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A Clean Kitchen Is A Happy Homeowner

Every homeowner dreads cleaning the kitchen. It is tedious, time-consuming, and it just gets dirty again the next time you cook. Every so often it is time for spring cleaning and you must get down and dirty with the details of cleaning every nook and cranny. Below are some helpful tips on cleaning the kitchen and some cleansers you wouldn’t think to use.

 

Tips On Cleaning Your Kitchen

  1. Soak the filter from your vent hood in hot water with Borax to make it shine again.
  2. Scrub the burnt bottoms of your pans with “Bar’s Keeper’s Friend” to make them look brand new again.
  3. Shine up greasy grates on the stove by soaking them overnight in a little ammonia.
  4. Clean the inside of your oven with a mixture of baking soda, water, and dish soap. Make sure to let it soak for at least 15 minutes.
  5. One way to get the scum off the grates in the oven is to soak in a tub of dish soap, hot water, and dryer sheets. Give it at least 6-8 hours for best results.
  6. One way to avoid cleaning your oven in the future is buying an oven liner or keep an old baking sheet on the lowest rack. It can mess with your baking temperatures or time if you put it at the bottom.
  7. Cooking oil or mineral oil helps remove the sticky kitchen dust that collects over time on your hood or oven surfaces.
  8. A mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda helps with scrubbing away stains on your cooktop.
  9. Using lemon and kosher salt to scrub your wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks help keep them fresh and stain-free.
  10. The best way to clean your windows is with dawn dish soap and jet dry dishwasher rinse. If you would rather use Windex or glass cleaner, use newspaper to wipe it off to keep it from streaking.
  11. Clean calcium buildup off your faucet by tying a plastic bag full of a de-scaler around it and let it soak for an hour. It wipes off so easily and helps keep the water flow to a max. My favorite is CLR brand.
  12. The garbage disposal always gets grease and food buildup. If you take an old toothbrush to clean it, it really becomes easier to get in the nook and crannies. Don’t forget to take off the splash guard to clean the build up underneath it.
  13. After washing out your sink with hot water and dish soap, polish it using flour.
  14. Run ice and lemons through the garbage disposal to freshen up and sharpen the blades.
  15. Clean stainless steel items with Pledge.
  16. Clean countertops and backsplash with a cleaner that works well with the materials you have in your kitchen. Here is a great homemade recipe for granite cleaner: 1/4c. rubbing alcohol, 3 drops of dish soap, 5-10 drops of essential oil + water.
  17. Use Murphy’s oil soap to clean any wood surfaces in your kitchen.
  18. Aligning your cabinets and drawers with non-adhesive liners make cleaning easier in the future. It also keeps things from sliding around.
  19. Cleaning the hard water ring in your toilet is one of the toughest. I use this product called The Pumie.

 

Where To Store Your Food In The Fridge

Top Shelf- Tall items and eggs. Place milk in the back where it is coldest.

Middle Shelves- Leftovers, drinks, and ready to eat foods.

Bottom Shelf or Meat Drawer- keep raw meat wrapped individually and stored low. Placed on a plate or away from other foods so it doesn’t cross-contaminate.

Crisper Drawer- One designated for fruit with low humidity and one for vegetables with higher humidity.

Door- For items that have a long shelf life like condiments, soft drinks etc.

 

 

Pantry Organization

  • Clear containers that are labeled will help keep you organized and find what you need easier.
  • Having door storage will add more storage to your existing pantry and provide quick easy access.
  • Plastic or cloth bins for bulk items will keep everything together and keep the shelving free of debris.
  • Pegboards can help organize in a different way. These are great for cooking tools like grilling prongs or things you don’t use as often. Accessories can be added to pegboards like hanging baskets or hooks to hang extra things like grocery bags or dog leashes.
  • Lazy Susans can help organize the corners of pantries. Putting extra condiments and spices will keep the smaller items contained and have easy access.
  • Paint your pantry a bright white to create a clean organized look will help brighten it up and be more inviting when you do go in to look for something.
  • Add a patterned wallpaper to the wall can give it some spice if you want to make it more decorative.
  • Adding a chalkboard to your pantry door can help keep you in touch with the family’s schedule, chores and grocery list for what’s needed.

