Category: Kitchen

3 Fixes for Tarnished Silver

‘Tis the season for breaking out your finest! Try one of these three solutions to get it nice and shiny before entertaining holiday crowds.

Homemade Silver Polish - Tarnished Silverware


There’s no place for tarnished silver on the holiday table, especially not when company is due for dinner. But if removing the tarnish so that your precious metal sparkles and shines seems more than just time-consuming, that’s because probably it can be a total pain. Clear your mind of visions of extra elbow grease and  hours spent buffing silver until it gleams. You’d be surprised: There are actually three fixes that are quick and relatively painless to pull off. Even better, you can accomplish each one using the tools and ingredients already stocked in your kitchen cabinets. With company due to arrive any minute, don’t wait another second to test one of these tricks!



Homemade Silver Polish - with Ketchup


For silver with a bit more tarnish, the easy way to kick your cleaning routine up a notch is with an unexpected and flavorful polish. The best part? The secret ingredient you need is located right inside your fridge. Simply pull out and uncap a bottle of ketchup, then squirt a tiny amount on a paper towel. Next, gently rub the condiment along each piece of silver anywhere it appears tarnished. If it doesn’t come right off, let the ketchup sit for 15 minutes, then wipe the red away with a dishtowel and rinse your silverware clean. For pieces with intricate details (like a fancy grip), put ketchup on an old toothbrush and give it a light scrub.



Homemade Silver Polish - with Lemon Lime Soda Water


The next time you pour yourself a glass of lemon-lime flavored soda water, make sure to set aside a second glass—with a couple drops of dishwashing soap to make the carbonated drink even more bubbly, that’s all you’ll need to give tarnished silver extra shine. Simply dunk each fork, spoon, or knife in a glass of soda water and let them soak for up to an hour. When time is up, give each piece a rinse under the sink and use a clean dishtowel to dry. Your silver will look good as new.



Homemade Silver Polish - with Aluminum Foil


This last idea is pretty genius if you ask us: You’ll need aluminum foil, baking soda, and some tap water. To start, line a pan with aluminum foil and lay out the silver that needs cleaning. Separately, bring a pot of water to a boil, then take it off and add a cup of baking soda for every gallon of water. Next, pour it out over your pan of silver so all is completely covered. Several minutes later, pull it out pieces one by one with a pair of kitchen tongs so that you don’t burn your hands. The tarnish should be completely gone; if not, heat up more water and repeat the mixture.

A word of caution: Skip this baking soda–laden method when cleaning your silver-plated pieces and those adorned with gemstones. This abrasive ingredient may be too harsh, accidentally washing away oxidation that was an intended part of an intricate design—or worse—scratching away the silver plating.

5 Smart Solutions for an On-the-Fritz Fridge

A malfunctioning refrigerator isn't necessarily ready for the trash. You may not know it, but there are a number of DIY fixes you can try to troubleshoot a troublesome fridge. Read on for 5 homeowner-friendly solutions to this appliance's most common woes.

Refrigerator Troubleshooting


Holiday entertaining is getting underway, and gracious hosts everywhere are busy cleaning, shopping, decorating, crafting, and cooking up all sorts of incredible edibles for family and friends. With all that planning and hard work going into creating delicious dishes for guests, the last thing you need is a fridge on the fritz. Fortunately, most common fridge ailments are easily treatable by the handy homeowner. Armed with just a little bit of know-how and some readily available parts, you can deal with many maladies before they become dining disasters. Here are a few typical problems and some DIY solutions that can help keep your hardworking refrigerator in tip-top shape.

Refrigerator Troubleshooting - Common Problems and DIY Solutions


PROBLEM: You’ve found a puddle of water on the floor in front of or under the fridge.
SOLUTION: Tighten and replace any faulty tubing. 

Start by identifying the source of your leak. The most common troublemaker, and the first place to check, would be the water supply to the refrigerator’s ice maker and/or water dispenser. Look for the water supply shut-off valve, either in the basement or under the sink closest to the refrigerator. Once the water has been shut off, replace any cracked, worn, or brittle tubing according to the instructions that come with the part.

Alternatively, you may need to replace the water inlet valve, which is a solenoid-operated device that connects your household water supply line to your refrigerator. This valve can typically be found at the rear of the fridge, near the bottom. First, carefully inspect its supply connections for leaks, then tighten or replace the connectors; while you’re back there, check the valve body for any cracks and replace if necessary.


