Ask Me Anything: Kitchen Appliances, Counters, Gunk Cleaners

Want to create enough confusion in your head to make it feel like it’s going to explode? Go shopping for kitchen appliances. Listen to all the sales pitches, let every friend and relative weigh in with their opinions and then set out to find all of it on sale. Yep, that will do it for sure.

To avoid that kind of near-explosive situation, you could do what today’s first reader did—ask me! It seems that I have a response (and opinion) for just about anything.

Dear Mary: We are remodeling our kitchen, which means new appliances. Do you have a suggestion for the brand we should consider and should we get them all to match or do more of a mix-and-match to get the best prices available? Also, which type of countertop do you feel is better? We have nine grandkids so we want everything to be very durable. Liz

Dear Liz: I’d love to weigh in on your remodel. I think you will be happiest with your new kitchen when your appliances match—all the same brand and finish. Your home’s resale value will enjoy that, too.

As for which brand, keep this in mind: Whirlpool and GE are the top two appliance manufacturers in the United States. Both are highly rated, reasonably priced (although not the cheapest) with outstanding reputations for both performance and longevity.

I’d stay away from Samsung and LG because if appliances require service (Samsung and LG do, and more often than you can imagine) it’s not easy to find a reputable repair service that will work on these brands, even during the warranty period.

If your budget allows, I would go with either the Whirlpool Gold or GE Profile lines for your new appliances.

When countertops meet up with lots of kids, I don’t think you can beat quartz for durability, easy-care and beauty. Quartz does not stain easily (or at all from my experience), doesn’t require any kind of sealant and cleans up like a dream. And quartz is cheaper than either soapstone or granite.

Dear Mary: Thank you so much for your column! This is the first time I have ever read anyone outside of a friend or family member, so this is special.

I accidentally threw out the column that had the borax information for garbage disposal cleaning. I bought the Borax but I don’t remember how I am to use it. Could you repeat that information? Thank you again ever so much for your wonderful advice and information. Carol

Dear Carol: Of course! In fact, I was just searching for that past column, The Proper Care and Feeding of a Garbage Disposal, myself because I wanted to use my new Mr. Scrappy disposal brush to make sure the borax gets into all of the cracks and crevices before the waiting period. (It’s impossible for me to keep everything I write nicely archived in my brain, so I’m grateful for a search function.) Here it is again:

Disposal Cleaner. Clean stubborn odors from your garbage disposal by pouring 3 to 4 tablespoons of borax (like Twenty-Mule Team Borax that you’ll find in the supermarket laundry aisle) down the drain and let it sit for an hour. Without running the disposal, turn on the hot water to flush the borax away. Borax is a natural sink cleaner and sanitizer that effectively works on odor-causing mold and mildew that accumulate in a garbage disposal.

By the way, these columns, which appear in hundreds of print newspapers around the nation, are archived in their entirety at Use the search bar at the upper right to type in a keyword. Or you can search by category.

Dear Mary: I have allowed my beautiful wood kitchen cabinets get a greasy, sticky, dirty build-up around handles and bottom of the doors. I need a safe cleaner that I can make at home as my finances are limited. Thank you in advance. Zelma

Dear Zelma: Here’s a recipe that will work well to clean up your kitchen cabinets, using ingredients I’m sure you have already.

Kitchen Gunk Remover. Bust through hardened, dingy layers of old, sticky, dust-grabbing grease with vegetable oil and baking soda. Mix one-part any vegetable oil to two-parts baking soda. Apply this oily paste to dirty areas using a soft cloth or paper towel. That ugly, greasy, dirty build-up on cabinets will begin to soften and start to disappear. Wipe clean and buff with a soft cloth.

It was great to hear from you and now I’ll be anxious to hear how well this worked for you!

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2 replies
  1. Pat Marshall
    Pat Marshall says:

    Whirlpool also makes KitchenAid appliances: dishwashers, refrigerator/freezers, microwaves, stoves/ovens. My daughter’s remodeled kitchen has them all in stainless – beautiful!


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