It’s National Clean Out Your Fridge Day

Stinky refrigerator?

I am not happy with whomever invented Clean Out Your Fridge Day which is “celebrated” on November 15. Do we really need to be reminded that although the rest of our place looks presentable, there’s probably something creepy, hairy, stinky, and unknown lurking in the back corner of the crisper drawer? Clearly, we do, or this day would not exist. My fridge is like my closet. It will go for weeks – dare I say months – looking tidy and clean and then suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, it looks like elves performed some horrible mischief in the night. My once neat, organized, color-coded (yes, I am THAT girl) closet is a sloppy wreck with clothes falling off the hangers and the fridge contains mysterious science-fair-like “stuff”. And it’s not like cleaning either the fridge or the closet is hard; it’s just an annoyance and an awful way to spend a Saturday morning when you could be brunching on eggs benedict and sipping mimosas. So what is one to do? As in the words of a dear friend of mine, “Just git ‘er done”. Here’s a few tips on making this god-forsaken process a wee bit less miserable.

Preparation

Obviously, you have to remove all food from the fridge to clean it. Short on counter space? Set up a little folding table or use a few chairs. I am pretty successful with just removing food from one section at a time, cleaning it, and putting it back before moving on. For a complete, and uber-thorough clean (completely emptying), put your food in a cooler. You’ll need at least enough room to hold a shelf’s worth of stuff. Make sure your kitchen sink is empty, too. While you’re at it, put the recycling bin and trash can nearby as you’ll likely be tossing expired items and items that no longer resemble food.

Supplies

You won’t need much: white vinegar and/or dish soap; a spray bottle or a big bowl; a sponge and/or a scrubby; and paper and/or microfiber towels — all or most of which you probably already have on hand (whew).  The vinegar breaks down grease and grime, and when mixed with hot water in a spray bottle (or bowl, or dishpan, or bucket), it becomes a food-safe cleaner that’s perfect for any gunk that might have accumulated on refrigerator shelves. The other items on the list will help you wipe, scrub, dry, and shine.

The Process

While some people have enough counter space (is there ever really enough?!?) to completely empty their refrigerators before cleaning, I find  working one shelf at a time is often the best method, because you don’t want to leave your perishables out for too long.

  • Start at the top.
  • Remove everything from a shelf and see just how messy you (or those darn elves!) have been.
  • If there are spills, carefully remove the glass from the frame or brackets, or the shelf itself (depending on your fridge) and clean both sides, as well as the edges, with the vinegar solution.
  • Dry with paper or microfiber towels.
  • Wash the frame that holds the glass before replacing the entire shelf. For that, I usually head to the sink and use dish soap and hot water.
  • If there aren’t any caked-on spills that require shelf removal, simply run a scrubby sponge under hot water. Give the shelf and fridge walls an initial scrub to loosen any gunk. Then, spray it all down with cleaner and give it another scrub, before wiping everything clean with a microfiber cloth.

NOTE: When you’re not actively working in the fridge, keep the door closed to keep everything as cool as possible.

Doors and Drawers

Refrigerator drawers often accumulate debris, especially if they’re used for produce. For a deep clean, remove the drawers and wash them in the kitchen sink with soap and water. If they won’t fit in your sink, spray and wipe them clean, and dry them before putting them back. While the drawers are removed, wipe down the walls and “floor” of the fridge with the vinegar cleaner. Use the same method for the shelves inside the doors.

Put Stuff Back Clean

Now that your fridge is sparkling (and you realize it wasn’t THAT BAD to clean), be sure to wipe down jars, containers, and condiment bottles so you don’t bring gunk back into the fridge. Even if they don’t appear dirty, it’s a good idea to give container bottoms a quick wipe with a damp sponge or paper towel, especially if the shelf was sticky. If any bottles or jars have accumulated a little goo on the outside, rinse them under warm water then wipe them clean and dry. If gunk has accumulated around the seal or the edges of the cap, take the lid off and wash it more thoroughly in the sink. Check all expiration dates and toss anything that’s expired (like the sriracha I just threw away from 2017. Yikes.)

Wipe Down the Outside

Once everything is back in your sparkling fridge, use a clean microfiber cloth and the vinegar spray to wipe down the outside of the doors, including the edges and seals, and don’t forget the handles! The worst area will undoubtedly be to top of the fridge as it tends to collect greasy residue from cooking and dust. I like keeping a kitchen towel on top that can just be thrown in the wash. If you have a stainless steel fridge, spray on a cleaner specially made for stainless steel and polish with a microfiber towel for a streak-free finish.