PROBLEM: Noise, noise, noise! Your fridge is making grinding and scraping sounds.
SOLUTION: Check and clean out your appliance’s fan motors, located at the condenser and evaporator.

Most modern frost-free refrigerators operate with a fan-cooled condenser coil, which is located near the compressor, at the bottom rear of the refrigerator. To investigate whether or not it’s functioning properly, first disconnect all power to the fridge and remove the rear access panel. Look for any obstructions or debris that could be preventing the fan from moving freely. If any fan blades are physically damaged, or if the motor shows visible wear, these components will need to be replaced. Also, check the rubber mounting grommets for signs of wear, and replace if necessary.

If the noise seems to be coming from the freezer, however, the evaporator fan motor may be the one to blame. Located in the freezer compartment, this motor pulls air over the evaporator coils when the compressor is running. Again, disconnect all power to the fridge and remove the evaporator fan cover from the freezer. As with the condenser fan, if any of the fan blades are loose or damaged, or if the motor shaft doesn’t turn freely, these parts will need to be replaced. Also, check the evaporator fan motor grommet, which isolates the motor from the mounting bracket; regular wear and tear can cause the grommet to detach, leading to increased vibration and noise.


PROBLEM: The fridge cycles on and off more frequently—or, worse, it won’t start at all anymore.
SOLUTION: Dust out your fridge’s coils.

Frequent cycling often indicates dirty condenser coils and dirty fan blades. Especially if you share a house with animals, dust, debris, and fur can accumulate along the condenser fan blades and on the coils. In extreme cases, this condition will trip an overload relay and prevent the fridge from turning on at all. But the fix is an easy one: Turn off the power to the unit, and remove the rear access panel. Carefully vacuum the coils, fan blades, and motor with the brush attachment of your vacuum. To help prevent future dust buildup, cut a section of lightweight filter material—or, in a pinch, stretch a piece of old pantyhose—and fit it inside the vent panel beneath the door to trap debris before it reaches the coils.


PROBLEM: You’re constructing a mini glacier inside your freezer.
SOLUTION: Seal up any gaps.

Ice and moisture buildup inside the freezer or refrigerator compartment typically results from damaged door gaskets or torn seals. A leaking gasket or seal will allow cold air to constantly seep out of the unit and allow excess moisture inside the unit, creating a layer of frost—one that eventually turns into an ice dam. To see if you have a leak on your hands, stick a high-powered flashlight inside the freezer with the beam pointed at the door and shut it inside. Kill the lights in the kitchen. If you see any light leaking around the door, replace the defective gasket. Clean the gaskets regularly to help keep them pliable and working properly.

If you can’t find any problems with the gaskets, check the door hinges next. If the hinges become worn out or the lubricating grease dries out, the doors may not close completely, allowing moist room air to seep into the fridge. A common indicator of a faulty hinge is a thumping or scraping noise when the door is opened or closed. Lubricate stiff hinges with food-safe grease, and replace any worn or damaged hinges altogether.


Refrigerator Troubleshooting - Nonworking Ice Machine


PROBLEM: Your ice maker just doesn’t work.
SOLUTION: Flip the functionality back into gear.

Yes! It can be that simple. Check to see if the wire along the side of the ice maker assembly is raised, which indicates the unit is turned off. Typically there is a red lever that lowers the wire into the “on” position. (If there is no lever, gently pull down on the wire itself to turn the unit on.) Another problem may be a blockage or leak in the water supply system. Inspect the fill tube and the fill cup area at the back of the ice maker to make sure nothing is blocking the water supply—sometimes a buildup of ice (caused by faulty door gaskets) can block the fill tube; you can defrost it using a hair dryer.

You should also inspect the inlet valve and water supply tubing for leaks or damage. Finally, check to see if your ice maker is equipped with a filter. Many newer models include a carbon filter that helps remove debris or contaminants from the local water supply. Over time, the filter can become clogged, thereby reducing the water flow to the ice maker. Most manufacturers recommend checking and replacing the filter every six months, or more frequently if necessary.


PROBLEM: You found a spill inside your refrigerator, but nothing seems to have leaked.
SOLUTION: Clean and clear out the drain tube.

