Budget-wise · Cleaning · Cooktops · Dishwashers · DIY · HOW TO · Microwave · Ovens · Refrigerator · Washer

Vinegar cleaning ideas

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?

Cleaning · Dishwashers · FAQ · HOW TO

HOW TO: clean a dishwasher

Dishwasher suffering from that "not-so-fresh" feeling?

Most of us think of dishwashers as cleaning our dishes, but you should routinely clean your dishwasher, as well — especially if you’ve noticed a change in its performance. (I’m a huge advocate for performing regular maintenance on your appliances, just as you would your car, to maintain the life and — therefore — get the most out of your investment.)

Dishwasher detergent and food residue might buildup over time (especially if you use too much dishwasher soap and pre-rinse your dishes, which can leave white film on dishes). Clean out the filters and scrub the spray arm nozzles with a toothbrush to loosen any food residue clogged inside.
Then, the real secret of how to clean dishwashers is hiding in plain sight of your own cupboard: white vinegar.

Fill a cup with vinegar and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher (don’t add any soap to the dishwasher dispenser) and run the dishwasher as normal. Voila!

If you don’t have any vinegar (or the smell grosses you out), my brother swears by powdered citric acid in the dishwasher soap dispenser, and I’ve also heard of people successfully cleaning the dishwasher using Tang in the detergent dispenser.

Photo courtesy eHow.com

Appliance Design · Dishwashers · DIY · Innovative Features · Product Roundup · Ranges · Refrigerator · Remodel

DIY Network to feature our kitchen showroom on remodel show

Appliance specialist Joe Warner suggested this LG gas range for Carrie and Robert, who enjoy cooking and baking.

The DIY Network filmed again yesterday at our Warners’ Stellian Edina showroom, this time for “I Hate My Kitchen.”

Each episode, homeowners receive smart design help to maximize their budget to make their dream kitchens a reality.

>>See photos of the filming

It was fun to watch the crews document the shopping experience of our customers, homeowners Carrie and Robert.

Carrie and Robert are doing a “gut job” of the kitchen in their South Minneapolis home. (Carrie joked that she didn’t let Robert buy a snow blower last winter because she was so set on saving for their kitchen remodel!)

First, we learn about Carrie and Robert:

  • They enjoy cooking (lots of soups!) and baking, and are ready to move from electric to gas cooking.
  • While still a good size for a South Minneapolis kitchen (the home was built in the 1920s), they still want to maximize their space.
  • The current dishwasher is too noisy and doesn’t really offer them much versatility.
  • Carrie and Robert plan on spending a good deal of time in this current house.
  • The appliances will need to complement custom cabinetry, new floors and counter tops.

Based on what he found out from Carrie and Robert, our appliance specialist (and my brother!) Joe Warner suggested the following:

LG 5-burner gas range in stainless steel (LRG3093ST)

Carrie and Robert currently has an LG ceramic top electric range. They like the brand, but want the power and responsiveness of gas cooking. The four main burners offer a range of temperatures, for a low simmer at 5,000 BTUs to a power boil at 17,000 BTUs — and the burners can all be rearranged. So, Carrie can simmer two soups on the back burners while using higher heat on the front-most burners. Also, the fifth burner offers a place to heat oblong pans or place a skillet for breakfast items. The heavy-duty grates offer a continuous surface to easily move pots and pans around.

The oven, with a gorgeous blue finish, is a big, 5.4 cu. ft. capacity, which can accommodate pretty much anything Carrie and Robert will throw at it.

Basically, I’m super jealous.

LG fully integrated steam dishwasher (LDF7932ST)

At 50 decibels, it doesn’t get much quieter than this LG dishwasher. It’s so quiet, in fact, that LED lights tell you when it’s operating and when it’s not. Adjustable racks will accommodate nearly any size pot or pan Carrie and Robert throw at it, and there are even wineglass holders (which Carrie noted will get plenty of use).

Steam bursts through hardened on messes for pots and pans, yet is gentle enough to use with those wineglasses.

Perhaps best of all, the fully integrated finish tucks away the control panel on top of the door and the stainless interior means Carrie and Robert can enjoy the looks for a long time.

