Archive for the ‘Cleaning Tip’ Category

Dear Readers,

The weather is cooling down and outdoor grilling is coming to an end; that is unless you enjoy grilling in a heavy coat and holding an umbrella.  October is the perfect time to degunk that barbecue grill.  Here’s an interesting article I read in the August 28, 2011 issue of Parade magazine.  It’s entitled “How To Clean Your Barbecue Grill” and the pointers come from Steven Raichlen, the author of “The Barbecue Bible and Planet Barbecue”.  I’m quoting the article verbatim.

“How To Clean Your Barbecue Grill

1.  Before cleaning, check the grease collector under the grate.  (On some models, the grease collector looks like a large sheet pan; on others, like a can or cake pan.)  If it’s full, empty it.

2.  Crank up the heat – grill grates should be cleaned while they’re hot.  If you have a gas unit, turn it up all the way.  If you have a charcoal grill, use a chimney starter; once the coals are lit, spread them around (a small hand rake works well) so the grate heats up quickly.

3.  Once the grate is hot, put on grill gloves and dislodge any burned-on debris with a stiff wire brush (available at Home Depot an other stores).

4.  Take a paper towel and fold it into a tight pad.  Using tongs, dip the pad in a small bowl of vegetable oil, like canola, and rub it over the bars of the grate.  The oil will clean them and prevent food from sticking.”

Hope you find this info helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a tip I want to pass on to you from a column called “Top Drawer” written by Joyce Clark Hicks and appears in the Raleigh News and Observer.

“Cool Uses For Ice Cubes

The August edition of Real Simple magazine offers these cool new uses for ice cubes:

Soup skimmer.  To skim fat from soup without refrigerating it, fill a metal ladle with ice cubes and glide it along the surface a few times, wiping the ladle as needed.  Excess fat will cling to the ladle’s bottom.

Soil soaker.  Avoid messy spills by watering your plants with frozen water.  Cover the surface of soil with ice cubes.  They’ll gradually hydrate your plants as they melt.

Caulk smoother.  As you squeeze a new caulk line around the bathtub, run the corner of an ice cube behind it.  The ice will create a clean edge without sticking.

Disposal scrubber.  Run a handful of ice cubes and a pinch of baking soda through your garbage disposal.  You’ll get rid of the built-up grease on the blades and the smell of any leftovers.”

Hope you find these tips helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This recipe came from Relish Magazine that ‘s inserted quarterly into the local newspapers.  It’s refreshing, healthy and easy to prepare.  It’s also a unique way of serving cantaloupe that is readily available now at your local farmer’s market.

Cantaloupe and Tomato Salad

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white balsamic or rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 small cantaloupe, cut into chunks (about 2 cups)

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves

1/2 cup chopped, peeled cucumber

1.  Whisk oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2.  Combine cantaloupe, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl.  Add dressing; toss well.  Serves 4.

Each serving contains 180 calories and 14 grams of fat.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Christina Peterson, a Good Housekeeping Research Institute product analyst, wrote an article entitled “Smart Cleaning Swaps” in a recent issue of their magazine.  I found the article to be extremely informative and useful and want to share it with you.  Therefore, the article will be quoted verbatim in this post.  Read and learn.

“Smart Cleaning Swaps

When you run out of what you’re supposed to use, here’s what’s safe to try instead.

No dishwashing liquid?  Grab the laundry detergent.  A teaspoonful of liquid laundry detergent in a basin of hot water will cut grease on dirty dishes equally well (though you may want to wear gloves, as detergent can be drying to hands).  To tackle cooked-on gunk, really raid the laundry room:  Fill the grungy pan with hot water and a tablespoon of fabric softener and soak before sudsing in your detergent bath, as described above.  Rinse all items to remove any residue or fragrance.

If you’re low on silver polish, use toothpaste.  Plain, non-gel toothpaste (without additives like whiteners) can rid small silver pieces of light tarnish without damaging the surface.  Moisten the silver piece; apply a bit of toothpaste to your finger.  Rub gently and rinse, then buff with a soft cloth.

When you can’t find the stain pretreater, try hydrogen peroxide (3%).  This medicine-cabinet staple has similar stain-fighting power to that of a color-safe bleach.  And it can be applied directly to most fabrics, including washable silk and wool ( but spot-test in a hidden place first).  Dab the stain, then launder right away in the warmest temperature permitted by the item’s care label.

Need carpet stain remover?  Pull out a baby wipe or premoistened facial-cleansing wipe.  Soak up the spill with a paper towel or clean cloth, before taking a baby wipe or wet towelette (like Olay Daily Facial Express) from your bathroom stash.  Blot the carpet, turning the wipe as it absorbs the stain, until clean.  Sponge the area with a damp cloth to rinse, and let dry.  In GHRI tests, our red wine and chocolate spills disappeared without any damage to the carpet’s pile.

