What would we do without our beloved blenders? From frothy milkshakes to green smoothies, salad dressings and pureed soups, a blender is the go-to appliance for whipping, pureeing, mixing, liquefying and emulsifying.

Taking care to use and clean a blender safely will prevent injuries and also extend the life of your machine. Here are 11 do’s and don’ts to follow.

Do’s

  • Cool hot liquids or semi-solids for 3 to 5 minutes before processing them in a blender. “When foods or liquids are hot and then whipped around in a blender, they will create steam that can burn your skin upon lifting the lid,” says Bev Shaffer, culinary instructor and test kitchen director at Vitamix, a blender manufacturer. Intense heat can also wear down the blades, which is another reason to cool foods slightly.
  • Always open the lid away from your face after blending hot foods.
  • Use care when washing your blender. Shaffer’s cleaning tip: pour one drop of liquid dish detergent into the container base. Fill one third full with warm water and secure the lid. “Blend on high for 35 to 45 seconds,” she says. “After stopping the machine, rinse the container and lid well with hot water and wipe dry.” You also can put your blender in the dishwasher, but don’t put it in with the blades still attached. Over time, blades get dull if they are washed in the dishwasher.

Don’ts

  • Never place utensils in the blender when the motor is running. Turn off the blender first before using a scraper or spatula.
  • Don’t use a blender with a frayed cord. Throw it out. A frayed cord could cause a fire or electrocution.
  • Don’t blend extremely thick foods for more than three minutes, says Shaffer. “Blending for longer will increase the chances of your blender overheating,” she says.