Keep It (and Yourself) Fresh

You did it and you lived to tell the tale! Enjoy your super-clean fridge. For a while, anyway. If you want to keep it smelling fresher longer, stick an open box of baking soda on one of the shelves. Now treat yourself to brunch with a bloody Mary. You deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Clean Tile and Grout and Keep It Clean

woman cleaning shower

I dread doing many household chores. My least favorite has to be cleaning the tile and grout in the bathroom. It never ceases to amaze me that a place we use to get clean, and that’s filled with soap and water daily, can get so dirty. UGH. Because I loathe it so much, I have embraced a preventative measure – a cleaning routine.  An ounce of prevention – in this case less than two minutes a day – is worth a pound of cure – 30 minutes or more of scrubbing. Think of it as protecting your tile and grout instead of rescuing it.

My easy-peasy method utilizes a squeegee and a rinse-free daily shower cleaner. After each shower, before I even grab a towel, I do a quick dry with my squeegee. Then a quick spray of rinse free shower cleaner to keep everything sparking clean in between “big” cleans. When those faint pink blotches just start to appear, I dive in for a deeper clean usually once a week. Those pink stains are not mold; it a form of water-borne bacteria. ARGH!!

HOW TO DE-PINK

Make a Cleaning Solution

Mix one-half cup of baking soda with one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid or all-purpose cleaner. The resulting paste will be runny. Make a double or triple batch depending on how much tile you need to clean.

Protect Yourself

Do wear rubber gloves, protective eyewear, and a mask to protect yourself from exposure to the bacteria.

Prep the Area

Since the pink slime (it’s bacteria!) can grow on plastic and fabric surfaces, you should wash your shower curtain and liner. Toss washable curtains and liners in the washing machine and wash in warm to hot water with your regular laundry detergent. Dry fabric curtains following the care label instructions but air dry, or replace, plastic liners.

Scrub

Dip a nylon-bristle scrub brush in your baking soda solution and scrub away! Start at the top and work your way down.

Rinse

Rinsing is a pain if you don’t have a hand-held shower spray. You can rinse with a towel or by using a large water-filled pitcher or measuring cup.

Disinfect

In a spray bottle, mix a 50:50 solution of warm water and chlorine bleach. Use caution with the bleach mixture as it will remove color from any fabrics, towels, or rugs if you accidentally drip or overspray. Or, you can use a bathroom disinfecting spray.

Now we’re having fun, right?

Tips to Prevent Pink Goo Growth

  • Keep surfaces dry (use your squeegee after every shower!)
  • Close your shower curtain after bathing so it will dry quicker
  • Clean your tile with a bathroom cleaner weekly
  • Use your bathroom exhaust fan or crack a window (if you have either) every time you shower

CLEANING DIRTY TILE AND GROUT

“The best way to clean heavily stained or aged grout is to maintain a cleaning schedule. Do not allow stains and soils to build up over time,” said David Mowery, a business manager of Tile and Stone Installation Systems for the MAPEI Corporation. “The sooner you address grout stains, the better.”

What tools are needed?

How long will it take?

For a full-size shower, the entire process can take 15 minutes or longer depending on how much tile you’re trying to clean and the severity of the stains.

What kind of stain is that anyway?

Bathroom tile and grout stains caused by mold or mildew thrive in the damp corners of a bathroom shower and the porous, concrete-based grouts that are commonly found in between bathroom tiles.

These stains respond best to alkaline or high-pH cleaners like Tilex Mold & Mildew or StoneTech Mold & Mildew Stain Remover or Scrubbing Bubbles.

The other common source of staining in a shower is rust or lime buildup. Hard water deposits can stain the porous tile and grout in your bathroom. Rust has a reddish-brown tint, while lime scale usually has a chalky-white or pale green color.

To deal with these kinds stains, use a cleaner with a lower pH such as Bar Keepers Friend More Spray and FoamZep Grout Cleaner and Brightener, and CLR Brilliant Bath .

Cleaning the tile

Apply the cleaner by directly spraying it on the wall or onto a damp sponge, cloth, or brush. Let the solution sit for a short period, and then scrub with the brush, making sure to get the bristles into the grout itself. Rinse thoroughly and let the area dry.

No No’s

To avoid damaging your tile or grout, do not use the below items which can scratch tiles or chemically damage grout.

  • Wire brushes or steel wool
  • Abrasive cleaners like Borax or Comet

Okay, that wasn’t so bad. Now promise me you’ll keep your tile and grout clean because bathing in a dirty shower is gross and kinda counterintuitive.

 

 

Resources: Wirecutter.com, TheSpruce.com

Clean! Cook! Drink! Bake!

… Clean! Cook! Drink! Bake!

 

Lemons, lemons, lemons! Despite their reputation as being pucker-inducing and sour, lemons are a glorious fruit you can use in cooking, to make kid-friendly and/or adult beverages, and to replace harsh, chemical cleaners. A bowl of lemons can also add a pop of color to any room. Here are some of my favorite lemony things.

