Glass Kitchenware Cautions

Under the right circumstances, glass bakeware will shatter, crack, split and even explode when exposed to thermal shock. Thermal shock is when an object abruptly goes through a drastic temperature change causing it to fracture as it expands or contracts.

While glass bakeware and kitchenware is a healthier alternative to metal, it is not without limitations; like all glass, it can break.  Despite breaking as a possibility, glass is preferred because there are no hazardous materials to leach into food and it bakes more evenly.

Regardless of brand, “Pyrex” is the name consumers often use when referring to glass Pyrex®, Anchor Hocking, Bake King or other bakeware and kitchenware because it has been a trusted household name for decades.  Pyrex® was valued for years for its sturdiness and ability to withstand rapid, dramatic temperature changes that typically shatter normal glassware.  However, with changes in manufacturing, that old-fashioned reliability has changed with Pyrex as well as some other brands.

Pyrex (trademarked as PYREX) is a brand introduced by Corning Inc in 1915 for a line of clear, low-thermal-expansion borosilicate glass used for laboratory glassware and kitchenware.  It was later expanded to include clear and opal ware products made of soda-lime glass. In 1998, Corning sold the Pyrex brand name to World Kitchen LLC. World Kitchen stopped the manufacture of borosilicate glass and changed to less expensive, tempered soda-lime glass for kitchenware sold in the United States.  Tempered soda-lime glass does not handle heat as well as borosilicate glass but does withstand breakage when dropped better.  With some caution, tempered soda-lime glass withstands thermal shock reasonably well.  Anchor Hocking and Bake King products are also made from tempered soda-lime glass.  The OXO brand uses thermal shock resistant borosilicate glass in the manufacturer of its glass bakingware; the manufacturer’s information states that it can go from freezer to oven without the need to thaw.

To determine the kind of glass used in true Pyrex ware, look on the underside of the dish for these designations:

Trademark stamped into Pyrex® bakeware made with borosilicate glass by Corning

PYREX® (all UPPER CASE LETTERS plus, in the USA, a trademark notice comprising a capital R in a circle = low-thermal-expansion borosilicate glass either clear or opaque originally made by Corning Inc.  Scour estate auctions, thrift stores, antique stores, or purchase in Europe to acquire it.

Trademark for Pyrex® bakeware made from high-thermal-expansion soda-lime glass kitchenware made by World Kitchen.

pyrex® (all lower case letters plus a trademark notice comprising a capital R in a circle) = clear tempered high-thermal-expansion soda-lime glass kitchenware made by World Kitchen.

Mark stamped into Pyrex bakeware manufactured with borosilicate glassfor use in European manufactured by International Cookware.

PYREX (all UPPER CASE LETTERS in an encircled oval with no trademark notice with European country noted) = European license for use on borosilicate glass products manufactured by International Cookware.

Some precautions are necessary for modern-day tempered soda-lime kitchenware.  In 2010, Consumer Reports tested some Pyrex and found that taking the newer glass out of a hot oven and placing it on a wet granite countertop yielded poor results with the glass shattering almost instantly.  As a result of its investigation, Consumer Reports called on the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to look into the problem of shattering bakeware.

Further, Consumer Reports issued ten precautions to consumers to minimize the chances of the glassware shattering:

  • Always place hot glassware on a dry, cloth potholder or towel.
  • Never use glassware for stovetop cooking or under a broiler.
  • Always allow the oven to fully preheat before placing the glassware in the oven.
  • Always cover the bottom of the dish with liquid before cooking meat or vegetables.
  • Don’t add liquid to hot glassware.
  • If you’re using the dish in a microwave, do not use browning elements, and avoid overheating oil and butter.
  • Do not take dishes directly from the freezer to the oven or vice versa.
  • Never place hot glassware directly on a countertop (or smooth top), metal surface, on a damp towel, in the sink, or on a cold or wet surface.
  • Inspect your dishes for chips, cracks, and scratches. Discard dishes with such damage.

