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9 Useful Things You Can Learn From Reading Manuals

blond woman holding a bunch of user manuals/ blond woman reading a user manual

The Very Real Benefits To Reading Manuals

This legendary tech support story demonstrates the importance of reading manuals: The Gateway computer company’s technical helpline got a call from a customer, who complained 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 intuitive. If you don’t take the time to learn how to use the machines and equipment you buy by reading the user manual that comes with them, you could be setting yourself up for a frustrating, time-wasting experience!

blond woman holding a lot of user manuals fanned out

All too often, we spend our hard-earned money on new gadgets and appliances, only to use 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 a simple solution: grab the user manual and take the time to read it! That’s exactly what I’ve been doing myself over the last few weeks while researching and preparing to write this post.

I learned more valuable information from this exercise than I expected to, to the point that I’ve resolved never to neglect another manual again! To help illustrate the value of reading manuals, I’m sharing 9 valuable things you can learn by doing so below.

Go ahead and check yours out, because you never know what useful information you might be missing out on!

9 Very Handy Things You Can Learn From Reading Manuals

Open dishwasher with dishes loaded in racks

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!)

blond woman smiling while driving car

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 manual is that I could program a number of different settings to the key I use to unlock and start my car.

Now when I start my car with my key, the seat and steering wheel adjust themselves to where I like them, and the same goes for my husband and his key. Now that I have this handy feature enabled, those little spats about adjusting the driver’s seat are a thing of the past.

Pull your car’s manual out of the glove box to find out what kind of customizations you can make. Adjusting those settings can make your car feel truly yours!

Printouts of laundry symbols and meanings on wall

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!)

A woman using screwdriver to remove door handle on stainless steel refrigerator

4. How To Reverse The Door On Your Appliances

Many fridges, front-load washing machines, and other appliances can be set up so the door opens on the left or right, in order to better suit your space. This can really come in handy when you’re trying to maximize space in a small laundry room or kitchen!

Instant Pot Showing LID in red lights on control panel

5. How To Interpret Error Codes And Symbols

Most user manuals include a “Troubleshooting” page, and if you’re only going to read one page, this one would be a good one to pick!

Any error code or warning symbol you might encounter on a given appliance or device is likely explained in the Troubleshooting section of the manual. If you read that information before you encounter an issue, you’ll understand exactly what’s happening and how to solve the problem.

on a glass top stovetop, one hand holding open user manual, other hand programming panel

6. How To Delay Start Times

Did you know that many ovens have a delayed start option? It’s handy for times when you want to get something in the oven right when you get home from work or running errands.

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.

Blond woman showing surprise and pointing at panel of washing machine

7. How To Silence Annoying Beeps And Alarms

Does anyone else’s washing machine play a very long, loud jingle at the end of every wash cycle? It might be a useful feature for some, but it has driven me crazy since the day we got our washer installed!

While perusing my washer manual, I learned not only that could I easily make the jingle play more quietly, but that I could turn it off completely if I wanted 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!

Pouring vinegar into detergent tray of washing machine

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 is to read the manual!

Instant Pot lid in top rack of open dishwasher

9. What You Can Clean In Your Dishwasher

Some small appliances (and even smaller parts of larger appliances) can be cleaned right in your dishwasher. For example, I learned from my Instant Pot manual that the 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!

woman in a yellow cardigan sitting at a table smiling at an open macbook

BONUS: No Manual? No Problem!

If you’ve gotten rid of your user manuals or misplaced them, never fear! It’s quick and easy to find a digital copy of almost any user manual online.

Just Google the manufacturer and model number, along with the word “manual.” When you find the right manual, look for an option to download the manual as a PDF file. That way, you can refer back to it as needed.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned from reading a user manual?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • I have another one to add….We recently bought the home we’re in & did a complete remodel. The kitchen sink included ! The faucet that came with it never worked right. I ran across the Manuel & found a # to call. I called & told them the problem & in 3 days we had the part to fix it! Also, about a year later the top on the soap dispenser broke. I again called that # had a new one sent to me in just a few days! All this was free & saved us a ton of money! Keep the Manuels, even for the kitchen sink!!

    • We have a box fan where the power cord unplugs from the unit for easy storage. In a recent moved we lost ours. Called the company and they shipped a new one for $3. Keep in mind, this isn’t a cord you can just pick up at Walmart or BestBuy.

  • My big pet peeve about manuals is mostly on Facebook InstantPot/ Power Pressure Cooker sites. They want to know….how do I do this, can I do this why should I, do this I’m afraid of it, will it blow up, how long do I cook this, everything burns, it’s not instant, and so on. The other pet peeve is everybody calling it a ‘ instapot’ like it really takes SO much longer to type that other N so it’s spelled right. My Power Pressure Cooker XL’s manual was the first thing I read. I did everything is has recommended and I haven’t had a problem with it yet.I’m still surprised by people I know who don’t have a clue how things work because they don’t have ‘ time’ to read the manual for things.Keep the tips coming, I always learn something interesting or useful from you !

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