How gorgeous is that? Robert and Carrie like this model because:

  • An automatic ice maker means Robert can retire that title from his own name 🙂
  • The freezer on the bottom configuration and wide, two-door refrigerator allows for plenty of eye-level fresh storage within easy reach
  • The shallow, counter top-depth maximizes the space in their 10′-12′ kitchen

I’m so excited for Carrie and Robert to get delivery on the appliances they picked out. I’ll post pictures afterward in a couple weeks, but unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the episode airs in September for the big reveal of their custom kitchen remodel.

Budget-wise · Dishwashers · Dryer · Events · Microwave · Ranges · Refrigerator · Washer

Cyber Monday appliance deals on kitchen packages, refrigerators, washers and more

Note: this post refers to the 2010 sale prices. see my posts tagged Cyber Monday for current postings about Cyber Monday deals.

Click for more deals
Click for more deals

I don’t usually get this sales-y, but we’re offering our best Cyber Monday 2010 appliance discounts ever this year.

Seriously, Warners’ Stellian has great deals on refrigerators, washers and dryers, dishwashers, stoves and ranges and microwaves, as well as kitchen packages.

Click for more deals
Click for more deals

Our Cyber Monday Sale is two days only (while quantities last), with some deals ending today.

And remember, we deliver for free to the Twin Cities metro on orders $499 and up and ship for free nationwide on appliance orders $1,999 and over.

Appliance Design

Pode olhar I na sua geladeira?

OK, so I couldn’t actually say this phrase in Portuguese, but I sure asked to look at plenty of European’s refrigerators — in English.

I spent the last couple weeks in Portugal visiting a friend (we also traveled to France and Italy), and along the way I invaded the privacy of every kitchen appliance I came across; Rita’s friends wondered why I was so interested in their dishwashers. Why wouldn’t I be?

My apologies for the lack of photos, but I don’t own a camera and decided snapping cell phone pictures of near strangers’ kitchens could wear out my welcome.

So here’s what I learned about Europe, through the lens of appliance blogger.

“Dryers are for emergencies”

That’s what my friend Rita said when showing me the Bosch laundry pair installed under the counter in the kitchen of her house, which would be considered a condo in the states. Nearly all the clothes I washed during my trip were hung on the balcony to dry and later ironed — even the towels! All over Lisbon, clothes hung from lines strung out windows and across balconies. It was quite the sight.

A picture from Flickr of the conventional clothes-drying technique in Lisbon.

In my world of Midwest blizzards and crumpled clothing, irons are for emergencies and a steam Electrolux dryer a lifesaver.

Food must be fresh

Rita’s mother went to the market nearly every day for produce, bread, fish and queijo fresco (“fresh cheese”). The 24-inch wide refrigerator gave little space to bottom freezer compartment, which contained frozen vegetables and soups used — again — “only for emergencies.”

Queijo fresco, or fresh cheese, is simply delicious.

At least in the houses I visited, going to the market often was part of the culture. (Then again, so was double parking on busy metropolitan streets.) But without a built-in icemaker (one Siemens brand refrigerator had smart vertical ice cube trays built-in to the front of the freezer drawers) or water dispenser, there’s more room in the refrigerator for eggs. The Portuguese cook with A LOT of eggs, I learned. My favorite use of egg yolks? Pastel de nata.

I often feel like I eat more out of my freezer than my fridge. I love frozen veggies and meats for stir-fry that don’t have to be prepared within days of a grocery shopping trip. Plus, I grew up in a house freezer jams, soups and casseroles. Most of my fruit sits on the counter.

Cooking fits in a small footprint

“Standard” American cooktops and ranges are 30 inches wide. Proud owners of pro-style cooking products, however, enjoy a cooking space up to 60 inches (yes, that’s 5 feet).

Most of the cooktops and ranges I saw were a slim 24 inches, or “apartment-sized” in Warners’ Stellian store speak. Still, I enjoyed multiple-course dinners that — had I not already given the kitchen a good up-and-down — I would’ve never guessed was prepared in such relatively cramped surfaces.

I regret now not asking whether a whole turkey could fit in the oven, easily the benchmark for cooking capacity concerns here in America. Then again, being blond-haired and blue-eyed got me enough strange looks in Portugal.

I do have a devoted love to the kind of appliances I grew up with — the kind my grandpa and dad and aunts and uncles sold. But I can appreciate the way that Europeans do things differently, sometimes even better, maybe.

But I’d rather not give up my dryer.