As always, it is the consumer’s responsibility to read and save the manufacturer’s instructions for handling any product safely.  Without instructions, check for a stamped label on the bottom side of the baking dish. If in doubt, the precautions issued by Consumer Reports will suffice for all glass bakeware and kitchenware.

Reviewed and updated 5/2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Deicers–helpful or harmful?

Bag of deicing product

Most deicing products readily available contain salt compounds known as magnesium chloride (used as a liquid on roads), sodium chloride (table salt), calcium chloride, and potassium chloride (fertilizer). Each winter these materials are applied to sidewalks, driveways, and steps to prevent slipping and falling.  However, they are often applied without regard to the substance, application, or the damage that they may cause to the home, property, environment, pets, and nearby plants.

As for mentioned, deicing products are primarily comprised of salt.  And just like household salt, all salts are not the same.  Salts can cause injury to trees, lawns, and shrubs, corrode metal and concrete, and even do bodily harm to pets and humans.  The most problematic element in any of the deicing products is the chloride; it causes corrosion and is toxic to plants.

Most of the popular de-icing products sold are chloride-based, each containing a different combination of salt. They include:

  • calcium chloride,
  • sodium chloride,
  • potassium chloride,
  • magnesium chloride.

Of these, the most commonly used is sodium chloride; it is widely available and least costly. It works at lower temperatures than other products and does not harm plants if excessive amounts are not applied.

This table from Purdue Extension gives valuable information about deicers:

While Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is listed on the above table, it contains no chloride and is less damaging to cars, metals, and concrete and less toxic to plants. It is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid, the main compound found in vinegar. CMA works differently than other deicers; it does not form brine like salts, but rather helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other. It has little effect on plant growth or concrete. It is also said to be biodegradable and pet and wildlife friendly. The big downside is the cost.

If you want to avoid deicing products, consider using sand, kitty litter, or chicken grit. While these products won’t melt snow, they will provide traction in slippery spots. Sand and kitty litter are safe for pets and plants and can be swept up when the snow melts. (Chicken grit may be too sharp for the paws of some pets but will not harm plants.)  Boots or shoes traversing any of these products should be removed upon entering a home as they could scratch floors.

Should the landscape fall victim to deicing, flushing the area around the plant roots in the spring with water will help to leech out the salts. Flushing may not be helpful if excessive salt has been used and plants and grass are found dead in the spring along deiced areas. Consider planting salt-tolerant plants in the landscape where deicer products may be used. For a list of landscape plants describing their tolerance to salt, visit Salt Damage in Landscape Plants by Purdue Extension.

The best advice is to know something about the substance (salts used in the product), consider the application, and then READ AND FOLLOW the manufacturer’s directions for applying the product to minimize damage to property and landscape.  And if possible, apply even less than is recommended.  Deicing products are not meant to replace shoveling or to melt all snow and ice, but to aid in removal efforts to prevent slipping and falling.

Picking the Right Product is Key to Melting Ice From Sidewalks, Driveways, K-State Research and Extension News
Salt Damage in Landscape Plants, Purdue Extension
Ice Melts Can Help But Can Be Harmful, K-State Research and Extension
Using Deicing Salts in the Home Landscape, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Reviewed and updated 6/2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Preventing Package Theft

Porch pirate caught on security camera
Porch pirate. Image by Marcia Steed.

One out of every 200 package deliveries were stolen from delivery points in 2023.  While it happens everyday, holiday deliveries are the biggest target for thieves or porch pirates leaving consumers with loss, frustration, and feeling violated.

Stopping Porch Pirates:  How to Keep Your Packages from Being Stolen by Consumer Reports offers some great suggestions for preventing theft as well as what to do should a theft occur.

Other options:

Some shippers allow a required signature at delivery so if no one is home the delivery service will take it back to it’s facility and try again later or let you come pick it up and sign for it.

