Quick Ways to Clean Your Appliances

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You have meetings to go to, children to feed, pets to look after, parents to call and friends to catch up with — and that's just the start. With such a busy schedule, finding the time to clean the house efficiently and effectively can tip the scale from madness to sanity. Get on the fast track to a peaceful mind by streamlining and mastering all your household chores, including cleaning appliances.

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Smudge-Prone Appliances

Appliance surfaces that tend to smudge or hold fingerprints, such as stainless steel, may be the bane of your existence, but cleaning them isn't as hard as you'd think. "Soft cloths are a must and any number of cleaning products can eradicate and prevent smudges," says Lisa Haisha, organizational expert. She suggests using tonic water, vinegar, a dab of baby oil or even lemon juice and wipe the appliance from top to bottom with a clean, soft cloth.

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Microwaves are a harboring ground for glued-on food splatter and unpleasant odors. To clean your microwave, soak a clean wash cloth in water, microwave it for three minutes and then carefully remove it. The steam will help loosen the food to make for easier cleaning. Wipe down the interior and the plate with warm, soapy water.

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Coffee Maker

If your coffee tastes sour or otherwise "off," it's time to clean the coffee maker. The easiest and most efficient method is to combine one part white vinegar with two parts water (enough for one pot of coffee) and run the machine as if you're making coffee. Repeat this process again using only water to rinse the vinegar taste out.

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To prevent baked-on splatter, clean your stovetop as often as you use it by wiping it down with a clean cloth and designated stovetop cleaner. For caked-on food or severe cases, Haisha says to take off any removable parts and "place them on a newspaper outside, or in a well ventilated area, and spray with a commercial oven cleaner." Let them set for a few hours and scrub with a scouring pad.

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To keep your dishwasher fresh and running efficiently, wash it at least once per month. Pour vinegar where you'd place the dishwasher detergent and run the dishwasher empty through a normal cycle. This process removes odors and breaks up hard water deposits. After the dishwasher has gone through its cycle, wipe down the water stream openings with a damp cloth.

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Clothes Washer Odor

That odd odor in your clothes washer is a simple fix. Just add a scoop of powdered dishwasher detergent to your machine—or a capful of vinegar—and run your empty washer through a full cycle. Repeat, if necessary. "If the problem persists, you may have water that isn’t draining, which has stagnated with mold," notes Haisha. "If so, call a repairman because the mold will eventually begin to make your clothes smell badly, too."

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Garbage Disposal

Speaking of strange odors, your garbage disposal is one of the leading "smell culprits" in your home. An effective way to clean the disposal and remove the odor is to pour a tablespoon of baking soda down the drain, followed by a quarter cup of vinegar. Let the mixture set for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse.

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