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15 Things in Your Home to Take Care of to Save Big Money

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Have you ever thought about how often we replace things versus spending the extra time to repair them or maintain them?

I do.

When I think about all of the things I’ve replaced over time, and how some of those items could be sitting in a landfill right now, I sort of cringe from the visual.

And then I think about how much all of that stuff I replaced cost me. Probably thousands.

Yikes.

Years ago I went on a personal journey to break this cycle, whether for the purposes of saving money or just doing better by the environment.

And…it felt sort of good.

photo of wooden carving of happy face
Photo credit: Dawn Kim on Unsplash

I learned to take care of this thing that I paid hard-earned money for, to give it a good useful life, to learn a new skill, and to reduce my landfill footprint. What could be more satisfying than that?

Of course, now we have an even greater motivation to maintain and take care of the things that we have. With inflation hitting us all pretty hard in 2022, most new goods, not to mention the costs of repair services, have given us all sticker stock.

Taking care of things around your home, even on a very basic level, and for as long as you possibly can, will definitely save you money over time.

For what it’s worth, for this particular list, I’m not giving you the longer details on repairs and maintenance that a professional technician would; that’s a completely different blog. But these simple inspections, repairs, and cleaning activities are things that most anyone can do in a seasonal or monthly maintenance checklist. And a little will go a very long way!

Part I: Small Appliances

1. Vacuum Cleaner

A vacuum cleaner is easier to maintain than you might think. Photo credit: Jarmoluk on Pixabay

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that we have a lot of cats in our house. Five, to be exact. What that means is that vacuum cleaners have to be kept running in top shape.

Once a month, I recommend that you take a look at your vacuum cleaner’s brush roll and remove any extra hair or debris (usually you can just use a pair of scissors), inspect the hose for clogs, and check out the belts for any obvious signs of wear.

Also, if you have a washable filter, once every couple of weeks, give that a rinse off as well. And emptying the canister after each vacuum job will ultimately improve suction, as suction will decrease if your vacuum canister (or bag) gets too full.

2. Microwave

Keeping the microwave clean is the best way for it to last over the long haul. Photo credit: Gcafotographia on Shutterstock

For folks on the go, the microwave is one of the most frequently used items in the kitchen.

Regularly inspect your microwave for splatters and dried-on food inside the unit and around the door. All it takes is boiling a cup of water inside the microwave for 5 minutes, and all of the caked-on splatters immediately come loose!

Some newer units come with a charcoal filter, so check the owner’s manual on how often to change/clean the filter and how to get a replacement. If your microwave emits a strange smell despite regular cleaning, a dirty filter could be the culprit.

3. Coffee Pot

Coffee pots come relatively cheap, but why would you want to add more stuff to the landfill or local thrift shop? It’s pretty easy to run vinegar through in a couple of cycles once every couple of months. Use a soap or baking soda mixture to clean off the hot plate, which can hold a smelly buildup of burned coffee over time. Pay attention to the buttons also, which have a tendency to get sticky.

Learn from my mistake: One of my coffee machine buttons ended up rusting out completely and stopped working. I should have paid more attention and cleaned those buttons more thoroughly to start with!

4. Fan

Picture of metal fan. Fans can be taken care of and maintained easily in order to save money over time.
Fans can be cleaned with a few snaps or use of a screwdriver to separate the parts. Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

This is another small appliance that comes pretty cheap, but I’ll admit, I love keeping around my “vintage” fans. They’re made of sturdier materials, they are pretty powerful, and I think I’d be rather sad to part with them!

Standard bladed fans are rather easy to take apart and clean and oil with a few twists and snaps.

Tower fans with concealed blades can hold a lot of dust inside crevices, so you may want to use compressed air often to prevent extra dust from blowing around. Also be on the lookout for any squeaks in need of oil.

Part II: Electronics

5. Television

Televisions have become cheaper and cheaper these days, but do you really want to deal with the hassle of disposing of one and then replacing it?

Most experts recommend these super simple things: Turning it off when not using it, keeping color, brightness, and contrast settings on the “standard” levels only, using a surge protector, good ventilation, and regular dusting.

6. Laptop Computer

The average person replaces a laptop every 3-5 years, but if you’re smart, you can keep this pricey little item going a couple more years beyond the typical lifespan. This is one item on my list where I’ll show some of my own bias, but in this scenario, you truly get what you pay for.

If you’re looking for a computer that’s durable, can stand up to being dropped, that doesn’t overheat and comes with a better (more comfortable) keyboard, you may want to consider some of the business-grade laptops. Business laptops don’t come cheap, but refurbished models can be found online for a discount.

Like all things on this list, also keep your laptop clean and free of dust! Regular restarts, updates, and not cluttering it up with unnecessary “junk” programs or apps will make a difference.

