Category: Kitchen


Before & After: ’70s Kitchen Remodel Puts Every Inch to Work

A tiny, outdated kitchen gets a 21st century update—complete with extra storage, increased natural light, and more room to breathe. Read on for more of the story and photos of this beautiful before-and-after.

70s Kitchen Makeover

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

For Mat and Anna Nicholson, husband and wife with three houses’ worth of DIY renovation under their belts, a tiny kitchen in a not-so-dream home posed a creative challenge. First off, its tired style felt stuck in 1974. More concerning was its serious lack of space to cook, store supplies, eat in, and entertain. “The old layout left a lot of space underused,” Anna explained. “As it’s not a huge house, we wanted to make the most of what we had.” Together, she and Mat transformed the initially awkward room into a livable design by tearing down walls to open into a dining area, bricking over existing doors, and expanding windows into larger glass doors to invite in extra light. Floating shelves, a final addition, make even the most awkward corner useful and open up the tight space. Impressed by the work, we invited Anna to discuss behind-the-scenes details about designing her favorite project to date. Read on for her experience of making the best of a tiny kitchen!

How would you describe the kitchen before the makeover?
The main problem was the size—the kitchen was very small. And the layout of the downstairs was old-fashioned, with one living/dining room going from the front to back of the house and a separate kitchen, complete with 1970s serving hatch. There was also a pantry in the kitchen that took up a lot of space, which we removed in the end, and a door that we bricked up for more wall space.

What did you envision for this space?
We wanted the room to feel light, bright, and open. The layout needed to fit in with modern family life—a dining kitchen, somewhere comfortable and pleasant to cook and spend time.

70s Kitchen Makeover - Use of Space

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

You tore down walls, ripped out flooring, installed new cabinetry and subway tile—really, the finished space is barely recognizable! What was most challenging?
The biggest challenge was probably living without a proper kitchen for six months! As we did nearly all of the work ourselves alongside working full time, the process took longer. The biggest and scariest challenges were probably the structural changes—knocking down a wall and replacing a window with double doors—but they were worth it because they’ve made the biggest difference.

Do you have any helpful advice for someone embarking on a kitchen remodel?
Just make sure you get your measurements right and spend time thinking about and planning the layout of your cupboards and appliances.

70s Kitchen Makeover - Wall Removal

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

Which part of the new design are you most proud of?
We just love the overall look, and the fact that we’ve managed to get all the appliances and cupboards we need in a relatively small space!

How do you make the small kitchen feel more cozy and less cluttered?
We’ve added open shelving in awkward corners, which I think looks great and serves a practical purpose—keeping the worktop free of clutter.

70s Kitchen Makeover - Extra Storage

Photo: angelinthenorth.com

Finally, how does this makeover change how you use the space?
It’s a much bigger, brighter, and more sociable space. Now, cooking is enjoyable and it’s a room where we spend time after work preparing and eating food and chatting. Just after it was finished, we hosted a Christmas dinner for 10; seeing everyone sitting together in the room enjoying the meal was a really proud moment. The old kitchen could barely fit two people in at the same time!

See more photos of the transformation at Angel in the North.


Streamline Kitchen Renovation with Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets

Kitchen renovation just got faster and more convenient, thanks to high-quality preassembled cabinets that are waiting for you now at The Home Depot.

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Overseeing a renovation job is similar in many ways to conducting an orchestra. If one section of the ensemble isn’t there to play its part, the show simply can’t go on. That’s why contractors appreciate the importance of setting—and keeping—work schedules. Besides the obvious inconvenience, even minor delays can end up being quite expensive. Ultimately, for the job to get done on budget and on time, all parties involved must uphold the initial project plan.

If you’ve ever worked on a kitchen remodel, you know that stock cabinets can take weeks to be delivered, with custom work taking as long as six months. The variability here can be especially problematic because, in many kitchens, the cabinets must be delivered, built, and installed before a slew of other jobs can get under way—sink plumbing, for instance, or appliance installation. Coordinating a satisfactory timeline can therefore be, to put it mildly, a real challenge.

