Which kitchen appliances are being used improperly?

15 mistakes everyone makes with home appliances

By Madlen Schäfer and Adrian Mühlroth | August 29, 2020, 1:00 p.m.

We use them every day, and yet we often use them incorrectly. To ensure that you can enjoy your household appliances for longer, you should handle them carefully. TECHBOOK shows the biggest mistakes in household appliances that you are guaranteed to have made before.

Table of Contents

The washing machine and microwave, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner and refrigerator - all of these devices belong in almost every household and are used regularly, if not every day. But like any electrical device, it can break if it is used improperly. And that can happen faster than we think. Because we have certainly all made one or the other of the following operating errors:

Washing machine

1. Objects on the washing machine

Are you missing a little work or storage space? However, you shouldn't put anything on the washing machine, and certainly not put anything heavy on it. The reason: If the machine washes, the additional load can damage the housing or the belts inside during the spin cycle.

2. Wash too hot

Many still think that everything can only get really clean with a hot wash. However, modern washing machines achieve the same washing result at temperatures as low as 30-40 degrees that a 20-year-old machine would have to run at 60 degrees for. For most washes, 30-40 degrees are sufficient. This also saves a lot of electricity: According to the Federal Environment Agency, you can "wash almost twice at 40 ° C or even three times at 30 ° C for the energy costs of a 60-degree wash (...)". Therefore: only heavily soiled clothing such as underwear, towels and baby clothes, where hygiene is particularly important, should be washed at a higher temperature.

3. Wash cold only

Although in most cases it is advisable to only wash at low temperatures, according to the Federal Environment Agency you should "wash at 60 degrees and with a bleach-containing heavy-duty detergent powder" once a month. Especially if only liquid detergents are used, microorganisms can otherwise form in the machine that give off a musty odor. If the odor cannot be eliminated, it may help to wash once at 90 degrees to eliminate the microorganisms.

The general use of detergents containing bleach is not recommended, as bleach attacks rubber and plastics such as polyester.


4. Labels in the dishwasher

You have bought a couple of new plates or glasses and want to wash them in the dishwasher first. In doing so, however, you should note the following: Before washing, it is essential to remove any labels or stickers that have stuck to the new items! Not only does it look nicer, it also prevents your dishwasher from clogging the filter. Because the stickers can become detached from the dishes during the wash cycle, land in the filter and clog it.

5. Incorrectly loaded dishwasher

Yes, there is: the perfect strategy for loading the dishwasher. This not only helps to achieve an optimal wash result, but also protects the dishwashing assistant. In particular, you should make sure that cutlery is always placed in the container provided for it. Otherwise, the cutlery could fall and, in the worst case, block the wash arms.

Read here why you should always unplug power adapters from the socket.

6. Always pre-rinse

Unless the dishes are really heavily soiled in the dishwasher, the pre-wash cycle is “superfluous” in the truest sense of the word. Even with the small amount of water that modern washing machines need, food residues are reliably removed. Nevertheless, it is best to scrape coarse leftovers from the plates and bowl beforehand to prevent clogging.

7. Dishwasher salt

The practical multi-tabs for the dishwasher are often advertised with the fact that they already contain regeneration salt and therefore you do not have to refill the container in the machine. In fact, the water in some regions of Germany is so hard that the multi-tabs alone cannot prevent calcification. In this case, the salt container should also be filled. Conversely, too much regeneration salt in soft water can lead to milky residues on glasses. You can find out from your waterworks whether you have hard or soft water.

Read from our colleagues at myHOMEBOOK: Stiftung Warentest - the best dishwasher tabs are the cheapest

8. Rinse too hot

What applies to the washing machine, by and large, also applies to the dishwasher. Washing cycles that are too hot use electricity unnecessarily and are harmful to the environment. Most dishwashers have an eco mode, which is completely sufficient to clean the dishes. But the same applies to dishwashers: every now and then you should wash at 60 degrees or higher so that no bacteria, fat and limescale accumulate.


9. The refrigerator is set up incorrectly

Shortly after making a purchase, consumers can make a serious mistake: if you put your refrigerator in the wrong place, it will have to use more energy for cooling. Therefore, before setting up the appliance, you should think carefully about the best place in the kitchen. A refrigerator should be set up at a sufficient distance from the wall and other devices that give off heat, such as the oven. If you keep a few centimeters away, the refrigerator can cool ideally and release the heat it has generated into the environment.

10. Warm food in the refrigerator

Do you still have food left over from your last meal and want to store it in the refrigerator? No problem - but you should wait until the food is cool before putting it in the refrigerator. If you put warm food in the refrigerator, it will change the temperature in the appliance. Our cool keeper then has to rev up to restore the appropriate temperature.

6 tips for saving electricity in the household

11. Moist food in the refrigerator

It is equally important not to put any moistened food in the refrigerator. If the head of lettuce is simply placed in the refrigerator after washing, mold and germs can form much faster because they like the moisture. Therefore it is best to dry everything thoroughly beforehand - then it will last longer.

12. Just put everything in the fridge

The refrigerator is there to ensure that food has a longer shelf life. But there are also cases when the refrigerator does exactly the opposite. Foods like tomatoes, bread, garlic and onions do not tolerate the cold very well and are more likely to do badly in the refrigerator than in a dry place protected from light.

13. Fill the refrigerator incorrectly

Not only can the refrigerator itself be placed incorrectly, there is also right and wrong when it comes to the contents. In general, a refrigerator should never be overfilled, because this means that the air can no longer circulate well and the contents deteriorate more quickly. But the refrigerator shouldn't be too empty either. If nothing is inside, the cold air escapes from the refrigerator every time it is opened and the unit has to work harder to reach the correct temperature again - and uses a lot of electricity in the process.

A little tip for positioning sensitive food such as milk: Even if the large compartment in the door is ideal for the milk carton, it is best to place it far below in the refrigerator itself. The temperature fluctuation is greatest in the area of ​​the door, as this is where warm air comes in first when it is opened.

Does a full refrigerator use more electricity than an empty one?

Vacuum cleaner and microwave

14. Vacuum too much dirt

It “pops” and the suction power of your vacuum cleaner is reduced. If you vacuum up large amounts of dirt, the pipe can clog and the suction performance is severely impaired. In the end, you have to stop suction and clear the pipe from the blockage. Better to take precautions and remove coarse-grained dirt with a hand brush. This protects your vacuum cleaner and saves time.

15. Do not clean the microwave

Don't hesitate to peek inside your microwave more often, even if you're in a hurry. Encrusted food scraps are not only unsightly and unsanitary, they can also affect the running time of the microwave and damage the device.

Your data security when using the share function