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Cleaning oven racks

Part Two of oven cleaning addresses how to clean oven racks and the oven window. Again, always remember to remove the oven racks before cleaning your oven.

You are going to want to cover the oven racks with hot water. Many people put them in the bath tub to do this. Once the racks are covered with very hot water, add ½ cup powdered or liquid dishwasher detergent to the water. Swish around until the detergent is dissolved. Let soak 4 hours or overnight. Rinse, dry, and replace in your clean oven!

To clean the oven window, warm sudsy water works or a solution of vinegar and water.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Oven Cleaning

Dirty oven      clean oven

Tis the season for Spring cleaning! For many of us that includes the oven. It is suggested to clean your oven monthly and wipe down the oven door weekly. Dirty ovens are less efficient at reaching temperatures and crusty buildup can impact the taste of food.

AnswerLine’s recommended way to clean an electric oven is to preheat the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and place a bowl of boiling water on the bottom shelf and a bowl of ammonia (about ½ cup ) on the top shelf. Close the oven door and let set overnight. Wipe down and scrub with a nonabrasive scrubber if necessary the next day. This procedure is not recommended for gas ovens with pilot lights for safety reasons. For gas ovens place a bowl of water in the oven and turn the oven on high for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the steam to loosen dried on food and grease overnight.

If spills do happen, sprinkle salt on the spills when warm and scrub with 3 tablespoons washing soda (which can be purchased at the grocery store) mixed into 1 quart warm water.

The next blog will address the recommended way to clean oven racks.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Spring cleaning for glassware

If you are “thinking spring” and cleaning in your kitchen, here are some tips for cleaning glass items.

If the sparkle is gone, warm up two cups of white vinegar in the microwave for about two minutes. Pour into a bowl large enough to place at least two of your cloudy glasses. Soak for about three minutes. Rotate the glasses to ensure all areas have been cleaned. Rinse and dry.

If spots remain, scrub with a damp cloth dipped in baking soda. This will not scratch the glasses but may remove stubborn spots. White paste toothpaste will also work to scour the glasses, scratch free.

Vases or narrow bottles can be difficult to clean. Follow these directions for cleaning your vase.vase Fill the vase half full with really warm water. Add a squirt of dish soap and two tablespoons of ammonia. Next, add ½ cup of uncooked rice. Swirl the vase to allow the rice to scrub the area you cannot reach. Let the vase rest for a few minutes and swirl again. When you have removed the stains, rinse well with warm water. Set the vase upside down to dry.

If you find you have wax covered candle holders, soak them in a sink of hot water. Next peel or gently scrape off the softened wax. You can scrub with a terry cloth dish cloth to remove the remaining wax. Then wash in hot, sudsy dish water and dry.

I hope that these tips will help refresh some special glassware that you need to clean.

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

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 buying (or selling) at a garage sale

It’s that time of year again; garage sale signs are springing up everywhere. You may also be thinking of holding a sale of your own.  Here are some things to consider when buying, or selling at a sale.

  • Beware of bike helmets. They are designed to be discarded after they have been in an accident. It may be hard to tell if this particular helmet was used in a crash.
  • Used car seats for a baby; these too may have been through a crash or they may be outdated. Safety for your child is nothing to short cut.
  • Used cribs can also be a danger to your child or grandchild. Know what the current standards are for a safe crib.
  • Personal items that hug the body may not be a good purchase. It is hard to know, even with hot water washes, that the item is clean.
  • Mattresses are also a questionable purchase. Who wants to buy bed bugs or some other problem?
  • Electronics like TVs, computers, and tablets. It is hard to know, just by looking, how much longer these items will last. Buy with caution.
  • Reconsider buying old, worn dishes or pans. Cast iron can be rejuvenated but some other surfaces may not be safe for cooking. Of course, you can always use them decoratively out in the garden.
  • Used makeup should be avoided. There can be bacteria growing in the old makeup that will make you sick.
  • Beware of stuffed animals. You may not be able to clean them sufficiently for use by small children.

Hard surface toys can be washed in the dishwasher or sanitized by washing and dipping into a sanitizing solution.

Sanitizing solution:  Use 1 Tablespoon of bleach in a gallon of cool water or use ¾ teaspoon of bleach in a quart of cool water.

Follow these tips to safely buy (or sell) at a garage sale near you.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

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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Carpet Cleaning

This time of year callers are often preparing their homes for graduations, first communions, carpet stainand wedding showers. We often get calls about removing spots from carpeting. The resource we use at AnswerLine for carpet cleaning is the Carpet and Institute’s Spot Solver.

