I have a problem whenever I want to, in brief, say "how to keep a ball pen from drying out, keep my laptop cleaned from excessive files and virus, keep my car clean and able to function". The problem is that I want to say it briefly in short sentence instead of fully describing; however I don't know which words I can use.

The only word I can think of is "preserve": 1) Preserve my computer = Take good care of my computer, keeping it away from things making the computer slow.

2) Preserve my car = Take good care of my car, keep it clean outside and keep it functional inside.

3) Preserve my pen = Keep my pen able to be used for writing

=> However the word "preserve", within my range of knowledge, is often used for food. Are there any word that you guys can recommend for electrical items, household items, drinks,...?

2 Answers 2


You can use "preserve" in this sense, but it's usually not used alone - you pair it with phrases like pristine shape or mint condition. Especially in casual conversation, you'd be more likely to just say "keep" instead of "preserve." Examples:

Keep my car in mint condition.

Preserve my car in pristine shape.

You can also say "pristine condition," but note that mint condition is a set phrase and you can't say something like "mint shape."


I would use "maintain" (to keep a machine, building etc in good condition by checking and repairing it regularly) instead of "preserve" (to make something continue without changing).

Maintain has more of a sense of doing something to keep your items in good condition. For example, if you regularly clean you car and have the oil changed, you are "maintaining" it.

I have seen 5 year old cars look better than 1 year old cars just because the owner maintains it, which sounds like what you are planning on doing! (Source)

Preserve has more of a sense of keeping something in its current condition. You can use it for things other than food. For example, someone with a classic car wants to preserve its condition as close to possible to what it was like when it was made, including things like the paint color.

After much deliberation, I decided it was best to preserve my car as close to factory original as possible. (Source)

A related word is "restore" (to repair an old building, piece of furniture, or painting etc so that it is in its original condition). You would use "restore" when you are working to put something back in good condition (probably because someone hasn't maintained it!). For example,

Examples demonstrate how our team can restore your damaged pieces back to their original beauty! (Source)


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