To the rescue comes The Home Depot, which now enables you to sidestep the hassles cabinets so often introduce to kitchen remodeling. The Home Depot now stocks a wide variety of high-quality preassembled cabinetry. That means you no longer need to wait weeks for your cabinetry; on the contrary, those cabinets are now waiting for you at the nearest location. Do you prefer delivery? Products ship within as few as seven days.

The Home Depot ships directly to the job site within a maximum of only 10 days.

Once the cabinets arrive on-site, you can immediately begin installation without having to spend time scratching your head over the manufacturer’s instructions and proprietary tools or fasteners. Along with quick-ship availability, the time-saving convenience of preassembly means that cabinetwork no longer has to be a big question mark in your project plan. You know what to expect and may schedule accordingly. Kitchen remodeling has changed!

Quick-ship assembled cabinets from The Home Depot come in a broad mix of styles, ranging from classic to ultracontemporary. Finish options abound, although if you wish to handle the staining or painting yourself, there are unfinished cabinets too. At $55 per linear foot (with large orders eligible for discounts), the price may be as appealing as the designs. Scroll down to see only a few of the attractive cabinetry lines that are available right now.

 

HAMPTON BAY SATIN WHITE

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot - Hampton

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Low-cost and high-quality, the Hampton Bay line boasts classic raised-panel doors and a furniture-quality satin-white finish that lends a clean, crisp, and refined look to any kitchen. Three quarters of an inch thick, the interior shelves are robust and sturdy, and they’re also fully adjustable, allowing the homeowner to maximize, customize, and easily reconfigure storage space. Fully assembled, Hampton Bay cabinets come with a limited lifetime warranty.

 

HOME DECORATORS COLLECTION HARGROVE CINNAMON

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot - Hargrove

Photo: thehomedepot.com

Inspired by timeless Shaker design, Hargrove cabinets offer a geometric flat-panel appeal balanced by an earthy cinnamon-color finish. With practicality to match its good looks, the line’s solid-wood doors open to reveal integral shelves and optional roll-out trays or wastebasket pullouts. With half-inch-thick plywood backings, Hargrove cabinets are rigid in construction and built to last. Perhaps best of all, like others from The Home Depot, these cabinets arrive fully assembled.

 

HOME DECORATORS COLLECTION KINGSBRIDGE CABERNET

Quick-Ship Assembled Cabinets from Home Depot - Kingsbridge

Photo: thehomedepot.com

With a reddish-brown cabernet finish, Kingsbridge cabinets and drawers feature durable all-plywood construction. Their full overlay doors, meanwhile, include three-inch-wide solid birch frames that surround recessed panels of birch-veneer medium density fiberboard (MDF). Enhanced by soft-close technology, those doors will provide smooth, quiet operation for years. In fact, the line carries a limited lifetime warranty—and yes, the cabinets arrive fully assembled!

 

Restore reliable scheduling to your kitchen remodeling projects—and save valuable time on installation—by choosing from among the many lines of quick-ship assembled cabinets at The Home Depot. For more information, visit your local store or shop The Home Depot online for its full range of products.

 

This post has been brought to you by The Home Depot. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Quick Tip: Rescue Scorched Cookware

Though you may doubt the scorched bottom of your cookware can even be cleaned, it's not only possible but can actually be done with a minimum of labor-instensive scouring. Here's what to do.

How to Clean a Burnt Pot

Photo: fotosearch.com

Fear not: Cleaning blackened, burned cookware doesn’t have to mean an arm-wearying afternoon of intensive scouring. It doesn’t have to mean the use of harsh, toxic chemicals, either. You probably already own everything you need to save a scorched pot or pan from the clutches of charred food. So if and when your usual let-it-soak-and-wait method ultimately meets with failure, try one of these tried-and-true strategies for restoring scorched cookware to its original, shiny state.