Door bell cameras, motion sensors and internet-enabled security cameras have their benefits but the benefit is usually realized after the theft has been committed.  However, the images provided by the security devices will help with filing a police report.  While not a perfect solution, Porch Pirates Bags are a good deterrent.  If ordering from a retailer with a store front, have packages sent to the store for pick up.

It is incredibly frustrating and disheartening to have packages stolen.  Sadly, it is an unfortunate reality that every consumer needs to be concerned about.  It is possible to take steps to protect porch pirates from pirating your space.

Updated and reviewed 6/2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Personal Heating Appliances and Electric Blanket Safety

Personal heating appliance (electric blanket)When chilly nights become the norm, warmer blankets, throws, and pads become our cozy companions.  If a that cozy companion is an electric personal heating appliance (blanket, throw, pad, mattress pad, foot warmer), it should be inspected, regardless of age, before snuggling up for the season to make sure that it is safe.

There are two types of personal heating appliances, heating pads that are placed directly on the mattress and electric blankets. Heating pads and electric blankets cause around 500 fires each year according to the Electrical Safety Foundation. Almost all of these fires involve electric blankets that are more than ten years old.  While older blankets are definitely a hazard, a newer blanket or pad, even one fresh out of the bag, could also be a safety risk.  Newer personal heating appliances present less of a safety risk for fire and burns as most include safety features such as a rheostat control and temperature sensors.

When inspecting an electrical personal heating appliance, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends looking for cracks and breaks in wiring, plugs, and connectors.  Also look for dark, charred, or frayed spots on either side of the blanket or pad.  If the appliance shows any of these characteristics or is more than 10 years old, it should be thrown away—DO NOT DONATE. (If you want to keep the blanket for some other use like covering plants in the fall, throw away the control unit to render it non-electrical.) Older appliances (10 years plus) are more likely to be a hazard because most operate without a rheostat.  The rheostat found on most newer personal heating appliances controls heat by gauging both the appliance temperature and the user’s body temperature.  Lastly, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to make sure the appliance has not been recalled.

If a new personal heating appliance is to be purchased for self or as a gift, make sure it has been tested by and bears the label of a reputable testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).  Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.  If the directions don’t match your intended use, do not purchase.

Once the appliance is in use, keep these safety tips in mind:

Keep the blanket flat while in use.  Folds or bunched-up areas can create and trap too much heat.  This also includes tucking ends in which can cause excessive heat build-up.  A blanket is also best stored flat or rolled which puts less stress on the coils.

Keep everything and anything off of the blanket or pad.  This includes comforters/bedspreads, blankets, clothing, pets, and yourself.  No sleeping or lounging on top of the blanket either. Weight of any kind may cause the blanket to overheat.  Pet claws can cause punctures, rips, and tears which may expose or break the wiring and create shock and fire hazards.  If pets are a must, consider a low-voltage blanket.

Avoid washing or dry cleaning  Washing machines or cleaning solvents and appliances aren’t a given match.  Always follow the manufactures directions if cleaning is necessary and do not use the spin cycle.  There’s no guarantee that the internal coils in the appliance won’t get twisted or damaged or that the electrical circuitry will avoid damage in the laundry.  Some appliances come with removal covers so that washing of the appliance is not necessary.

Heat and then sleep.  If the appliance does not have a timer, turn it off before going to sleep.

Consider the bed.  Never use an electric blanket or other personal heating appliance on a waterbed or adjustable, hospital-style bed.

Mind the cords.  Avoid running cords under the mattress as this creates friction that can damage the cord or trap excess heat.  Do not plug the appliance into an extension cord or power strip as either could cause the appliance to overheat.

Do not use more than one appliance at a time.  Blankets and pads are not meant to be used interchangeably or at the same time.

