Appliances are designed to make your life easier, but having to repair or replace one prematurely can put a major strain on your wallet. Sure, they undergo daily wear and tear, but appliances are expected to weather years of use.

But did you know that you could be shortening the life span of your appliances without even trying? That’s right. Whether it’s negligence or improper use, how you treat your appliances could lead to an expensive repair—or needing to replace them sooner than you should.

Let’s look at the ways you may be inadvertently damaging four common appliances—so you can stop doing so immediately!

1. Refrigerator
The refrigerator is one of the hardest-working appliances in your home, since it’s operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, without proper maintenance, it has to work a lot harder, which means it’s not operating efficiently. That will ultimately hurt its chances of lasting as long as it’s supposed to.

“One of the easiest ways to extend a refrigerator’s life span is to clean the condenser coils, which help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the sealed system,” says Wayne Archer, an appliance expert at Sears Home Services. He recommends cleaning the coils with a vacuum or coil brush at least twice a year to remove dirt, pet hair, and food.

“If you have an older fridge, the coils might be painted black and mounted on the back,” Archer says. “Newer refrigerators often have the condenser coils on the bottom.”

Also, don’t forget to clean the gasket (that’s the rubber seal on the inside of your refrigerator and freezer doors) periodically. The gasket ensures that your doors remain tightly sealed. If the seal is worn out, you’ll need to replace it.

2. Washing machine
Most homeowners are shortening the life span of their washing machine in two ways: by washing too much laundry at one time and using too much detergent. Admittedly, it’s tempting to pack the washing machine to capacity to reduce the number of loads you have to wash. But this is a bad idea.

“Overloaded washers won’t clean clothes properly because there’s no room for the clothes to move or for the detergent and water to circulate; the extra weight of wet clothes can damage the machine,” says Archer.

This damage includes prematurely wearing out the washer’s drum and bearings.

“Never fill the washer more than two-thirds full, and refer to the owner’s manual to make sure you’re doing what’s right for your model,” he says.

Adding more than the recommended amount of detergent won’t make your clothes cleaner—it’ll just create a buildup of odor-causing residue.

“Over time, this residue can cause the machine components to fail,” Archer says.

3. Dryer
Did you know that dryers can catch fire as a result of improper use? It’s true! When dust, dander, and pet hair build up in your dryer vent, it can create a fire hazard.

However, proper maintenance can greatly reduce the chances that your dryer will go up in flames. Be sure to keep the dryer vent and the lint filter clean. The dryer vent is located in the back of the dryer and is connected by a hose to the outside.

“Use a vent brush to clean the complete venting system, including where it vents to the outside wall—but be sure to unplug the dryer first,” says Archer. You should do this at least once a year.

The lint filter is the easily removable filter screen that catches lint before it gets to your vents.

“A clogged dryer lint filter makes your clothes dry slowly and forces the appliance to work harder,” says Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance repair service.

“If the thermal fuse blows, you’ll need to schedule an appliance repair, but you can prevent this by cleaning the filter before every load,” he says.

4. Dishwasher
Having a dishwasher means you don’t have to wash your dishes before loading them, right? Wrong!

“Some dishwashers advertise the ability to clean even the grimiest dishes, but food particles can gum up moving parts and become stuck in crevices,” says Rogers. He says that rinsing away food particles before loading these items into the dishwasher can help to prolong the appliance’s life.

You should also clean the dishwasher itself.

“Every three to six months, run an empty cycle with a dishwasher cleaner (or a cup of vinegar) to remove calcium deposits,” Rogers advises. “This prevents the sprayer arm from becoming clogged, so you don’t have to worry about repairing it prematurely.”

Some dishwashers have a self-cleaning filter; however, if your appliance has a manual filtering screen under the bottom spray arm, it needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. All you have to do is rinse the filter under running water.

“If not, trapped food particles will degrade into a sludge that blocks water flow and eventually requires a repair,” Rogers says.

Don’t do dishes very often? Your dishwasher still needs to run occasionally.

“This helps keep the seals, gaskets, and hoses from dry-rotting, and keeps mold and mildew from forming,” says Archer. “Also, make sure the drain in the bottom of the dishwasher is free of debris to prevent drainage issues.”