How to Clean a Burnt Pot - Scrub Detail

Photo: fotosearch.com

Light Duty
Fill the burned pot with enough water to cover the charred area completely. Bring the water to a boil on the stove and let it continue boiling for two or three minutes. Next, remove the pot from the stove and set it aside to cool down. Pour out the water only once the water has returned to room temperature.

Now that the char in the pot has softened considerably, sprinkle in a generous amount of baking soda and proceed to scrub. With luck, you should find that the black residue comes off much more easily, particularly with the potent abrasive combination of baking soda and a rough-textured scouring pad.

Heavy Duty
If the technique described above ended up helping but not enough, call in more firepower—that is, white vinegar. Pour enough of the stuff into the pot to cover the charred area completely (here, vinegar substitutes for the water used in the first method.) Once finished, add in about one cup of baking soda. Once the fizzing dies down, pour the liquid out of the pot and proceed to scrub the burned area clean.

In the most extreme cases, try this alternative method: Fill the pot with enough vinegar to cover the charred area, then bring the vinegar to a boil. Let it simmer on the stove. (As the vinegar simmers, you might even see blackened bits breaking away from the bottom and sides of the pot.) After a few minutes, set the pot aside and add baking soda. Once the fizzing has stopped, pour out the liquid and scrub.

Even gourmet chefs scorch cookware occasionally, so there’s no telling when you might face the problem again. But now you know not to dispose of a burned pot or pan. Though it may seem impossible at first, black and bristly char can indeed be removed, and often without a great deal of effort. You only need to know what staples to pull out of your pantry and precisely how to employ them to get results.


Induction Cooktops 101

With many compelling benefits, as well as some real drawbacks, induction cooktops are an intriguing alternative to the traditional gas or electric range.

Photo: geappliances.com

Picture this: You put a large pot of water on the stove and within only a few minutes, the water has rolled to a boil. That’s the magic of an induction cooktop. Compared with conventional gas and electric ranges, induction cooktops boast enhanced, even revolutionary, speed. But it’s not just about power; induction cooktops also offer a high level of precision. In other words, there’s no delay when you turn the dial up or down; the technology responds immediately to your adjustment and holds, without deviation, the desired temperature. Though induction cooking has existed for decades, it’s really started to gain traction in the last few years, having become a viable alternative to the conventional heating appliances we all grew up with. Even so, induction cooktops account for less than 10 percent of the market in the United States, and a great deal of confusion remains as to how the technology works and what it offers the home cook.

The Science
Unlike any range you’re likely to have used before, an induction cooktop does not give off heat. Rather, its burners are essentially electromagnets that transfer energy to the cookware. That energy, in turn, causes the cookware—and the food within it—to heat. So even when a pot of water is boiling vigorously, the cooktop itself stays relatively cool. If it warms at all, it’s only because the hot pot has sat right over the induction cooktop surface for a prolonged period of time.

Photo: geappliances.com

Benefits
Induction cooking is fast, responsive, and precise, and for these reasons many professional cooks have adopted the technology. But even for the average homeowner, there are at least a few benefits to consider beyond the bounds of meal preparation. For instance, because there are no hot surfaces (except those directly under active pots and pans), induction cooktops are a safe option in homes with children. As well, the smooth glass-ceramic surface of an induction cooktop is very easy to clean, with no grates, drip pans, or awkward gaps to collect crumbs or splatters. And because the cooktop does not get hot, spills do not burn and become caked on—they come right off, with no need for scrubbing.

Energy Efficiency
According to the Department of Energy, a conventional electric or gas stove fails to transfer about 60 percent of the energy it consumes. Induction cooktops are nearly twice as efficient. While it’s certainly true that—compared with, say, heating and cooling—cooking accounts for only a small amount of the energy used in the average home, many like the fact that induction cooktops save energy by cooking faster and that they waste a minimum of energy in the process of doing so.