 

  

 

Feel free to Contact Us here at Retro Pro Kitchen and Bath and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have!

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What “Fixer-Upper” Can’t Teach You About Home Remodeling

remodeling

Fixer-Upper! The show that is the greatest difference between showbiz and what really happens when remodeling your home. Why do they make it look so easy? Why do they make it seem so cheap? The real question is why do we believe the fantasy behind it but not the reality of remodeling a fixer-upper? HGTV implies to the viewer that remodeling is easy and gives a sense of having relief to what is expected during remodeling. It also dampens our moods when we realize that it is nothing like the real world and more issues arise during the process than we even dreamed of. Problems also equal to more money needed in the budget. From permits to inspections, to even product back orders, there are always things causing delays and costing money in the remodeling process. The more prepared you are as a homeowner the smoother things tend to go because you expect it.

 

 

 

 

Remodeling Times Are Often Rushed

Whenever you watch a home renovation show usually they always have a ridiculous turnaround time on a project. If you’re not aware of this when you go to hire someone, you will have a preconceived thought that you are being taken advantage of. On HGTV when you see a large project get finished quickly, you don’t really see all the scrambling that goes on behind the scenes to do the job and get it done on time. It may look like you see 3-5 people working but in reality, there are 30 people working to get things done in a short amount of time and they work around the clock which your normal contractor would never do that. Sometimes even details of the project are left undone for filming and then later finished up.

 

 

Renovation Budgets Aren’t Realistic

A long list of must-haves and a very tight budget doesn’t usually go well together in reality. The budgets made for TV are specifically designed for TV. Networks often partner with advertisers and they usually give materials away because of the free publicity. The contractors may also discount their services because of the publicity, which can cause a lack of workmanship on the project. Homeowners should be prepared when they see an estimate from contractors because some things they don’t tell you on TV. For example, some evaluations need to be done through county laws like testing for lead paint or asbestos which is standard for older homes. Usually, jobs can go from 3-4 wks to 3-4 months depending on how big the job is.

 

Storylines Are Embellished For TV

The stories that just seem so good to be true are usually the case. Not true or embellished enough to make it more interesting. For example, during a fixer-upper episode, they ended up picking the house that was the owner’s grandparent’s house. Well, what they don’t tell you is she had already purchased the house from her parents. So the story doesn’t sound as intriguing as you viewed it on the air but it does intrigue you hearing the made-up version. So the old saying “don’t believe everything you hear,” definitely goes the same for don’t believe everything you see on Tv.

 

Flipping A Fixer-Upper Isn’t As Easy As It Seems

In today’s housing market every dollar counts and lately flipping houses have decreased about 2% compared to 2013. Determining on which investments will sell your home quicker is more important than investing too much into a property just to watch it sit on the market for months. Do your research of your neighborhood, keep an eye on what’s selling and stick to a budget that is affordable. Make sure the updates you do is beneficial for the new homeowner not what you want. Keep everything neutral and create staging to create a more pleasing atmosphere for the future homeowner. Remember it is about selling your home as quickly as possible for the price you want.

 

Buying A House Is Never As Easy As On TV

Many shows make home-buying seem so simple and painless. What may seem like a day on TV most home-buying experiences take a least a few weeks but mostly it can take months depending on circumstances like if you have to sell an existing home or if you want to live in a specific community, can take longer. One of the biggest hurdles is getting approved for a mortgage loan. There is a significant amount of paperwork involved. What you don’t see is someone struggling for 60 days to get approved for a loan, only to be turned down because the criteria changed. When they are on the show they have already gone through this portion of home-buying maybe even already bought the home in some cases. So beware on the look of HGTV because they are just there to entertain you not give you valuable information concerning what your home-buying experience will be like.