Many fridges have a drain tube that routes excess moisture to a drain pan underneath the fridge; there, the evaporator fan then blows over it to disperse the moisture. If the drain tube becomes blocked by food spills or other debris, that moisture could end up on the inside of your fridge rather than where it’s supposed to go. Turn off the power to the refrigerator and look for the drain plug, which should be located near the back or bottom of the main fridge compartment. Next, use a turkey baster to force a 50/50 solution of bleach and warm water (or, if you prefer, white vinegar and warm water) into the drain tube. Repeat this process several times, and then remove and clean the drain pan.


Know when to call in a professional. These fixes are great to keep in your back pocket, but certain problems do not lend themselves to a DIY approach—especially issues involving the coolant or electrical systems. Call in reinforcements if:
…the condenser coils are cracked or damaged,
…you feel an oily residue on the floor of the freezer compartment,
…you hear a slight hissing noise and the fridge is not cooling effectively,
…the unit continues to cycle frequently even after you have cleaned the condenser coils,
…the outer shell of the unit is sweating,
…the fridge breaker keeps tripping in your main electrical panel,
…or the unit is leaking and you can’t locate the source of the leak.

DIY Lite: Craft a Homemade Cutting Board

This season, wow your guests with your cutting skills—no, we're not just talking the slicing and dicing in the kitchen. Craft a handmade, house-shaped cutting board that even a beginner woodworker can master.

DIY Cutting Board - Easy Kitchen Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Family and food go hand in hand this time of year, and the kitchen is generally bustling with all of the action. If you plan to host (or are looking for the perfect gift for the do-it-all host and hostess in your life), personalize the holiday get-together with a custom cutting board. With detailing a unique geometric shape, carved heart, and two-tone color scheme, your finished project can make itself at home in the kitchen during meal prep or on the buffet as a serving tray for appetizers.


DIY Cutting Board - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

- Hardwood lumber, 8 inches by 15 inches
- Protractor
- Ruler
- Pencil
- Handsaw
- Jigsaw
- Drill
- 1⁄2-inch wood drill bit
- Clamp
- Sandpaper (80- and 150-grit)
- Painter’s tape
- Food-safe acrylic paint
- 1″-wide foam brush
- Mineral oil
- Rubber pads



DIY Cutting Board - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To make a cutting board durable for all of your future meal prep, it’s best to choose a hardwood, like oak. Avoid pine wood all together, which will quickly become damaged by the slicing and dicing of your blades.

Cut a piece of lumber to 8 inches wide and 15 inches long; this length will be enough material for one cutting board. On either of the shorter sides, measure to find the center. From here, use your protractor to draw two straight lines at 45-degree angles to make the point of your roof. If you’d like, you can even draw a chimney along the roofline; just add a rectangular shape to one of the slants.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut out the roof shape along the penciled lines using a handsaw or a jigsaw.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next, you’ll add a heart-shaped hole in the “roof” in order to string and later hang the cutting board. Center the hand-drawn heart near the top of the cutting board. You will use a 1⁄2-inch bit to drill the curved parts of the heart, so your sketch should be at least 1 inch wide by 1-1⁄4 inches tall.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

First, cut the two curves of the heart out by drilling two holes very close to one another using a 1⁄2-inch wood drill bit. (It’s not a bad idea to practice this cut once or twice on one of the angled scraps you cut from your lumber in Step 2 before trying it on your cutting board.)



DIY Cutting Board - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Then secure the board with clamps and use a jigsaw to cut out the pointed bottom of your heart.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand down the board entirely, especially its corners and the inside of its cut-out. Start with a coarse 80-grit paper and finish with a finer 150-grit to smooth out the surface. To sand inside the heart hole, use a round file or simply wrap a piece of sanding paper around a pencil and maneuver the ad hoc tool along the edges.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Lay your house-shaped cutting board flat, then outline the top of the lumber in strips of painter’s tape, including as best you can around the hole. Repeat the process on the back, so that no brushstrokes will touch the cutting side when you go to paint the edges of the board.

