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A Little TLC for Those Counter Helpers

February 17, 2001|From Associated Press

Counter-top appliances will operate more efficiently and last longer with care and maintenance. Here are several common appliances and the care they need to give you better service.

Toaster Oven

Toaster ovens are heavily used appliances that are often inadequately maintained. Unplug the appliance, open its crumb tray and use a new, clean 1/2-inch-wide paint brush to sweep crumbs and debris out of it. Next, check its plug, especially if the appliance is several years old. To do this, run it through a toast cycle (empty) three times and check the plug and cord to see whether they are hot. If they are, have the cord and plug replaced.

Can Opener / Knife Sharpener

Combination can opener-knife sharpeners give good service with a little maintenance. Inspect the can opener blade for food particles after using it, and clean it if necessary. Apply one drop of household oil (the type in the little cans) to the blade shaft. Examine the opener's drive gear and clean it if you find bits of paper or food on it. Debris on the gear's teeth causes the can to slip while it is being cut, and this results in a partially cut lid. Vacuum the slots in the knife sharpener with a crevice tool or blow metal particles out of the slots using a can of compressed air.

Pressure Cooker

A pressure cooker is a simple appliance with few parts, but it still requires careful use and inspection to ensure that it works well and safely. Don't cook foods that foam (such as pastas); foam residue can plug the air vent. Similarly, check that the air vent tube is clear before using the appliance. Run a pipe cleaner through it to remove obstructions. The sealing ring and pressure plug should be washed regularly to ensure they are free of residue, and the sealing ring groove should be gently scrubbed clean with a small brush.

Drip Coffee Maker

A drip coffee maker, especially those used in hard-water areas, should be cleaned regularly using a coffee maker cleaner. Also, remove and wash the grounds basket immediately after each use to prevent coffee residue from leaving a film that hardens over time. This is especially important for drip coffee makers with an automatic shut-off assembly below the basket. With these machines, it's important to rinse off the stopper or stopper-lever assembly and operate it by hand to be sure it's clean and free of residue that could cause it to stick.


The most common mistake that people make with blenders is running them on a recently washed counter that has puddles on it. These appliances have motor vents underneath the base. If you set them over a puddle they'll pull in water along with air, and that will ruin the motor.

Otherwise, maintenance on these machines is simple. Keep the jar assembly and cap clean. If you wash the assembly by hand, assemble the appliance after it is washed and run it for a couple of minutes to spin water off the cutter.

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