Cons
Induction cooking takes some getting used to, and some cooking methods simply may not translate. Any technique that requires an open flame—grilling, for example, or even toasting—is not possible with induction cooking. There’s also the possibility that you would need to replace some or even all of your nonmagnetic cookware. Cast iron, enamel, and stainless steel are often suitable, but copper, glass, ceramic, and aluminum are not. When in doubt, touch a magnet to the bottom of the pot or pan in question. If it sticks, then you’re in business. If not, the cookware unfortunately won’t work.

One final drawback: Although induction cooktops have recently come down in price, they can still be pretty expensive (though budget options are out there). Then again, for those entranced by the magic of induction cooking, cost may be secondary to the many performance and lifestyle benefits.


How To: Clean a Refrigerator

While you may cringe upon opening the door to a dirty fridge, even more upsetting is how the appliance may be affecting your electric bill. Clean your refrigerator today, not only for cosmetic and health reasons, but for financial reasons as well.

How To Clean A Refrigerator

Photo: shutterstock.com

As the only home appliance to host a rotating population of mess-making foods, it’s no wonder the refrigerator ranks as the quickest of all to get seriously grimy. Within only a week, splatters and drips, leakage and smells take hold and compromise, not only the appearance of your fridge (and your mood upon opening it), but also its energy efficiency. That means a fridge you haven’t cleaned is a fridge that’s costing you more than it should on your month-to-month energy bills. So if you were looking for a reason to clean the refrigerator, you’ve finally got one—money! To do a thorough job it, follow the simple series of steps detailed below.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Coil brush
- Vacuum with attachments
- Soft cloths
- Rubbing alcohol
- Vinegar
- Dishwashing detergent
- Warm water
- Sponge
- Toothbrush
- Baking soda

STEP 1
Start by unplugging the fridge. Next, locate the condenser coils; these may be on the back of the unit or on its bottom side. If the coils are on the back, pull the unit away from the wall and then use a coil brush (a tool well worth its low cost) to free whatever dust and dirt has accumulated there. If the coils are on the bottom of the fridge, you need not go through the trouble of moving the appliance, but you do have to hunker down so as to manipulate the coil brush toward the target area. In either case, sweep up or vacuum all the stuff your brushing has brought to light—there may be quite a bit, if you haven’t cleaned the coils before.

STEP 2
Empty the refrigerator of all contents and put them aside. In the process of doing so, take the opportunity to purge any items that are past their expiration date. When it comes to choosing a cleaning solution, you may prefer something store-bought, but the following homemade version works well, too. Mix 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and warm water into a spray bottle. Add in a few drops of dish detergent, then shake it up. While the alcohol and vinegar cut through tough stains, the detergent works to eliminate grease and disinfect. It’s a potent cleaning cocktail, to be sure, but using it won’t make you want to retch.

“]How To Clean a Refrigerator - Compartment

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 3
Take out any shelves or drawers that are removable, place them on the counter, and clean them one by one in the sink. Spray each with your cleaning cocktail, then scrub with a sponge. Once you’ve cleaned one, rinse it off and move to the next. As they all air-dry, proceed to cleaning the inside of the fridge.

STEP 4
Start at the top and work your way down, spraying the back and side walls along with any fixed-in-place shelving. Use the sponge to scrub any areas with stubborn food residue, and follow up with a paper towel to clean up the excess spray. Where crevices have collected crumbs, use an old toothbrush or a similar tool. Pay special attention to where the drawers sit, and don’t forget to address the pocket panels on the door. Finish by tackling the door edges as well as the door seal (go gentle on the latter).

STEP 5
Now it’s time to clean the refrigerator exterior. Spray and wipe it down on all sides; go over the door handles more than once, as they are likely to harbor both finger smudges and germs. Note that if yours is a stainless steel appliance, special cleaning techniques apply. Do not use any product that contains bleach, and shy away from any abrasive scrubbing pads that might leave scratches behind. Opt instead for a damp, soapy washcloth. For extra firepower, mix together baking soda and liquid dish soap, then apply the paste with a nylon scrubbie. As a last step, wipe away all remaining suds with a damp towel.