Since this woodworking project will be used for meal prep and serving snacks, it’s important to select a food-safe acrylic paint. Double-check the paint’s label for an AP non-­toxic seal (issued by the Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc.) before you get started. Once you have picked appropriate paints, apply a coat around the edge with a small foam brush. Lay the board flat to dry.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

After the sides of your board have totally dried, peel back the painter’s tape. Then, rub a food-safe mineral oil over the top and bottom surfaces of the cutting board, working in the direction of the wood grain with a clean cloth. (Note: Choose mineral or linseed oil over vegetable ones like olive or corn, which can turn rancid and will leave an unpleasant taste on your food.) An even coat of oil every six months of use will prevent your handiwork from drying out and cracking.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Glue a rubber pad at each corner on whichever side will be the bottom of your cutting board; these will help keep your cutting board to slipping around while you’re wielding a knife. Then, set out on the counter for immediate use serving up celebratory wine and cheese!


DIY Cutting Board - Finished Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

Should You Reface or Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets?

If you're tired of your kitchen cabinets and ready for a change, you have an important decision to make: reface or replace? To help figure out the best choice for your kitchen, let a professional give you the rundown on the benefits of each option.

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing


Cabinets play an important role in the kitchen and occupy much of its real estate, going a long way toward defining both the appearance and functionality of the room. Because of their prominence, if you don’t love your cabinets, chances are that you don’t love your kitchen. “Sometimes, it’s just that simple,” says Joe Maykut, a product manager with Sears Home Services. As many consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home, updating its look and feel often ranks high on homeowners’ to-do lists. The hassle and expense of gut renovation, however, can stand in the way. Fortunately, according to Maykut, “there’s a compromise between doing nothing and going all out.”

Because they “basically make or break the kitchen,” updating the cabinets can be a cost-effective way to achieve high-impact results without the high cost and inconvenience of a major renovation. Homeowners in search of a new look for their cabinetry typically weigh two options: cabinet refacing, which involves putting new doors and drawer fronts on the existing cabinet frames, or cabinet replacement. Refacing is the less invasive (and less expensive) of the two options, but despite its higher price tag, replacement “makes the most sense in certain situations,” according to Maykut. For more information on each approach, along with the differences between the two, continue reading!



Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing - Drawer Hardware


For cost-conscious homeowners, cabinet refacing offers what Joe Maykut of Sears Home Services describes as “tremendous bang for the buck.” That’s because the completed project gives the kitchen a brand-new look, yet the work is confined to the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. The cabinet frames—the boxes that contain the shelves and drawers—all remain in place. Strategically targeting the doors can save you “a small fortune on labor and material costs,” says Maykut, but ultimately the scope of the project depends on how you—and any professionals involved—decide to handle the doors.

There are a number of approaches to take. One option: If you like the style of your existing cabinet doors but not their finish, it may be possible to apply a new coat of paint or stain. “Traditional refinishing isn’t always possible,” notes Maykut. “It depends on what material the cabinets are made of.” For cabinet fronts constructed of a material that cannot be painted or stained, many homeowners consider adding a veneer. Others choose to install new cabinet doors, especially if the existing doors are damaged or out of fashion. With refacing, whatever route you take, Maykut notes that your kitchen doesn’t have to go out of commission for several weeks.

For all its virtues, cabinet refacing isn’t the right choice for every homeowner. If you do not like the current layout of your cabinets, for example, then “refacing would be beside the point,” Maykut says. Giving the cabinets a new look would do nothing to alter or improve their usability. Similarly, if your cabinets are poorly constructed or in any way compromised, paying to reface them would be, in Maykut’s view, “throwing good money after bad.” To help figure out the best approach for your needs, Maykut recommends meeting with a contractor who can advise you on your options. Call around to get estimates from contractors in your area, or contact Sears Home Services for a free in-home consultation.



Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing - White Cabinetry


Whereas refacing affects only the look of your cabinetry, replacement opens up the possibility of fundamentally changing the layout and functionality of your kitchen. To be sure, you could always just swap new cabinets into the space left by the old set. Homeowners who opt for replacement typically do so for reasons that go beyond aesthetics, Maykut says. ”They want a kitchen that reflects not only their style, but also how they cook and eat and entertain.” In other words, new cabinets can transform the kitchen so that it more precisely responds to your family’s habits and needs.

