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Tips for Maintaining Your Garbage Disposal

One of my favorite conveniences in my kitchen is my garbage disposal. I wanted one for many years and my husband finally installed one two disposalyears ago.  I have learned that a garbage disposal requires regular maintenance to run well.  Follow these tips to keep your garbage disposal working like new.

Daily Care:  Flush the disposal with hot soapy water once daily.  Fill the sink with hot soapy water.  Turn the disposal on and empty the sink.  Remove the rubber gasket and scrub.

Monthly Care: Deep cleaning on a semi-regular schedule will keep build up down and help sharpen the blades.  Flush the disposal to remove any small food particles.  Grind some ice cubes to clean the blades.

For a more thorough cleaning, pour ½ cup baking soda into the disposal. Slowly add 1 cup of vinegar to the soda.  Let this mixture fizz in the disposal for 10 minutes; heat a large pan of water to a boil.  Carefully and slowly pour the water into the disposal.  Remove the gasket and scrub it in hot soapy water.  If you want a fresh smell, grind some citrus peels.

Removing Blockages: If you are careful this will be an infrequent occurrence. Be very careful when removing blockages.

Start by turning off the fuse to the disposal. Double check by trying to turn the disposal on, if power is shut off properly it should NOT run.  Next, remove the rubber gasket and using a flashlight look for the blockage.  Use a pliers or tongs to remove the object or block.  Be cautious around the disposal blades; try not to damage them or your hands.  Once the blockage has been removed, replace the gasket and turn the power back on.

I have not yet had to remove a blockage from my disposal but I do follow the daily and monthly care routines. My disposal runs like new.

Liz

Liz

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Tips for Organizing Toys

Toys3The AnswerLine staff has been thinking and talking about getting more organized in 2016. Recently, I was visiting with my daughter as she was organizing her sons’ toys.  As she was adding Christmas toys to the boys’ rooms; she was removing some toys they don’t play with much anymore and making sure the remaining toys are age appropriate.

 

Here are some tips to help you organize toys at your house:

  1. Choose a time when children are away, sleeping, or otherwise occupied.
  2. Make 3 boxes for toys labeled: dispose, donate, store.toys1
  3. Dispose of broken toys and those that can’t be safely repaired.
  4. Remove toys that you seldom see the children using.
  5. If an older child has outgrown a toy, recycle it to a younger sibling, relative, or a box to be used when younger children visit.
  6. Rotate toys you don’t want to be without. Plan to remove some toys for a season or 3 months. Exchange these toys with other seasonal toys at that time.
  7. Consider investing in some clear, plastic storage boxes. You can group toys according to theme; farm toys, train toys, play dough. This makes storage and room cleaning so much easier.
  8. Older children may want to help choose which toys to remove, donate, or dispose.  This can be a great learning experience.
  9. Remember, some toys are favorites and it may be better to organize than remove them.Toys5

Hopefully, reorganizing your children’s toys will bring a less cluttered and more enjoyable 2016.  I plan to reorganize the grand children toys at my home this weekend.  I will buy some more boxes for the train toys to help the grandkids find what they need more easily.  I won’t dispose of any trains or accessories as they are a favorite with all my grandchildren.

Liz

Liz

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Time for a new washing machine?

HE washerHigh efficiency (HE) washing machines have been on the market for several years now.  Not only do they use less water (they range from 20% to 66% of the water used in traditional machines) but also less energy since there is less water to heat.  These qualities help consumers save money and are environmentally friendly.

In traditional washers with center agitators the clothes are completely submerged in water.  HE models use little water but can still clean large loads, many times larger loads than the agitator type.  They are available in either a top load where spinning, rotating and or “wobbling” wheels, plates or disks move the clothes in the machine or a front load where the laundry tumbles through the water as the tub alternately rotates clockwise and counter clockwise.

