Posts Tagged ‘cleaning tips’

HOW TO: defrost a freezer in 10 easy steps

July 29, 2011

I think it might be time to defrost...

Most refrigerator-freezers and many standalone freezers feature automatic defrost, but for long-term food storage, manual defrost freezers can be the best option.

So when the ice crystals lining the walls of your manual defrost freezer stacks ¼- to ½- inch, it’s time to defrost.

Don’t lose your cool. It’s easier than you think, using these 10 steps adapted from Frigidaire:

1. Unplug your freezer. This keeps you from being electrocuted.

2. Open the freezer door and keep it open throughout the process.

3. Remove food into a cooler

4. On upright freezers with a defrost drain, remove the drain plug on the inside floor
of the freezer by pulling straight out. To access external drain tube on models with a
base panel, first remove the two screws from the base panel. Locate the drain tube
near the left center under the freezer. Place a shallow pan under the drain tube. Defrost
water will drain out. Check pan occasionally so water does not overflow. A ½ inch
garden hose adapter can be used to drain the freezer directly into a floor drain. If your
model is not equipped with an adapter, one can be purchased at most hardware
stores. Replace the drain plug when defrosting and cleaning are completed. If the
drain is left open, warm air may enter freezer.

5. On chest freezers with a defrost drain, place a shallow pan or the Divider/Drain Pan
(some models) beneath the drain outlet (Figure 2). A ½ inch garden hose adapter can
be used to drain the freezer directly into a floor drain (Figure 3). If your model is not
equipped with an adapter, one can be purchased at most hardware stores. Pull out
the drain plug inside the freezer, and pull off the outside defrost drain plug (Figure 4).
Defrost water will drain out. Check pan occasionally so water does not overflow.
Replace the drain plugs when defrosting is completed.

***If you don’t have a defrost drain, line the freezer bottom with towels to catch
the frost. The frost will loosen and fall. Remove towels and/or newspapers.

6. If the frost is soft, remove it by using a plastic scraper (or if you’re a cheap & hardy Minnesotan like me, an old CD).
7. If the frost is hard, fill deep pans with hot water and place them on the freezer bottom. Close the freezer door. Frost should soften in about 15 minutes, after which you can refer to No. 6. Repeat if necessary.

8. After defrosting, wash inside surfaces and removable parts of the freezer with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda in one quart warm water. Rinse and dry. Wring excess water
out of the sponge or cloth when cleaning in the area of the controls, or any electrical parts.
Never use metallic scouring pads, brushes, abrasive cleaners, nor alkaline solutions on any surface.

9. Replace drain plug and food.

10. Close freezer door.

Save your fridge from the heat – clean your coils

July 1, 2011

Last summer when the fan motor on my air conditioning unit kicked the bucket, I didn’t notice anything was wrong until I opened my freezer and realized my food was thawing. The kitchen was really hot, and my poor refrigerator was working overtime.

And you could hear it.

Coincidentally, my dad (and appliance savant) swung by my house to check up on the first-time homebuyer.

Upon hearing my potential food waste disaster, he asked, “Have you ever cleaned your coils?” without skipping a beat.

Blogged about it? Yes. Actually did the work myself? No.

You’d think he was shearing a lamb with the amount of thick, linty material he undearthed from my fridge’s nether regions.

But you know what? My refrigerator breathed an audible sigh of relief before quieting itself and resuming cooling. Because my condenser coils were so clogged with dust and debris, my refrigerator wasn’t able to properly cool itself down. This problem certainly was exacerbated by my broken AC, but I’m confident I would’ve been fridgeless in a matter of hours without help from my dad.

>>Read this a post for info on how to clean your refrigerator coils

The last kitchen cleaner you’ll ever buy

June 23, 2011

If Sisyphus existed in modern times, his eternal punishment would be achieving a clean stovetop. Because it’s almost impossible.

If your stove top is white, you can never quite remove every last discoloration. If you’re cleaning a glass top stove, you’ll rue the day you ever overboiled a pot or cooked atop existing food residue. Black glass top ranges seem to attract dust every night.

Miracle in a sponge.

I’ve blogged previously about how to a clean stove top using Barkeepers Friend and a razor blade, but if you could only buy one tool, make it the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or (if you’re cheap like me) its generic copycats.

Made of melamine foam, whose tiny particles act like extra-fine sandpaper when moistened, magic erasers do as named and erase otherwise persistent stains from hard surfaces. You might want to test a small area if you’re nervous about scratches, but I’ve never run into any problems.

