The "heater thingy" in our clothes dryer died last week. Of course I had a full load of laundry in it and another finishing up in the washer. To boot, I was packing for the long, holiday weekend away with my honey. Murphy is alive and well. We all know that nothing is made "like it used to be" with the exception of Toyota trucks. (And yes. That's just my opinion, not the opinion of this paper!) Mom always said that if you take care of things they last longer. I don't know what we were doing wrong with the dryer, but I don't really think we did anything to shorten its pitifully short life.

Today, I'd like to highlight some facts about your home appliances. Some of these are just good suggestions and others are myths that we should all be aware of or at least should have listened to our moms about back in the day. I'll not necessarily tell you about the ones of which I'm guilty, either. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor!

Since I'm a huge (every weekend) fan of bacon, let's start with any sort of grease that you create from cooking. It could be bacon, burgers, or anything else that leaves you with a slippery, grease-coated pan. That mess does not go down the sink. And don't kid yourself into believing that by running hot water or even boiling water down with it will help things. Just like putting ice cubes in your coffee (Is that just me?) that grease will cool off before it ever gets where it's going. We've all seen those commercials about cholesterol clogging up our arteries. The same goes for this grease concoction that you're building. At some point it is going to get expensive.

This next one may cause some fights in your household. Don't kill the messenger. It is not necessary to rinse/clean your plates and dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. I have always felt like this was similar to how my mom would "clean up" the house before the cleaners came in. Isn't that what we're paying them for? Your dishwasher is quite capable of getting your dishes sparkling clean. If it does not do this, it may be time for a new one. By "cleaning" your plates ahead of time, you're not only wasting energy, time, and water, you are theoretically making it more difficult for the dishwasher to do its job. Just remove the big food chunks (more on that later) and throw 'em in.

More laundry detergent will get your clothes more clean. I actually read once that not using detergent at all will get your clothes just as clean. Of course they won't have that "Mountain Spring" fresh scent, but the action of the washer is really what does most of the work. The issue with more detergent is the additional suds. The machine is designed (timed) to rinse out the soap, but if you have added a ton more, it will not get all rinsed and you'll be left with soapy clothes. This not only leads to gross feeling clothes, but can exacerbate any irritation you may have with the chemicals in the soap. (Insert comment about the magical benefits of chem-free detergents here.)

Along with the costly dangers of pouring grease down your drain are the dangers of putting "anything" into your garbage disposal. I'll admit, I'm not the authority on what should and should not go down there, but it's worth doing a bit of research on your own just to be safe. I did learn that celery stocks and any sort of meat are two basics that should never be put in. Along with those should be egg shells, coffee grounds, potato peels and onion skins. It seems to me that anything that might make it past the exit filter, but will still not break down should never be put in.

The last one for today has to do with the odor-eliminating powers of baking soda in the fridge. While this substance does, in fact, handle some of the lesser odors, you really want to use activated charcoal for this job. Many filters are using activated charcoal since it handles more powerful odors far more effectively. "It should go without saying that finding (and eliminating) the source of that nasty smell in your fridge should be priority number one," notes Badger Realty agent, Tara Peirce. I couldn't agree more. If your fridge makes your eyes water every time you open the door, remove the offending source first and then worry about your charcoal vs. baking soda debate.

As we all learn at some point in our lives, taking care of the things we have literally always pays off in the end. Taking care of our bodies, our homes, our appliances, our vehicles and the relationship with our family and friends will pay dividends throughout our entire lives. (Wow, we got deep there for a second!). Learn a bit more about how your appliances (and all your other stuff!) works so you can take small steps to lengthen its usable life. Now I need to go make some bacon!

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