Electric personal heating appliances are great cozy companions but they need to be respected and used with care.  Today’s electric personal heating appliances are safer and more energy efficient than those of the past. Many of the safety innovations were developed as Underwriters Laboratories, an independent product-safety testing organization, pushed for stricter safety standards for all personal heating appliances, including warnings on the instructions.  With respect and care, these cozy companions are perfect for deflecting cold rooms and beds.

Reviewed and updated, 6-2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Beware of Halloween Decoration Dangers

Assorted fall and Halloween decorations at a store. ‘Tis the season to be scary . . . fa, la, la, la, la, la, la . . .

Halloween has become as festive as Christmas with string of lights, blow up decorations, animated displays, fog machines, and other electric-powered decorations.  Any and all create a scare-worthy porch or yard for any trick-or-treaters that dare to ring the doorbell.  But like Christmas decorations, Halloween decorations can be a source of dangers that could spoil the holiday that is suppose to be fun.  Remember a safe celebration is the best celebration.

So as Halloween decorating approaches, here’s some safety tips from Safe Electricity to make sure Halloween is safe and fun for all:

  • Carefully inspect decorations that have been stored for cracking, fraying or bare wires.  Do not use if any of these problems are found as they may cause a shock or start a fire.
  • When replacing or purchasing decorations or cords, make sure they are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved and marked for outdoor use.
  • Unless specifically indicated, keep electrical decorations out of water or wet areas.
  • Be mindful of extension cords.  They should not run through water on the ground.  Use only cords rated for outdoor use.
  • Don’t overload plugs or extension cords.  Be sure to use a big enough gauge extension cord to handle the decoration wattage without getting hot.
  • Use insulated staples to hold strings of lights or cords in place.  Fasten securely.
  • Plug outdoor lights and decorations into GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupters).
  • Keep cords away from walkways or anyplace where they may be a potential tripping hazard or entanglement hazard for pets.
  • Consider using a timer to have decorations or lights on for a specified amount of time.  Turn them off while away from the home and before going to bed.

By following basic electrical safety guidelines, you will  avoid real scares or dangerous tricks and keep Halloween a fun and safe event.  Get more safety tips at

A Halloween blowup - large eyes with large orange glasses.

Reviewed 6/2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Gas Leak – How to Detect and What to Do

Millions of Americans use gas (natural or propane, i.e. LP) to heat their homes, heat their water, and cook their food.   Our family is one of them and in addition, a natural gas pipeline crosses our property.  While gas is safe, economical, clean-burning, and a versatile fuel when used properly, it is also highly combustible.  Thus, a gas leak can be a risk of a fire and explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. To help ensure that you live safely with gas, everyone in the family should be aware of the signs of a gas leak, never ignore even the slightest indication of one, and know what to do should there be a leak.  Because of our proximity to a gas line, our gas company provides information periodically on what to know and what to do.  The same precautions apply to propane gas.

Smell.  Because gases are colorless and odorless, a strong odorant that smells like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal is added to alert or help consumers detect a possible leak.  If you aren’t sure of the scent, you can request a free scratch-and-sniff card from you supplier.

Sound.  A hissing or whistling sound near a gas appliance, meter or pipeline is also an indicator of a gas leak.

Air.  Another indicator would be blowing dirt or a breeze coming out of the ground.

Bubbles.  A leak in a gas pipe can sometimes cause bubbling in moist areas around the home.

Discolored or dyeing vegetation.  If you suddenly notice your grass or shrubs have changed color, looking more brown or rusty, that could be a sign of a leak. Plants near a gas leak will quickly become sickly and eventually die.

Feeling ill.   The symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning are similar to flu or food poisoning.  You cannot see, taste, or smell CO.

Fire coming out of the ground.