I use mine to remove hardened food the discoloration around the burners on my white gas range, but it multitasks in my porcelain sink and especially on shower tile soap scum and grout mildew.

Am I missing anything? I bet there are tons of creative uses for these.

Washing machine smells? Stop shutting the door

June 10, 2011

Eww, your washing machine is stinky.

If you’re suffering from clothes washer odor, the solution could be as simple as leaving the front door open.

Front load washers clean better, use less water and energy and treat clothes more gently, but they’ve earned a smelly reputation. A frontload washer necessitates an airtight seal on the washer door to prevent water from leaking all over your floor. But the lack of airflow breeds that mildew-y odor in a washing machine.

Simple solution? Leave the door open after wash cycles, and teach your family to do the same. Then,  water remaining in a front loading washer following a cycle can dry out and you’ll go back to having the best washer ever.

To eliminate existing washing machine smells, try cleaning the washing machine with Affresh or run a vinegar cycle on the hottest setting.

Stain removal suggestions from regular people

April 28, 2011

Welcome to my life.

For those of us who end up wearing 10% of what we eat, stain removal is a constant battle.

Washing machines themselves are getting better at removing stains from clothing without any kind of pretreating or spot removal.

But for tougher jobs like grass stains, you might need to some additional help.

Tide Stain Brain collects real people’s successful stain removal tricks and displays them by stain type. So if you need to figure out how to get rid of wine stains, click on the wine button and you’ll find out that white wine actually removes a red wine stain, according to several submissions. Or learn that hydrogen peroxide is the best stain remover for blood.

If you have a smartphone, you can download a mobile app, which could be real handy when I spill coffee all over myself while walking into work (happens at least twice a week).

You can comment on specific submission or add your own. It reminds me of my second favorite website (after www.warnersstellian.com, of course) AllRecipes.

RECIPE: Caribbean Chicken on the grill

April 25, 2011

Because this is exactly what I have on the to do list this week, here’s my post on waking up your grill ready after winter hibernation.

Need some motivation?

Thanks to our Holland Grill and Big Green Egg expert, Stu “King of the BBQ” Glock, for sharing this recipe for grilled chicken that’s anything but ordinary. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but if it’s coming from Stu, I know it’s amazing (i.e. 3 takes on steak).

I’m going to try it soon…let me know if you do!

Grilled Caribbean Chicken

Courtesy of Derrick Agate

  • 1 Tbs allspice
  • 1 Tbs thyme
  • 1- 1/2 tsp each – cayenne pepper, black pepper and ground sage
  • ¾ tsp each ground nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs each salt and garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno or haberneros, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white onion chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 lbs chicken

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients.  Whisk in olive oil, soy sauce, orange juice, vinegar and lime juice, then the peppers and onions.

Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to 48 hours.  Cook on the Holland Grill or the Big Green Egg at 350 degrees until the internal meat temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest 5 minutes before serving.

Best cleaning tips posts

March 23, 2011

It’s official spring, which means it’s officially appropriate for a cliche “spring cleaning post roundup”!

We’ve accumulated quite a few cleaning posts, which might surprise my house if it found out about all this unused knowledge.

Anything else you’d like to see here? Leave a comment.

 

 

General

Cooking

Other kitchen cleaning

Laundry room

Vinegar cleaning ideas

January 31, 2011

White vinegar: not just for salad dressing and pickles.

Kim Ode of the Star Tribune posted last week that vinegar rids salt stains from suede boots. And that got me thinking: vinegar is kind of a cheap, green cleaning wunderkind.

Using vinegar to clean is certainly nothing new, but perhaps you haven’t yet tried one of my ideas.

Cleaning uses for vinegar

1. Rinse aid – I’ve recently blogged about the benefits of a regular vinegar cycle (using vinegar to clean your dishwasher), but I’ve also heard of using vinegar as a dishwasher rinse aid substitute.

There’s really no harm in using vinegar in your dishwasher, but I suggest only using it in lieu of rinse aid between trips to the store. Rinse aid should be called drying aid, and modern dishwashers need it to properly dry dishes.

2. Microwave cleaner – Heat a microwave-safe cup of vinegar in your microwave and let it boil, so the steam can loosen up all the stuck-on splatters for a minute or so. Wipe down the interior immediately, while it’s still moist inside — no scrubbing necessary!

3. Clothes washer cleaner - Just like  your dishwasher, your washing machine benefits from a regular vinegar cleaning. Run a cup through an empty cycle using the hottest setting.