The more improvements you plan to make, the broader and more complex the project becomes. Particularly in the kitchen, where so many components fit tightly together, renovation often involves orchestrating a series of separate-but-related undertakings. For instance, Maykut explains, “if you remove the base cabinets from one part of the kitchen, then you’ll have to add flooring where they once stood.” Similarly, once you’ve decided to install new cabinets, you may be tempted to spring for new countertops as well. One thing leads to another, which means that cabinet replacement, already a more labor-intensive and expensive proposition than refacing, can run up significantly higher costs.

While some homeowners may consider refacing a do-it-yourself job, for all but the most ambitious, cabinet replacement is a job best left to the pros. But whichever route you choose, even if you’re leaving the heavy lifting to the contractors, you’ll need to make the final design decisions. A little guidance along the way can smooth the process along. In fact, one reason to choose Sears Home Services is that, from the earliest stages onward, the company can guide you through what might otherwise be an overwhelming process. Of particular value, Sears sets itself apart by “bringing the showroom to your home,” according to Maykut, allowing you to “see the products in the setting where they would be installed.”


The kitchen plays a central role in the life of any household. It’s where you pour that first morning cup of coffee, throw together casual family meals, and lovingly prepare holiday feasts. Remodel it, and you’re going to live with the result for years to come. Don’t you want to be sure that your kitchen will be a room you’ll love? Turn to Sears Home Services for a little peace of mind. The company even backs its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee, so right around the time when your local contractor might be saying goodbye, your relationship with Sears will only be beginning.

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing - Modern Cherry Cabinetry


This post has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of

3 Fixes for a Dull Knife

If your knife smooshes your tomato instead of slicing it, your cutlery clearly isn't cutting it. Read on to learn how to fix up a blunt blade and keep your knives sharp—and yourself safe.

How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife


No matter how you slice it, a dull knife just won’t cut it in the kitchen. Working with a blunt blade both slows down your food prep and increases the risk of injury as you try to overcompensate with each slice—a practice that’s both frustrating and dangerous. But, before you can sharpen a kitchen knife, you first need to determine why it’s dull. Typically, the blade either has a bent edge or is blunt from use, and each issue calls for a different solution. Fortunately, for every cutlery conundrum, there’s a “cutting-edge” solution. We’ve rounded up three smart fixes that will keep your blades sharp and your edges straight.


How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife - With a Whetstone


Carve It In Stone
When dealing with a blade worn down from months of meal prep, turn to the preferred tool of professional chefs: the whetstone. Also called a sharpening stone, this long, rectangular block is made from composite stone with a coarse grit on one side and a fine grit on the other. As the knife rubs against the stone, bits of the metal blade are ground off to produce a new, sharper edge.

To use a whetstone, first soak the block in water for 15 minutes, then place it on a towel with the coarse side up. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle to the whetstone and slide it across, pulling the blade toward you, so that the blade’s tip through its heel (the base of the knife) come into contact with the stone. Continue for 12 strokes on each side of the blade, then flip the stone over. Repeat the same process on the fine-grit side. While this hands-on sharpening technique takes practice to perfect, the good news is that your knives need to be sharpened only a few times a year.

Electric sharpeners offer an easier, automatic process using the same principles, but they also remove a tremendous amount of material from the blade and ultimately shorten the lives of your knives. If you own an expensive knife set, electric sharpeners could cost you more in the long run. That’s why the whetstone is the way to go: This manual method allows complete control over the amount of metal removed.


How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife - With a Steel Rod


Straighten Up for Clean Cuts
Unlike a whetstone, a honing steel should be used regularly to straighten, rather than sharpen, your knives. Bent edges translate to dull blades, which will cause problems on the cutting board. The ridges along the length of a honing steel work to straighten the edge of a knife by gently pushing it back into place.

To hone a knife, take the cutting utensil in your dominant hand and hold the steel’s handle in the other. For maximum control, place the tip of the steel on a cutting board, and position the heel of the knife against the top of the steel with the blade facing downward at a 20-degree angle. Then draw the knife down the rod in an arcing motion so that, by the end of the arc, all of the blade—from the heel to the tip—makes contact with the steel. After the first pass, repeat the motion on the other side of the steel (again holding the blade at a 20-degree angle), so that you’ve honed both sides of the blade. Continue alternating the downward, arcing motion until you’ve completed 10 strokes on each side. (You must do an equal number of strokes on each side to ensure that the edge aligns.) Once honed, your knife’s edge will be in its proper position, resulting in easier slicing and dicing.