If you suspect or discover a gas leak:

  • Stay calm.
  • Leave the area immediately and evacuate everyone as well as all pets or animals from the home or building. Inhaling high concentrations of gas can lead to asphyxia in which your body is deprived of oxygen.
  • Go to a remote location and call your gas company or supplier. If they can’t be reached, call the fire department.  Program your gas supplier’s number into your cellphone so that it is readily available in an emergency.
  • If gas is blowing, call 911.
  • Move quickly. Don’t stop to look for the leak, open windows, turn switches off, or unplug equipment.  Leave the door open as you leave.
  • Don’t use anything that might create a spark, such as a cellphone, light switch, or garage door opener. These can ignite gases or vapors.
  • Do not return to the building until the gas company or fire department has given you the all-clear or the leak is fixed.

As always, being prepared in case of an emergency is key.  First and foremost, have the number of your gas supplier programmed into your cellphone.  If you don’t have a cellphone, have the number tucked into your wallet so you can quickly dial the number from another phone.  Secondly, know how to turn off your gas should you need to or be asked to do so.  Begin by knowing where your gas meter and/or emergency control valve is located.  For natural gas users, the emergency control valve should be next to the meter.   To turn off the gas supply, simply turn the handle a quarter turn so the lever is crosswise, perpendicular, or at 90 degrees to the upright gas pipe; a wrench may be required to turn the lever. Propane users should locate the main gas supply valve on the propane tank. Close the valve by turning it to the right (clockwise).  If you are unsure about where to find these valves or what to do, contact your supplier and have them show you.  And it is always a good plan to have your gas furnace and other gas appliances checked annually and serviced as needed for proper ventilation.

During winter, keep your gas meter and valve free from snow and ice using a broom, not a shovel, to remove snow or ice.  Make sure outside appliance vents are not blocked by snow and ice. Blocked vents can cause carbon monoxide  to back up into the building or shut down your system.   If your home or business has natural or propane gas appliances, a carbon monoxide detector should be installed.  When a gas appliance malfunctions, it can produce CO, that deadly, odorless, colorless, and tasteless silent killer.  And always, always call 811 before you dig!

Everyone should know how to detect and respond to a gas leak.  Make it part of your family’s emergency response plan.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Tips for Cleaning Electric Pressure Cookers

Recently a friend emailed me asking how to clean an electric programmable pressure cooker (EPPC) so that it didn’t retain the smells of previous cooked foods.  This friend is certainly not the only one asking this question.  In fact, after I got my own EPPC, I had the same concern.  In my search for advice, I encountered lots of stories and advice from other EPPC owners with one owner even claiming to have found maggots growing in the condensation collector!  True or not, there are at least eight parts of any EPPC that should be cleaned after every use and it only takes minutes to do:  the inner pot, base, trivet, lid, silicone ring, pressure valve, condensation collector, and the anti-block shield.  With the exception of the base, all of these parts are dishwasher safe with most manufacturers.  The cooker base must be kept dry but can be wiped with a damp cloth.

Ensuring cleanliness and hygiene in the kitchen extends beyond just the appliances themselves; it also involves personal protective measures. When handling potentially contaminated surfaces or items, such as the various parts of an electric programmable pressure cooker (EPPC), wearing gloves can provide an extra layer of protection against bacteria and germs. Online platforms like offer a convenient avenue for purchasing a wide range of gloves suitable for kitchen use. From disposable latex gloves to reusable nitrile options, this platform provides options to suit various preferences and needs, ensuring that individuals can maintain cleanliness without compromising on comfort or convenience.

It is always best to consult the manual that came with the EPPC for the best way to clean the appliance, but we know how manuals get misplaced or sometimes really don’t provide much information.  Another source is to look online for the EPPC manufacturer and hopefully find care information; however, this may not be possible with some generic EPPC brands.   One EPPC manufacturer, InstantPot, provides great care and cleaning tips.  While the tips may be specific to InstantPot, they would be useful for other EPPCs as well if information cannot be found from a specific manufacturer.

