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Clean your drain easily

June 23rd, 2014

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We often associate spring with deep cleaning in our home.  Dirty drains can add a funky odor to the kitchen.  We have two different recipes to either clean or freshen the kitchen sink drain.

Drains can be cleaned by mixing ¼ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar. Pour this mixture in the drain and add ½ cup of white vinegar.  Allow it to stand for 30 minutes, and then flush with cold water.

If your drain just needs a bit of freshening, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of salt, and one teaspoon of cream of tartar.  Pour this into the drain and flush slowly with water.

In no time at all, you have a clean (or fresher) kitchen drain.

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Cleaning, Consumer Management, Home Environment

Tips for Laundry Stain Removal

June 19th, 2014

One of the more frustrating things about doing laundry can be set in stains.  Follow these tips for best results.

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Tips to Remember for Stain Removal:

• Take care of stains promptly. Fresh stains are much easier to remove than those over 24 hours old.

• Blot up any excess liquid with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Remove excess solids by gentle scraping or chipping with a dull knife or metal spatula. With some solids, such as heavy amounts of surface mud, removal may be easier after the stain has dried. Brush off the excess before the clothing is submerged for washing.

• Avoid rubbing the stained area with a linty terry towel or a dark-colored cloth. You may complicate the problem.

• Never rub a fresh stain with bar soap. Soap sets many stains.

• Check laundry for stains before washing. Many stains need pretreatment.

• Inspect wet laundry before drying to be sure a stain has been removed. If a stain is still evident, do not dryer dry. The heat of drying makes the stain more permanent.

• Before starting on the stain, test on a seam or hidden area of the garment to be sure stain removal products do not affect the color or finish of the fabric.

• Avoid excessive rubbing unless the fabric is tough and durable. Rubbing can spread the stain and damage the fiber, finish, or color of the fabric. However, gentle to vigorous rubbing and agitation under running water helps remove dried food, protein, or oil stains from shirts or jean-weight fabrics made of cotton or cotton/polyester blends.

• Do not iron or press stained fabrics until the stain is completely removed. Heat sets most stains.

• Wash heavily stained items separately. Soil and stains can be re-deposited on cleaner clothing during laundering if a) too little detergent is used; b) water temperature is too low; c) washing time is too long; or d) the washer is loaded with too many clothes.

• Avoid using hot water on stains of unknown origin. Hot water can set protein stains like milk, egg, or blood.

• Use the water temperature recommended by product manufacturer. Hot water should be between 120 and 140 degrees F, warm water between 85 and 105 degrees F, and cold water between 65 and 75 degrees F. Water below 60 degrees F is too cold for detergents to be helpful.

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Cleaning, Consumer Management, Laundry, Textiles

Caring for a Hardwood Floor in your home

June 16th, 2014

CARING FOR A HARDWOOD FLOOR IN YOUR HOME

I love the beauty and durability of my oak hardwood floors in my home.  I also appreciate the fact that they don’t trap dust particles that contribute to allergies and other health issues.  But I’ve often wondered what the best methods are to clean and maintain them? Well there’s good news!  I’ve done some research and I’ve discovered that caring for them is actually quite simple!wood floor pic

If your floor has a surface finish, such as polyurethane, the general maintenance steps are:

  1. SWEEP with a soft bristled broom.
  2. VACUUM with special bare floor attachments to get rid of dirt and dust.  Or use a good dust mop with a 12”-18” cotton head
  3. You can also CLEAN your floors periodically with a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by a wood flooring professional. The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) can help you find a pro in your area. http://woodfloors.org/  Make sure your mop is well wrung out so that it is just damp. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue.

When cleaning no longer restores shine, recoat the floor with a surface finish.  How often you do this depends on the amount of traffic. If you have kids or pets, your floors may get lots of mud, water, sand, or dirt tracked on them regularly; they may need to be recoated more often.

***Never wax a surface-finished floor, and never use vinyl or tile floor care products on any wood floor.

 

Do you have a wax or penetrating-stain finish on your wood floor?  Here are steps to follow to maintain the finish:

  1. DUSTMOP or VACUUM regularly.
  2. Use a BUFFER to maintain the shine.  Follow manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations if known.

