Common mistakes and misconceptions about your household appliances, explained.
Have you been doing your laundry all wrong? Is your HVAC system a mystery to you? Are you in danger of eating spoiled food in your fridge? You’d be surprised by how many commonly held beliefs about your household appliances are actually myths.
Some of these myths are relatively harmless — sure, if you unnecessarily throw out something with freezer burn, it’s not that big a deal. But if you overload your dryer one too many times or close your HVAC vents in a little-used room in an attempt to save energy, you might be looking at a costly repair for your appliance.
Myth 1: More detergent = cleaner clothes.
Busted! Too much detergent can actually damage your washing machine. Follow the directions on the bottle or in your owner’s manual for the correct amount.
Myth 2: Hot water = cleaner clothes.
Busted! Newer detergents and machines clean just as well with cold water. (It’ll help save you money on your energy bill, too!)
Myth 3: Never wash anything with a “dry clean” label.
Busted! So long as the label doesn’t say “dry clean ONLY,” you should be OK washing on the hand-wash cycle.
Myth 1: Everything shrinks in the dryer.
Busted! Just read the label and use the correct temp, setting and cycle.
Myth 2: Socks disappear in the dryer.
Busted! They’re usually under or behind the dryer or stuck in your washer’s agitator.
Myth 3: You can’t overload a dryer.
Busted! If you pack the dryer too full, it’ll take longer to dry clothes and can even damage your machine. If you’ve got a huge load, it’s better to break it into two.
Myth 1: Thawing frozen food on the countertop is fine.
Busted! Avoid bacteria by thawing your food in the fridge.
Myth 2: A box of baking soda eliminates bad smells.
Busted! Activated charcoal is actually a better odor-absorber.
Myth 3: The dial inside the fridge tells you how cold it is.
Busted! Use a thermometer to make sure the temp is 40º or below. Too warm? Food can spoil. Too cold? It can partially freeze.
Myth 1: You need to prerinse.
Busted! If there’s nothing for the detergent to work on, it can actually harm dishes. Go ahead and load without rinsing.
Myth 2: Detergents are all the same.
Busted! Powder tablets are best for tough loads with caked-on food.
Myth 3: You don’t need a rinsing agent.
Busted! It helps the water drain and prevent streaks and spots.
Myth 1: Frozen food keeps forever.
Busted! The quality decreases over time.
Myth 2: Freezing food kills bacteria.
Busted! Cooking to the right temp is what kills bacteria.
Myth 3: You can’t eat food with freezer burn.
Busted! Food with freezer burn is safe to eat.
Myth 1: Always preheat the oven.
Busted! It depends on what you’re cooking and how long it takes. If you’re baking, preheat. But if you’re heating a casserole, go ahead and pop it into the oven, set the temp, and it should be just fine.
Myth 2: Never open the door when something is baking.
Busted! Checking baked items for a few seconds shouldn’t hurt.
Myth 3: A loud noise will cause a cake to fall.
Busted! This is an old wives’ take. Make all the noise you want!
Myth 1: You only have to change the air filter once a year.
Busted! Change it every few months to keep your system running at peak performance.
Myth 2: The bigger the system, the better.
Busted! A system that’s too big is less efficient because it cycles on and off more often. Pick the optimal size for your home.
Myth 3: An energy efficient unit = instant savings.
Busted! Not always. If you’re not saving money on your energy bill, check for leaky window seals and/or poor insulation, which can reduce efficiency.