 

 

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25 ways to clean your home with vinegar!

Vinegar

 

Oh How I Love Vinegar, Let Me Count the Ways!

 

Vinegar is an incredible liquid and can do amazing things around the house! It can be used for everything from a fabric softener, to toilet cleaner to cleaning cutting boards. And at a fraction of the cost of chemical store-bought cleaners, it can save a lot of money over time! Cleaning with vinegar can work wonders on your home! Here are some ways to use vinegar around the house for all your cleaning needs.

 

Kitchen-

 

Refrigerator: Instead of using chemical based cleaners to clean your fridge, try surface cleaning with white vinegar. Clean spills on the shelf with a 50-50 vinegar and water mix. You can even keep a bottle of the mixture stored in your fridge!

 

Drain: Dip and old toothbrush or brush small enough to get inside the disposal into some vinegar, sprinkle some baking soda on it, then use mixture to scrub away odors and built up food in your garbage disposal.

 

Cutting boards: For cutting boards, just spray surface with white vinegar and rinse clean, that’s it!

 

Microwave: Cleaning a microwave can be a nightmare! But instead of scrubbing for hours to try and get it clean, you can easily remove grime buildup and stains by placing 1/2-cup vinegar and 1/2-cup water in a glass bowl. Microwave for about 2-3 minutes, or until it boils. Then just wipe buildup away with ease!

 

Stained plastic containers: Does your trusty plastic storage containers have stains from spaghetti sauce or other food items? Use vinegar to coat the inside of the container, let sit to absorb into the stain then wash as usual.

 

Countertops: Cleaning countertops with white vinegar is easy. Just spray onto your surface, then wipe away with a warm, wet rag. Vinegar works great on many surfaces, however it does not do well on granite or marble surfaces.

 

Bathroom-

 

Toilet: Have ring-around-the-toilet (if you have kids this is inevitable, we all know they can never seem to remember to flush the toilet)! Just pour a cup of vinegar in the bowl, and let sit overnight. Then sprinkle with baking soda or borax and use a scrub brush to clean away stains. For tougher stains it would be best to drain the water from the toilet bowl when soaking overnight (and keep your fingers crossed no-one wakes up in the middle of the night and uses it before morning)!

 

General bathroom cleaning: Use straight or a diluted vinegar cleaning solution to scrub away bacteria, especially around the toilet, which will help curb urine staining and odor (gross I know, but it happens)!.

 

Tub or sink drain: Tub and sink drains are notorious for buildup from the daily use. To remove them just close the drain plug and pour 1/2-cup distilled white vinegar around the drain and let sit for several hours. Then scrub to remove buildup.

 

Shower: Is it time to deep clean your shower? Bring vinegar to a boil, get some rubber gloves, then use it to wipe down the shower door and walls. Keep them damp by wiping them down every 5 to 8 minutes for 30 minutes (yes this is a daunting task, but we are talking about a deep clean here people, so not something you have to do all the time). Once the 30 minutes is up, dampen a non-scratch sponge with vinegar, sprinkle it with baking soda, and scrub away (and you thought your job was done after the first 30 minutes didn’t you). Rinse the walls and door with water and Bye-bye germs, mold, water spots, and soap scum!

 

Shower head: If you live in an area with hard water, this will happen more often than not! To remove mineral build up pour some white vinegar into a plastic bag, and secure it to your shower head with a twist-tie, rubber-band or masking tape. Make sure there is a sufficient amount of vinegar so that the bottom part of the shower head is totally submerged. Leave the bag on overnight. Remove the next morning just before showering (if you don’t remember to remove the bag before turning on the water your shower will get a morning cleaning once the bag explodes).

 

Tile surfaces: Mix 1/2-cup white distilled vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Mop floors or scrub countertops with the solution and allow to air dry.