4. All-purpose surface cleaner - Equal parts vinegar and water work well for cleaning windows or glass. Also try the solution for an all-natural way to clean the inside of a refrigerator. I hear you can use it to clean stainless steel as well, though, I recommend using a stainless steel cleaner for a shiny, polished finish.

5. Coffee maker cleaner – This tip, learned from my mom, is among my favorites. I try to run a full coffee pot of vinegar through my coffee maker (remove any coffee or filter, obviously) every few months. It’s satisfying to watch all the grime flake off into the pot, and you’ll be amazed how much faster your coffee brews without all the sediment slowing it down!

6. Stove top and oven cleaner – I’ve already blogged about using a paste of vinegar and baking soda for oven cleaning, but that same paste can be applied to your stove top to scrub out those stubborn brownish discolorations and food splatters.

Have you ever tried cleaning with vinegar?
What other household cleaning remedies have you tried?

Stove drip pans cleaning tips

January 20, 2011

I've got you covered on cleaning conundrums.

Drip pans for stoves rank among the toughest cleaning jobs in the kitchen.

Grime on aluminum burner pans, which fit under the electric coils on your range, often seemed to me to be resistant to scrubbing.

And they probably are, if you’re using regular cleaners and scrubbers.

Look familiar?

But my two tricks for cleaning drip pans — one for weekly cleaning and one for deeper cleaning — will keep them looking new and thus, keep you from replacing them so often!

Bonus: Clean drip pans for your electric stove don’t just serve cosmetic purposes; keeping the surface reflective ensures the most efficient use of heat, meaning you’ll use less energy when you keep your burners and drip pans clean.

Spot cleaning burner pans

For day to day drips and stains, make sure the burner’s completely cooled and pull it up and out from the stove top (see photo below). I usually remove the drip pan to my sink to avoid peripheral messes. Wet the drip pan and sprinkle on a liberal amount of my co-favorite household cleaner, Bar Keeper’s Friend (name the other in the comments for a gold star). Use a rag to work the cleaner into a paste and polish off the mess. Rinse and dry thoroughly before replacing the pans.

Carefully remove the electric burner before cleaning its drip pan.

Deep cleaning drip pans

Pick a time when you don’t need to use your sink or stove for several hours, like right before bed or work. Again, wait until the stove is cool and remove the burners. Put each burner pan in separate gallon plastic bags. Add 1/4 cup of ammonia to each and fill the remainder with hot tap water. Close the bags and let them sit overnight (or for several hours).

Then, drain the bags and scrub off the loosened mess. Rinse well before applying any other cleaners, as ammonia can create toxic fumes when mixed. Rinse and dry thoroughly before replacing.

 

Let me know if you try this and how it worked for you!

HOW TO: clean cast iron grates

January 11, 2011

We read each and every Customer Satisfaction Survey returned to us by our customers. One customer’s cleaning inquiry struck me.

She couldn’t find any information on how to clean cast iron — the “rough” iron grates and burner caps on her new range. The manual only referenced porcelain-coated grates, not cast iron grates.

“I’m sure I’m not the only person who is wondering,” she wrote — and I agree with her.  Plus, I love a good challenge.

So I e-mailed the smart folks at Wolf appliances for help on cleaning cast iron grates. They sent me a knock down, drag out PDF containing their best cleaning tips, including recommendations for products they’ve tested!

From the guide:

Burner Grates

Recommended products

  • Mild detergent
  • Paste of baking soda & water (NOTE: the customer previously tried this unsuccessfully)
  • Mild abrasive cleaners
    • Soft Scrub Orange
    • Bon-Ami
    • Barkeeper’s Friend
    • Fume Free Easy-Off (spot cleaning)
    • Carbona 2-in-1 Oven Cleaner (cleaning solution can be reused once)
    • SOS pads
    • Dawn Power Dissolver
    • Krud Kutter

Recommended method

  • Remove from range top and place on a flat surface near the sink
  • Remove grates from unit and place on a flat surface near the sink to clean. DO NOT immerse in water. Towel dry.
  • How water and liquid detergent; paste of baking soda and water
  • Degreasers (Formula 409, Fantastic Orange), use sparingly. Towel dry.
  • “Multipurpose NO SCRATCH” Scotchbrite pad (blue, NOT green)
  • Mild abrasive cleaners, rinse and towel dry
  • Worst case scenarios – Spot clean with Fume-free Easy Off
  • Carbona Oven Rack Cleaner, following directions on package

 


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