If buffing no longer restores shine, you may need to rewax.  Apply a cleaner and liquid wax specifically for wood floors.  Apply the wax evenly, allow the floor to dry, and buff to the desired luster. Most wood floors need to be rewaxed once or twice a year. Try not to overwax a wood floor.  If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other low-traffic areas by applying wax half as often as in higher-traffic areas.

Is your wax finish soiled or discolored?  Use a combination liquid cleaner/wax made specifically for wood flooring.  Make sure it is solvent rather than water-based.  Spread the liquid cleaner/wax with a cloth or fine steel wool and rub gently to remove grime and old wax.  Wipe the floor clean, let it dry for about 20 minutes, then buff.

Never damp-mop a waxed floor.

TIPS FOR PREVENTING SCRATCHES:

  • Place mats and throw rugs at doorways to help protect wood floors from grit, dirt, and sand.
  • Place felt pads under furniture legs.
  • Vacuum or dust your wood floor regularly.
  • Avoid walking on floors with cleats, sports shoes, or high heels. Interestingly, a 125-pound woman walking in high heels has an impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. An exposed heel nail can exert up to 8000 pounds per square inch!  Can you say “DENTS”?
  •  When moving furniture, do not slide it on the wood flooring. It’s best to pick it up to move it.
  • Use a humidifier during the winter months to minimize gaps or cracks.

Follow these steps to enjoy the beauty of your wood floors for years to come.

jill sig

Cleaning, Housing

CLEANING YOUR BARBECUE GRILL

June 5th, 2014

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With Father’s Day fast approaching, I’ve been reminiscing about grilling in the backyard with my dad. He had an award-winning recipe for Grilled Stuffed Pork Chops and my mouth waters to this day just remembering biting into them. He was a livestock producer so we always had an abundance of fresh meat cuts to barbecue on the old Weber charcoal grill, along with fresh-picked Iowa sweet corn and my mom’s fresh garden vegetables. Such good memories!

Cleaning the grill was not such a fun memory, however. Like most people, I still don’t enjoy cleaning the grill; but a dirty grill can mean off flavors and/or excess smoke the next time you barbecue.  The following are  steps we can take to make this “dirty job” easier:

GRATES:

BEFORE lighting the grill, apply non-stick spray on the grates. This cuts down cleanup time later. The grates need to be cleaned completely after every use. Use a stiff wire brush (or if you don’t have one, crumpled up aluminum foil works for this). Most people don’t know that it’s actually better to do this AFTER you cook while the grill is still warm as cooling hardens the food on the grate.

CHARCOAL GRILLS:stock-photo-grill-138335288[1]

Many charcoal grills come with a handy ash catcher attached to the bottom. These grills still need to be cleaned after every use to help cut down on excess smoke and bad flavors. Simply brush out the ashes and cooked foods that have dropped to the bottom of the grill. Occasionally get in there and really scrape out that stuff that seems to develop on the bottom.. At least once a year, get out a bucket of soapy water and give it a really good clean and rinse.

 

 

 

timthumb[2]GAS GRILLS:

Your gas grill may have a “clean” setting on the knobs. I’m sorry to report that this is not how you clean your grill. It will burn up stuff that has fallen down into the grill, but it doesn’t really clean it. Like a charcoal grill, you need to clean your gas grill after each use by cleaning the grates and brushing off the sides and lid. Regularly lift out the cooking grate and clean off the barrier above the burners. This might be lava rock, briquettes, or some variation of metal plates, and cooked on grease and food particles should be cleaned periodically.

Once a year, do a more thorough cleaning on your gas grill. To do this, start by disconnecting the gas and then lift out the grill parts layer by layer. Once you get down to the burners, inspect them thoroughly. Make sure nothing is blocking the flow of gas. If a burner is clogged, it will give you uneven heat and make for poor grilling. If you can clean it, do so, otherwise, replace it. If your grill uses lava rocks or ceramic briquettes you need to make sure that these are not too heavily encrusted with cooked on foods. If they are, replace them to avoid bad tasting smoke that dirty rocks can produce.

Take everything out of the gas grill and clean it completely with soapy water. Heat up the grill completely before you cook again to make sure that any leftover soap residue burns off.

One more handy tip: I use rubber or plastic gloves to clean my grill – it saves fingernails and keeps soot and grime off the hands.

