Care Of Household Appliances


General safety points

Whenever you can, buy appliances marked with the BEA13 label of approval.

Read your instruction book and keep it handy near to the appliance. Read it again from time to time: it is easy to miss important points. Failure to read instruction books is a prime source of consumer complaints, according to many manufacturers. If you lose your book write off to the manufacturer for another one, quoting the model name and number.

After using electrical appliances, always turn offat the wall socket and unplug. This

Make sure that you know how to put on a plug correctly and Jit the right fuse particularly applies to television sets. Never leave an appliance such as an iron or deep fat frier unattended while you answer the door or the telephone. Switch them off and unplug. Never take portable electrical appliances into the bathroom.


Do make sure that the plug you use for the appliance is fitted with a correctly-rated fuse. Again, an incorrectly-rated fuse is a most common cause of faults. Appliances rated below 700 watts need 3 amp fuses, coloured red. Appliances rated between 700 and 3000 watts need 13 amp fuses, coloured brown. The wattage of an appliance is usually stated on its rating plate, and in the instruction booklet. It is particularly important not to use a 13A fuse for an appliance which should have a 3A fuse, because you will not be getting proper protection from your fuse. Many plugs are sold with 13 A fuses, so you may have to change the fuse yourself, or ask for this to be done in the shop where you buy the plug.

As a general guide, the following appliances need only a 3A fuse : table-lamps, standard lamps, blenders and mixers, towel rails, record players, sewing machines, black and white TVs. Some motor driven appliances require 13 amp fuses because of a high starting current, see instruction booklet.

If an appliance should fail, don’t panic. Never examine any electrical appliance without first turning offat the socket and unplugging. Then unscrew the back of the plug. CHECK that the wires in the plug are still firmly connected to the correct 138 terminals.. CHECK that the fuse has not blown.

You can check a cartridge fuse by testing it in an appliance of a similar rating which you know is working satisfactorily. Now check the wall socket by plugging into it an appliance you know to be working, eg table lamp.

If the fuse in the plug has not blown, check the fuse in your mains box. Before calling repair service, re-read the instruction booklet: sometimes there is a safety cut-out, for example, which may simply need setting. It may be necessary to wait for an appliance that has over-heated to cool down, or there may be some other point you have overlooked: a safety door lock, perhaps. Electric cookers may need to have timing mechanisms re-set.

Have all electrical appliances serviced regularly by the agents recommended by the manufacturer. Always keep carefully any receipts showing the date of purchase, so that you can prove an appliance is still within its guarantee period. When telephoning the service agents, state clearly the model and serial number – you will find this information on the rating plate and in the instruction booklet. Describe as clearly as you can the nature of the fault, and always enquire about charges at this stage.

Cleaning electrical appliances

First read carefully the points about cleaning listed in the manufacturer’s handbook. In general, all appliances should be switched offat the socket and unplugged before you attempt any type of cleaning. Do not immerse electrical appliances in water with a cloth dampened with warm water and a little washing-up liquid. Use a little washing-up liquid neat on any very dirty marks, or a cream cleaner, or general purpose aerosol cleaner polisher. But do not use abrasive cleaning powders. When cleaning food processors, food mixers, liquidisers and so on, be careful of any sharp blades.


General safety points

Always look for the B.S.I. safety mark when buying any gas appliance. The installation of gas appliances and use of gas in the home are governed by the following Gas Safety Regulations, 1972.

– You are bound by law not to use or let anyone else use an appliance you suspect or know to be dangerous.

– Only competent people may install or service appliances: such work must not be carried out by anyone who is not qualified.

– If gas should escape, you must turn off the supply at the mains, and then contact your local gas service centre. You will find this listed under GAS in the telephone directory.

– You must not turn the supply back on again, or use a suspect appliance until the escape and/or the appliance has been repaired by a competent person.

You can be fined if you do not observe these regulations. Accordingly, you should always use qualified gas fitters for the installation of gas appliances: either a fitter from your regional gas authority or a CORGI registered fitter.

Read carefully any instruction books supplied with the appliance, and keep them handy so that you can refer to them from time to time. If you lose your instruction book, write to the makers for a replacement.

It is vital to have all gas appliances serviced regularly by a qualified gas engineer. Gas central heating boilers, water heaters and fires should be serviced once every year. Other gas appliances should be serviced every two years. A faulty appliance may well be dangerous; it will almost certainly be wasteful, burning gas uneconomically.