How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife - With Sandpaper


Settle for Sandpaper
In a pinch, sandpaper can be used to shave a new blade, offering an inexpensive homemade alternative to a sharpening stone. Just tape a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper to the edges of a cutting board. Firmly hold the knife by the handle at a 20-degree angle to the board and lightly press down on the center of the blade. Then, slide the edge of the knife across the sandpaper as if shaving a thin layer. After 10 strokes, turn the knife over and repeat on the other side. When you’re done, replace the fine-grit sandpaper with a sheet of extra-fine sandpaper, and repeat the process. Although this hack method isn’t ideal, its results are still better than your otherwise dull blades.

Genius! The Easy (and Affordable) Recipe for a DIY Kitchen Countertop

If you thought you couldn't afford your dream kitchen, think again! Find out how to get the look of butcher block countertops for next to nothing—just a handful of freebies from your local hardware store.

DIY Paint Stirrer Countertop


This story starts at the curb, where people leave out the things that they no longer need. Between neighbors’ recycling bins and trash ready for collection, DIYer Naomi Huober of BLDG 25 spotted—and scooped up—an old cabinet destined for the dump. Sure, it was dinged up and missing a top, but it had great bones; painted chippy white and complete with wrought-iron fixtures, it boasted a straight-from-the-farm feel. All it needed was a custom-fit countertop to blend with her existing room design. Wanting to keep total costs low on this freecycle project and play up its country style, Naomi circled the local hardware store until she stumbled upon an unlikely solution: wooden paint stirrers.

Wood countertops are hallmarks in today’s kitchens, popular for their beauty and durability. At up to $100 per square foot, though, a butcher block top wasn’t in the budget for this cabinet makeover. Instead, Naomi pieced together 30 of the free wooden stirrers across a plywood top to achieve just the right look for a fraction of the cost.

You, too, can apply her simple idea to a tabletop or cabinet refresh. Simply use a ruler and handsaw to cut each stirrer before the curve in the wood so you’re left with all straight edges. Then lay them out on your surface: Starting at a corner, work your way towards the center one strip at a time, applying wood glue to the tabletop and pressing each stirrer in place. When you’ve reached the opposite sides, cut the last of the paint stirrers to fit the remaining space, glue, and sand down the edges. Fill any gaps with wood filler, and come back in an hour to sand the surface and apply the stain of your choice. Before you wrap up, seal with two coats of polyurethane so that no water can accidentally do damage to your finished project.

The clean vertical lines, wood grain, and staining of plain old paint stirrers transformed this once-boring plywood top into a convincing faux butcher block counter overnight—talk about the easiest remodel ever. And if anyone asks, don’t worry; your secret is safe with us.

FOR MORE: Free People

DIY Paint Stirrer Countertop - Project Materials Shot


How To: Clean a Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless steel sinks continue to be a popular choice for the kitchen, despite the extra work required to keep the finish clean. Well, with this pantry-based routine, cleanup just got a little easier. Follow these simple steps to remove scratches, spots, and stains, and restore your sink’s original shine.

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink - Sponge It Down


Admit it: You invest a great deal of time and energy in keeping your stainless steel appliances fingerprint-free, shiny, and clean, but your stainless steel sink—obscured by a pile of dishes—often gets overlooked. Well, not anymore. Say goodbye to stuck-on food, streaks, and stains! Using just a few products pulled from your pantry, you can polish your sink with minimal effort and even less expense. Just follow these five stress-free steps and, before you know it, your humble sink will outshine your stylish appliances.

- Dish soap
- Baking soda
- Parmesan cheese shaker (optional)
- Soft to medium nylon scrub brush
- Old toothbrush
- Vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Cream of tartar (optional)
- Lint-free cloth
- Olive oil

How to Clean a Stainless Steel Sink - Fresh Kitchen Sink


Rinse the sink basin to remove any food particles. Be sure to wet the faucet and the surrounding countertop too. If stubborn, stuck-on food persists, squirt a little dish soap on it and rinse with hot water.

