The Tiny Little Cleaning Mistake That Could Cost You Thousands (I Used to Do It All the Time!)

published Jun 8, 2024
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Your kitchen probably contains some of the most expensive appliances and features in your entire home. And they’re not just showpieces, either — they’re workhorses that get used, often multiple times a day. And that means that cleaning them to keep them in tip-top shape is essential. 

If you’re anything like I am, cleaning kitchen appliances is not only necessary for a kitchen to run smoothly and safely, but also to keep stress levels under control. (Getting dinner on the table is hard enough for my family of seven without navigating an over-stuffed fridge or encountering crumbs in the microwave!). When it comes to cleaning the oven, for instance, it’s so much faster to clean fresh spills shortly after they happen rather than tackling months’ worth of baked-on debris at one tedious go. Cleaning the kitchen regularly is key — I try to deep-clean once a week — and finding ways to clean efficiently makes the whole undertaking more manageable. 

But it’s so important to ensure that being efficient doesn’t cause careless mistakes that could end up costing you time or money. It’s easier than it seems to unthinkingly damage your appliances — which is why it’s crucial to know beforehand what could cause problems. I recently came across one of these key precautions in a video on @cleansnob’s Instagram, and learned that I’ve been inadvertently making one of these potentially costly mistakes myself!

In the video, professional cleaner Cindy Hendler shares that spraying your appliances’ control panels “can lead to moisture seeping into the electronic components, causing damage or malfunction.” She explains that “water or cleaning solutions can cause short circuits, corrosion, or even render the appliance inoperable.” Who knew?

I reached out to Hendler to find out a bit more about this easy-to-make mistake. She shared that “many people spray or use a cloth with soapy water” to clean control panels, which is when the liquid can seep into the appliance and ruin it, totaling up to thousands of dollars in repair and replacement costs. “It happens a lot more than you would think,” she cautions, adding that “ovens are the most often damaged.” 

So, How Should You Clean Appliance Control Panels Instead?

Rather than directly spraying the control panel or even using a too-wet cloth, Hendler suggests spraying your cloth lightly and wiping the controls panel part where your fingers press the buttons.

Spraying the cleaning cloth rather than the surface you’re cleaning is actually a best practice for anything you’re cleaning in the kitchen so that your cleaning solution doesn’t accidentally contaminate food or food prep areas with chemicals or cleaners. But when it comes to cleaning appliances, practicing this technique could save you a bundle.

I know that I, for one, will make it a point to slow down, avoid any edges where moisture can seep inside, and always, always, rather than spraying touch pads directly, lightly mist my cleaning rag instead. The more you know!