 

Bedroom-

 

Mattress disinfectant: Mix distilled white vinegar, a little rubbing alcohol, and some tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Lightly spritz on your mattress to help combat dust mites, mildew, and general odors. For a deeper clean, follow with a dusting of baking soda. Let dry, then vacuum.

 

Laundry-

 

As a fabric softener: Sounds weird, I know! You can use vinegar instead of fabric softeners in laundry. It softens the clothes and removes static just like the dryer sheets. Not to mention it is a fraction of the price. Just have to add the vinegar during the final wash or rinse cycle and bam, soft and static free clothes!

 

Dining Room-

 

Glass: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water solution to keep glass tables, doors windows, and any other glass surface sparkling clean.

 

Wood furniture: Use 1/4-cup white vinegar mixed with 1-cup olive oil (and a few drops of lemon or orange oil, for a fresh scent) to clean and condition wood furniture.

 

Floors-

 

Carpet odor and dust mite remover: Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a fresh scent, with distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz lightly throughout. (It would be best to test in a small spot first for colorfastness.)

 

Carpet rinse: Everyone loves getting their carpets cleaned, but what you may not know is there is usually a left over residue from the shampoo/cleaner used to clean the carpets. This leftover residue can attract dirt which in turn will make your carpets get dirty faster. So after shampooing, give your carpet a good rinse by using 1/2-cup vinegar per gallon of water. This lifts dirt-attracting soap residue, so carpets will stay cleaner, longer.

 

Carpet pet odor remover: Wet spot with vinegar. Sprinkle with baking soda, and work the two together with a brush or your fingers (I prefer a brush, but if you want to use your fingers, go for it). Let dry, preferably overnight if you can keep pets and children away from the area, then vacuum up.

 

Wood floor wash: Add 1/2-cup vinegar to a gallon of water to clean wood and laminated floors. Take precaution to not over-saturate the floors and damage the wood or laminate.

 

General Purpose-

 

Air freshener: Add a 1/2-teaspoon vinegar to a 4-ounce spray bottle, then fill with distilled water, plus a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give the space a fresh and clean smell.

 

Window cleaner: Mix 1/4-cup rubbing alcohol and 1/3-cup vinegar in a 32-oz spray bottle, then fill with water. Lightly spritz on a lint free cloth to clean.

 

All-purpose cleaner: Mix 1-cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons borax, 4-cups hot water, 5 drops liquid dish soap, 10 drops tea tree oil, and 10 drops your favorite essential oil (optional).

 

Disinfectant: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water mix to wipe down telephones, doorknobs, faucet handles, and more when cold and flu season hits.

Homemade Disposable Cleaning Wipes Recipes:

1 roll of paper towels (needs to be a good quality brand like Bounty or Viva). A large container that will fit a full roll of paper towels (so you don’t have to cut them down). A 1 gallon pitcher from the dollar store works great!

 

Solution mix – 1 3/4 cups distilled water, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon liquid dish soap (like Dawn) and 10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil.

 

Check out this link for the full How-To instructions and more info!

Homemade Disposable Cleaning Wipes

 

Kitchen Cooking and Cleaning Tips

Perfect Pasta

You have just made up your pasta according to the directions, but it is still going to be a few minutes before you serve up dinner. What can you do to help keep it warm?

Place your pot about ¼ to 1/3 full of hot water back on the stove over med to med/high heat. Now place your pasta in a metal or heavy duty plastic colander that can withstand heat. Place the colander over the top of your pan and let the steam keep your noodles warm with out over cooking them.

 

How to Remove Stains from Wooden Cutting Boards

Can rings and wine and strawberries stains don’t help the style of your cutting board. To get out stains, try sprinkling the board with salt rubbing it with lemon. For more stubborn stains, try an abrasive antibacterial kitchen cleaner and scouring pad. For the toughest, reach for sandpaper! And of course wash thoroughly afterward!