Next, coat the sink with a sprinkling of baking soda. This powdery substance is gentle enough that it won’t scratch the finish while still tough enough to tackle light hard water deposits and grease. Moreover, it removes odors without leaving behind the toxic chemical residue that some commercial cleaners might. For better control and a more even distribution when spreading the baking soda, consider pouring it first into an empty (and cleaned out) Parmesan cheese dispenser, and then lightly shaking the powder onto all sides of the sink.

Use a soft to medium nylon scrub brush to rub the baking soda in the direction of the metal “grain.” (Never do the job with steel wool, steel brushes, or other highly abrasive scrubbing pads—these may cause further scratches or leave behind metal particles prone to rust.) A toothbrush works well for tighter spaces and tricky turns around the fixture, countertop, and drain. As you rub in the baking soda, the tiny hairline scratches on your sink will become less noticeable.

After scrubbing, but before rinsing, spray undiluted vinegar over the remaining baking soda residue. As the two substances come into contact, they will start to fizz. Think of this as an extra scrubbing action. Vinegar’s acidity effectively dissolves the calcium deposits that cause water spots, plus it’s an equally effective natural disinfectant. Wait several minutes for the chemical reaction to fizzle out, then rinse thoroughly. Immediately dry the sink to avoid water spots.

If stubborn stains still persist, mix one cup of distilled white vinegar with ¼ cup of cream of tartar. (The acidic properties of the latter, as well as its mildly abrasive texture, make cream of tartar an essential ingredient in many homemade stain removers.) Apply a dollop of the vinegar-tartar paste directly to the stain. Then, rub it in gently with a cloth, and allow the paste to sit on the stain for five minutes. Use this mixture as a secondary measure only if necessary; the vinegar alone should be strong enough to clean most spots. Once the stains are gone, rinse the areas with warm water and wipe the sink dry.

Last but not least, the finishing touch: Once your sink is clean and dry, it’s time to add an extra shine. Apply a few drops of olive oil to a lint-free cloth to buff the sink and fixture until they sparkle.

Genius! Remix Your Backsplash with Old CDs

Transform your backsplash on a budget—and declutter your entertainment center at the same time! See how a stack of unused CDs upgraded this boring, builder-grade kitchen.

Cheap Backsplash with Old CDs


Remember when your biggest problem was keeping your favorite CD from skipping? Times were simpler before iPhones, Netflix, and high-speed Internet conquered the world. Thanks to digital libraries, almost no one is worried about the state of their CD collection anymore. But other quandaries—like what to do with all those old CDs now that we’ve moved on—hang around for years. Instructables author Illona solved the dilemma of an unloved collection by crafting this one-of-a-kind kitchen backsplash using discs, scissors, grout, and very little planning. While relieving the environment of a little extra tech trash, her reflective backsplash brightened up the whole kitchen without the addition of a mirror or task lamps!

Piecing it together requires very little as far as specific tools go—only a sharp, strong pair of scissors or one designed to cut plastic. To better preserve the holographic film that creates the mirror effect, first brush a layer white glue over the printed side of the CD and let it dry completely. Cut up your discs, then glue the larger pieces up first and fill in gaps with smaller cuts later. Once you’ve arranged all of the pieces, apply grout to your mosaic. Illona opted for a light grey over white grout to make cleaning easier; the color requires less scrubbing, preventing possible future scratches and preserving the rainbow effect of the holographic film.

Even through Ilona ended up scratching some CDs in the trial-and-error process and dulling the project’s shine ever so slightly, any nicks are quickly lost against full effect of the mosaic. It’s practically impossible to mess up this DIY! With a backsplash this beautiful, it will feel like trading in your old flip phone for a smarter model.

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IKEA Wants You to Help Design Tomorrow’s Kitchen

IKEA believes that there's no such thing as a bad idea. The innovative Swedish brand has called for a global brainstorm to explore the way we use the kitchen and, ultimately, to discover the future of kitchen design.

IKEAtemporary - Concept Kitchen

Photo: IKEA

Too little storage, not enough chairs? For any sort of home furnishings conundrum, IKEA has the answers. But when it comes to homes of the future, IKEA has only questions—and lots of them. In 20 years, how are people going to be cooking, and in what type of kitchen? And if family dinners are so hard to schedule in 2015, what’s it going to be like in 2036? To explore such questions, the company has launched #IKEAtemporary, a six-month workshop that includes dozens of events, online and off. Whether it’s a pop-up expo in Milan, a streaming video cook-along, or a live Twitter dialogue, #IKEAtemporary wants to get people talking.

IKEAtemporary - HACKA

Photo: IKEA

This isn’t the first time that the Swedish retailer has delved deep to better understand the kitchen, not to mention cooking and eating and the role of both in everyday life at home. Earlier this year, IKEA teamed up with design students to create Concept Kitchen 2025, an experiment showing how technology could be not an obstacle, but a bridge that enables us all to enjoy healthier, more rewarding relationships with food and each other. And then, of course, there’s IKEA HACKA, a new modular kitchen system that makes it possible to customize a solution that perfectly responds to your individual needs. For the first time, you can combine IKEA products with what you’ve already got to create something totally unique.

Paola Navone, Thomas Sandell, Matali Crasset, and other acclaimed designers are joining the kitchen-focused conversation, and you can too! Voice your thoughts across social media—on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—using the hashtag #IKEAtemporary. As the company’s design manager Marcus Engman says: “Even more brainpower can only be a good thing. We want your thoughts, opinions, and feedback on what we can improve. We believe it’s much better when you tell us how you want to live—not the other way around. You could say that IKEA has the ingredients, but you have the recipes.”



This post has been brought to you by IKEA. Its facts and opinions are those of

5 Reasons to Quit Washing Dishes by Hand

If you've held off purchasing a dishwasher, now's the time to go out and pick one up. To make your decision easier, we've got five good reasons to abandon hand washing.

How to Wash Dishes - Quit Washing Dishes By Hand


Gone are the days of loud, inefficient dishwashers that leave your dishes only partially clean. The new generation of dishwashers has been designed to be quiet, environmentally friendly, and so strategic in their cleaning ability you don’t even need a prerinse. As if those reasons aren’t enough, we’ve got five more that should seal the deal. Add these to your argument for why you want—no, need—a dishwasher right this very minute.

How to Wash Dishes - Wash Dishes In A Dishwasher


1. Hand washing won’t make dishes cleaner.
Sure, you can try to turn your faucet’s knob all the way so the water that pours out is almost scalding hot. (Be sure to wear your rubber gloves!) But these high temperatures still won’t be enough to get your dishes really clean. Water needs to reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit to effectively kill germs, and most hot water heaters aren’t set that high—and for good reason. Such a high setting would cost you more money on your energy bill and would be dangerous in households with kids who might not yet be pros at regulating water temperatures.

2. Sponges are gross.
They can also be downright dangerous, carrying food-borne illnesses, bacteria, and cold and flu germs. Studies at the University of Arizona found that every square inch of your dish sponge contains approximately 10 million bacteria—that’s way more disgusting than even your toilet seat, and you wouldn’t bring that into contact with the dishes that hold your food. While there are temporary fixes to clean or disinfect sponges, no one can do them every single day. And why risk it?

3. You’ll save money every month using an energy-efficient dishwasher.
So, maybe you’re not using your dishwasher because it’s old, loud, and costly when it comes to utilities. But when you swap out a pre-1994 diswhasher for an Energy Star-certified replacement, you’ll start saving up to $35 dollars per year on your electric bill! And compared with simply washing by hand, the energy-efficient washer will save you more than $40 a year on utilities. Which leads us to our next point….

4. You’re wasting a ton of water.
Except when you’re actively rinsing something, the ongoing stream of water from your sink faucet goes mostly unused. As Jonah Schein, the technical coordinator for homes and buildings in the EPA’s WaterSense program, explained in an interview with The Washington Post: “In order to wash the same amount of dishes that can fit in a single load of a full size [energy-efficient] dishwasher and use less water, you would need to be able to wash eight full place settings and still limit the total amount of time that the faucet was running to less than two minutes.” Yikes! While we’ve been known to speed clean from time to time, we’re not that good.

5. You could be doing something else.
Finally, more than simply wasting just water, hand washing dishes is a chore that eats up valuable time. Think about how long you spend each day washing your dishes by hand. An hour? And you’re not even getting them completely clean. We can think of plenty of other around-the-house DIY projects we’d rather be doing instead—and which we’d be free to pursue after loading up the dishwasher and starting a cycle. Just some food for thought.