HE washing machines require HE detergent.  These detergents are formulated to be low-sudsing and quick dispersing.  This means that you will not see bubbles like you did with traditional detergent.  Ignore the urge to add more detergent to the washer!  If non HE detergent (detergent made to be used in a machine with more water) is used it causes too much sudsing which could keep the soap from being rinsed out and could keep the clothes from getting clean.

Here are a few things to consider when selecting a new washer:

  • Will the washing machine be placed where noise is a factor? If it is next to the living room you will want to choose a machine that is rated quiet.
  • When comparing costs look at the energy savings over life time of the appliance. The water and utility savings help to justify the potential higher price of the machine.
  • Many utility companies offer rebates for energy efficient models. Check to see if an Energy Star rebate is available to you.
  • Make sure that all of the features (customized cycles, steam cleaning, extra rinse cycle, etc.) that are offered are important to you. The cost will go up as more features are added.
  • HE washers have longer washing times than conventional machines but will wash more clothes in each load.
  • If possible keep the door open between loads on a front loading machine to allow for air circulation and to prevent a mildew smell from developing. Many machines now have a tub cleaning cycle but if it doesn’t, try using hot water and adding 1 cup of bleach to a load that doesn’t contain clothes to freshen the machine. Be sure and use the correct amount of detergent so buildup is not an issue.

Selecting a new washer is a big decision.  Be sure to put some thought into your selection and pick the model that best fits your family.

Beth Marrs

I graduated form Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Tips for maintaining cutting boards

Cutting boardFall can be a great time to think about catching up on some things around the house. I’m thinking about giving my cutting boards a thorough cleaning and oiling after the workout they got this summer. I have a number of cutting boards at my house. I use my vintage wooden cutting boards for cutting fresh fruits and vegetables. I use my plastic boards for cutting both raw and cooked meat. Of course I use a different cutting board for raw and cooked meats to avoid cross contamination.

I clean the wooden boards with a damp dishcloth. I try not to get the cutting boards overly wet as that can cause cracking. I sanitize the boards after use with a mild bleach solution. I use 1 teaspoon of bleach in a quart of water. I spray the surface of the board with this solution and let the board air dry. If I used a stronger bleach solution, the boards might dry out and crack.

My wooden boards do not have a varnished finish, so I oil the boards with mineral oil when they seem to be getting dry. I warm the oil a bit and apply a coat, going in the same direction as the wood grain. I let the oil dry and give it another coat after 6 or so hours. This oiling will help keep the board from drying out and cracking. If that happened, I would have to toss the board or use it only decoratively. If my boards were deeply scored by knife marks, I would sand them and then oil them.

I send my plastic cutting boards through the dish washer. The hot water and dish washing detergent sanitize the boards after each use. Now I’ll be ready for all the cutting and chopping I do to make those hearty stews, soups, and casseroles this winter.

Liz

Liz

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Crayon Stains in Clothing

imageNow that school has started it may be time to get into a new routine.  Remembering to check the pockets of clothing is a task I can often forget. Here are some tips if you miss one of those new school crayons and it goes through the washer and dryer.  Remember, this is a dye stain so you will need to spray or sponge that stain with a dry-cleaning solvent (Goof Off or Goo Gone) then rub with heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent before washing.

If the crayon accidently end up inside a dryer load of clothes and left multiple stains:

  • First place the amount of detergent you would use for that size washer load into the washing machine.
  • Next, add 1 cup water conditioner (Spring Rain, Calgon or Rain Drops) and 1 cup baking soda.
  • Fill up washer with clothes and water and agitate the load for 5 minutes.
  • Allow the load to soak for a bit before you finish washing.
  • Check before putting in dryer. You may still have to try a dry cleaning fluid on remaining spots.

If you need to clean the dryer:

  • Unplug or shut off the gas. Use a non-abrasive, non-flammable cleanser (Soft-Scrub) and clean.
  • Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  • Then tumble a load of old rags or towels on regular cycle to remove rest of stain.

Hope that this helps when you find yourself with this problem.

Liz

Liz

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Cleaning Windows

imagePearl, my weimeraner dog, liked to leave her mark on any window she was near in our house and vehicles.  Nose prints to be more specific!  It was a constant struggle to keep windows clean and the outside world visible.

