3 Seemingly Good Cleaning Ideas That Could Void the Warranty on Your Appliances

updated May 5, 2021
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I don’t know about you, but when I’m using my appliances — and especially when I’m cleaning them — the last thing on my mind is their warranties. The only time I ever think about my various warranties is when something goes wrong and I wonder if we have one that’s still valid. 

But this is a mistake. Appliance warranties aren’t insurance coverage against anything that can happen to our appliances. No, they more like a mutual agreement between the manufacturer and us — saying that, if we treat our appliances well and something happens, they’ll take care of it. 

Our part of “treating the appliances well” is surprisingly specific. (Reminder to always read the fine print on your appliance manuals and warranties!) There are rules that, if broken, void the warranties, which we may have paid up for or been relying on. For instance, many manufacturers require that repairs and maintenance be performed not by you with the instruction of a YouTube video, but by a professional. In addition, regular maintenance is often a stipulation of warranty coverage. 

The real clincher, though, is that some ways of using or cleaning our appliances can void the warranty as well. So those DIY solutions or hacks might save some money or make things seem easier in the short term, but could eventually cause an expensive problem you didn’t expect to have to face. To find out what could void your particular appliance warranty, check your warranty and usage guides for recommended ways to use and clean your units. 

Note: It’s also worth remembering that the reason certain practices void the warranty is that they cause damage to your unit. So even if you are no longer under warranty, it makes sense to know what could potentially shorten the life of your unit. 

While each manufacturer and each warranty has its own particular set of rules, gleaning from a few gives us an idea of what should give us pause when we use or clean our appliances.

Here are some seemingly good ideas that could be bad ideas when it comes to preserving both your warranties and your appliances.

Credit: Cat Meschia

1. Using white vinegar.

Distilled white vinegar is the cleaning darling of environmentally conscious frugal home owners everywhere. The experts here at Kitchn suggest it all the time. It’s incredibly effective, but it could potentially void your appliance warranties. For example, we often talk about putting vinegar in a bowl on the top rack of the dishwasher to eliminate hard-water stains. Some people like to put vinegar in the rinse aid compartment, but the acid in the vinegar could compromise the integrity of the compartment’s gaskets. And our tip should be used sparingly, too. Be sure to check your warranties and usage guides before using white vinegar in anything that has rubber components. This includes coffee makers.

2. Using Windex on your glass cooktop.

It seems to make sense that a glass cooktop could be cleaned with a glass cleaner, but that is not the case. Whirlpool’s warranty states that Whirlpool will not pay for repairs if the unit has not been cared for as recommended in the Use and Care Guide. The Owner’s Manual, in turn, cautions, “To avoid damaging the cooktop, do not use steel wool, abrasive powder cleansers, chlorine bleach, rust remover, or ammonia.” The active ingredient in Windex is ammonia, so it’s out. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Using whatever detergents you have on hand.

This verbiage is taken straight from a page on Bosch warranty terms and conditions and states in full that the warranty is not applicable “If incorrect/not suitable detergents are used for laundry appliances and dishwashers.” The vague nature of the warning points to the fact that it’s really important to check your particular units’ care guidelines. However, in general, it is extremely important to avoid using products that could get overly sudsy in a dishwasher or washing machine because suds can permanently damage drainage tubes. To avoid this, stick to detergents that are specifically made for dishwashers and the type of washing machine you have and use no more than the recommended amount of each.

Do you have any others to add to this list? (Hopefully not from experience!) Tell us in the comments below!