Taking these steps to clean your grill regularly will help ensure delicious barbecued meals time after time.  Make memories in the backyard with your friends and family and enjoy the summer grilling season – it flies by quickly!

jill sig

Cleaning, Food Preparation, Home Environment, Household Equipment

Help…I can’t see out of my windows!

May 5th, 2014

window cleaningDoes this nice warm weather make you want to get out and wash windows.  Here are a few hints that may help you.

• Most professionals use a small amount of hand dishwashing detergent (such as Ivory, Dove, Dawn) and warm water along with a squeegee to remove water to help prevent streaking;

• Homemade window cleaner =½ cup vinegar or ammonia to one quart warm water;

• For greasy or heavily soiled windows, use ½ cup ammonia, 1 pint rubbing alcohol, ¼ tsp. dish detergent, 1 gallon water

Remember, streaking is often caused by heat in the glass, and consequently drying too fast.  So, plan to wash the windows while they are in the shade for the best results.

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Cleaning

Pantry Pests

March 27th, 2014

Moths2There is nothing like the surprise you get when you open a package from your pantry and find “little friends” wiggling around inside. Finding insects inside stored food is a common problem.  There are many different types of insects that invade stored food. They eat a very small amount of food but most people find the remaining food unappetizing and unfit for consumption. Fortunately, the bugs do not fly, sting, or bite people.

Nearly all dry food products are susceptible to insect infestation, including flour, cake mix, cornmeal, rice, spaghetti, crackers, cookies, seeds such as dried beans and popcorn, nuts, chocolate, raisins and other dried fruits, spices, powdered milk, and cured meats. Non-food items can be infested too.  Some of these include birdseed, dry pet food, ornamental seed and dried plant displays, ornamental corn, dried flowers, garden seeds, potpourri, and rodent baits.

The infestation can happen anywhere; at the food processing plant, during transport or food storage, at grocery store, or inside your home. Food products that are left undisturbed on the shelves for long periods are particularly susceptible to infestation. However, foods of any age can become infested. Stored food insects are capable of penetrating unopened paper, thin cardboard, and plastic, foil or cellophane wrapped packages. They may chew their way into packages or crawl in through folds and seams. Insects within an infested package begin multiplying and can spread to other stored foods or food debris that has accumulated in corners, cracks and crevices, and eventually the entire cupboard. All stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) may be present simultaneously in infested products.

While it is not always possible to prevent an infestation, following these suggestions may limit your exposure to this problem.

  1.  Purchase dried foods in quantities small enough to be used up in a short period of time. Use oldest products before newer ones, and opened packages before unopened ones.
  2. Inspect packages or bulk products before buying. Packages should be sealed and unbroken. Also check the freshness packaging date. Look for evidence of insects, including holes in the packaging or wrapping.
  3. Store insect-free foods in tightly closed glass, metal or heavy plastic containers. Refrigerate or freeze small amounts of highly susceptible foods.
  4. Keep food storage areas clean. Do not allow crumbs or spilled food to accumulate. Remove and discard old, unused products and inspect the remainder.

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Cleaning, Food Safety

Repairing Water Rings on Furniture

March 24th, 2014
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Water Stain

I love beautiful wooden furniture – oak, maple, cherry, walnut, etc. - each wood has it’s own character and I love them all.  Though I try to be careful in preventing water stains, either from glasses left on wood without a coaster or from water leaking out of a saucer under a freshly watered plant, I have still had more than my share of water stained furniture. Water rings commonly appear as a filmy gray spot and can be easy to remove. Follow one of the following steps in repair:

1. Rub with wax and 4/0 (very fine) steel wool.

2. Rub spot lightly with a soft, lintless cloth moistened with camphorated oil. Wipe immediately using a clean cloth.

3. Dip a small piece of cheesecloth in hot water to which has been added two or three drops of household ammonia. Wring cloth out tightly and rub spot lightly.

4. Place a clean, thick blotter over the spot and press with a warm, not hot, iron. If this does not work, rub with a cleaning polish or wax.

• White Marks, Spots, and/or Rings — White marks, spots, or rings on furniture are generally caused by some change in the finish due to heat, alcohol or moisture. Successful removal will depend on sufficiently warming and blending the surface without making it rough. Remember that not all substances will work on all finishes. Begin with the mildest and continue to try stronger ones until the spot has been removed. Blemishes of this nature are similar to others listed. Usually the direct cause of the blemish is not known so that they are treated as one group.