Here at AnswerLine we frequently receive calls about window cleaning and what cleaners are best to use. Here are a few solutions for making those windows sparkling clean again. Too much chemical or soap solution causes streaks and leaves residue on the windows.  Ammonia cuts heavy grease and soil and vinegar helps remove hard water spots.

HOMEMADE WINDOW CLEANERS:

  • Mix two tablespoons of ammonia OR white vinegar with two quarts of warm water.
  • Mix one tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent with one quart water.
  • For a heavy duty cleaning solution mix one-half cup ammonia, one pint of 70 percent rubbing alcohol and one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent. Add enough water to make one gallon of solution.

TIPS FOR CLEANING WINDOWS:

  • Wipe really dirty windows with a damp cloth. Don’t rub dirt because it will scratch the glass. A vacuum cleaner with an attachment will work for this job, too.
  • With a clean sponge or cloth lightly wet the window. Don’t flood it!
  • When using a squeegee, tilt at an angle to the glass and wipe the blade of the squeegee after each pass with a damp cloth.
  • You may use a cloth or paper (such as newspaper) to clean also.
  • Don’t clean windows in direct sunlight – the window may dry too fast and streak.
  • Exterior windows should be first washed with a hose or clean water to remove grease and grime.
  • Wash windows side to side on the inside and top to bottom on the outside. If there are streaks, you will know which side they are on.
  • Change wash and rinse water often.
  • Vacuum screen to remove dust, etc.
  • Outside screens can be scrubbed with warm water and rinsed with clean water. Allow to air dry.
  • Choose a “hard” paper towel (soft ones leave lint) or cotton cloths such as old t-shirt or socks. Micro-fiber cloths also work well for cleaning windows.

Using the right tools and cleaners helps the dirty job of washing windows much quicker and easier.  I hope these tips help you clean those nose and finger prints, grease and grime off of those windows so you can get back to doing the activities you enjoy!

Jill Signature

Beth Marrs

I graduated form Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Prevent Box Elder Bugs

boxelder bugsIt seems really early in the year to be thinking about Box Elder Bugs but this is the time of year to work at preventing an infestation next fall.  Use a tube of calking to seal up sites where the bugs can enter the house.  Check cracks in the foundation or house siding and gaps around the windows or doors.  It may seem like a big job, but with the arrival of nice weather you can break the job down into smaller parts.  Perhaps do one side of the house every week this month.

Later in the year, you can spray massing box elder bugs with Sevin, Diazinon, or Orthene.  You can also make a spray of soapy water using 5 tablespoons of liquid detergent per gallon of water.  This is a very effective spray but does not have any residual effect.

Take a little time this summer to slow or eliminate the entry of Box Elder Bugs into your home.

Liz

Liz

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Stuck Again!

PirateI can’t believe that it happened to me again.  I got my finger stuck with Super Glue.  I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a problem with Super glue: this is a problem that callers often ask about.

This morning I was trying to glue one of my grandsons’ toys back together.  The foot on one of the pirates from Peter Pan’s pirate ship was almost broken off and I thought I should glue it before the grandkids come for another visit.  I was extra careful with the super glue because years ago I managed to glue my thumbs and index fingers together and had to have the neighbor come over to rescue me.  I was being very careful this time.  The first bottle of glue I found in the junk drawer was old and dried up.  Squeezing as hard as I could did not help get any glue out of the container.  I rummaged around and found another tube and gave it a healthy squeeze.  This tube was not dry and I had a large drop come out of the tube.  I used the back of my thumb nail to press the pirate’s foot up.  I thought that this would prevent any glued fingers.  Unfortunately, glue ran over the foot and down my thumb.  Now the nail was glued to the skin underneath the nail.  Fortunately for me, I did have a large bottle of finger nail polish remover that contained acetone.  This is one of the products recommended for removal of super glue.  Super glue can be removed with fingernail polish remover, acetone, super glue remover, or goof off.