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How to Soften Hardened Brown Sugar

Brown sugar hardens as its moisture evaporates over time in the cupboard. But you can easily re-moisturize it by placing the open sugar bag in a microwave with a cup of water next to it and zapping it on high for three minutes. Or you can place the sugar in a bowl, cover the sugar with a double layer of wet paper towels, and then cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap and let it stand overnight.  The jury is still out on what to put in the bag of brown sugar to keep it from going hard: a slice of apple, a piece of bread, and a shard of a terra cotta pot have all been used.

 

 

How to Refresh Crystallized Honey

You know that jar or bottle of honey that’s hardened and crystallized on your shelf? It can easily be brought back to its easy-to-pour glory if you let it sit for 15 minutes in boiling water that has cooled for five minutes.

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Plastic Bag Holder

An empty rectangular tissue box makes a convenient holder for small garbage bags, plastic grocery bags and small rags. Simply thumbtack it to the inside of a cabinet door.

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For cleaning smelly hands after chopping onions or garlic, just rub them on a stainless steel spoon. The steel is supposed to absorb the odor.

 

If you happen to over-salt a pot of soup, just drop in a peeled potato. The potato will absorb the excess salt.

 

When boiling eggs, add a pinch of salt to keep the shells from cracking.

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When storing empty airtight containers, throw in a pinch of salt to keep them from getting stinky.

 

If you are making gravy and accidentally burn it, just pour it into a clean pan and continue cooking it. Add sugar a little at a time, tasting as you go to avoid over-sugaring it. The sugar will cancel out the burned taste.

 

Burned a pot of rice? Just place a piece of white bread on top of the rice for 5-10 minutes to draw out the burned flavor. Be careful not to scrape the burned pieces off of the bottom of the pan when serving the rice.

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If you aren’t sure how fresh your eggs are, place them in about four inches of water. Eggs that stay on the bottom are fresh. If only one end tips up, the egg is less fresh and should be used soon. If it floats, it’s past the fresh stage.

 

Before you chop chili peppers, rub a little vegetable oil into your hands and your skin won’t absorb the spicy chili oil.

 

To banish ants from the kitchen, find out where they are coming in and cover the hole with petroleum jelly. Ants won’t trek through the jelly. If they are coming under a door, draw a line on the floor with chalk. The little bugs also won’t cross a line of chalk.

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Before making popcorn on the stove or in an air popper, soak the kernels in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water, then pop as normal. The additional moisture helps the popcorn pop up quicker and fluffier with fewer “old maids.”

 

Don’t store your bananas in a bunch or in a fruit bowl with other fruits. Separate your bananas and place each in a different location. Bananas release gases which cause fruits (including other bananas) to ripen quickly. Separating them will keep them fresh longer.

 

To keep potatoes from budding in the bag, put an apple in with them.

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After boiling pasta or potatoes, cool the water and use it to water your house plants. The water contains nutrients that your plants will love.  When you clean your fish tank, the water you drain can also be used to water your house plants. The nitrogen and phosphorus in fish droppings make aquarium water a great fertilizer.

 

When defrosting meat from the freezer, pour some vinegar over it. Not only does it tenderize the meat; it will also bring down the freezing temperature of the meat and cause it to thaw quicker.

 

For aluminum pans that are looking dull, just boil some apple peels in them. This will brighten up the aluminum and make your house smell yummy.

 

To keep cookies fresh, put some crumpled-up tissue paper in the bottom of the cookie jar.

Keep iceberg lettuce fresh in the fridge by wrapping it in a clean, dry paper towel and storing lettuce and paper towel in a sealed baggie in the fridge.

 

If your loaf of bread is starting to go stale, just put a piece of fresh celery in the bag and close it back up. For some reason, this restores a fresh taste and texture to the bread.

 

To reuse cooking oil without tasting whatever was cooked in the oil previously, cook a 1/4? piece of ginger in the oil. It will remove any remaining flavors and odors.

 

If your milk always goes bad before you can finish it, try adding a pinch of salt to the carton when you first open it. It will stay fresh days longer.