Glass coffee carafe before and after cleaning with salt and ice

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!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

4 replies
  1. Toast Points
    Toast Points says:

    Start paying your mortgage online instead of by check if it’s taking two weeks to get it processed. But from comment below, don’t pay it too early.

    Reply
  2. Dorothy Sangallo
    Dorothy Sangallo says:

    Hi Mary, I wanted to comment on your mortgage advice. I have been paying my mortgage on the 16th every month for the past 7 years, and this month, my bank contacted me saying my payment was late. I told them I religiously have paid it online every 16th. I feel like something new might have been put in place, but after a little investigating, she said I was paying too early. When they received my payment, since it was early, they put it all to principal and treated it as an extra payment, which then left me behind a month. This also happened with my car payment. I thought this was so strange since I’m so regimented in payments. Dottie S

    Reply
  3. Connie
    Connie says:

    Mary, I have to disagree with your comment regarding paying more interest on a mortgage when the payment takes longer to be processed. There are mortgages where the following month’s interest is calculated on the outstanding principal balance. If this is the type of mortgage the writer has, the earlier the payment is applied, the less interest they will pay the following month.

    Reply
  4. skye
    skye says:

    The mortgage payer can solve the problem by setting up her payment as an automatic electronic draft. I do that for all bills, as does everone i know. Paper checks are going the way of buggy whips.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *