Category: Kitchen

Buyer’s Guide: Faucet Water Filters

Hundreds of pollutants can contaminate your tap water, but one inexpensive kitchen addition will ensure that yours is clean for drinking and cooking: a faucet-mount water filter. Here, how to choose one fit for your needs—and your sink.

Best Faucet Water Filter


More than four out of every 10 Americans use a home water treatment unit of some sort, according to the Water Quality Association and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—and for good reason. Clean drinking water is an essential building block of general health. With hundreds of pollutants in most drinking water, including lead and arsenic, finding and installing the right filter is one of the most important things you can do to your home to ensure wellness in your household.

While available in a variety of types—carafes, faucet attachments, under-sink mounts, and countertop varieties—the water filtration system that proves most versatile and easy-to-install is one that mounts to any standard kitchen faucet and filters right as the water flows. (By contrast, an under-sink model requires a direct hookup to your plumbing system, and a carafe has to be refilled almost constantly, occasionally making you wait for cool water to filter through the full pitcher before you pour a glass.) So if ease and convenience is up your alley, look no further than this variety. As you select one to fit your kitchen sink, consider the following key variables as well as the best faucet water filter options to date.

Find the right filter for your needs. Water contaminants vary by community, and knowledge is power. Start by researching what’s affecting your own water supply through the National Drinking Water Database created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Once you have an idea of the contaminants you’re exposed to daily, you’ll be better able to determine your needs.

When it comes to the mechanism that makes water filters work, there are two types: reverse osmosis and carbon.

• Reverse osmosis is considered to be the Cadillac of water filtration—superior at removing contaminants (including those too small for other filters to catch, like arsenic and perchlorate) but pricier and so bulky that they’re often installed under-sink. These are not an option for faucet water filters, but available to you should you decide that the filtration best meets your household needs.

• Carbon filters still remove a handful of noteworthy contaminants (pesticides, disinfection byproducts, and—depending on the model—possibly lead, as well as protozoan cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium) from your drinking and cooking water, but at a much more affordable cost and in more convenient models. And, ultimately, mounting a carbon filter to your faucet for $20 to $50 makes your drinking water far safer than the tap water that currently flows.

Always check a unit’s package or online information to make sure the contaminants you’re most concerned about won’t make it through the system you end up investing in. Regardless of which microscopic materials they’re best at keeping out of your glass, a vast majority of faucet-mounted filters considerably improve the taste of your H2O.

Ease of setup. A faucet-mount attachment generally offers a quick installation. Unscrew the aerator, swap in an adapter provided with the faucet-mount water filter (models often include multiple sizes to find one that best fits your faucet), then snap the body of faucet-mount filter into place. Manufacturer instructions will also cover how to check that the filter inside the model is good to go. In most cases, it’s only a matter of minutes to get the filter fully functional. Once installed, many faucet water filters offer the option to toggle between filtered and unfiltered water.

Note: While some custom faucets and pull-out models may not allow for a perfect installation, faucet water filters are made to fit most standard kitchen sinks. When in doubt, check with the filter unit’s manufacturer before you buy.


The Best Bets

When it comes to reputable filters, most carbon-based point-of-use attachments will protect your water (and you!) from a great number of unwelcome ingredients. We’ve scouted the market for you for which models have been reviewed as the best faucet water filter in the business by experts and consumers alike—as well as where you can get your own.


Best Faucet Water Filter - Brita On-Tap FF-100 Faucet Filter System


Brita On-Tap FF-100, $48
The no-tools-required assembly of the popular Brita FF-100 faucet filter make it a favorite among Home Depot shoppers, not to mention the fact that it’s 40 percent more space-efficient than competitors on the market. While it’s highly effective at removing lead and chlorine, in particular, the faucet water filter greatly improves water’s taste as well. And since a filter does no good without regular replacement, its handy green light indicates when the carbon filter needs replacing—a process that’s as simple as just one click. Available at Home Depot.


Best Faucet Water Filter - PUR Advanced Faucet Water Filter FM-3700B


PUR FM-3700B, $25
Reducing or entirely eliminating lead, mercury, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and more than 60 other particulates, the PUR FM-3700B has garnered glowing reviews from more than 2,000 consumers for its sleek design, one-click installation, 360-degree swivel, and general durability. Adept at improving water’s taste as well as quality, its only real drawback is the fact that it won’t work with pull-out or hand-held faucets. It comes with a two-year warranty. Available on Amazon.


Best Faucet Water Filter - Culligan FM-15A Advanced Faucet Filter Kit


Culligan FM-15A, $27
After weighing t his models pros and cons thoroughly, the team at ConsumerSearch declared the Culligan FM-15A faucet-mount filtration unit a top-of-the-line model. While it lost points for aesthetics and low flow (both common issues cited with faucet-mounted filters), the unit’s durability, cost, ease of installation, and simplicity of use earned it high marks—as did the fact that it vastly improved the way water tasted. In a nutshell, the ConsumerSearch editors conclude, “Bells and whistles take a backseat to filtering performance.” Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t fit all faucets, so buyers would be wise to check with Culligan’s customer service about compatibility first. Available on

Genius! Give Your Appliances a Stainless Steel Makeover

Every homeowner with a remodeled kitchen knows that new appliances can take a big bite out of the budget. If you're looking for a wallet-friendly way to get the stainless steel look without the stainless steel price, we've got you covered.



Stainless steel automatically free from dirt and grime, but it’s durability and beauty sure make it popular. It’s now the first choice for almost every kitchen appliance, from the humble microwave to the full-size fridge. Unfortunately, the popularity of this artful alloy is matched by a steep price tag—and, if you make the upgrade, the hassle of labor of disconnecting an old appliance and installing a newer model. These setbacks didn’t stop Julie Blanner from creating the kitchen of her dreams. With a cheap roll of stainless steel contact paper and her trademark precision, the resourceful DIYer transformed an out-of-place black dishwasher into a stunning faux stainless steel appliance that both complemented her white cabinetry and saved her hundreds of dollars that she’d planned to spend on something new.

Blanner’s solution is perfect for the fully functional appliance that it feels a waste to part with simply for aesthetic reasons. Although application wasn’t altogether painless, it was certainly easier than a hookup on a new dishwasher. Blanner cut a single sheet of the stainless steel paper about 3 inches larger in length and width than the door to her small dishwasher. Lining up the corner of steel paper with the top edge of the appliance, she simultaneously peeled away the backing and pressed the paper down with a credit card. The makeshift applicator made smoothing out bubbles a snap, leaving behind the pristine polish of a new stainless steel appliance.

Looking to recreate the luxe look at home? Having a type-A personality helps, but all you really need is plenty of patience, time, and a teammate you trust. While Blanner applied the faux finish, her project partner held the steel paper taut to prevent creases. And don’t worry about messing it up: Even if you have an “oops” moment,  you can always peel the contact paper back, reposition it, and get back to business.

FOR MORE: Julie Blanner

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.

So, You Want to… Install a Range Hood

The range hood is responsible for capturing food odors and grease that fly around during meal prep. If you're in the market for a new hood, here's some info on selection and installation to help you make sure that your new appliance will be up for the job.

Range Hood Installation - Under-Cabinet Hood


Whether integrated underneath the cabinets or suspended as a focal point over a kitchen island, the range hood is the unsung hero in the kitchen, rarely appreciated for the crucial role it performs by eliminating the airborne grease, smells, and heat produced during meal prep. If you’re getting ready to upgrade old appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators as part of a kitchen renovation, don’t forget the range hood—it deserves consideration too. You may have a general idea of what you’d like in a new range hood, but you’ll probably still be overwhelmed by the wide spectrum of prices and options available today. Selecting and installing a range hood involves more than just picking out a style that complements your existing range. To find a model that fits your kitchen space and cooking style, keep the following particulars in mind.

Range Hood Installation


Range hoods use fans to draw up grease and steam, along with food odors and excess heat, but not all hoods perform the task equally well. The difference between average and effective largely depends on the type of ventilation available: ductless or ducted.

• Ductless models do not vent to the outside of your house. The fan on a ductless range hood draws in air and circulates it through a charcoal filter, which traps grease and some odors, but it’s usually not as effective as an exterior-vented model. The less expensive of the two styles, ductless range hoods can cost as little as $50, and go up from there to several hundred dollars.

• Ducted range hoods are more effective than their ductless counterparts, and they, too, have a wide price range. Ducted range hoods draw in cooking air, then whisk it outside your home via a wall vent or upward through the ceiling joists and roof. More affordable options start under $100, but homeowners who want a high-efficiency or designer ducted hood could pay well over $1,000.

The option for ductless or ducted also applies to the popular and space-efficient microwave-hood combinations. Homeowners shopping for a new combination unit often (mistakenly) focus primarily on the features offered by the microwave. But it’s also important to weigh a unit’s ventilation capabilities to make sure you’re selecting one that’s sufficiently effective and efficient for your needs.

Some range hoods sound like airplanes getting ready to take off, while others are virtually silent—it largely depends on the location of the fan motor. Read the packaging carefully, or research online before purchasing, to determine where the unit’s blower is located.

When the blower is built right into the hood, you can clearly hear it when it’s running. The stronger the fan, typically, the louder the noise, although some higher-end models are designed to minimize sound.

If you want a quieter stovetop-cooking experience, look for a range hood that comes with a remote blower. You’ll still turn on the fan the same way, via a switch on the hood, but the fan will be farther away from your range—often either midway in a duct or on the top of the roof, thereby buffering the noise. A remote blower is just one of many bells and whistles that will add to the cost of a range hood. But if your kitchen is open to the living or dining area, or if guests always seem to congregate in your kitchen, the desire to cook and converse without having to yell over a fan may be worth the extra dollars.


Range Hood Installation - Microwave-Hood Combination


If you’re a handy do-it-yourselfer, it’s relatively simple to switch out an existing range hood with a newer model. Moving a range hood’s location during a kitchen renovation or installing one for the first time, however, will require some accommodations.

Size: The standard width of a range hood is 30 inches (matching the width of a standard range), although wider wall-mounted and suspended island models are also available for custom kitchen designs.

Placement: For microwave-hood combinations, the bottom of the cabinet above the range should be at least 30 inches above the cooking surface to leave room for the installation. Fortunately, many contractors install this cabinet configuration in new homes for just that reason. The 30-inch distance is also the preferred upper-cabinet height for a range hood without a microwave, although individual models may have different requirements; once you’ve picked a keeper, read and follow the manufacturer’s recommended height specifications.

Power supply: If you’ve chosen a combination model, you must have an electrical outlet in the cabinet above the unit in order to power the fan motor and microwave. While it’s not required by building code, many new-home contractors will go ahead and install that designated outlet on a separate 15 or 20 amp circuit with enough juice to run a microwave. If you’re installing a hood for the first time and there’s no nearby outlet, an electrician must install one near the location before you can proceed. The specs on your unit will indicate its power needs. Not all simple range hoods draw enough power to necessitate a designated outlet, but microwave-hood combinations should have their own circuit.

Assembly. Both single hoods and microwave-hood combination units come with templates that mark exactly where to predrill or cut holes for screws, a power supply, and vent. The template will also show you where to attach the bracket that supports a hood combo on an exterior wall. If you are installing an outside-venting range hood, but you’re not mounting it on an exterior wall, the model you select should have the option of upward venting, as you’ll have to run the ducting through the ceiling.


Range Hood Installation - Wall-Mounted Range Hood


Once you’ve installed your range hood, keep your investment fully functioning for its expected lifespan by giving it regular attention and using degreasing cleaners. Because range hood fans draw up grease and steam, prevent a sticky buildup from forming by spraying the underside of the hood with kitchen cleaner and wiping it down as frequently as you would any other surface in your cooking space.

If you cook a lot, it’s also a good idea to wash the exhaust fan filter at least once a month—otherwise, its holes may become so clogged with grease that it will no longer work effectively. Simply slide or pop out the stainless steel filter, place it in the sink, and scrub it using hot water, baking soda, and a degreasing dish soap. Some filters (check the manufacturer’s instructions) can be put directly into the dishwasher for even easier cleaning.

New Engineered Countertops Fuse Beauty and Brawn for a No-Compromise Kitchen

Who says you can’t have it both ways? DuPont’s latest collections of Corian and Zodiaq countertops combine form and function to achieve crave-worthy kitchens.

No Compromise Counters - Zodiaq Concrete Carrara


In most families, the kitchen is the heart of home life. It’s a space for so much more than meal prep—its countertops host casual family breakfasts, pinch-hit as desks for homework, and proffer refreshments when guests come over. These varied uses call for surfaces that can withstand food stains, scratches from sliding dishes, and dents from metal cookware—while still providing that touch of style that enlivens a kitchen’s decor. While many conventional countertop materials sacrifice form for function, or vice versa, Corian® solid surface and Zodiaq® quartz countertops from DuPont boast everlasting durability and striking visual appeal so homeowners can show off their design and culinary chops. Find out how the inspired colors of new countertop collections from Corian and Zodiaq can help you achieve high-performance and high-art counters even in a high-traffic kitchen.

No Compromise Counters - Zodiaq Provence


Alluring Durability
More than just pretty surfaces, countertops fashioned from Corian solid surface or Zodiaq quartz are also rugged and robust. Both materials feature a nonporous, nontoxic, and heat-resistant composite that repels food and liquid stains, mold, mildew, and bacteria—all unwelcome in the cook space. Thanks to the natural minerals and acrylic polymer of Corian solid surface, and the smooth but tough luster of Zodiaq pure quartz, these countertops need only a regular once-over with a cloth and nonabrasive cleaner to stay spotless.

Fortunately for the busy homeowner, the dynamic duo of countertops is as easy to maintain as it is to clean. Engineered with quartz crystals, Zodiaq countertops are scratch resistant, providing home chefs with peace of mind as they race through food prep multiple times a day. Corian’s collections smartly utilize matte finishes in the lighter colors, and for bolder surfaces, DeepColor technology offers greater depth of color and pattern—all of which diminish any superficial blemishes to a barely-there status while intensifying the vibrant hue of the countertops. Beyond that, “minor scratches can be easily buffed out, creating a constant ‘brand-new’ appearance,” says Katie Congress, North American Marketing Manager for Corian and Zodiaq. The result: Hardworking surfaces that look good for years to come.

Eye-Catching and On-Trend Color Schemes
The newest collections of Corian and Zodiaq countertop designs and colors are a response to a growing trend in residential kitchen design: inspiration from nature. With the new White, Blue, Earth Tone, and Gray collections, homeowners can get the best of both worlds—the raw beauty of natural materials without any of the fussy maintenance that granite and other stone kitchen surfaces demand.

“There has been an increased desire for the look of natural stone,” Congress says, “so the new colors of both Corian and Zodiaq include aesthetics that mimic the natural stone look.” New styles, such as Provence and Concrete Carrara from Zodiaq as well as Sand Storm from Corian, even go so far as to imitate the speckles, flecks, and swirls of favorite from-the-earth materials.

Similarly, color schemes pulled from foliage, forest trails, and majestic mountain passes are gaining traction, appearing in sprawling statement surfaces throughout the kitchen and bathroom. This natural inspiration is evident in earthy collections like Corian Deep Terrain and Zodiaq Evergreen. Even the Gray collection has gotten into the act, with new warm, cool, light, and dark takes on the go-to neutral that has become so popular in the last few years, according to Congress.

Along with their shared nod to nature, the 16 unique new Corian and Zodiaq hues are also unified by their broad appeal to homeowners of all design sensibilities, from traditional to contemporary. “Crisp whites offer that both timeless and modern look, while blues, softened yellows and golds, and greens inspire joy in people,” Congress says. “New darker gray tones convey a touch of prestige and authority, elevating any interior.”

Turning the spotlight onto the kitchen, any number of the private collection colors look striking on an island or countertop. Congress notes that Zodiaq Concrete Carrara, Onyx Carrara, and Blue Carrara all showcase natural stone-like movement that makes a stunning contrast to the backgrounds. And for homeowners who wind up with two favorites, there really is no need to settle on a single choice: “Material combinations are very popular right now, and solid surface and quartz make a great combination,” she explains. “Try a Zodiaq island with a Corian counter, or a Zodiaq counter with a Corian backsplash.”

For even more possibilities, download the Design Horizons Trend Guide, and reach out to a DuPont representative to discuss how Corian and Zodiaq can elevate your kitchen countertops to dazzling new heights.

No Compromise Counters - Corian Deep Titanium


This article has been brought to you by DuPont. Its facts and opinions are those of

Genius! The Free Kitchen Hack for Every Squeeze Bottle

Nothing ruins a barbecue faster than warm, watered-down ketchup or mustard dribbling all over your food. Stop struggling with half-empty squeeze bottles with the fix you already have in your fridge!

Food Hack - DIY Condiment Caddy

Photo: via Alton Brown

Alton Brown, the Food Network chef behind Good Eats, is a man who loves his mustard. He’s penned more than a dozen recipes that feature the all-American condiment, including his signature homemade mustard, a pork chop brine, and a honey salad dressing. But even a professional like Brown knows the struggle of getting sauce out of a half-empty squeeze bottle. It’s a dance everyone is familiar with: Hot dog in hand, with a heart full of hope, you give the bottle a few shakes and a firm squeeze—only to watch a slow stream of condiment water dribble over your food. Yuck!

Food Hack - DIY Condiment Caddy from Alton Brown

Photo: via Alton Brown

With his hot dog getting cold, Brown looked in his fridge for a fix to prevent spoiling any future sandwiches. Inside he found an egg carton, and a simple, satisfying epiphany! After picking out the last few eggs, he cut off the lid of the container. Then, he put the bottom half of the carton inside the door, where it fit perfectly in the top shelf. With gravity on his side, he turned the bottles upside-down in the fridge—this time corralled in the once egg-holding grooves that also happen to perfectly fit the cap ends. That one simple flip (steadied with the help of an inventive caddy) makes sure that condensation is no longer the first thing that comes out the next time you squeeze your favorite cookout condiments.

Sure, this may be a first-world problem. But wrestling with a bottle of mustard, ketchup, or mayo while the rest of the family is partying on the patio is a bummer at any gathering. Lucky for us, Brown has shared a solution that’s as good in the refrigerator as it is on a picnic table outdoors. So why not cut up this quick fix—and cut out the hassle—so you can get back to the barbecue?

FOR MORE: Alton Brown on YouTube

Solved! What to Do When Your Freezer Isn’t Freezing

Don’t lose your cool, even if your freezer has. Try these troubleshooting tips instead.

Freezer Not Freezing


Q: I’ve noticed that my freezer isn’t working as well as it used to. Is there any possibility of a quick fix instead of a big repair bill?

A: The good news is, there’s a high probability that your issue can be both quickly diagnosed and easily fixed. Because a typical refrigerator/freezer lasts 10 to 15 years before needing replacement, first consider your freezer’s age. If your appliance is well within that time frame and you’ve taken good care of it in general, you’re likely dealing with something simple, such as obstructed airflow, frost buildup, damaged gaskets, or dusty coils.

Freezer Not Freezing - Freezer


Clear the shelves. First, check to make sure you’re allowing enough air to circulate throughout your freezer. This may sound elementary, but a freezer that’s packed to the gills might be causing an airflow blockage, particularly if the evaporator fan is covered by a tub of ice cream or bag of vegetables. Rearranging or removing a few items may be all that’s needed to cool things down again.

Break the ice. If your freezer isn’t overflowing and you have a manual-defrost model, take note of the amount of frost on the interior walls—the buildup could be affecting your unit’s efficiency. If you notice a great deal of those telltale ice crystals, or if it’s been more than a year since you last defrosted the freezer, a simple defrosting will probably do the trick, letting your vents and coils breathe again and continue to do their jobs. If you have an auto-defrost unit, thick layers of ice could be a solid indication that a part or two may need to be replaced by a professional in the near future.

Check the seals. Another quick diagnostic involves checking your freezer’s gaskets (door seals) using the “dollar bill test.” Open the door, place a dollar bill flat against the seal, and close the door again. If you can easily pull out the cash, your seals are too loose. If, however, pulling the bill out requires a good deal of effort, the seals are probably fine. Be sure to test several sections of the gasket for good measure, and before you test them, wipe down any spills or debris that could be preventing them from locking together correctly.

Clean the coils. Last but not least, dirty coils may be the culprit. If you’ve cleared out, defrosted, and seal-tested your freezer and all seems well, try pulling the unit away from the wall and vacuuming the coils with the crevice or brush attachment. As dirty coils can restrict airflow, a quick cleaning may be just the ticket to chill things out again.

If none of these tips bring your ice cubes and frozen snacks back to their rock-solid consistency, it’s possible you have a larger issue on your hands and a repair call might be in order. Most likely, though, a bit of maintenance can return your unit to its optimal condition.

All You Need to Know About Stainless Steel Countertops

If you’re a serious cook, you should seriously consider all the possibilities stainless steel countertops have to offer in a hardworking kitchen.

Stainless Steel Counters - Modern Kitchen

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Southampton, NY

Fancy yourself an at-home chef with serious skills? Then you may be interested in upgrading your cooking space to one that embodies your enthusiasm. The quickest way to bring a professional vibe to your home’s meal prep zone is by incorporating a restaurant-kitchen hallmark: stainless steel countertops. Once primarily found in restaurants and commercial kitchens, this material has gained recent popularity with residential homeowners who have similar (albeit on a smaller-scale) needs: a durable, stain-resistant, and heat-tolerant worktop—with a contemporary flair to boot.

Stainless Steel Counters - Matching Stainless Steel Appliances

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

The sleek, modern appearance of stainless steel complements both traditional and modern kitchens. While some worry that a metal worktop may look too austere, certain areas of customization can soften the appearance.

Edge profiles. The square edge is the most popular style, with other options including a bullnose, beveled, or unwrapped edge.

Finish options. As you’d find when shopping for faucet fixtures, stainless steel countertops come in a variety of alternative finishes: satin, mirror polish, brushed metal, and antique matte. If fingerprints or smudges are a concern, choose a brushed finish for its smooth, soft look which more easily hides evidence of sticky fingers.

Square feet. Avoid imitating a restaurant kitchen too closely by adjusting the amount you choose to install. Consider starting small, mixing it in as a stand-alone island in a kitchen designed with butcherblock or granite countertops—this reflective surface blends in with nearly any aesthetic, much as a stainless steel sink can pick up the color temperature of its surroundings.


The Benefits
Stainless steel countertops are a sure sign of a workhorse kitchen. As most chefs will attest, this nearly indestructible material stands up to the toughest treatment. In fact, that’s just the start of the long list of pros:

 These counters cannot burn or rust. Unlike other countertop materials such as wood and stone, food grade stainless steel resists both heat and rust, thanks to a combination of chromium and nickel. That means you can place a hot pot on the surface and, when you lift it later, you’ll find zero scorches. And while you may notice water will leave a temporary ring if left to dry, the metal’s special composition prevents permanent damage.

Additionally, as the name would suggest, they are impervious to stains. Spill a glass of red wine? Wipe it up without worrying about a lingering color! Oils, acids, drinks, and more that might mark up wooden counters won’t set on stainless steel—ideal for the room in the house house that hosts most of the food messes.

Installation is a cinch. No need for a sealing process, as required with granite, butcherblock, or concrete countertops. For this type of counter, a sheet of metal is cut to size and wrapped over a wood frame. To determine the amount of metal you need for a DIY installation, measure the length and width of your cabinets and add a 1-1/2-inches overhang for any exposed edge. (For counters that span wall to wall, you’ll add to the depth; if a kitchen island, add twice that amount to both your width and length so that the perimeter is covered.)

• To top it off, the metal is 100 percent recyclable. Selecting this environmentally friendly ingredient for your kitchen construction keeps your carbon footprint minimal.


Stainless Steel Counters - In a Traditional Kitchen

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Atlanta, GA

The Drawbacks
While there’s no denying the positive qualities of stainless steel, you may want to take a seat at the kitchen table for the bad news: Contact with your metal cookware and cutlery can get dicey. First, there’s the noise—the clashing and clanging—that happens when cooking equipment makes contact with the metal surface. But an even larger reason to get in the habit of setting down those pots and pans gently would be to decrease the likelihood of scratches on the new surface. Lower-gauge stainless steel has a propensity to dent and scratch, so if you’re looking to turn your kitchen into a restaurant-worthy cookspace, it’s best to purchase the strongest, thickest material you can afford. Even then, stainless steel countertops will “age” over time as objects slide, rub, and drop on the surface.


Shopping for Stainless Steel
These high-performing stainless steel countertops go for between $50 and $150 a square foot—right in the same ballpark as marble. Price varies depending on the gauge, which ranges from 14 to 20. Rule of thumb: The lower the gauge, the thicker the steel and the more expensive the product. When planning your installation, you’ll want to invest in the highest gauge within budget, as a thicker countertop means less chance for dents.


Easy, Breezy Maintenance
While a nylon sponge and warm, sudsy water are often all it takes to clean this stain-resistant worktop, messy meal prep might require a light scrub: Sprinkle baking soda across the surface, wipe vinegar over top in the direction of the grain, rinse, and dry thoroughly. Then, restore maximum shine by working just a few drops of mineral or olive oil across the surface and buffing it out with a dry a cloth. It’s that easy! Just remember to avoid harsh abrasives—like the scrubbing side of a sponge—which could do more harm than good and leave scratches behind.

Unfortunately, deep scratches and dents are near impossible to remove without professional restoration. Surface scratches, however, can be carefully “rubbed out” using a mild abrasive pad. Working a 180-grit pad in the same direction as the existing grain will help blend the existing scratch mark by removing micro amounts of material. While not all scratches will completely disappear, this scouring action will, at the very least, dull their appearance. Whatever remains can be considered a badge of honor in your hardworking kitchen.

Stainless Steel Counters - In a Colorful Kitchen

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Evanston, IL

How To: Clean an Electric Stove Top

Your stove top shouldn’t reveal forensic evidence of everything you’ve recently cooked. Discover five easy steps to keep your electric range from exposing your culinary spills and missteps.

How to Clean Electric Stove Top - After Making a Mess at Dinner


Like most home cooks, you probably love whipping up meals but hate cleaning up afterwards. If you neglect tidying up your trusty electric stove top, however, the leftover grime, grease, and dirt will build up and harden over time—and trying to chip it off could damage the coils and the surface. Fortunately, electric stove tops are easier to clean than their gas-fueled counterparts, plus you needn’t worry about clogging the igniter. Glass-topped versions respond to a quick swipe with a dish soap-soaked rag and a baking soda scrub. One with metal-coiled burners require a bit more attention—especially if it’s been a while since you’ve tackled it—so we’ve outlined the best way to go about it. You’ll be done in no time and ready to try out a new recipe, no matter how messy it might be.

- Lint-free dishrags
- Water
- Liquid dish soap
- Baking soda
- Cook top scraper (optional)
- Cook top cleaning pad or mild kitchen scrub sponge

How to Clean Electric Stove Top - Electric Coil Burners


Electric stove tops are designed to be self-cleaning. To banish spills, first wipe gently with a clean, lint-free cloth damp with water (an old T-shirt works great!). Then remove all cookware from the stove, turn burners to high, and leave them on for two to three minutes. The high heat will burn off most of the mess. When the stove top has completely cooled, wipe off any remaining residue with a fresh cloth.

Next, remove the burner coils from the socket with a quick tug and lift motion. If they don’t come out easily, refer to the cooktop user manual for removal tips. (Don’t despair if you can find it, since most manuals are available online. Simply search with the stove’s make and model number.)

Soak a dishrag in a solution of warm water and dish soap. Squeeze out excess and gently scrub the burners, taking care to avoid wetting the socket—it is electric, after all! Follow with a swipe of a clean, moist, lint-free rag to rinse. If your burners look spic and span, go to Step 5. If not, continue to Step 4.

STEP 4 (optional)
Still confronted with crud? Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 3 to 4 tablespoons of water to create a thick, spreadable paste. Coat the burners with this gentle scouring agent and give it up to 20 minutes “dwell time.” Then moisten a clean, lint-free cloth and use it to remove the paste, rinsing after every few passes and making sure to avoid the socket.

While the baking soda paste is doing its work, clean the surface below the coils. Carefully remove food residue with a cooktop scraper if necessary, and then scrub the surface with a gentle cleaning pad and a bit of baking soda paste (see Step 4 for quick instructions on how to whip this up). Remove the paste with a clean, moist rag, and dry with a fresh cloth. Finally, plug the clean, dry burners back into the sockets, and you’re ready to cook!

Get in the habit of wiping up spills as soon as the cooktop cools, and give it a thorough cleaning once a week. This way no one will know your messy little cooking secrets—unless, of course, you accidentally spill the beans!

The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Cast Iron

Discover the few simple secrets that can help you clean and care for your cast-iron cookware. So, what are you waiting for? Break out that old skillet and get cooking!

Cleaning Cast Iron


Use well-seasoned cast-iron cookware once, and chances are that you’re hooked for life. More than simply a nontoxic, nonstick, durable, and long lasting material, cast iron also boasts even larger advantages that at-home chefs adore, such as even heating and flavor enhancement. While that long list of benefits may make switching to cast iron seem like the obvious choice, a few downsides slow homeowners from doing so—namely the confusion surrounding its care and cleaning. But don’t let that scare you off from investing in kitchen mainstays that can last years—even generations—to come. We’ve simplified its maintenance into a series of crucial dos and don’ts to ensure that you get the longest, most productive use from your cast-iron cookware.

Cleaning Cast Iron - Cast Iron Cooking Pan


DO season your new cast-iron cookware before you use it.

Even if a new pan is advertised as nonstick or preseasoned, you should give it a good seasoning before its first use. This process involves baking oil into the pan or skillet at a high temperature to seal the cast iron, ultimately protecting the pan from moisture and rendering it nonstick. In the words of the Lodge Cast Iron website, “The more you cook, the better it gets.”

To season your cookware, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven warms, wash and thoroughly dry the skillet. Then, using a paper towel, apply a thin coating of vegetable oil to the inside and outside of the skillet. But beware: Too much oil will make the pan sticky, so keep your coating light. Place the skillet upside down in the oven on the middle rack, and lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the bottom rack to catch any drips. Bake for one hour, then turn off the oven and allow the skillet to cool completely before removing it.


DON’T send cast-iron cookware through the dishwasher.

Putting your cookware in the dishwasher or using harsh detergents or abrasive scrubs will break down the seasoning, removing the nonstick coating and flavor-enhancing properties of your cast iron.


DO clean your skillet as soon as you’re done cooking.

If you’re a “leave it in the sink to soak overnight” kind of cook, cast-iron cookware isn’t for you. Rinse your pan while it’s still warm (not too hot) as soon as you’re done cooking. If you need to dislodge cooked-on food, certified House Cleaning Technician and author of Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness Donna Smallin Kuper suggests using a credit card instead of a store-bought scraper to gently remove the residue. A handful of sea salt, a touch of vegetable oil, and a plastic scouring pad or poly dish scrubber will scrub off what’s left. Rinse the pan with water and dry immediately.

The Lodge website also suggests that you “rub with a light coat of vegetable oil after every wash,” then set the seasoning by placing the cookware over a burner set on low heat for three to four minutes.


DON’T let it stay wet.

Cast iron is still, after all, iron, and iron rusts when exposed to water for too long. For that reason, leave wet tasks like boiling water to your other cookware, and let your cast iron tackle the searing, baking, frying, and other non-water-based cooking. When it’s time to wash your wares, dry cast iron immediately after in order to prevent rust and to preserve the nonstick surface.


DO reseason if your pan feels sticky, loses its nonstick properties, or looks gray.

Cast iron needs to be reseasoned on occasion, and the signs that the time has come are easy to spot. To reseason your pan, scrub it thoroughly with a touch of dish soap and a plastic scrub brush, dry it completely, then season it just as you would before a first use. Because it can remove the seasoned nonstick coating, soap is not recommended as a regular cleaner, but it can be used to prepare cast iron just prior to reasoning.


DON’T throw out your pan if it develops rust.

Clean off all rust with a metal scouring pad or fine steel wool, then wash the pan thoroughly using water, a soft brush, and a small amount of soap—if you feel you must use soap at all. Rinse and dry the pan immediately, then reseason the pan as if you’re seasoning it before a first use.


With proper care, cast-iron cookware can last 100 years or more. If you haven’t fallen in love with your cast-iron cookware yet, forget about the seasoning and cleaning challenges and just start cooking. It’s really hard to mess up a cast-iron skillet for good. Scrubbing and reseasoning can almost always give cast-iron cookware a new life and provide a second chance for cooks who are just getting to know their cookware. Great cooking opportunities and unlimited second chances? Just two more good reasons to give your old cast-iron cookware a try.

Quick Tip: The Easiest Way to Minimize Grout Stains

Turn gungy grout like-new again using this easy and colorful approach!

How to Change Grout Color - Stained Grout in the Kitchen

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Bainbridge Island, WA

Often used as filler between tiles on the bathroom tub surround, kitchen backsplash, or foyer floor, grout can be a homeowner’s hero in warding off water and preventing surface erosion. However, as happens with white carpet or couches, lighter grout makes stains and dirt appear even more pronounced and unsightly. So, you’re not interested in a weekend’s worth of regrouting the tile every time you spot a stain—and who could blame you? Fortunately, you can easily change the color of grout to camouflage its dinginess and discoloration by using these techniques to clean, stain, and seal your existing grout.

How to Change Grout Color - Dark Grout in Mosaic Tile


For grout to adequately absorb a stain, it will first require a thorough deep-cleaning. Pour a homemade paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda into the grout lines, scrub with a grout brush, rinse with clean water, and let dry for least half an hour. As long as the tile is non-porous and the grout porous, it should be ready for a color change! Dip a stiff-bristle brush into a dark grout stain and carefully brush it along the grout lines. As grout stain is permanent, aim to avoid contact with the tile itself as best you can, and keep a damp cloth close by so that you can wipe up any stain on tile immediately. After drying the first coat of stain for at least 24 hours, apply additional coats as needed to achieve the desired depth of color.

Once the grout is perfectly stained and dried, apply an oil-based sealant to grout lines in water-exposed areas of the home. Seal the grout at least once a year to keep water and other tile threats out of reach—and dirt and discoloration out of sight for good!