Remember that all gas appliances must have air in order to work properly and to be safe in use. You should never block ventilators or air bricks in the same or connecting rooms to gas appliances; such ventilation may be in walls, windows or doors. Some gas appliances have flues to carry away harmful waste gases to the fresh air outside the home. Such appliances include boilers and fires. Your service engineer will check the flues as part of the regular servicing. However, it is a good idea yourself to watch for any possible signs of a blocked or faulty flue, such as discoloration or staining on the wall or on the appliance where appliances are fitted to a wall. If you do notice marks of this kind, call your gas service centre at once: don’t delay, because it could be dangerous.

Old-fashioned water-heaters need particular care in use, because they have open flues. You must have them serviced once a year, and you must keep the bathroom window open when running hot water. Always keep the bathroom ventilator unblocked. Before you get into the bath, turn off the hot water, and don’t run in any more once you are in the bath. Make sure that your family knows about these safety precautions, too. But modern gas water-heaters have balanced flues, so the spent gases are discharged directly to the open air, and the safety precautions outlined above will not be necessary.

Small modern gas instantaneous water-heaters fitted at the kitchen sink should not be allowed to run for more than five minutes at a time. You must not use them to fill washing machines or to fill baths.

Gas appliances should be used only for the purpose for which they were designed. Thus, you should not try to heat a room with a cooker, you should not build a cupboard around a boiler for use as an 139 airing cupboard, and you should not use gas fires for drying clothes.




Here are some general hints on cleaning gas and electric cookers. In every case, first read the manufacturer’s instruction book, which will have a special section devoted to cleaning. Note which cleaning products are recommended, which sections can be detached for cleaning, and what you must not do as well as what you should do.

Always make sure that an electric cooker is switched off at the main control panel before you start cleaning.

Wipe down hobs after each use. Mop up spills as soon as they happen, before they ‘bake on’, but be careful not to touch any very hot parts. For stubborn marks use a little cream cleaner of the type recommended by the Vitreous Enamel Development Council and marked with their symbol on the pack. Avoid harsh scouring pads and powders which can scratch enamels and metals.

Where possible lift off removable parts and soak them in the sink in hot water and washing-up liquid, or in hot water and washing soda. You can use cream cleaner and a nylon scouring pad if necessary, then rinse well, dry off and replace. Glass oven doors can usually be removed for cleaning at the sink, but never use steel wool which can scratch the glass, and do not use aerosol oven cleaners on glass doors.

The dirtiest part of your cooker is likely to be the oven: try to clean it while it is still warm, but not hot. Take out shelves and any other removable parts and wash all over with hot water and washing-up liquid solution. If your oven is very dirty, use a branded oven cleaner. This is likely to contain caustic soda, so follow directions on the pack to the letter, protecting your hands with a pair of rubber gloves, and avoiding breathing in any fumes. Keep the kitchen well-ventilated throughout and do not leave cleaner on for longer than the time specified. Do not use such cleaners on self-clean oven liners; these should only be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

You can clean the new ceramic hobs with a damp cloth and a little cream cleaner. Special cleaners are also available from your supplier and from Electricity Board shops.

Electric kettles

All B.E.A.B. approved kettles have a safety cut-out which operates if a kettle boils dry; once the safety cutout has operated you may have to leave the kettle for around ten minutes before refilling.

When using a new kettle for the first time, boil up some water and then empty it away. Always see that the element is covered with water before switching on; do not fill below or above marks for minimum and maximum water levels. Do not fill or pour from the kettle without withdrawing the flex connector. Keep the connector out of reach of children and do not leave flex or connector where they can get wet. Make sure that kettles stand on a level surface and do not stand them on a hot surface as this might damage their small plastic feet. In hard water areas you may find that scale or furring starts to build up in your kettle. To remove this, buy a branded de-scaling product from your hardware store, first checking that the pack says that it is suitable for electric kettles. Follow the directions carefully.

Other small kitchen appliances.

Mixers, blenders, slow cookers, deep fat fryers and so on all have some part that comes into contact with food and must therefore be kept scrupulously clean. Many different materials are used in the manufacture of such items, so it is important to follow the directions for your particular model. Some parts may be able to be removed for washing at the sink. But in general do not immerse in water the part which contains the electrical motor or controls. Metal blades of mincers, mixers and food processors should be handled with extreme care both during use and during cleaning: keep lids securely on during use. Wash and dry the blades immediately after use, and store in a dry, safe place. Where possible, use dust covers to protect such appliances when not in use.

Make sure that all small appliances have a fuse of the rating recommended by the makers; most of them are double insulated and will not have an earth connection. However, there is usually an earth connection when the appliance performs some kind of heating function, such as a kettle, toaster or fryer.

Coffee-makers may require descaling periodically as detailed for kettles, above.

Make sure that the leads to these small appliances are short and do not pass over any hot surfaces such as a cooker hob. Never attempt to clean or adjust in any way without switching off and unplugging; in particular do not try to dislodge bread from a toaster without first switching it off and unplugging, and take care not to break the fine element wires inside, in the process.