If after all of these areas have been cleaned properly and a lingering odor is still detected, it is likely coming from the silicon sealing ring as it does hold food odors.  I have found three ways to help defuse those odors: soaking the ring in vinegar, turning the lid upside down between uses or leaving the ring exposed to air, and placing a small box of baking soda in the unit between uses.   Other suggestions I’ve read include putting the ring in the sun, wiping the ring with a stainless steel soap disc, soaking or steaming in lemon water and baking soda, or purchasing two rings, one for savory and one for sweet.  If one does opt for a second sealing ring or needs to replace a ring, be sure to get genuine manufactured parts to ensure the EPPC will work correctly and safely.

Another concern EPPC users have is with the gradual discoloration of the stainless steel inner pot.  If it is turning a blue-yellow, white vinegar will bring it back to it’s original luster.  The procedure is to let white vinegar stand in the pot for at least 5 minutes and then rinse with water.  If the bottom of the pot is dulled perhaps due to sautéing or hard water, I have found that a small amount of baking soda or a non-abrasive scouring cleanser like Bar Keepers Friend Liquid Cleanser on a damp cloth or sponge does an excellent job of bringing back the original shine after rinsing and drying. Don’t use anything metallic for scouring because it will damage the finish!

These are the suggestions that I gave my friend as they seem to work well for me.  If you are an EPPC user and have additional suggestions, I’d love to hear your tips!

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Medicine Cabinet Clean Out

Has it been a while since you cleaned out your medicine cabinet or anywhere medicines are stored? Most experts recommend that your medicine cabinet or medicine storage spot be cleaned out annually to discard medications that have expired or could be medically unsafe.

Hanging onto or accumulating outdated or unused medications beyond their expiration date, with the idea that they might come in handy one day, can be risky business.  Expired medications can lose their potency, change in composition and even becoming toxic.  Further, by keeping them, chances are increased of abuse, misuse, or taking the wrong one. Failing to safely dispose of old medications, especially opioids, all too often leads to dangerous drugs ending up in the wrong hands. The CDC reports that 50,000 young children end up in emergency rooms each year because they got into medicines while an adult wasn’t looking.1

Avoid these risks with timely cleaning and disposal of unused or outdated medicines, prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC), and medical supplies using these tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

Check the expiration dates.

Since 1979, all prescription drugs and OTC medications and products have an expiration date somewhere on the label or stamped onto the bottle, tube, or carton  This is the final date that the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug or product based upon testing.   For best efficacy, the medication should be stored properly–usually, in a cool, dry location–or as indicated on the package or label.

Examine everything in the medicine cabinet, including ointments, supplements and vitamins. Discard any item that is beyond the expiration date and any prescription medications that are more than a year old. It is important to note that the expiration date refers to an unopened product.  Once a medication has been opened and used, the clock starts ticking on its shelf life as contamination has been introduced.  Writing the date of opening on the container is helpful;  opened or partially used products should be discarded after one year of opening regardless of the expiration date.   Also look for items that have changed color, smell funny, without a label or in an unmarked container, or cannot be identified.  Medications should always be kept in their original containers so that they are easily recognized. This includes ointments, since these can easily be mistaken for creams. All of these items should be discarded without question.

Inspect adhesive bandages, too. Bandages and tapes have a limited lifespan and should be replaced before their adhesive breaks down.

Dispose safely.

The best way to dispose of most types of unused or expired medicines (both prescription and OTC) is to drop the medicine at a drug take back location. These drop off locations may be a police station, authorized pharmacy, or hospital.  There you may find a kiosk.  The kiosks provide a safe and convenient way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances, and over-the-counter medications, ointments and creams, liquids, lotions, pet medications, prescription patches, and vitamins and supplements free and anonymously.  To find a drop-off location near by, use the find an authorized drug collection site or call the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Call Center at 1-800-882-9539.  Certain medications or items are not accepted at the kiosks including needles, inhalers, aerosol cans, hydrogen peroxide, thermometers, and illicit drugs.

