You’re not using the window in the oven door

If you find your baked goods sink, or your roast takes longer to cook, it’s probably because you’re opening the oven door too often to check on your baking. This will seriously affect the temperature inside – you may well lose half of the heat. Your oven will therefore need more time to return to the correct temperature. If you're baking, it may affect the rising of your bread or cake.

Instead, use the oven window to check on food while in progress. (This may mean giving it a clean so you can actually see inside.) If you're concerned about burning or overcooking your food, set an alarm for five to ten minutes (depending on the desired cooking time) before your food should have cooked to check on it. Only open the oven door once!

You use too much detergent in your laundry

If you just slop some detergent into your laundry without measuring it, you may be compromising the lifespan of your washing machine. If there’s excess detergent, it may not drain away completely, leaving your machine gummed up. The motor and pump have to work harder, your washing retains more water and the machine will have to pause and rinse more often to deal with the extra lather.

Read your manual and the information on the detergent box to get a better idea of how much to add for the size of the load and the heat and length of the wash.

You defrost meat in the microwave

This isn’t bad for your microwave, but it could be bad for your health. Meat should always be defrosted in the fridge but as it takes so long, it’s tempting to try to speed up the process. Don’t! In the fridge, meat defrosts but never gets warm enough to hit the ‘danger zone’ where bacteria begin to multiply rapidly. If you defrost in the microwave, you create an ideal breeding environment for bacteria.

Defrosting your meat in the fridge also means that it'll taste better. Some of the moisture lost as it freezes will be reabsorbed in the fridge, making its texture less fibrous.

You’re not using your grill to preheat your oven

Ovens are slow to pre-heat. This often means we lose patience and stick the food in before the oven is ready for it, which may affect both cooking time and outcome.

But – there’s a simple hack for this. Switch on your grill first. It’ll help heat up your oven more quickly than using the oven itself. After a few minutes, when it’s warm inside, switch off the grill and set the oven’s temperature.

You don’t check your pockets for coins and rubbish before washing

Coins and keys can damage the drum of your machine and sometimes get wedged in moving parts, causing a complete breakdown. Tissues and papers can easily block your filter. As you put items into the washing machines, make it a part of your process to disentangle them.

Very dirty clothes (muddy socks, kids’ t-shirts with food stains) should be washed right way around, everything else should be washed inside out. This means that the inside of the clothes, that take in oil and sweat from your skin, will take more of a battering from the machine, and keep the outside of the items newer looking for longer.

Make sure you also clean out your washing machine and dryer filters regularly.

You overload your fridge

Too much food in a fridge will make the machine have to work much harder to achieve the same results, costing you more in electricity and shortening the lifespan of your machine. And if air can’t circulate around the items, your food won’t last as long. This is especially the case if the seal around your fridge door is compromised by the high volume of food inside.

Don’t put warm food in your fridge and make sure the fridge door is closing properly every time.  

You don’t use dishwasher salt

Dishwasher salt is a supplement you give your dishwasher for the good of its health. It protects it from hard water and improves its ability to wash dishes. You probably won't notice a difference in day-to-day operations but if you use dishwasher salt, it’ll certainly lengthen the lifespan of your machine, especially if you live in a hard water area.

You don’t use the pulse function on your blender

Take a look at low-star product reviews for less expensive blenders and you’ll find plenty of comments expressing surprise that their blender suddenly died. Often the cause of this is overworking the blender, specifically by not using the pulse function.

If you are trying to blend something very tough or resistant, the temptation is to press down on the blend button for as hard and long as you can. But if you read your instruction manual, you’ll see that it advises you only to blend in short bursts (pulses) to protect the motor from overheating. Many blenders should only be used for a few seconds at a time. Hold the button down for too long and the blender motor will overheat and conk out.

In addition, if you use a hand blender or a low-power jug blender, don’t use it to crush ice. It’s simply too much for the motor and can damage the blender blade. 

You use your microwave while streaming films

Microwaves use electromagnetic rays, which can interfere with the radio waves put out by your wi-fi. This means that you should only really use one or another at any one time. So, if you’re trying to stream or download a film or you're doing important online, don’t try to heat up your dinner at the same time.

You’re not putting your dishes in the right places in the oven

If you’ve ever wondered why your roast veg don’t come out the same way each time, we may have the answer. There’s an ideal spot in the oven for everything you cook.

To get crispy roast veg in the oven, put the baking tray at the bottom of the oven, where the bottom of the baking dish will get nice and hot. Use the same spot for a pizza, to get a crispy base. Baked goods should go in the middle, so that they cook evenly.

Anything with a cheesy topping or that you’d like to brown on top, put towards the top of the oven.

You’re not emptying your toaster’s crumb catcher

If you don’t regularly empty your toaster’s crumb catcher, you’re just creating a little fire hazard on your kitchen counter. At the very least, you’ll set off your smoke alarm before long. Always unplug your toaster before you remove and empty the crumb tray. Resist the urge to stick a knife or another metal utensil inside to dislodge big chunks of toast. If something gets stuck, turn the toaster upside down over the bin and give it a shake. Use a wooden utensil for stubborn pieces. When you right the toaster, make sure that no bits are stuck against the heating elements.

You’re neglecting your kettle

Although we all keep water in our kettles, we really shouldn’t. Letting water sit inside a kettle causes limescale build-up, which affects its day-to-day functioning and lifespan. But if you use your kettle to make tea or coffee several times a day, it’s probably not realistic to empty it completely after each use.

Try these tips:

  • Use filtered water in your kettle.

  • Only add as much as you are going to use each time you boil it. This will also save on electricity.

  • Regularly descale your kettle. Do this by filling it with one part white vinegar to one part water. Let it sit for an hour. Empty the kettle and wipe away all of the limescale inside. Fill and empty it five times before use.

You don’t clean your vacuum cleaner

When you’ve finished vacuuming, it’s easy to dump the vac in the cupboard and think no more about it. But your last job after vacuuming should be to clean the vac itself. If you’ve got a bagless cleaner, empty it straight into the bin. Some never vacs also have a filter that you can remove and wash out. If you have a bag, make sure that it’s not more than half full. From this point on, the vacuum cleaner will get less and less efficient. When you remove the bag wipe around the filter area with a damp cloth.

Next, check the cleaning head. Pull out any trapped hairs and cut away any hairs wrapped around the roller. Empty out any bits into the bin. Finally, give it a wipe down to remove any dust and grime.

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