Part III: In the Kitchen

7. Electric Cooktop or Gas Range, Oven, and Hood

Photo of gas stove range. Gas ranges should be taken care of by washing and degreasing them regularly.
Gas ranges should be cleaned after heavy use to prolong their life and appearance. Photo credit: Webandi on Pixabay

You’ll prolong that good-as-new glossy appearance of a glass cooktop by regularly wiping it down after each use or using a specialized cooktop cleaner immediately after any big spills. Most cleaning experts recommend dish soap and microfiber cloths to degrease and remove residue and a scratch-free scraper tool to gently remove burn marks.

Gas ranges can be a little more labor intensive, as there are more parts to clean. Just like glass cooktops, a combination of dish soap and water is a good degreasing agent.

The gas burners are a different story and can be subject to clogs near the flame hole. One of the big culprits is the boiling over of starchy water, such as potatoes and pasta. A needle can be used to remove any debris in the small holes, but it’s easier just to avoid the mess in the first place!

It’s simple to wipe down range hoods after use, but the range hood filter often gets overlooked. It will need a thorough cleaning at least twice a year, more often if you do a lot of frying. Fast tip: Soak filters in a crumbled-up dish tab with hot water for 30 minutes before you scrub.

Some ovens have a self-clean feature, but the fumes can be irritating. Instead, inspect the inside once a month for burned-on residue and remove with oven cleaner or a simple dish soap, baking soda and water mixture. Prevent messes to begin with by using lids or covering dishes with foil, or placing a cookie sheet or foil on the rack directly below the dish you are baking—but definitely not on the bottom of the oven.

And don’t forget the knobs! Some of these are removable and can be thrown right into the dishwasher!

8. Refrigerator

Photo of stainless steel refrigerator. Taking care of refrigerators by keeping them away from excessive dust can prolong their life and help you save money.
Limit your refrigerator’s exposure to dust, and it can last for many years. Photo credit: Avaniks on Shutterstock

Although a refrigerator can use more electricity as it ages, you can keep it in relatively good shape just by keeping it clean. Dirty coils inhibit a refrigerator’s ability to release heat, so the compressor has to work extra hard and uses more energy. Every 6 months or so, vacuum around the coils and/or condenser fan (if your fridge has one), and wipe down the drip pan.

And don’t underestimate the value of keeping it clean on the inside, too! I usually do a quick inspection on trash days as I’m throwing out old items, and if I happen to see any stickiness or spills, I just wipe them down then with a vinegar water mixture. Door gaskets tend to hide all sorts of sticky stuff (Why is it always jelly? Why?) so this is a good opportunity to wipe them down with warm water.

Freezers function better when they’re full, but they shouldn’t be overstuffed to the point that airflow is blocked, which wears out the condenser, so look for any overflowing items.

Part IV: In the Laundry Room

9. Washer and Dryer

Washer and dryer inside laundry room. Maintaining a washer and dryer by limiting abuse and cleaning lint can help you save money over time.
Check all lint traps. There is more than one! Photo credit: ErikaWittlieb on Pixabay

The average lifespan of a washer and dryer is 10 and 13 years, respectively, and if not abused, they can probably last longer!

Have you ever tried to move one of these things, though?? It’s a pain. All the more motivation to keep them lasting a long time!

With the case of washers and dryers, “more” is a very bad thing. More detergent, more overloading, and more use will cause all of its parts to work harder and wear out over time.

You probably know to clear out the lint filter after each use of the dryer, but there are other hidden lint traps that can get ignored, each model being a little different.

Learn from my mistake: I nearly caused a small flood after lint from two extremely fuzzy blankets filled up our drain hose lint trap located behind the washer. I had forgotten to check it and clean it. Oops!

Part V: In the Garage

10. Car

Photo of man repairing car. Taking care of and maintaining your car according to its maintenance schedule will save you money over time.
Lift the hood periodically to spot any worn belts or low fluids. Photo credit: Anna Shvets on Pexels

Your vehicle is probably one of your most often used possessions that if taken care of, can last you years to come.

Gone are the days when cars barely made it to 100,000 miles. You can keep your car long past that today with just basic TLC. Most vehicles come with a basic maintenance schedule (follow it!), but also make a mental note to just open the hood once a month and look around for worn belts, low tires, or any fluids that could be running low. Best time to do this? Before or just after a wash. It’s all right there ready for you!

And since we’re on the topic of washing, keeping your vehicle clean, inside and out, can give increase its longevity. If you live in a snowy climate, a good wash is even more important to prevent rusting of components on the undercarriage from road salts. Regular washing is good for your paint job, too.

