Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again- family and friends descend on your home, bringing merriment, great food, smiles, and perhaps a present or two. It can be a very festive time of year, and with any hope, laughter and smiles will be your companion through most of the night.
That is, until the time for clean up arrives.
Let’s face it- keeping a house full of busy people clean is a demanding job in itself-but add in the mess created when we cook, bake, and provide entertainment for a crowd it can get down right overwhelming. So whether you’re looking at a mountain of dishes in the sink, or trying to get that wine stain out of the rug from your apologetic Uncle Bob, here are a few tips to help you out. Plus, chances are you’ve got everything you need right in your kitchen cabinets.
Tip # 1: Messy Cookware? Baking Soda is Your Friend
So you’ve managed to cook a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, and you’ve managed to only burn a few things here and there– don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. Here’s the thing though- you’re probably left with a pan that has a good deal of burnt food on it right? Well, you could let it soak for a while, but if you’d rather get things over and done with, simply take a handful of baking soda, a few drops of water, and make some paste. Then spread it on the pan, spread it around in a circular motion, and chances are that burnt meal offering will start to come off in no time at all. The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive, absorbs some of the greasy mess, and doesn’t leave a chemical residue when you rinse it off.
Tip #2: Greasy Stains on Your Clothes? Raid Your Child’s Chalk!
If you’re anything like me, stains on clothing- especially greasy food stains are a way of life. Unfortunately, with both my husband and I having hyper-sensitive skin, most detergents and pre-treaters are a no go. Then I stumbled upon this idea on a DIY website and decided to check it out. Basically, when you get a greasy food stain, get some white chalk and “draw” or rub over the stain. The grease and stain will adhere to the chalk particles, and – just like that the detergent will have an easier time dissolving the stain away. Just be sure to use white chalk.
Tip # 3: Worried About That Red Wine Spill? Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do Wonders
Let’s face it- sooner or later, someone is going to spill red wine on the carpet or your favorite sofa. It happens. And if you’re anything like me the last thing you want to see the next morning is that ugly purplish-brown stain on your sofa. So here’s a trick I learned that really works. Blot up as much as the stain as you can, and then mix together about a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of mild dish washing soap. Pour over the stain, lay a towel over top, and let the towel soak up the stain, peroxide and soap. You’d be amazed at how quickly everything comes up. If you’re in a pinch- straight hydrogen peroxide works as well- just make sure you don’t leave it on too long or you’ll lighten the fabric.
Tip # 4: Really Stubborn Dishes? Baking Soda and Vinegar to the Rescue
In reality, this is a variation on Tip # 1- and one that I reserve for those insanely messy pots and pans that somehow appear after a big meal. Start by adding a layer of water to the bottom of your pan, and about 2-3 teaspoons of vinegar. I like using white distilled, but whatever type you have on hand should work fine. Place it on the stove top and turn on the burner. Bring it to a boil- and chances are your pan will start to look a lot better. After a few moments take the pan away from the heat and add some baking soda to the water/vinegar mixture that is in the pan and watch the fizzy show. When it subsides, carefully swirl around the mixture, and rinse out the pan. Check to see if there is any other stubborn areas, and scour with baking soda as needed.
Tip # 5: Food Explosion in the Microwave? Lemon Juice and Water
Ah yes, the microwave- a wonderful convenience for those of us who- shall we say– forget to add certain expected dishes to the thanksgiving table. Unfortunately, sometimes these microwave rescues result in causalities- namely the clean interior of the microwave. If this is the case, take about a cup of lemon juice and about 1/2 cup of water and place it an open, microwave safe container. Microwave on high for about a minute. Then take a damp cloth and wipe down the inside of the microwave. The lemony steam will help to loosen food particles, and leave a nice fresh scent. Repeat as needed, making sure that the hot lemon and water mixture is handled safely.
So what are you’re favorite tips for cleaning up after the holidays?