Here’s How Long Your Home Appliances Should Last

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Before you spend hundreds of dollars on a new microwave oven, refrigerator or some other appliance, it’s a good idea to find out how long it’s expected to last. Of course, appliance lifespans can vary based on several factors, but having a general idea can be an aid to your bank account.

In this article, I’ll take a look at the life spans of some major home appliances, and I’ll share some easy ways to keep them working properly.

How Long Should Your Refrigerator, Dishwasher or Dryer Last?

To develop this article, I researched information from several sources, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver blog and information from Sears Home Services.

Let’s look now at the average life spans of five major appliances you may have in your home.



The average refrigerator lasts 12 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

How to increase its lifespan: Dust can accumulate on the back of the fridge, which can lead to cooling problems if that’s where your coils are located. It’s also common for them to be on the bottom, and of course, dust can collect there too. Regularly vacuum the coils to help extend the life of your fridge.

Clothes Dryer

Clothes dryer

Your dryer should last you about 10-13 years, says Sears Home Services.

How to increase its lifespan: Try not to stuff too many clothes into your dryer. Overloading it can burn out your dryer’s motor, according to appliance maker Maytag. Also:

  • Don’t use spray-type fabric softeners, which can damage the machine, according to Maytag.
  • Stick to the recommended loads indicated on your appliance.
  • Make sure you regularly clean the lint screen.

Clothes Washer

clothes washer

The Department of Energy says that clothes washers last an average of 11 years.

How to increase its lifespan: Washing full loads not only saves energy and water, but it can extend the life of your washer by cutting down on the number of cycles it runs.


While a penny going for a spin here and there probably won’t your machine, excessive coins could damage the interior barrel or — worse — make their way down the drain line.


A dishwasher should last you anywhere from 10 to 13 years, according to Sears Home Services.

How to increase its lifespan: Because any food or gunk buildup can cause your appliance not to operate as efficiently, you should try to clean it at least every six months, according to The Home Depot, which provides instructions here.

While wiping down your eating utensils and plates before you put them in the dishwasher isn’t always necessary, if you have large or hard-to-remove pieces of food stuck to your saucers, cups and the like, scrape them before putting them into your unit. Leaving big leftovers could clog your dishwasher and might cost you big money down the line.

Microwave Oven


You should be able to get 9-10 years out of your microwave, according to Sears Home Services.

How to increase your microwave oven’s lifespan: If your microwave is over your cooktop, make sure to use the exhaust fan.

Also, try not to slam the door.

“All the door strikes, latch mechanisms, and door switches themselves are plastic, so slamming the microwave door can physically break any of these components,” Chris Zeisler, technical service supervisor at, tells Consumer Reports. “The series of switches all have to work in unison.” 

How To Get the Most Out of Your Home Appliances

There’s no silver bullet to making your appliances last longer, but there are some things you can do that will make a difference.

Perform Maintenance

Don’t neglect the maintenance that your appliance requires as stated by the manufacturer. Pull out the owner’s manual (yes, every appliance has one) and see what it says on basic ways to maintain it. That’s where you’ll usually find tips on care and troubleshooting.


For example, in the manual for my Whirlpool refrigerator, it says, “The water filter should be replaced at least every six months depending on your water quality and usage.”

Inspect for Wear and Tear

Try to stay ahead of any big issues with your appliances by making it a habit to visually inspect them for any signs of wear and tear.

Through the years, you may notice that the performance of your appliance may decline or that it’s making strange sounds. The key to avoiding any major disruption is to spot any issues as soon as they arise.

Invest in Smart Technology

Some manufacturers offer “smart” technology-enabled appliances that allow you to save energy by automatically reducing electricity consumption during peak hours.

When you’re shopping for home appliances, Energy Star-labeled products exceed the federal government’s minimum standards for efficiency and quality, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Final Thoughts

It’s absolutely no fun when something goes wrong with the fridge, especially if it stops cooling and your frozen food begins to thaw.

Buying a home appliance today can indeed set you back hundreds of dollars, but if you take care of it you are much more likely to get your money’s worth.

No matter what the life expectancy is for your appliance, money expert Clark Howard says you shouldn’t waste money on an extended warranty.

“When should you buy an extended warranty? Never, ever on appliances or electronics,” Clark says. “Salespeople will tell you that an extended warranty ‘protects your investment.’ But a TV, a washer or a DVD player is not an investment.”

Instead of paying a company for an extended warranty, Clark says he’d much rather you open an appliance replacement account instead to plan for the worst.

Want more money-saving advice? Read our guide on the best place to buy small kitchen appliances.

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