Freshen The Garbage Disposal

When my garbage disposal smells funky, I have an easy remedy to make it smell fresh. Pour white vinegar into an ice cube tray, and drop a small chunk of lemon into each section, then freeze. Drop a few of the frozen vinegar cubes into the running garbage disposal with a stream of cold water. The ice will help keep the blades sharp and clean, and the lemon helps to deodorize the disposal. Repeat the process once a week or so to keep things smelling fresh. For a quick refresh, just add lemon rinds to the disposal and grind away.

Brighten Shower Doors

Glass shower doors are like magnets for hard water stains and stubborn soap scum. You can spend loads on glass door cleaners or use a lemon to help you scrub them clean. Dip half a lemon into a small dish of kosher salt, and get scrubbing. Then stand back and admire the shine. Alternatively, spray lemon juice on the glass then scrub with a sponge dipped in baking soda.

Clean Your Place

Cover cut lemons or lemon scraps with white vinegar and steep for about a week. Using cheesecloth, strain into a clean spray bottle. This spray will clean linoleum kitchen counters, sinks, shower, toilets, bathtub, tile, stainless steel appliances, inside the fridge, and other durable, sealed surfaces; don’t use on granite, natural stone or hardwood floors or furniture. This lemony vinegar will also remove odors and flavors from cutting boards.  You’ll love the way they cut through dust and grime, as well as the invigorating lemon scent they leave behind!

Keep Bugs Out

Use lemon juice to repel pesky insects in your home. Squeeze some lemon juice into holes and cracks where you see ants coming in, and they’ll avoid the area in the future. A lemon and water spray will repel spiders, and a clove-studded lemon will keep flies away. Who knew?

Beverages

Lemon Water. Did you know that drinking lemon water everyday may decrease stress, enhance immune function, help prevent anemia, reduce your risk of kidney stones, and protect against several diseases? Squeeze a half lemon into a cup of water and start enjoying its benefits.

Lemonade. What says summer better than a tall cold glass of lemonade? Click the link for a five-star recipe to make your own.

Limoncello. Have you even tasted this Italian lemon liquor? It’s sweet and tart and the perfect little sip after a nice meal. Traditionally, it takes three weeks to make a batch of limencello, but the link contains a recipe that takes just two hours. By the way, homemade limoncello in small cute bottles makes a great gift or party favor! I’m such a fan, I even have a Limoncello T-shirt.

Sweet Treats

Lemon Rolls. I am not a baker, but during the COVID shutdown, me and about half of Americans tried our hand at baking. This recipe for lemon rolls with cream cheese frosting was a clear winner in our house.

Lemon Bars. Who doesn’t like lemon bars? And who doesn’t like Ina Garten? Ina’s recipe for lemon bars is divine and will be a smash hit at your next pot luck.

Lemon Meringue Pie. I am not a pie person (unless it’s my mom’s – she makes the BEST crust!), but a good lemon meringue pie is hard to beat. This recipe has five stars from 3,037 ratings, so it’s got to be good!

Savory Eats

Lemony Shrimp and Bean Stew. On the menu for dinner tonight. This dish also has a five star rating from over 4,100 folks. I’m going to serve it with the easiest homemade loaf of crusty bread and a simple salad of arugula, olive oil, lemon, and Parmesan – an Italian classic!

Lemony Orzo with Asparagus. For my vegetarian friends (any my sister), a delightful light orzo with lemon, asparagus, garlicky breadcrumbs, and Parmesan. In the words of Ina Garten, “How bad could that be?”

Time to run. A new Trader Joe’s just opened near me and they sell lemons by the bag. Pucker up, buttercup!

 

 

 

The Easy Way to Clean a Dirty Oven

If there is one chore no one enjoys doing, it’s cleaning the oven.

But it really doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Yes, there are tons of products out there for cleaning your oven but they can often be harmful to your oven’s interior finish as well as harmful to breathe in. A self-cleaning oven option is a great feature. However, if you don’t have that option, cleaning the oven doesn’t have to be difficult or harmful.

Taking a dirty oven and making it a clean oven can be done in less than one hour and without any harsh chemicals!

Check out this quick video for a super easy way to clean a dirty oven.

 

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Mix about 3 Tbsp baking soda, a bit of water and some vinegar in an oven safe dish until it forms a paste.
  2. Dab the dirtiest areas with the mixture.
  3. Sit the remaining mixture in the oven safe bowl in the center of your center oven rack.
  4. Turn the oven to around 212 degrees fahrenheit.
  5. Leave the mix in for around 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven off and allow to cool for a bit.
  7. Wipe down the oven and remove all the build up easily!

Be sure your oven is cool and hasn’t been used recently before beginning this process.
Do not do the cleaning process while the oven is in use for baking.

If you ever have questions about cleaning your oven, best products to use, or how it operates, give your leasing office a call and we will be happy to send a maintenance technician to your home or answer any questions.