Their experts advise creating a schedule to vacuum you carpets. If the soil is removed from the surface before it is crushed into the carpet it is much easier to remove.  It is best to vacuum slowly; covering an area about four times.  This helps remove dust, pollen, and pet dander, too.  It is best to vacuum at least once a week, but higher traffic areas may need to be vacuumed more often.  If you have a pet or children that track in a lot of dirt, you may want to vacuum daily.  You should plan to vacuum medium traffic areas at least twice a week.

The Carpet and Rug Institute experts also recommend that you treat stains promptly. Even though most carpet sold today is stain resistant, carpet spills and stains happen to all of us. Act quickly when a stain happens.  Scoop or blot up the staining material.  Remember not to scrub as that can cause damage to carpet fibers.  Treat the stain with the solution recommended by the Carpet and Rug Institute.  If you don’t have any of those solutions, remember that plain water is often effective.

In spite of your best efforts there are some spots you may not be able to remove. In that case, you may want to call in a professional.  The Carpet and Rug Institute suggests having the carpets in your home cleaned professionally every 12 to 18 months.  You may want to get bids from several cleaning services.  A good carpet cleaning should include vacuuming, pre-spraying, and spot removal.

These tips should help you keep your carpeting looking and feeling like new.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

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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Keep Bacteria Out Of Your Kitchen

Woman cleaning kitchen

There are several of us at the office that are suffering from colds right now. As we are trying to keep from exposing all of our staff it got me thinking that the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause colds is passed on in the same way that foodborne illnesses are spread – from hand to hand or from hand to food contact.  We are sanitizing our doorknobs, computer keyboards, and phones but there are things at home that we need to disinfect to keep from passing foodborne illnesses on to our family.  An inexpensive sanitizing solution that you can use at the office or for toys, eating utensils, dishes, dining tables, and kitchen countertops at home is to put in a 1 quart spray bottle, 1 teaspoon bleach with 1 quart of water.  If you have concentrated bleach use ¾ teaspoon per quart of water.  Use for 1-2 days then make a new batch.

Let’s look at some areas in the kitchen that we need to pay particular attention to when talking about sanitizing.

  • Cutting boards. Make sure that you are cleaning your cutting boards after each use. Have two separate cutting boards. One for meat and another for fruits and vegetables. When cutting boards get deep knife marks it is time to replace them since bacteria can harbor in those grooves. After cleaning they can be sprayed with the sanitizing solution and allowed to dry.
  • Can openers. These need to be cleaned each time you use them. Then wiped with the sanitizing solution and allowed to air dry.
  • Sinks. Before washing your dishes wipe the sink with hot soapy water and use the sanitizing solution. After spraying the sanitizing solution allow it to work for 10 minutes before you use the sink.
  • Countertops. Think of all of the items that are set on the countertop. Grocery bags that have been sitting in your trunk, the mail, newspapers, etc. Even if a countertop looks clean before you cook, wash and sanitize it. If the countertop has not been cleaned you don’t want to set your rubber scrapers or other utensils on it for fear of transferring bacteria into your food.
  • Dishcloths and towels. Use a clean dishcloth daily. If you wipe up a spill then allow it to dry and put it in the laundry and get out a clean dishcloth. Clean all dish towels and cloths in hot water. If you have scrubbing utensils they should be put in the dishwasher every time that you run it. Most dishwashers have a sanitizing cycle but if you don’t have a dishwasher use your sanitizing solution and allow them to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Garbage disposal rubber splash guard. Bacteria can form on inside folds and the underside of the splash guard. A thorough cleaning on both the top and the bottom is important. Use a brush that can reach in all parts and spray with the sanitizer spray and let it dry after it is clean.
  • Refrigerators. Remember that spills in the refrigerator should be cleaned up immediately. Make sure that you look at your food items regularly and get rid of the items that are past time to safely eat. Don’t allow food to mold or decay.

Be diligent in keeping bacteria away! Remember these tips to keep your family safe.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from 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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Cleaning your dishwasher

Have you had problems with your dishwasher not cleaning well or growing mold? Here are dishwasher2some tips on cleaning your dishwasher to make sure that your dishes come out clean and sanitized.

