The Gateway computer company’s technical helpline once got a call from a new customer complaining that her teacup kept sliding out of the computer’s cup holder. The “cup holder” she was referring to turned out to be her computer’s disc drive tray!
While disc drive trays are already a thing of the past, this story (which Gateway swears up and down is true) helps illustrate the fact that complex machines aren’t always as intuitive as we’re led to believe. And if you don’t take the time to learn how to use it by reading the user manual that comes with something, you could very well be making your own life harder than it has to be!
All too often, we spend a good chunk of our hard-earned money on the latest gadgets, appliances, and more, only to make use of less than half of their features! Or we plug in a new gadget or appliance and try to use it immediately, then get frustrated when we don’t understand what’s happening or why it isn’t working properly.
These problems all have one simple solution: grab those user manuals that come your electronics and appliances and actually take the time to read them! And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing myself over the last few weeks while doing research for today’s post.
I learned more valuable information from this exercise than I expected to, to the point that I never want to neglect another use manual again! To help illustrate the value of reading user manuals, today I’ll be sharing 9 valuable things you can learn by doing so! Go ahead and check yours out, because you never know what handy tips and tricks you might be missing out on!
9 Things You Can Learn From Reading User Manuals
1. How To Load Your Dishwasher Properly
Should you put tall glasses on the bottom rack or top rack? Where’s the best place to stack pots and pans? Where should wooden spoons go? If you’ve ever asked yourself these or other questions about the best way to load your dishwasher, it’s probably because you haven’t read the user manual!
Most dishwasher manuals have a section with recommendations (and some even have helpful diagrams) about what exactly you can wash in your dishwasher and the best place to put them as you load the dishes. (And check out more dishwasher tips in this post!)
2. How To Customize Your Car
If you’ve bought a new car within the past few years, it might be even smarter and more capable than you know! One thing I was shocked to learn from my car’s user manual is that I could customize a number of different settings according to which key is used to start the car.
When I start my car with my key, the seat and steering wheel adjust themselves right to where I like them, and the same goes for my husband and his key. Now that I have this handy feature enabled, I definitely don’t miss those little spats about how the the driver’s seat does or doesn’t get adjusted!
Pull your car’s user manuals out of the glove box to find out what kind of customizations you can make. Adjust those settings can make your car feel truly yours!
3. What Those Mysterious Laundry Symbols Mean
Your washing machine manual likely includes a fabric care chart that explains what the care symbols on your clothes mean, as well as what settings you should use to wash them. (If you’re looking for something a little more convenient, download my free laundry symbols printable!)
4. How To Reverse The Door On Your Appliances
A lot of fridges and front-load washing machines can be set up so the door opens on the left or right so that it suits your space better. This can really come in handy when you’re trying to maximize space in a small laundry room or kitchen!
5. How To Interpret Error Codes And Symbols
Toward the end of most user manuals you’ll find a “Troubleshooting” page. If you’re only going to read one page of any manual, this one would be a good one to pick!
A lot of the error codes and warning symbols you might encounter on any given appliance or device are likely explained in the Troubleshooting section. If you read that information before you encounter an issue, you may be able to avoid problems altogether (or at least understand what’s happening and know what to do about it!)
6. How To Delay Start Times
Did you know that many ovens have a delayed start option you can use so that your oven is preheated and ready to go when you get home from a long day at work? Look for “delayed bake” or “timed bake” in your user manual to find out if your oven offers the setting and to learn how to set it up.
7. How To Silence Annoying Beeps And Alarms
Does anyone else’s washing machine play a very long and loud jingle to signify the end of a wash cycle? It might be a useful feature for some, but it has driven me crazy since the day we got that washer installed!
But in perusing my washer’s user manual, I learned that not only could I easily make that alarm quieter, but that I could turn it off for good too! It turns out that most alarms and alerts can be adjusted or turned off, so there’s no reason to suffer through those annoying beeps, boops, and songs any longer!
8. When To Clean Your Appliances
And speaking of my washing machine, it’s new enough that I’m still encountering new features for the first time. For instance, just the other day I received an email from my washing machine (yes, really!) informing me it was time for a cleaning!
Not every model may be savvy enough to shoot you an email, but it could have some other way of letting you know when it’s time to perform cleaning or maintenance. And the best way to know how often you should clean your washing machine and how it might notify you is to read the manual!
9. What You Can Clean In Your Dishwasher
Some small appliances (and even smaller parts of larger appliances) can be cleaned with the help of your dishwasher. For example, I learned from my Instant Pot user manual that they whole lid is dishwasher safe, as long as I put it in the top rack!
You never know what you might be cleaning by hand that you could be tossing in your dishwasher, so read your user manual and find out! No more wasting your time hand-washing!
No Manual? No Problem!
If you’ve gotten rid of your user manuals, never fear! It’s quick and easy to find a digital copy of almost any user manual online. Just Google the manufacturer and model name or number along with the word “manual.” When you find the right manual, be sure to download a copy of the PDF if possible so you can refer back to it as needed.
What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned from reading a user manual?