STEP 6
Plug the refrigerator back in and refill it. Your appliance is now in tip-top shape!

Additional Notes
It’s best to clean the refrigerator coils every few months, even if the visible parts of the refrigerator look more or less clean. If you find the refrigerator isn’t getting cold enough, dirty coils are likely to blame.


Before & After: A Massive Makeover for a Minuscule Kitchen

One cramped kitchen sees new life, thanks to the husband-and-wife team behind The Grit and Polish.

Kitchen Before and After

Photo: thegritandpolish.com

Cathy Poshusta says, “My husband and I are a couple of old-house renovation junkies.” Together, she and Garrett renovate one after another residence in the Seattle, WA, area, temporarily living within the walls of the project house before moving on to their next adventure. Right now, the couple lives in a 1926 Tudor they’ve dubbed the Ravenna House. Here, one major area of focus has been the kitchen, which at the outset was woefully outdated and inconveniently closed off from the rest of the home. The plan? Transform the space into the sort of heart-of-the-home kitchen that modern families have grown accustomed to enjoying. The result? Stunning. Though Cathy documents her challenges and triumphs over on The Grit and Polish, we tracked her down to find out more details about the design decision-making and do-it-yourself feats that went into achieving a kitchen before-and-after of such jaw-dropping style and persuasive substance.

Kitchen Before and After - Full View

Photo: thegritandpolish.com

What was the kitchen like before?
When we bought the house, the kitchen had 1920s cabinets, an original cast-iron sink, and a wall-mounted faucet. It was also the smallest kitchen I had ever seen and completely closed off from the rest of house. It all added up to a space that no one wanted to be in. Our renovation goal was to open up the space and create a room that people actually wanted to gather in.

Where did you look for inspiration?
I have a pretty robust “kitchen” board on Pinterest, where I keep all my inspiration. Once I saw a kitchen with a marble herringbone backsplash, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. In the last two kitchens we remodeled, I installed a white subway tile backsplash. This time, I wanted to try something new.

Kitchen Before and After - Herringbone Backsplash

Photo: thegritandpolish.com

What did you learn from installing the tile yourself?
My husband and I learned a lot from that DIY tile installation, mainly that laying tile in a herringbone pattern is not for the faint of heart. There are a lot of custom-cuts and sore thumbs involved. We probably won’t attempt herringbone again.

Kitchen Before and After - In Progress Work

Photo: thegritandpolish.com

What was the biggest challenge? Any compromises along the way?
Like many old houses, nothing in the Ravenna House is square or plumb. That proved tedious, particularly when it came to hanging cabinets and installing molding. The ceilings were a real construction challenge as well. After taking out the wall between the kitchen and living room, we had varying ceiling heights. The simplest solution to hide the imperfections, we decided, would be to install a faux beam and beadboard ceiling. In the end, those details are two of my favorite features. We did have to compromise on counter and cabinet space in order to fit in a dining table. An island would have added workspace and storage, but I just couldn’t stomach the idea of not having a table, since our family gathers there every night.

Small Kitchen Makeover

Photo: thegritandpolish.com

As someone who’s renovated a few different houses, do you have any tips for our readers?
If all else fails, shim it and caulk it, and everything will look just fine. That’s a mantra my husband and I find ourselves repeating during every renovation. I’ve also learned to take my time and do the job right. It’s natural to want to rush through a project… but doing that second measurement and checking the level one more time will ultimately save you time and money. Having to redo a project that you or a previous homeowner has already done is beyond frustrating. Just check out the tile floor we had to rip up and redo in our basement shower!

Kitchen Window Seat

Photo: thegritandpolish.com

Now that you’ve lived with the new kitchen, how do you think it’s changed the way you use the space?
The new kitchen is way more open. It is a small space but well laid out and really efficient. It’s now a gathering place for our family and friends (instead of a closed-off room that could only fit one person). And we use the space every day for every meal and often sit at the table to do coloring or reading with our 1-year-old son. This kitchen is now truly the heart of our home.