You may need to soak your finger directly in one of these products—as I did this morning.  For removal of lighter glue stains, a cotton ball or Q tip soaked in remover will work.

Liz

Liz

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Mold Cleanup in the Home

IMG_2951Last time we discussed detection and prevention of mold growth in the home environment. What if you have detected mold and need to get rid of it?  Here are some steps you can take to clean, disinfect, and remove mold:

  • Dry all surfaces quickly; mold will grow within about two days.
  • Anyone spending more than a brief time cleaning mold should use a HEPA filter mask and gloves.
  • Porous materials should be discarded or completely decontaminated if they are moldy. Materials such as hard plastic, glass and metal can be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Remove the mold using a non-ammonia soap or detergent and scrubbing with a wet sponge or cloth. Never mix bleach and ammonia. Surfaces should be rinsed and allowed to dry after cleaning, as quickly as possible. Surfaces from which the mold cannot be completely removed should be treated with enough chlorine bleach to keep the surface moist for at least 15 minutes, rinsed and then rapidly dried.
  • Disinfect to kill mold spores after surfaces have dried by applying a solution of ¼ cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or one tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water if you prefer to use a spray bottle or you have a small area to treat. Thoroughly wet the surface to be treated with the bleach solution and leave the solution to dry. There is no need to rinse the bleach solution as it will kill the mold spores within 10-15 minutes and the bleach will dissipate after drying.
  • *Important note: Bleach has a shelf life of six months, so be sure to use fresh bleach in your solution.
  • Other products that kill mold are biocides. These biocides have Environmental Protection Agency registration numbers on the bottle and instructions for the intended application.

Make sure that you have located the source of the moisture responsible for the mold growth and have taken steps to remedy the problem.  If the water source is not stopped the mold will regrow even after disinfection.

For information on mold removal from specific products and surfaces see the publication by North Dakota State University Extension Service, Molds in Your Home. https://www.sdstate.edu/sdces/districts/north/1/browncounty/upload/homemolds.pdf

contributed by Jill Jensen, former AnswerLine Specialist

Beth Marrs

I graduated form Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Prevention and Detection of Molds in Your Home

moldHere at AnswerLine we receive many calls about mold in the home. It’s very common especially in the humid midwest summer months. Mold exposure may cause health problems; it’s not safe to live in a house with high mold levels.

Molds can usually be detected by a musty odor, and discoloration of surfaces is common with mold growth. Colors can include white, green, brown, black or orange. If you see or smell mold, you have a problem. Reliable sampling for mold can be expensive since it requires special equipment and training. Testing is not generally recommended as a first step, but instead finding the source of the moisture and controlling it and cleaning existing mold to remedy the problem.

Molds need moisture to grow.  Water leaks, flooding, high relative humidity and condensation are all situations that increase the growth of mold, and it can develop almost anywhere in a home.  There are measures you can take to prevent mold growth in your home. Most of these steps involve moisture reduction.

Mold Prevention:

  • Cleaning, disinfecting and drying surfaces prevent mold growth. Mold will grow on damp surfaces within a couple days at normal temperatures.
  • Reduce moisture levels in the bathroom by running an exhaust fan during and after showers.
  • Fix plumbing leaks and seepage to prevent the buildup of moisture and prevent the growth of molds.
  • Store clothing dry and clean to prevent the growth of mold on clothes.
  • Reduce humidity levels with the use of dehumidifiers and air conditioning when humidity levels are high.
  • Increase the flow of air within your home. Moving furniture away from walls and opening closet doors to permit air circulation limits the growth of molds.
  • Prevent condensation. Insulating walls and installing storm or thermal pane windows keeps walls warm and limits condensation.

For more detailed information on mold prevention in the home check out NDSU Extension Service’s Keep Your Home Healthy website.

Stay tuned next time – we’ll discuss mold CLEANUP in the home.

contributed by Jill Jensen, former AnswerLine Specialist

Beth Marrs

I graduated form Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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