If you cannot get to a drug take back location or there is none near you, the medication maybe flushed or disposed in the trash using important guidelines.  Check the FDA flush list to see if the medicine is on the list.  Medicines on the list are those that are sought after for their misuse and/or abuse potential and  can result in death from one dose if taken inappropriately.  If the medication is on the flush list, it is safe to flush down the toilet.  Do not flush a medicine if it is not on the flush list. 

If the medicine is not on the flush list  and there are no specific disposal instructions with the medication or package insert, follow these steps to dispose of medicine in the household trash:

Disposal in household trash
  1. Mix medicines (liquid or pills; do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds;
  2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
  3. Throw the container in the trash at home; and
  4. Delete all personal information on the prescription label, including the RX number, of empty medicine bottles or medicine packaging, then trash or recycle the empty bottle or packaging.2 Containers should be clean if recycled.

For more information on safe disposal, check out the FDA YouTube video.

Most collection sites will not accept asthma inhalers, needles, insulin syringes or any other syringes, marijuana, mercury thermometers, and medications containing iodine. For disposal information and drop-off locations for syringes, needles, and other injectables go to Safe Needle Disposal or call 800-643-1643.  When in doubt about how to safely dispose of a medical device, check with your pharmacist.

Relocate the medicine cabinet or storage, if necessary. 

The bathroom is not the best place to store medication. The temperature and humidity changes that come with the shower running can lower the potency of some medicines. Medications should be kept in a cool dry place, away from children, pets, and scavengers. Consider a locked drawer or a locked box on a shelf.

It is smart to undertake an annual medicine cabinet cleaning.  An annual review of prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and medical products can help keep us safe and healthy. Using an old product won’t necessarily land you in the ER, but it could or it may not work effectively thereby wasting you money, affecting your health, or possibly delaying your recovery. Further, if the medicine isn’t on the shelf, it can’t be accidently used, incorrectly used, or abused.  And, always consider the disposal options and dispose appropriately and responsibly.


1 Don’t Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
2 Drug Disposal:  Dispose “Non-Flush List” Medicine in Trash.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Images:, Marlene Geiger, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Updated 12-2023, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Tips for cleaning

The calendar tells me that we are still in the middle of winter but it may not be too early to start some spring-cleaning. I always feel like I made the most of a day off when I am productive and get something cleaned. It is so easy on a busy day to ignore the little things that need cleaning. Here are a few easy tips, using things you already have around the home, which will help you get some cleaning done.

However, for those seeking a more comprehensive approach, exploring the option of a Cleaning service near me could be advantageous. Professional cleaning services offer a level of thoroughness and efficiency that goes beyond what’s achievable with DIY methods alone. By leveraging the expertise of a Cleaning service near me, you can elevate your spring-cleaning routine to new heights, ensuring every corner of your home receives the attention it deserves.

When it comes to achieving an immaculate home environment, consider opting for Standard House Cleaning in Fairfield & New Haven County, CT. These professional services not only provide a meticulous approach to cleaning but also cater to the specific needs of households in the region. With a keen eye for detail, the cleaning professionals tackle every nook and cranny, leaving your home spotless and refreshed. Whether you’re preparing for a special occasion or simply maintaining a pristine home, these services ensure a superior level of cleanliness that surpasses the results of any DIY efforts.

In the realm of cleaning services, one might find themselves specifically searching for a tailored solution, such as Window Cleaning in San Francisco. The unique challenges posed by city living, including environmental factors and urban grime, make specialized services like window cleaning crucial. In San Francisco, where panoramic views are a coveted feature, relying on specialized professionals for window cleaning is a wise choice. The expertise of these professionals allows you to take your cleaning routine to new heights, quite literally.

Burned popcorn or other odors in the microwave.

  • Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1-cup water in a microwavable bowl. Heat the mixture for 5 minutes and then wipe out the microwave. Repeat this procedure two or three times a day for a few days if the odor is strong.

Slow running drains.