 

See even more photos of this kitchen before-and-after over at The Grit and Polish.


Big Chill’s Cutting-Edge, Retro-Styled Appliances

A Colorado manufacturer unites the playful colors, sinuous forms, and sparking chrome of 1950s appliances with the advanced engineering of today.

Big Chill Appliances - Blue Suite

Photo: bigchill.com

How did Big Chill end up manufacturing cutting-edge new kitchen appliances that look, in the best way possible, 60 years old? The idea came to company founder Thom Vernon when, in the process of designing a home for himself and his family, he encountered a dilemma. The other rooms of the house would have both a vintage look and modern conveniences, but this same balance wouldn’t be possible in the kitchen. Even if he could find the right antique appliances, either at auction or through a specialty dealer, his feared these midcentury originals would be too small for his modern family’s needs. Energy efficiency was another worry, because the appliances that best suited his aesthetic vision had been engineered well before most people ever thought of such things.

Big Chill Appliances - Lime Green Fridge

Photo: bigchill.com

That’s when Vernon sought out his nephew, Orion Creamer, who had trained as a product designer. The two started a business with a novel concept: They would produce kitchen appliances that were brand-new in everything but their outer shell, which would recall the distinctive design of the 1950s. After studying countless vintage appliances, the team launched their first product, a professional-quality refrigerator clad in a retro-styled housing. They called it the Big Chill.

Since then, the company has gone on to develop a full line of appliances that includes dishwashers, microwaves, stoves, range hoods, and wall ovens. All boast the benefits of modern technology, all are Energy Star-rated, and all adhere to the same classic aesthetic. Each comes in eight standard colors, such as Beach Blue and Jadeite Green, with more than 200 custom colors available on request. Most orders are assembled at the company headquarters in Boulder, Colorado.

Big Chill Appliances - Pastel Blue Stove

brucon.com

According to its Web site, the company continues to grow and plans to open a division in France, where there’s a high demand for vintage American appliances.

For more information, visit Big Chill Appliances.


Gas or Electric? Choose Your Next Stove Wisely

A host of factors, from your location to your culinary ambitions, influence the choice between a gas and electric stove. If you're shopping for a new range, read on to learn what trade-offs to expect with each type.

Gas vs. Electric Stove

Photo: shutterstock.com

There are two main types of stoves—gas and electric. Each type has its devotees, and its detractors. Which stove you prefer seems to depend largely on which type you grew up with. If you learned to cook using a gas stove, chances are that you’ll stick with it. However, conversions occur, and plenty of people find reasons to switch their allegiance. For instance, burgeoning chefs may be swayed by the versatility and accuracy provided by the flame heating of gas stoves. Meanwhile, parents with young children may switch to an electric stove, seeing it as the safer of the two. Families also appreciate the easy-clean virtues of electric stoves. Strong as one’s personal preference may be, economics play a role too: Depending on where you live, one or the other stove type might be cheaper to operate. If your current stove is scorching your sauces, burning the bacon, and ruining the roast, keep these considerations in mind as you choose between gas and electric.

Though propane, butane, or even liquefied petroleum gas can be used to power a stove, most gas stoves run on natural gas and require a gas line to the house. Depending on where you live, the requirement of a gas line may be a deal-breaker. In most suburbs, the infrastructure is such that gas- and electric-powered stoves are equally feasible. In more remote areas, gas lines are not a given. But no matter where you live, chances are there’s electricity. And so long as your home has electricity, you can operate an electric stove. It simply needs to be plugged in. Note, however, that most electric stoves do require a 240-volt power outlet.

