Taking the time to do a little preventative maintenance on household items is far less costly than having to replace a soiled carpet, broken vacuum cleaner or scratched TV.
The October 2009 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, has tricks to make household products last.
Clothes washers: Don't overload it. That wears down the machine.
Dishwashers: Periodically remove any debris from the filter and the bottom of the machine.
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Gas ranges: Inspect the burners regularly and clean the burner ports with a needle. But don't touch the igniter.
Refrigerators and freezers: Clean door gaskets with water and mild detergent periodically. Also vacuum the coils every few months. They tend to collect dust, which lowers efficiency and raises energy costs.
Vacuum cleaners: Small objects such as coins can damage the power head and even the motor on some uprights, and string can wind its way around the rotating brush. Unplug the machine and dislodge items ASAP.
Digital cameras and camcorders: Use the strap to keep from dropping your camera, and stow the camera in a case when it's not in use. Clean dirty lenses gently with a microfiber lens cloth and lens-cleaning fluid.
Laptop computers: Use them on a hard, flat surface. Soft surfaces can block airflow and lead to overheating.
LCD TVs: Clean the screen gently with a soft, slightly damp cloth, ideally a microfiber one. Avoid cleaners and paper towels, which can cause scratches.
CDs and DVDs: If you have to clean one (avoid cleaning it unless it's dirty), wipe it with a soft, lint-free cloth from the center to the outer edge as if you were slicing a pie.
Baking pans: Dry thoroughly after washing to prevent rust. Smearing a little vegetable oil onto the sides and bottom with a paper towel after each use will also work.
Knives: When they're not in use, store them in a wooden knife block or individual plastic shields. And keep them out of the dishwasher, which can pit blades and cause wooden handles to crack.
Nonstick pots: Hand-wash your pots, removing burned-on food with a plastic scrubber.
Stainless-steel flatware: Use a stainless cleaner to remove scratches and stains and restore shine. Scouring powder or steel wool can cause scratches and reduce stain resistance.
Tea kettles: Remove mineral deposits from the interior by filling the kettle with equal parts white vinegar and water, bringing it to a boil, and allowing it to stand overnight.
If you haven't made the switch to more energy-saving light bulbs yet, consider the GeoBulb, by C. Crane Co.
The LED bulb uses half the energy of a compact fluorescent bulb and is manufactured sans mercury or lead. It comes in three colors - cool, which produces about as much light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb; soft, which produces 50 watts; and warm, which produces 40 watts - all using 7.5 watts of power. Cost is $99.95.
Almost a hundred bucks for one light bulb? Well, yes, but only because you won't have to replace it for almost 10 years.
SIMPLE BREEDS CALM
Most agree that taking a deep breath helps relax your body almost immediately. That's what arriving at home should do to your psyche.
In "Simple Home: Calm Spaces for Comfortable Living" (Ryland Peters & Small; $29.95) Mark and Sally Bailey encourage readers to adopt a philosophy conducive to simplicity. This includes selecting color schemes that inspire tranquillity and materials that are environmentally sound.
Not that you have to be a minimalist but truth be told, the more stuff you have, the more potential for clutter. The more clutter, the less simple your life is. And the less simple your life is ... you get the point.
Also paramount to the Baileys' philosophy are using the right combination of crafted and recycled items, natural cleaning and curating your home (displaying your treasured possessions).
Let calmness reign.