Try This Old Restaurant Cleaning Trick

Ever leave the coffee pot on overnight only to wake to a blackened, burnt on mess? Can’t get rid of the gunky build-up in your favorite carafe or thermos—stuff you can see, but not reach? Don’t toss them out before you try a cool trick to get them sparkling clean.

Photo credit: milkallergymom.com

Photo credit: milkallergymom.com

Dear Mary: I have a big stainless coffee thermos. The opening makes it impossible to get in and clean. I have tried baking soda and vinegar, but that hasn’t worked to dissolve and remove the build-up of coffee stains. I can look in and see stuff I’d rather not see. How can I clean inside my thermos? Karen

Dear Karen: I have the perfect solution: Ice and salt. Fill the thermos about 1/4 full of pieces of ice just small enough to fit through the opening. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of ordinary table salt depending on the size of the thermos. Apply the lid. Now shake it up, baby! Swirl it round and round, first clockwise then counter clockwise; upside down, up and down. The salt will begin to melt the ice allowing the pieces to move freely. You’ll get a good workout, too.

The salt acts like little non-abrasive sanding blocks. You may have to do this for a few minutes if you have a nasty build-up, repeating as necessary. Rinse well with cool water. This old restaurant trick works with glass coffee carafes and glass-line thermoses, too. It‘s so much fun I almost look forward to a burned on mess in the bottom of our office coffee pot so I can amuse and amaze the staff.

Dear Mary: My husband contributes 8 percent to his employer’s 401(k) plan. Would it be wise to temporarily stop that contribution in that we have about $50,000 unsecured debt? Debbie

Dear Debbie: Yes, but only until your unsecured debts are paid. Putting your hard-earned money at risk is while you are carrying high-interest consumer debt is not wise. No matter how you cut it, money in a 401(k) is at risk. But investing in your debt carries no risk and offers a guaranteed rate of return. Here’s how that works:

Let’s say you have a $10,000 revolving credit card balance at 18% interest. Each month you are paying $150 in interest ($10,000 x 18% / 12 = $150). Great Aunt Gertie dies and leaves you $10,000. You can either pay off the debt or invest the money. Let’s say you invest it.

Things don’t go well and you lose some or all of it in the stock market. You still owe that $10,000 on the credit card and you’re still paying $150 interest each month. Now let’s say you go the other way and use the money to repay the debt in full. Every month you get to keep the $150 you were sending to the credit card company. That is your guaranteed 18% return on the $10,000 “investment” you made in your debt. It’s a sure thing regardless what happens with the economy. Now that’s a good deal! Caution: Even though you stop making contributions for a season, do not cash in his 40l(k) account. The penalties and tax consequence are too severe.

Dear Mary: It takes about two weeks after I mail my mortgage payment for the check to clear my bank. My sister says my lender is making me pay more interest by delaying depositing my check. Is it true? Mary S.

Dear Mary S: No. Your sister may be confusing your mortgage, which is a “closed-end contract” with an open-end contract like a credit-card account. The law treats the two differently. A closed-end contract has a fixed payment schedule. The interest portion of your monthly mortgage payment is the same whether you pay it early or at the last minute. A credit-card or revolving open-end contract works differently. Making your payment early allows more of it to go to the principal because interest is figured on the average daily balance. Federal law stated in “The Fair Credit Billing Act” requires open-end lenders to credit all payments on the date they’re received, unless no extra charges would result if they failed to do so. But with your mortgage payment it doesn’t matter on which day during the month it is processed, provided of course it gets there by the due date.

Hope that helps!

How to Knock Out Serious Mold and Mildew Problems

Dear Mary: Here’s the short version of a long story: Due to an undetected slowly leaking pipe in our home, the basement got very wet over a period of time. The leak has now been fixed and the basement has mostly dried out. But I’m detecting mold and mildew. The smell is awful.

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We called the pros to get a price on treating this smelly situation. They are estimating between $1,800 and $2,000 to kill the mold and mildew. Do you think we could do this ourselves for less using the product you recommend for smelly situations? Thanks, Hank

Dear Hank: Before I answer your question, I want to make sure that all of my readers know that mold is a serious situation, and can have adverse health ramifications for humans and animals alike. Mold is not something you want to live with.

Now to your question: Yes, I believe you can do this yourself.

Most people—myself included until I did more research—assume that household bleach will kill mold completely. We assume that because it bleaches the dark color. Not necessarily so.

Even freshly manufactured household bleach is unable to kill mold. Bleach that sits around store shelves or in your home continually gets weaker over time. Even the manufacturers’ usage directions do not recommend using it to kill mold. If you want effective odor kill, I absolutely recommend that you use Nok-Out. And not to get too technical, Nok-Out is guaranteed to maintain its efficacy within a two-year shelf life, when used according to the manufacturer’s directions. It is effective against mold spores because it structurally disassembles the cell so that it cannot revive to re-infest. Nok-Out does indeed kill spores.  Read more

Know Your Cleaning Products

Two women, different locations, same accident. Both women using an ordinary commercial toilet bowl cleaner, were not satisfied with the way it was removing stains. Each added household chlorine bleach and stirred with a brush.