1. Mix equal parts of boiled or raw linseed oil, turpentine, vinegar and rub the surface gently.

2. Rub lightly over the spot with a cloth dampened in a mixture of water and household ammonia (one part water to two parts ammonia).

3. Place a piece of blotting paper over the spot and press over it with a warm iron.

4. For varnished or shellacked surfaces (not lacquered) rub the spot with a cloth dampened in essence of peppermint, spirits of camphor, or turpentine and water. Watch carefully to see that the surface does not become tacky or sticky. When dry, apply a good wax furniture polish or polish with the oil and turpentine mixture.

5. Moisten a small cotton pad with alcohol or dilute shellac in addition to a few drops of raw linseed oil. Rub over the spot in the directions of the grain.

CAUTION: Use care in working with any treatment that requires a cleaning compound. Some products are highly volatile and inflammable. Provide some means of fresh air in the meeting room if possible. Caution the group about smoking while treatment is in process. Read manufacturers labels and heed their warnings. Replace caps immediately after pouring liquids. Do not let containers of flammable liquids stand uncovered. Place cover on container while you work. Place rags or papers used in metal covered cans after use. Or destroy them at once.

Carolyn

 

 

Source: Linda R. Adler, M.A., Extension Specialist for Home Furnishings, University of Kentucky, HF-LRA.048;

FURNSURF.2; Revised 12/96

Cleaning

Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

March 17th, 2014

imageIf you have a brand-new cast iron skillet you will need to season it before you can use it.  Rub it lightly with vegetable shortening. Coat the interior where food will touch. Do not use vegetable oil as it will leave the pan sticky. Next, heat the pan in a 250 degree oven for 2 hours. It may be necessary to add extra shortening to the pan. Do not let it dry out; if it does then apply more shortening. Let it get stone cold and wipe out with paper towel.

If you find an old cast iron pan in the basement or at a garage sale, scour the pan with steel wool and then follow the above directions for seasoning the pan.  Wash cast iron quickly with a little dish washing liquid. Don’t soak it for long periods of time or use a scouring pad. Always be sure to dry with a paper towel and then set on a warm burner to finish drying.   Re season the pan as needed. 

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Cleaning

Smelly Fridge??

March 10th, 2014

imageIf you have ever lost your power for a long period of time or had your refrigerator or freezer fail and food has spoiled, you know how hard it is to remove the odor.  Here are some steps to help you get your refrigerator or freezer odor free.

  1. Dispose of any food that has spoiled.
  2. Wash all of the shelves and drawers in hot water and detergent.  Then rinse using a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
  3. Wash the interior of the refrigerator and freezer with hot water and baking soda.  Make sure that you also clean the door and gasket.  Rinse with the sanitizing solution.
  4. Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow for air to circulate.  Remember if you have small children make sure that they don’t get trapped inside.

If the odor still remains try one or more of the following:

  1. Use equal parts of vinegar and water and wipe the inside of the unit.
  2. Leave the door open and allow the refrigerator or freezer to air out for several days.  Again take precautions if you have small children.
  3. Try stuffing both the refrigerator and freezer with crumpled up newspapers sprinkled with water.  Close the door and leave the papers in for several days with the appliance is running.  Next, remove the newspapers and clean with vinegar and water.
  4. Sprinkle coffee grounds or baking soda on cookie sheets or in shallow containers and put in several shelves of the refrigerator or freezer.
  5. Place a cotton ball soaked with vanilla in both the refrigerator and freezer.  Check in 24 hours for improvement.
  6. Look for a commercial cleaner.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

With persistence, most odors can be removed.  If you are unable to clean it and need to dispose of the refrigerator contact your local waste collector to find out what rules apply to disposing it.

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Cleaning, Household Equipment

Oh the smell of burned popcorn…

March 3rd, 2014

imagePhew!  Have you ever burned popcorn in your microwave and wondered how to get rid of the smell?  Try mixing ½ cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of water in a bowl.  Cook in the microwave for 5 minutes.  The fresh lemon smell will go up and out of the vents, cleaning them, since that is where the odor is residing.  If the smell isn’t completely gone try adding more lemon juice and boiling it again!

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Cleaning, Household Equipment