Consumer Reports: Change these filters and save money at home

If you've ever replaced a vacuum cleaner or small appliance that seemed too young to die you know the frustration of wasting that money. Consumer Reports says you can extend the life of your helpful appliances and have them work better, longer - by paying attention to this one thing.

In general, if air can't get into the motor, a machine has to work harder. This puts a strain on the overall appliance -- making it less effective, and can mean you'll have to replace it earlier than you should have to!

Your over-the-stove microwave has a filter beneath it to catch grease in the air. Cleaning it with a in warm soapy water in the sink twice a year will keep the fan working properly and prevent a sticky film on your cabinets. Check your manual to see if your filter is dishwasher safe.

A dryer with a thick blanket of lint in the filter has to work harder and longer to dry your clothes. It also uses more energy and can pose a fire hazard. Make it a habit to clear the filter between loads.

If your vacuum is overheating, losing suction or blowing dirt back into the air - clogged filters could be the culprit. Manufacturers tell Consumer Reports most people don't know where they are. Check around the bag for these small washable filters, and open the back panel to inspect these paper filters meant to catch fine particles. Your vacuum will perform better and last longer. If you have a bagless model you'll need to clean or replace the filters more often.

Dehumidifiers are simple machines that can go ignored because they're usually down in the basement. Take a moment to pull out the filter and give it a good rinse and dry to improve your air quality and your unit's performance. You'll also prohibit the growth of mold, mildew and mites.

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