How to Give Your Electronic Products a Longer Life

“The longer in use, the less environmental impact” is true for most of the products we use. So why do we get new things even though our old products are still working? And why do some products stop working so soon after you buy them? Is it true that these days, the quality of electric and electronic products is simply so poor that they only have a limited life expectancy? If you ask APPLiA – Home Appliances Sweden (the trade association for manufacturers of large and small household appliances in Sweden), the answer is “No”. On the contrary, electronic products are lasting longer and longer, but we also use things much more these days. Additionally, we are tempted by design trends and new technical innovations, and this factor probably helps to speed up the rate at which we trade our products in for newer models.

According to Mattias Lindahl, professor of Ecodesign and Product Service Systems, we need to replace the current business model which focuses on selling complete products with a more up-to-date attitude, such as a system where a product can be connected up to the Internet so that you can find out whether it needs to have some part replaced. Then, the industry could focus on selling new parts. Concepts like this one could give business developers a competitive advantage if they manage to come up with the best future business idea. But how can we maximise the lifespan of our products while we wait? Look below for some hands-on ideas.

Washing machine

  • Regular maintenance. Run your washing machine empty without any detergent at 90-95 °C once a month. You can also use a washing machine cleaner.
  • Clean the filter and pump. If your washing machine vibrates a lot or makes a loud noise, this might be because the filter has clogged up. Remove and clean the filter. (Make sure you switch the water supply off first, so that the water cannot run in and burn you.)
  • Clean the door and its rubber gasket. Keep the door of the washing machine slightly ajar when the machine is not in use, and wipe the rubber off after each cycle.
  • Make sure the detergent dispenser is working. Clean it out occasionally.
  • Clean the water inlet filter, drum and exterior.
  • Descale when needed. Descaling is normally needed every 3-6 months. Check the hardness of the water in your area as this affects the descaling frequency.
  • Rinse out very dirty clothes (muddy clothes, for example) before putting them in the machine.
  • Avoid using too much detergent. This can lead to a film building up.
  • Run your machine as full as possible. As long as you can fit your fist into the drum, your washing will come out clean.
  • When buying a washing machine, choose one with as many rpm as possible – 1,600 if you can. The higher the rpm, the drier the clothes come out, which means less energy will be needed to tumble dry them.

Dish washer

  • Use a dishwasher cleaner. Dishwashers may be virtually self-cleaning, but even they need to be thoroughly cleaned occasionally.
  • Wipe the inside of your dishwasher with a cloth to remove residue and food particles.
  • Clean the filters.
  • Clean the spray arms.
  • Descale. Check the hardness of the water in your area to make sure you buy the correct decalcifier.

Vacuum cleaner

  • Clean the floor tool. A toothbrush can be used to clean the bristle. Rinse in warm water.
  • Wipe the bag compartment.
  • Remove and rinse the filter. Allow to dry before putting it back.
  • Clean the hose and tube using water with a little detergent in it. Allow to dry before putting it back.
  • Use bicarbonate of soda to remove odours. Vacuum up one table spoon of bicarbonate of soda – or some soap flakes – to remove odours.

Fridge

  • Don’t let the temperature rise above +8 °C. Try to keep it around +5 °C.
  • Put your food in the correct part of the fridge to make sure it lasts. The bottom part of the fridge is cooler than the top, for example.
  • Avoid covering the drain hole at the back of the fridge where the condensate drains out.