, sprinkle one to two tablespoons of baking powder or baking soda on the bottom of the empty machine, fill the powder compartment with vinegar essence and run a program at high temperature.


  • When/how often: Once a month or immediately when the interior starts to smell unpleasant, or any visible stains have formed. The freezer compartment should be defrosted twice a year.

  • Why: The refrigerator accommodates various food in a very small space. Cleaning it regularly keeps it hygienic and prevents bacteria and mould from forming.

  • How: Remove all the food and turn the refrigerator off. Remove the shelves, wash them in hot water or place them in the dishwasher. Clean off the inside walls and rubber seal of the refrigerator with a sponge. Remember to dry off thoroughly and wipe off the freezer compartment with a damp cloth.

Extractor fan

  • When/how often: Depending on usage. If you cook and use it daily, once a month.

  • Why: The filters of the fan trap grease during cooking, so if you leave it untouched over time, its functionality will decline.

  • How: Clean the outside with a grease-dissolving cleaning agent. Remove the filter and clean it thoroughly – oven cleaner is also fine for this purpose. Alternatively, you can put the filters in the dishwasher or soak them in hot water and a fat solvent for 15 mins.

Washing machine

  • When/how often: Around every four to five months or immediately if the laundry is no longer properly cleaned or foul odours emerge from the laundry drum.

  • Why: Detergent residues, loose hairs and residual moisture in the washing machine can cause mould and fungi to grow.

  • How: Empty the lint filter and clean it thoroughly. To descale the laundry drum, add five tablespoons or so of citric acid to the empty laundry drum and select a washing programme with a temperature of at least 40 degrees. Around halfway through the wash cycle, press pause, let the citric acid soak in for a good hour and then let the programme finish. Tip: Instead of citric acid, you can also use one or two dishwasher tabs and run the washing machine a little hotter (up to 90 degrees).

Tumble dryer

  • When/how often: Every three to four months or when the dryer starts to smell bad or becomes excessively noisy.

  • Why: In addition to lint, other tiny particles also collect in the tumbler, which impair its performance and increase its power consumption. Regularly descaling the sensors in the dryer is also a good idea. If they get calcified, they tend to indicate the laundry as dry when it is actually still damp.

  • How: Use a hoover to vacuum out old lint and dust from the drum. Clean the filter thoroughly with hot water. To restore the sensors, simply wipe out the inside of the drum with a cloth soaked in vinegar.

Vacuum cleaner

  • When/how often: Depending on usage but every six months on average.

  • Why: Unless you clean it regularly, the hoover loses its suction power. Result: You end up just moving the dirt back and forth around the floor with the hoover instead of removing it.

  • How: Disassemble the hoover tube into its individual parts and unclog it. Remove and clean the filter. Vacuum the brush head and prise of stubborn and encrusted dirt with a comb.


  • When/how often: Depending on usage, but immediately if you notice that the ironing surface is sticky, or the iron no longer glides smoothly over the clothes.

  • Why: The heat of the iron loosens detergent residues and grease particles, which then end up adhering to the bottom of the iron. This ends up spreading dirt over freshly washed laundry when it is ironed.

  • How: A cotton swab soaked in vinegar is a good go-to item for cleaning steam holes. Another tried and tested household remedy is toothpaste: Place a little toothpaste on a fine cleaning cloth and use it to clean off the entire iron surface. Then remove the toothpaste residue with a fine damp cloth or sponge.

Maintaining the boiler/water heater

  • When/how often: Boilers should be inspected at least once every three years.

  • Why: Over time, deposits and dirt can cause the heat output of your water heater to decline significantly. This will lead to the water heater consuming far more energy, taking longer to heat up and reducing the amount of available hot water.

  • How: The boiler must be checked and renovated and decalcified as required. But this is a job best handled by experts!