  • Combine 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt and 1-tablespoon cream of tartar and pour into the drain. Slowly add 1/2 cup white vinegar and then slowly pour in 1-cup boiling water. Allow to stand; then flush with cold water.
  • However, for more serious drainage issues, consulting septic tank cleaning experts may be necessary to ensure the health and functionality of your entire drainage system. By addressing underlying issues and providing thorough cleaning and maintenance, these experts help prevent potential blockages, backups, and implement preventative measures to avoid future issues. Reach out to cleaning experts like Alligator Septic for comprehensive maintenance, ensuring your system’s reliability and your peace of mind.
  • Residents facing complex sewer-related issues can confidently turn to Sewer & Drain Services in Kittery, ME, for specialized solutions. Staffed with skilled professionals and equipped with cutting-edge technology, these experts excel at addressing persistent clogs and drain blockages. Employing a thorough and meticulous approach to sewer problems, homeowners can rest assured that their drainage issues will be promptly and efficiently resolved, ensuring peak performance of their plumbing systems.

Burned or scorched saucepans.

  • To remove scorch stains in a saucepan, try a solution of 3 tablespoons Ajax in water and boil for 5-10 minutes. Scrub remaining residue with a scouring pad.
  • If your pan is aluminum or stainless steel, try 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or cream of tartar per quart of water. Boil 5-10 minutes. Be sure the water line remains above the scorched line.

Removing odor from the refrigerator. Try one of these four solutions until the odor is gone.

  • Empty the refrigerator shelf and lightly crumple enough newspaper to fill the self. Sprinkle the newspaper with water and close the door. Replace the newspaper every 1-2 days. In 5 or 6 days, the odor should be gone.
  • Place toothpaste (not the gel type) on small pieces of foil and set in several spots in the refrigerator.
  • Place activated charcoal or activated carbon in a shallow bowl and leave it in the refrigerator while it is running for several days. The charcoal or carbon is available where aquarium and/or plant and garden supplies are sold. It will become saturated but can be reactivated by heating in a 300° F oven for one hour and then put back into the refrigerator. Try this for about 10 days
  • Unplug the refrigerator and thoroughly wash the inside of the unit with a mixture of two tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of warm water. Wash the shelves, drawers, accessories and gaskets. Be sure to wash corners, crevices or grooves where odor-causing liquid may have settled. Dry everything thoroughly.

If odor gets into the plastic lining or the insulation of the refrigerator, it can take a long time to dissipate.

Using these tips, I will be able to clean without a trip to the store.  I will be busy on my next day off.

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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Cold Weather and Frozen Pipes

We have had a few calls about frozen water pipes and I have had some frozen pipes in the out buildings at my house. We have had some cold winter weather so far and it is likely we will have more below zero temperatures before winter is over. It seems like some information about thawing frozen pipes may be a timely subject for a blog.

Of course, the best way to avoid having frozen water pipes is to take some precautions in the fall. Adding insulation to the walls, directly insulating pipes or simply draining water lines not used in the winter will prevent some frozen pipes. However, in spite of these precautions, sometimes pipes freeze anyway.

If you find a frozen pipe in your home, you have several options. First, you can call a plumber to have a professional help. They do have experience and can keep the problem from getting worse. If you really want to tackle the problem, follow these suggestions.

  1. Shut off the main water valve. Be sure to follow this first step to prevent a disaster if the frozen lines are worse than you thought.
  2. Start thawing the line near the faucet.
  3. Gradually raise the temperature of the water line. You can do this by adding heat from any number of sources. You can use a hair dryer, space heater, heat lamp, or even towels soaked in hot water and wrapped around the line.
  4. Never use an open flame to thaw a water line. Why risk adding a house fire to your problems?
  5. If there is any chance that the water line has burst, open other faucets to allow the line to drain rather than run out through the broken line.
  6. Keep some buckets or other containers handy, as you may need to collect water from the break in the line.

With luck, your line will thaw without any damage to the waterline. We were fortunate enough to have this situation happen on our farm.

Stay warm.


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.

More Posts - Website


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