Best of all, a car that looks and smells clean is a car that you’ll actually want to drive, so you’ll hang on to it longer!

If you’re still not convinced that keeping your car as long as possible saves you serious money, consider this. Assume you finance a car for three years and eventually pay off the loan. You then keep your car for a total of 15 years. That’s 144 months of your life with NO car payment. Freedom!

11. Mower

The cost of lawn equipment is all over the map, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, as this all largely depends on the size and features that you need.

At the beginning of lawn season, though, your repair checklist does not need to be overly complex. Changing the oil, replacing the spark plugs, sharpening the blades, oiling the wheel bearings, and just keeping it as clean as possible can keep it going for years.

Part VI: Other Big (Expensive) Stuff

12. Carpeting

Photo of man cleaning carpet. Regularly cleaning carpets can restore their life and save you money.
Regular carpet cleaning can restore the fibers and reach deeply embedded dirt. Photo credit: Andrey Popov on Shutterstock

The carpets in your home take a lot of abuse. Sometimes, they take so much abuse that the grime and wear alone is enough to tempt you to replace them. Depending on the square footage of your home, this can be a pricey endeavor.

Instead, limit the amount of dust and dirt in your home by setting up a “shoe station” near the door where you remove your shoes before coming inside.

Regular vacuuming, at least several times a week for high-traffic areas, will ensure that some of the more abrasive particles and dirt don’t reach deep into the fibers of your carpet.

Annual carpet cleaning can also give carpet the refresh it needs to extend its life—you can do it yourself or hire a service. Honestly, our carpet looks so much better after this is done, and for minimal cost, I’m able to be talked off of the “let’s re-carpet the whole house” ledge!

13. Roof

Photo of roof shingles. Protecting and taking care of your roof over time will save you money.
To keep your roof beyond its standard lifespan, keep an eye out after storms. Photo credit: Rachelrose11 on Pixabay

The average roof needs replacing every 15-20 years and costs on average $5,000 – $10,000 in 2022. In order not to shorten the lifespan of your roof, try to just simply reduce the amount of stuff that ends up on it.

Preventive measures range from setting up gutter guards or investing in regular gutter cleaning, to trimming tall trees likely to drop leaves and limbs, to attending to small leaks immediately.

It’s a good idea to also be regularly looking up at your ceilings and checking your attic for any water spotting or staining that occurs after big storms. A small leak can become a very large, expensive leak in no time!

14. HVAC

I won’t go into great detail on this as it will probably double the size of this post, but local HVAC repair companies usually have maintenance plans for annual or seasonal inspections if you aren’t always sure what to look for.

At a minimum, though, replace filters once a month and make sure all vents and intake areas are clear of dust and are not blocked by furniture or drapes. For the condenser (outside) unit, make sure it is free of any debris such as leaves, twigs, or grass clippings, which can get caught in the fan. Try to take a little bit of extra care when mowing and trimming around the condenser unit area.

Part VII: Closet

15. Clothing

Photo of sweaters hanging in closet. Taking care of your clothing by choosing high quality clothing and following care instructions saves money over time.
Stick with high-quality fabrics when possible for longer wear. Photo credit: Moses Janga on Unsplash

Clothing is a trickier thing to preserve considering how today’s clothing is made of cheaper materials and that “fast fashion” has become a bit of a norm. This mostly boils down to personal preference, but one thing to consider for long-term savings is purchasing clothing made of material that will stand up to repeated washes and wears from the start.

On the front end, this may cost you more, but high-quality cotton and wool garments can last for years to come. To determine if a garment is of higher quality, check for these things at the time of purchase:

  • Finished hems
  • Patterns like plaids and stripes that line up evenly
  • Extra buttons and thread that come with shirts, sweaters, and blazers
  • Covered zippers
  • Seams that hold together well when pulled
  • Fabric that is not transparent, even if it’s “sheer” in style
  • Fabric and leather is actually sewn together, not glued

Those care instructions are there for a reason as well! If you know for sure that you don’t have the time to hand wash or dry clean, seek out alternative fabrics instead; otherwise, you’ll be putting your higher quality (more expensive) items at risk.

Simple, Regular Care Means Money Saved

With just a basic level of care, you can keep most of your appliances and big-ticket items in good condition for many years to come. You do not have to be an expert to maintain these things well!

Once you’ve done some back-of-the-envelope math on the cost of all of these items, it’s clear that you’re not only saving hundreds over time…we’re talking thousands!

Not to mention, it’s good for the environment and good for a “can-do” spirit!


Tell me in the comments, what items in your home have you managed to keep working the longest?

If you liked the theme of this post, you might like this one, too. What if you just maintained and enjoyed your home….the way it is? No renovations required?

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