If you’re out of fine-fabric detergent, wash with shampoo.  It’ll be as gentle on your delicates as it is on your hair.  Pretreat any stains by gently rubbing in a drop of the shampoo.  Then add a pea-size dollop to the cold-water-filled sink.  Wash, rinse, and lay flat to dry, as usual.”

The Good Housekeeping magazine is chock full of excellent homemaking tips like the ones noted above.  Hope this info will be helpful to you and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Ready or not here they are.  One is an original Mimi Tip.  The second came from my younger sister and the third tip was gleaned from a newspaper article.

Okay, here’s my original tip.  My clear vinyl shower liner was looking pretty grungy as it was covered with white, hard water marks.  I proceeded to clean the liner with straight white vinegar, scrubbing the marks using a Scotch-Brite Dobie cleaning pad made by the 3M Company.  The white vinegar eliminated the unsightly water marks.  Then I rinsed the liner with a clean cloth and warm water.  Re-hung the liner and it looks like new!  Clean the liner every six months to prevent a too-heavy build-up of hard water marks.  This procedure took less than 15 minutes and it’s more economical than purchasing a new shower liner.

The next tip is for storing those plastic bags from purchases at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  They are excellent for lining those small wastepaper baskets found in bath and laundry rooms.  Take a clean plastic gallon-size milk container and with scissors cut a hole about 2-1/2″ in diameter in the center of one side.  Stuff as many bags in as possible and believe me, the container will hold quite a few.  All the bags are neatly contained in one area and the hole is big enough to reach in and grab one when needed.

The final tip came from the newspaper.  Did you ever notice the colored tag or twist on a bag of store-bought bread?  It’s not just for decorative purposes.  It’s actually a code to tell you what day of the week the bread was baked:

Blue – Monday

Green – Tuesday

Red – Thursday

White – Friday

Yellow – Saturday

I guess the bakers take a day off on Wednesday and Sunday!  Bread can also be frozen and will keep for up to a month.

Hope these tips are helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This is the final installment of tips from Maureen’s e-mail.  I hope you find all of them informative and useful.

1.  Goodbye Fruit Flies:  To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass and fill it 1/2 inch with apple cider vinegar and 2 drops dish washing liquid.  Mix well.  You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

2.  Get Rid of Ants:  Put small piles of cornmeal wherever you see ants.  They eat it, take it “home”, and can’t digest it so it kills them.  It may take a week or so to take effect, especially if it rains.  But it works and you don’t have to worry about small children or pets being harmed.

3.  Info About Clothes Dryers:  The heating unit went out on my dryer.  The repairman said he wanted to show me something.  He went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter.  It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.)  He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it.  (The line filter is made of a mesh material.)  The hot water just sat on top of the mesh.  It didn’t go through at all.  He told me that dryer sheets produce a film over that mesh and that’s what burns out the heating unit.  You can’t see the film, but it’s there.  It’s what is in the dryer sheets that make your clothes soft and static free.  You can actually feel this waxy film on the unused dryer sheets.  It builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen.  This is also what causes dryer units to catch fire and potentially burn your house down!  He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time and to keep your electric bill lower is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water, using an old toothbrush.  Do this at least once every six months.  He said that will make the dryer last twice as long.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here is a continuation of the tips that I received from my walking partner, Maureen.  Check them out.

1.  Keeping Weeds Away:  Wet newspapers, put layers around the plant overlapping as you go.  Cover with mulch and forget about weeds.  Weeds will grow through some gardening plastic but they will not get through wet newspapers.

2.  Broken Glass:  Use a cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of broken glass that can’t be seen easily.

3.  Chop up leftover snickers bars from Halloween.  Peel and slice a few apples into a baking dish and sprinkle chopped candy bars over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Serve alone or with ice cream.

4.  No More Mosquitoes:  Place a dryer sheet in your pocket.  It will keep the mosquitoes away.

5.  Squirrel Away:  To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle them with cayenne pepper.  The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.

6.  Flexible Vacuum:  To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum.  It can be bent or flattened to get into narrow openings.

7.  Measuring Cups:  Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water.  Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry the cup.  Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes out.

8.  Foggy Windshield:  Hate foggy windshields?  Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove compartment of  your car.  When the windows fog, rub with eraser.  Works better than a cloth!

9.  Reopening An Envelope:  If you seal an envelope and then realize that you forgot to include something inside, just place the sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two.  Voila!  It unseals easily.

10.  Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs.  It’s cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth.  It’s also a great way to use up the hair conditioner you bought but didn’t like!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Read an interesting magazine article about how to clean a sponge.  If you use a sponge in your kitchen, this article is very enlightening.  I’m going to quote it verbatim.