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One died quickly, the other spent a long time in the hospital.

Here’s the problem: Whenever chlorine bleach comes into contact with acid or an acid-producing substance like toilet bowl cleaner or vinegar, there is a sudden release of chlorine gas. This is not a good thing. A similar result occurs when chlorine bleach is mixed with ammonia, lye or other alkaline substances. Chlorine gas is lethal.

Now that I have your attention let me assure you: If you stay clear of chlorine bleach, you have nothing to fear by making your own cleaning products. Why should you even consider doing that? The cost, for starters. You know that blue window cleaner sitting on your counter? You paid about 30 cents an ounce for it and it’s 95 percent water. Your own products will cost only pennies to make and will not contain toxic chemicals that could be harmful to your family and the environment. Read more

DIY Cleaning Products Tips and Tricks

 

Have you checked the list of ingredients on those bottles of cleaning products under the sink? Can you even pronounce them? Yikes! I can tell you that a product name containing “petro” belongs at the gas station, not used to clean your home.

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Today I want to share with you a list of squeaky-clean, toxin-free cleaning tips using the three items very likely found in your kitchen at this moment—baking soda, white vinegar and lemons.

Clean up the coffee maker. Get your coffee maker back into new condition by running a cycle using white vinegar in place of water. The vinegar will break up mineral build-up and deodorize the machine at the same time. Be sure to rinse out every trace of vinegar before brewing up your next pot, by running plain water through it a few times. Read more

Shopping for a Vacuum Cleaner Can Be a Mind-Numbing Experience

Shopping for a vacuum cleaner can be a mind-numbing experience because there are so many makes and models to choose from and with price tags from $25 to $1,500 or more. But don’t worry. Even the most neat-freaky of neat freaks need not spend four-figures on a vacuum to ensure a clean house.

Some rights reserved by dno1967b

To identify the best inexpensive vacuum cleaner out there, I came up with this criteria: A great vacuum has to be lightweight, bagless, easily cleanable and most importantly—have consistent suction power.

Lightweight. The test for me is if I can pick it up with one hand and carry it up a flight of stairs. If it takes two people to lift, you know that’s a machine that will knock the paint off door jambs and slam into legs of furniture because it is just too heavy. Read more

How I Dry Cleaned My Windows

 

I have this thing for clean windows. I love them, which means I have an equal but opposite disdain for dirty windows. And when I say clean, I mean the kind of clean that makes windows sparkle like diamonds in the morning sun.

If I could, I’d have a professional window-washing service come to my home every week to clean every single window—inside and out. But I have a two-story house so right there you can understand why I can’t and I don’t.

On a lark and only because I wanted my flower garden to look better through the window in beautiful new kitchen …

 

… I grabbed this very cute microfiber mitt that I bought several weeks ago (in an attempt to control all the dust being generated by yet another home remodeling project, which it is quite likely I have not mentioned but more on that later).

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It’s kind of nubby on the blue side, and floppy fun on the green. It feels just slightly “prickly,” and that made me wonder if maybe it really would act like a dust magnet, as advertised.

I went over the outside of the entire 8′ x 4′ window (it’s big) with the low-pile blue side first, just to see if I could remove any of the dirt, dust and water marks  obscuring my view.

Amazingly, that loosened all of the dust and scrubbed away most of the water marks, too. Then I went over a second time with the fluffy green side, like I was polishing it. I actually heard a “squeak!”

If “sparkling like a diamond” is 100% fabulous, then my dry-cleaning technique got that window to 90%. And it took less than 5 minutes—no water, wet wads of paper towel or newspaper, no buckets or squeegees. And I cannot see even a hint of scratching, which one might assume could happen. Of course we are warned to never dry rub fine auto paint because that can act as a light sanding and all. But back to my windows ….

Another five minutes and I’d given my multi-paned French doors a good dry-cleaning as well.

Now, if this is old news and something you do routinely and thought everyone else did too, don’t tell me. I want to believe I made it up.

By the way, I did experiment with other “dusting” devices like a cotton towels, feather duster, paper towels and even my Dyson handheld vac (which I use everyday of my life and cannot image life without) on yet another dirty window—all with pathetic results. All that did was push the dust and dirt around. None of these options even fazed the water marks.

There’s something about this Unger Industries Microfiber Dust and Wash Mitt that really does dry clean windows.

This mitt was so affordable, I’ve decided that I need one in the car, at the office and a spare at home too. One never knows when a dirty window will try to ruin the whole day.

Now, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Unger … could that be Felix Unger? Makes sense to me.

And with that I have just dated myself and made at least half of my staff go “Huh?!”

The Joys of Original Blue Dawn

Take a look under the sink where you keep your cleaning products. See a bottle of Original blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid? Say “Hello” to a very versatile and surprisingly multi-purpose household product.
Bottle of blue dawn
ICE PACK.  Partially fill a strong zip-type sandwich bag with Dawn dishwashing liquid, close and freeze. Just to be safe, double bag it. Freeze. The liquid soap stays cold much longer and it can be re-frozen many times. It will conform to the place you need an ice pack. Read more