Inspect flexes regularly, particularly at the point where they enter the plug or appliance. If connections seem worn, or if flex is worn in part, or hard or cracked, get it replaced by a qualified electrician.


Follow the maker’s instructions precisely, using the detergent recommended and loading the machine exactly as suggested. If you have any problems initially, consult the service agents: they can often explain on the telephone what you are doing wrong, without the cost of a service call. Always make sure that your tableware is suited for a dishwasher before you place it in the machine. In general the following should not be washed by machine: antique or hand-painted china; wood; lead crystal and cut glass; and cutlery with special handles of bone or wood. Take care to clean out all filters after each wash, and clean around the door seal with a damp cloth. If you are not using your machine for a little while, leave it clean with the door slightly open. Fill-up ‘rinse-aids’ and water softeners regularly as directed in your instruction booklet. Never allow silverware to come into contact with other metals inside the machine: always place it in a separate basket, otherwise it may be blackened or even pitted by a process known as ‘electrolysis’. It is often sensible to unload the bottom trays before top ones, in case small amounts of water are trapped on top of cups etc.

Washing machines

As always, it is vital that you follow the maker’s instructions. Keep them nearby your machine, and reread them from time to time. You will find a guide to the washcode numbers and 140 symbols on most washing powder packets. Always use the type of powder recommended: a common fault is to use a high lather detergent in a front loading automatic machine. The result is that the clothes cannot be washed properly and you may even get water seeping out onto the floor. Do not overload machines: refer to instructions for permitted load sizes. Make sure that supply and outlet hoses are always well-connected; if the machine is not plumbed in, make sure that water can drain away easily. Otherwise check that outlet hoses remain unblocked. Clean the filter regularly if required. Stand the machine on a level surface, otherwise excess vibration could damage the motor and/or turn the machine off. Always check that the water pressure of your home is within the limits given in the instruction book.

Spin driers

Consult instruction booklets for spin times for various fibres/fabrics. If the drier vibrates and makes a noise, it is probably unevenly loaded. Switch off at once and redistribute the load. Knitted garments which may lose their shape should only be given a short spin wrapped in a towel. When using the drier, tuck the maker’s rubber retaining mat down over clothes, or tuck them down with an old towel.

New spin-driers have a safety lock which prevents anyone from opening the machine until the drum has stopped spinning, but some old machines may continue to spin for a little while even after the lid is opened – in this case take special care yourself and keep children away. After use wipe the machine dry and leave the lid open.


Never place sopping wet clothes in this type of machine: always wring or spin clothes first. Be sure to clean the front filter of your machine after use. Do not fill it more than two-thirds full, and consult instructions for the right heat and drying time for different fibres. In general, synthetics should be tumbled on the lowest possible heat and then, if possible, tumbled for a short while with the heat off to minimise creasing.


Never use an iron with a worn or damaged flex. Clip a flex guard onto your ironing board to protect the flex at its most vulnerable point: where it enters the iron. Special iron cleaners are available from hardware and chemist stores for cleaning the sole plates of irons that become stained or covered with sticky deposits. Use these in preference to scourers which can danrage the sole plate.

If you have a steam iron, always use distilled water from a chemist, not from a garage. Or you can use one of the newer ‘de-mineralisers’ sold in the chemists or hardware store. These are crystals which you top up yourself with tap water and are therefore much lighter than distilled water to carry home. Some irons now advertise ‘Tap water may be used.’ These are exceptions to the above advice. Always turn off a steam iron before you fill it. and empty it after use. Stand it on its heel whenever you stop ironing.


Set temperatures according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It should not usually be necessary to run a fridge at its coldest setting: if you do, food may start to freeze in the fresh food compartment. Site your fridge away from sources of heat such as boilers or cookers. An electric fridge should have its own earthed electrical point so that you do not turn it off by mistake. Store and wrap food carefully as recommended in the maker’s handbook. Do not put hot food into the fridge.

Make sure that there is sufficient air ventilation around the back of the fridge as

CARE OF HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES recommended by the manufacturer; if fitted under a worktop your fridge should have a little space at top and sides. Make sure that it is standing level or it may be very noisy; try adjusting the levelling screws, or even simply moving its position slightly. Keep the condenser units at the back of the fridge free of dust: switch off, unplug and then dust.

Defrost fridges regularly, and always when ice has built up to a thickness of around 3 mm. After defrosting, clean out the fridge thoroughly, using a scrupulously clean cloth and a bowl of warm water to which you have added I teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. Do not use washing-up liquid as it can taint plastic interiors. Dry thoroughly, switch on again and put back the food.


