I first learned about the importance of buying things that were easy to maintain years ago, when I had a vacuum cleaner with a bag that seemed next to impossible to replace. Vacuum cleaner design has improved a lot since then, but the lesson remains. Items that are hard to maintain often are unused — or if they are necessities, like my vacuum cleaner, they take time you’d rather spend elsewhere.
I learned the lesson again when I bought an inadequate shredder and spent way too much time pulling jammed paper out of the shredder with some tweezers. That shredder is now gone, replaced with one that never jams.
What qualifies as “too much maintenance” will differ from person to person. Unlike Alex, I don’t like to iron, so I avoid buying clothes or linens that require ironing. Clothes that require hand washing are items that some people will want to leave in the store. “Dry flat” might also be a problem if you don’t have a good place for doing that.
The kitchen is another place where it’s easy to wind up with high-maintenance items. For many people, anything that can’t go in the dishwasher is too much bother. (On the other hand, my kitchen doesn’t even have a dishwasher, so that’s not an issue for me.)
My book club just read a novel where one of the characters doesn’t want the bother of polishing the good silver her mother passed down to her, so she finds another family member who does want the silver.
And then there are the small appliances that sound good at first, but wear out their welcome. Kristin Wong wrote about her juicer on the Lifehacker website:
It was time-consuming to clean and maintain. (At one point, I said, “I’d rather buy juice than ever clean this thing again.”)
When choosing appliances and other items, easy-to-clean may be something you want to add to your list of criteria. For example, Christine Cyr Clisset at The Wirecutter website listed her criteria for picking a kitchen scale, which included this:
Beyond these basics, the buttons on the scale should preferably be covered in a plastic membrane (aka “seamless”), so gunk won’t collect in the cracks and you can clean the machine easily.
For those who dislike dusting, an overabundance of knickknacks might qualify as a high-maintenance item. As Toni Anderson wrote:
When I got married I had boxes full of knickknacks, a few of them I loved, but most of them I just kept because people had given them to me. It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t really want to dust these pieces on a regular basis. Over time I kept only the pieces that were truly special to me.
And then there’s the duvet cover. Mine was really lovely, but I struggled with it every time I washed it, and the instructions I found online didn’t help. I finally gave it away. Now I just place a light blanket over my king-size down comforter (and a sheet underneath it) to keep it clean, and a dreaded task is gone from my life.
What items do you find are more trouble than they’re worth? Please share in the comments!