  • Mold requires nutrients and moisture which can both be found in a dishwasher.  The first thing to check is the filter to make sure there is no food left in it.  To get to the filter remove the bottom rack.  Usually it is either in the middle or back on the bottom of the dishwasher.  Then clean any food or gunk that might be in it.  If your dishwasher is attached to your garbage disposal it is always a good idea to run it before you start your dishwasher to make sure there is no food remaining in the sink drain.  Also check the silverware drawer to make sure there is no food caught in it.  It can easily hide in that spot!
  • Check the door gaskets to make sure that there is no mold growing.  Look on the sides of the gaskets since often water can get trapped there and mold can grow.  If that is a problem you may need to wipe the gaskets dry after you empty the dishwasher.
  • If the inside of your dishwasher is NOT stainless steel try getting a bucket with 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of bleach.  Remove the racks and use a brush to scrub the inside of your machine.  If there are small areas try an old toothbrush.  I try and save some for just these kind of projects.  Make sure you aren’t mixing the bleach with any other cleaning products and wear gloves to protect your hands.  After cleaning run the dishwasher empty to rinse out the bleach residue.
  • If your dishwasher inside is stainless steel don’t use the bleach solution since it could damage it.  Instead try cleaning with vinegar.  Getting on the inside with a brush or toothbrush and using the vinegar will get in all the areas that need to be cleaned.  If there is an area (most commonly right inside the door on the bottom) where mold is growing try soaking some paper towels in vinegar and laying them on that area to soften and clean.  Then scrub with the brush again.
  • Remember I said earlier that mold grows with food and moisture so use the heated dry setting.  This will not only make your dishes dryer when they are clean but also dries out the inside of the machine.  If you plan to be gone and not using your dishwasher regularly it might be a good idea to leave the door open slightly to make sure that any moisture that might be in it will have the opportunity to dry and not cause a mold problem.
  • One last thought…check the holes on the spray arm to make sure they are not clogged.  Sometimes hard water can plug the holes and not allow the water to circulate in the dishwasher.  If you find any that are plugged remove the spray arm to clean it.

Hopefully these cleaning steps will help!  If you have any additional questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at AnswerLine.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from 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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Clothes Dryer Safety

Clothes dryer safety is not a topic that we think about very often, even though I use my dryer on dryer2almost a daily basis. I do try to take care of the easy maintenance but I don’t always take the time to thoroughly clean the vent system for my dryer.  Here are a few easy steps we can take to avoid a clothes dryer fire.

    • Do use a professional to install the dryer.
    • Be sure the lint filter is in place before starting the dryer.
    • ALWAYS clean the lint filter before starting a new dryer load.
    • Be sure the dryer vent that exhausts air from the dryer is clean and sturdy.
    • Don’t overload your dryer. Smaller loads will dry quicker.
    • Don’t run the dryer if you are planning to leave home or when you are sleeping.
    • Be sure the outlet for the dryer is connected properly and grounded.
    • This time of year, be sure the dryer outlet outside is not blocked by snow or ice.
    • Keep flammable items away from the dryer.
    • Don’t put clothing that has come in contact with flammable liquids like gasoline into the dryer. Let them air outside and dry before washing. If you still can smell an odor after washing, don’t put them in the dryer.

I know that I will thoroughly clean the vent system on my dryer this weekend. The last thing we need is a dryer fire.

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

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 Using Nonstick Pans

As I was making breakfast this morning, I took a hard look at my favorite small frying pan. I amPan2 pretty disappointed in the way the pan looks as I have been trying to take really good care of this pan. My husband surprised me with a new set of pots and pans for Christmas several years ago. I’ve really tried my best to keep them in immaculate condition; but I use the small fry pan as often as I can because it has a nonstick coating. I’ve always used wood or plastic utensils in the pan and I wash it with hot, soapy water after each meal. It looks like it is time for me to give this cherished pan a really good, careful cleaning. I’ve looked at the research based information as well as the information provided by several top manufacturers of these products. Here are the results of my research:

  • Be sure to use wood or plastic utensils to avoid scratching the cookware.
  • Also use cleaners designed for these surfaces. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbers. Scrub cooking residue inside pans with baking soda and water.
  • Chose a good quality pan that transmits heat evenly; hot spots in the pan can cause damage to the nonstick surface.
  • Avoid high heat; choose low or medium-low heat for cooking.
  • Never leave these pans unattended, damage can occur if pans boil or cook dry.
  • Don’t use aerosol spray oils.
  • Don’t put nonstick pans in the dishwasher, the combination of high heat and harsh cleaners can damage the surface.

If you find that food is sticking to the nonstick surface, it may actually be stuck on a residue inside the pan. This residue can form from oils in the food you cook; it may not always come clean when washed. Removing this residue may require soaking in how water with a hand dishwashing detergent and scrubbing with a non-scratching scrubber sponges. You may try Soft Scrub cleaner without bleach. Always consider checking with the manufacturer for tips for your particular pans.

I plan to work on refreshing my small fry pan this weekend, when I have a bit of extra time.

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

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 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 Meimann

Liz Meimann

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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