Gas vs. Electric Fireplaces - Glow Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

COST
As with any other investment you’d make in your home, choosing a new stove involves weighing both the upfront purchase cost and the long-term operating cost. Electric stoves tend to carry the higher price tag—not by much, though. Whereas average electric stoves range from $650 to $2,800, comparable gas stoves range from $800 to $2,300. So there’s a difference, but it’s not a very dramatic one. Operating costs, however, are often different enough to be a deciding factor for many. It’s difficult to make blanket statements here, because utility rates change from state to state. But in most states, natural gas costs less than electricity, and where that’s the case, a gas stove typically costs 10% to 30% less to operate on an ongoing basis.

PERFORMANCE
When it comes to cooking, the main difference between gas and electric stoves lies in how quickly they respond to temperature setting changes. Gas stoves respond more or less instantly, giving you more of the precise control needed to be successful with certain dishes. Electric stoves do not respond as quickly, particularly when you’re adjusting the temperature down or turning the heat off. Besides that, there are also a few things that an electric stove simply cannot do (and that a gas stove can); these include charring, toasting, and flambéing. If you’re a committed home chef, the superior performance of gas stoves may sway you in their favor.

SAFETY
When you’re cooking with a gas stove, you’re effectively cooking on an open flame. That makes it the more dangerous of the two, because wherever there’s an open flame, there’s a chance of children or pets being burned (or a flammable item catching fire). There’s also the risk of gas leaks, so to be on the safe side, any home with a gas stove should have a carbon monoxide detector. Though electric stoves do not entail zero risk of burns or fires, they are generally considered safer. They’re also easier to clean. That’s particularly true if you purchase one of the newer electric stoves that features a smooth glass or ceramic cook top.

All in all, when shopping for a new stove and choosing between gas and electric, choose what you’re most comfortable with. If you have reservations about natural gas, or are nervous about cooking on an open flame, opt for an electric stove. On the other hand, if you’re budget-minded or a budding chef, gas may be best. The choice, of course, is ultimately yours.


How To: Clean a Garbage Disposal

If your sink smells like the dumpster behind a restaurant, take ten minutes to clean out your garbage disposal with these freshening tips.

How To Clean A Garbage Disposal

Photo: shutterstock.com

Consider the environment within the average in-sink garbage disposal: It’s cool, dark, and moist, and there’s a near constant influx of food that gets shredded and scattered about. No wonder it gets smelly from time to time! To clean a garbage disposal and eliminate the odor-causing bacteria, follow these instructions.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Flashlight
- Needle-nose pliers or tongs
- Ice cubes
- Rock salt
- Vinegar
- Baking soda
- Old toothbrush
- Liquid dishwashing soap
- Lemon or orange peels

STEP 1
There are two cardinal rules when it comes to cleaning a garbage disposal. The first is always to disconnect the power to the appliance before working on it. The easiest way to cut its power is simply by unplugging it. Normally, it’s plugged in to the wall under the sink. If you can’t locate the outlet, go to the electrical panel in your house and cut electricity to the circuit on which the garbage disposal is powered. To confirm that the power is off, try turning on the garbage disposal.

Next, point a flashlight down the drain to identify objects that may be lodged in, or wound around, the impellers that macerate the solids sent through the disposal. Look for such things as bottle caps, aluminum can pull-tabs, or vegetable fibers. If you find any, remove these items with needle-nose pliers or tongs. Yes, the second rule of cleaning a garbage disposal is never to stick your hand into the chamber.

Clean a Kitchen Sink's Garbage Disposal

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Drop about a dozen ice cubes into the garbage disposal, followed by a half-cup of rock salt. Restore power to the disposal, so that you can turn on the mechanism while running water down the drain. Keep it on for about a minute, until all the built-up grime and gunk has fallen away from the disposal blades. Check the drain with a flashlight again. If the blades are clean, go and shut the power back off.

STEP 3
Pour a cup of vinegar and a half-cup of baking soda into the disposal. Let the combination fizz for about 15 minutes. In the process, the acidity of the solution kills bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. Stick with the natural cleaners here; no toxic chemical should be used. Just as bacteria can come flying out of the disposal, compromising the sanitation of your kitchen sink, so too could a chemical.