As with the fridge, your freezer should be connected to its own separate earthed electric point. And, as always, do follow the individual manufacturer’s instructions. They are well worth reading, for they usually contain much additional information on the exact methods to use for freezing different kinds of food.

Also follow the maker’s guidance on food packaging, which must be done

Mi efficiently to preserve the food. In general, packaging should be air-tight, able to withstand low temperatures and clearly labelled, preferably with a chinagraph pencil. You can sec special ranges of freezer packaging at most good hardware and department stores.

Follow carefully the maker’s instructions for defrosting, but in general do not allow ice to build up to a thickness of more than j. cm. You can use wooden or plastic spatulas to scrape away the ice as it melts but never use a sharp metal implement of any kind. When it has been defrosted, wipe out your freezer with a bowl of warm water to which you have added I tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda, and then wipe it dry with a clean cloth and leave open to dry before turning on for about an hour. Then put back the food.

Vacuum cleaners

There are two main types: upright cleaners with rotating beaters, and cylinder suction only cleaners. With both kinds, it is essential to empty dust bags regularly.

If the hoses on cylinder cleaners split, you can often make a short-term repair with special wide adhesive tape for mending pipes and hoses sold at hardware shops. But in the end, you will probably have to order a new hose. If the hose becomes blocked, you may be able to clear it by fitting it to the blowing end of your cleaner: follow the directions in your instruction booklet. Or you can sometimes use a long length of wire to dislodge obstructions: a length of springy curtain wire with an eyelet screwed into the end is ideal; keep one handy in your cleaning box. Beware of making a hook in the end of the wire; if this gets caught anywhere inside the hose it is almost impossible to detach again.

Upright cleaners have little to go wrong; but you may need to replace from time to time the rubber belt which drives the roller brush. Take the old belt with you when you go to buy a replacement as there are different sizes. Follow the directions in the instruction book for this relatively simple task.


Always switch off the set and unplug at night, and close the door of your sitting room before going to bed. Never try to mend your television, and on no account take off its back even when switched off.

Do not put vases of flowers or plants on top of the TV. Keep the screen clean with a general purpose aerosol polisher/cleaner.

Electric blankets

Do not buy secondhand blankets. Overblankets can be used all night: underblankets must be switched off before you get into bed, unless of a special design. Follow maker’s directions to the letter. Do not use blankets which are wet: let them dry naturally: do not switch them on to dry. Do not plug blankets into light fittings, or use on an adaptor with another appliance. Make sure that underblankets lie flat, held securely in place by their tapes. Do not use a blanket which is creased or folded; do not fold to store. Store blankets flat on a spare bed, or rolled up. Never use an ovcrblanket as an under-blanket or vice versa. Check frequently for frayed edges, and loose connections at the plug and controls, but always unplug blanket first. Watch for scorch marks and damage to flex. Have any faults attended to immediately.

Always have your blanket serviced regularly and return it to the makers if you see any sign of any damage.

Electric fires

It is most important that these stand in a safe place away from flammable materials such as curtains and bedcovers. Neper take this type of heater into the bathroom.

Keep reflector plates of radiant types clean, but always unplug before cleaning, and remember to refit the guard. Do not use time switches or thermostats with this type of heater, and provide an additional guard if children are to play in the same room. Keep fan and convector heaters well dusted.

Oil heaters

Do not buy second hand. Follow basic safety precautions, as follows: Do not fill or move heaters when they are alight. Take the tank to the fuel, which should if possible be stored outside, or at any rate in a room separate from the heater. Use the correct grade of paraffin, pouring carefully from a container made for the purpose, and wipe up any splashes. Have good ventilation in rooms where heaters are burning but do not stand them in a draught. Bolt heaters to the floor or bracket to the wall if possible. Don’t use a heater to dry clothes or to cook on; keep it away from all fabrics such as curtains. Always pour old fuel away onto the ground: it is an offence to pour it down a drain.

Immersion heaters

Make sure that your hot water tank is adequately lagged with insulation that is at least 7.5 cm thick. Set your thermostat at 6o°C, to provide water hot enough for most domestic purposes. This is important in areas with hard water, because a higher setting will cause build up of hard water scale.

Fit your heater with a time switch to save money: for example it can be set to turn on for an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so at night to meet your own hot water needs. To adjust the thermostat, turn off at the mains, remove the head cover and turn the thermostat adjuster with a screwdriver.


Follow carefully the maker’s directions for routine maintenance, relighting pilot lights, keeping flues swept and so on. If you have lost these instructions, write off for a new set. Have boilers serviced regularly: at least once a year. Only build cupboards around them which conform meticulously to the maker’s recommendations as regards fire-proofing, ventilation etc. and then do not use them for storage of any kind.

Care Of Household Appliances

Similar Posts