“What Gets a Sponge Really Clean?

We worked with EMSL analytical testing lab in Westmont, NJ, to find out.  Consumers used sponges for a week in their kitchens, and the lab tainted others with three common pathogens:  salmonella, E. coli, and pseudomonas.  We tested six cleaning methods – the dishwasher, microwave, and washing machine: bleach, ammonia, and vinegar soaks – to see which removed the most bacteria.

And The Best Germ Killer Is… The bleach solution killed 99.9 percent of the three bacteria strains from all our test sponges (scrub and regular cellulose), a benchmark based on the EPA’s requirement for sanitization of non-food-contact surfaces.  Mix 3/4 cup of bleach in one gallon of water, and soak the sponge for five minutes.  The microwave and the dishwasher were the next most effective, zapping 99.9 percent of germs from the home-used sponges and from the lab-treated sponges.  However, on the lab-treated cellulose sponges, microwaving  just missed the mark for E. coli (99.83 pecent reduced), and the dishwasher didn’t quite get all the salmonella or E. coli (99.88 and 99.86 percent reduced, respectively).  Put a sponge into a regular dishwasher load, using the “heated dry” setting.  In the microwave, saturate the sponge (we used 1/4 cup of water for scrub sponges and 1/2 cup for cellulose); heat on High for one minute (scrub) or two minutes (cellulose).  Keep an  eye on it.  Clean sponges weekly, and toss shabby ones.

How Did the Others Do?  A five minute soak in full-strength vinegar averaged 99.6 percent bacteria elimination; in full-strength ammonia, 97.0 percent.  The washing machine proved least effective, killing on average 93.0 percent of bacteria.”

I think this article came from a Good Housekeeping magazine.  I cut it out and forget to label it.  Hope you find it informative.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I wish Mimi could take credit for these great tips but she can’t!  I found these tips to be very useful, even for a veteran homemaker.  Couldn’t wait to pass them on to you.  All the info in this post came from “The Dishwasher, Deconstructed” by Carolyn Forte in the July, 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping.

1.  Do not mix loads of silver and stainless dinnerware because if the metals touch, the silver pieces may become pitted.

2.  On the top rack:  nestle cups and glasses between, not over, the rack tines to secure them without allowing water to become trapped and leave spots.

3.  Unload the bottom rack first.  Tableware in the top rack may not be totally dry, and can drip water onto items below.

4.  On the bottom rack:  plates and bowls should face toward the center (where the spray arm is located), and pots and pans should be angled the same way or placed fully upside down.

5.  On the bottom rack:  slip platters and baking sheets along the sides, not across the front where they could keep the dispensers from opening or the detergent from mixing with the water.

6.  In the utensil caddy:  to keep flatware from nesting (so soap and water can reach all the surfaces), place forks with the tines up and knives with the blades down and alternate spoons – some up, some down.

7.  Store detergent in a cool, dry place (not under the sink!”).  Powders can clump when damp; gels can separate if keep in a too-warm spot, like near hot-water pipes.

8.  And this is the best tip of all:  before a cycle, run the kitchen sink until the water’s hot.  With heated water in the pipes, the dishwasher can clean from the get-go.

Hope you find these tips as helpful as Mimi has and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

The “Ask Heloise” column in the November, 2009 Good Housekeeping magazine had a couple of interesting tips for homemakers.  The following is quoted directly from the article:

“Question: I’ve had it! How do I keep our bedsheets from balling up in the dryer?  They all come out in one bunch, and portions of the sheets aren’t dry.  What can I do? – Patti Berg, Spokane, WA.

Tangling occurs because most dryers only spin in one direction (newer models with a reverse-spin feature can be pricey).  Solution:  When you take the sheets out of the washer, particularly a top loader, shake each one out and untwist it before putting it into the dryer.  Then do a load of only the sheets, nothing else.  Stop the dryer about halfway through the cycle and shake the sheets to unbundle before putting them back in.  If the sheets are king-size, you may need to redistribute them twice during the cycle.

Question:  I burned tomatoes in a large pot – they now seem glued to the bottom.  How do I remove this awful mess?  – Seena Stern, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Fill the pot with water, add a drop or two of dish soap, and mix.  Put the pot on the stove, bring to a boil, and turn off the heat.  Let it sit, with the lid on to contain steam, until it cools;  scrub away the burned-on gunk with a plastic or nylon scrub brush.  To boost cleaning, sprinkle the bottom of the pot (until it’s covered) with salt or baking soda, which will act like an abrasive but won’t scratch the pot’s finish.”

Hope you find these tips helpful.

Keep smilin’!

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