STEP 4
While the vinegar and baking soda are busy fizzing inside the disposal, combine the two again—this time outside the appliance, on the counter—to create a thick paste. Put some of that paste on an old toothbrush, and use it to scrub down the top and bottom surfaces of the rubber flaps along the neck of the disposal. Those flaps are likely to be as bacteria-ridden as any other component. So while you’re at it, think about giving a good scrubbing to the rubber parts on your sink stopper, too, if there are any.

STEP 5
Now’s the time to engineer one final flush of the garbage disposal. First, plug the drain opening. Second, run the water in the sink until its basin is about three-quarters full. Add a teaspoon of dish soap, then finally remove the drain plug, letting the water drain out all while the disposal runs.

Additional Notes
You can add a fresh aroma to the sink and disposal by sending citrus peels through the disposal. And in the future, with regular cleaning of the garbage disposal, you can make sure odors stay away. Mark your calendar with a reminder to clean the garbage disposal every two weeks or so. For regular cleaning, any method works, be it ice and rock salt or vinegar and baking soda. Each takes only a few minutes, and if you stay on top things, you can avoid the more laborious and time-consuming process detailed above.


How To: Clean an Oven

Smell something smoky? Check your oven. Spills and splatters from long-gone casseroles could be to blame. Roll up your sleeves and follow this step-by-step to get your oven back to working order.

How to Clean an Oven

Photo: shutterstock.com

You’ve put it off for months, hoping the little spills and splatters inside the oven would vanish of their own accord. There comes a time, though—as much as you wish it weren’t true—when you must clean an oven to ensure its continued operation. Of course, that’s assuming you don’t have a self-cleaning oven. These marvelous inventions have been around for a number of years. They maintain themselves by heating to an extremely high temperature that burns away residue. Older appliances are not so conveniently equipped. But by following the instructions detailed below, you can clean an oven completely in only a handful of steps.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Baking soda
- Water
- Sponge
- Old newspapers
- Spray bottle
- White vinegar
- Clean microfiber cloth

STEP 1
Start be removing the oven racks. These may need to be cleaned, too. The most effective method of cleaning oven racks is to give them a good, long soak in hot, soapy water (liquid dish soap or a crumbled dishwasher tablet ought to suffice). Can’t fit your oven racks in the kitchen sink? As an alternative, you can soak them in the bathtub. Just be sure to line the tub with an old towel so as to prevent the metal racks from chipping or scratching the delicate finish on your tub.

How to Clean an Oven Door

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STEP 2
Within the oven itself, use a metal spatula to gently scrape away residue. The sides of the oven may be messy too, but most of your effort is likely to be spent on clearing ashy chunks off the bottom of the oven chamber. Most baked-on spills and splatters can be removed this way, but you’re not finished yet!

STEP 3
Mix baking soda with just enough water to create a thick paste. A typical ratio is one half-cup of baking soda and two or three tablespoons of water. Apply the paste to every surface inside the oven, including the back side of the door. Let sit for several hours or overnight, allowing the paste to penetrate deeply.

STEP 4
Once six or eight hours have gone by, lay old newspapers or paper towels on the floor in front of the oven. Next, using a slightly moist sponge, wipe out as much of the paste as possible. Lots of grease and ash should come out along with the paste. Continue wiping, rinsing the sponge as necessary, until no more paste remains in the oven. If the chamber still seems dirty, you may want to repeat the process, reapplying the baking soda and letting it sit before attacking the oven with a sponge yet again.

STEP 5
Fill a spray bottle with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water, using it to spray down the glass portion of the oven door. Wipe away the moisture with a clean, dry cotton or microfiber cloth.

Additional Notes
In the future, to make oven maintenance less of a time-consuming chore, why not regularly wipe down the oven chamber with soapy water? If you stick to a program of more frequent, less intensive cleaning, your oven may never again need such major TLC. Hey, it’s something to think about, at least!