Tag Archives: clean

Caring for glassware

GlasswareDishwashers are wonderful, time saving devices but unfortunately do no favours at all to precious glassware.  If you find that your  glasses are losing their sparkle and becoming cloudy it may well be because of the action of the dishwasher – a combination of the softeners that are put into many water supplies, coupled with the high temperatures and the detergent we use in the dishwasher.  

Delicate crystal or precious glassware is therefore best cleaned by hand.  If you don’t want to tackle the washing up straight after you’ve used your glasses, do at least give them a quick rinse so that wine or other liquids aren’t sitting in them for any length of time.  Wash individually in hot soapy water – ordinary washing up liquid will do – and then rinse straight away in hot clear water.  (Don’t rinse in cold water because the change in temperature may make the glass shatter).  Place on a draining rack and then dry with a lint free cloth.  (I usually dry with kitchen roll and then shine with a lint free cloth).

If you have items like narrow vases that are difficult to clean, use denture cleaning tablets to do the work for you but only leave for the recommended length of time.  Rinse and then dry.

Glassware that has a cloudy or milky appearance may be restored to a sparkle by wiping gently with vinegar on a soft cloth.  However, it’s worth saying that liquids can actually permanently etch the surface of glass, giving that same milky appearance. 

The moral of the story is simple: Never leave liquids sitting in glassware for any length of time.

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Say cheese please

Teeth to be proud of!If you’ve had a meal ending in something sticky you might think that it would be a good idea to eat a crunchy apple to clean your teeth.  Apples, whilst being good for you in many ways, wont be doing your teeth any favours when used as a cleaner because the fruit acids in them tend to attack tooth enamel.  You’d be far better off eating a cube of cheese. 

Cheese helps to prevent the bacteria on your teeth from turning sugar into damaging acids, it increases the flow of saliva, neutralising any acids and helping to flush them away, and the high calcium and phosphorous content in cheese may also help by replacing some of the minerals in your tooth enamel. 

So next time, just say cheese please.

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Attack of the biscuit beetle

Ooooh!Sooner or later you’re likely to open a packet of flour to do some baking and see tiny little beetles, 2-3mm long, crawling around. Commonly called ‘biscuit beetle’ (Stegobium paniceum), and in the US ‘drugstore’ or ‘bread beetle’ they are, apparently, harmless and unless you see them in large numbers the flour should still be OK to use.  Well that’s the theory.  On the rare occasions I have come across them it has prompted a major session of checking food packets, chucking out and cleaning – but that’s just me.  

It’s important to say that biscuit beetle has nothing to do with cleanliness, so don’t beat yourself up about it if you see some of the little blighters in your kitchen.  The chances are that something you bought contained either the beetle or some eggs, and considering that a single female can lay up to 100 eggs, which will hatch in 1 – 2 weeks, you can see how pretty soon one errant beetle will produce an infestation. They don’t just inhabit flour either, you may well find them on other dried foodstuffs: cereals, pasta, nuts, rice, biscuits; and ordinary sealed packaging is no deterrent because they are able to gnaw their way into new packs.  You can see how pretty soon they can get a foothold in your cupboard!

HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM:

You’re going to need storage containers to store your food in from now on – items like plastic ‘Tupperware’ boxes that you can seal. 

Empty the cupboard and decide whether you want to use anything that you find to be affected. (I’ve already said that my preference is to throw away anything affected and start again).  Modern wisdom seems to be to then use food safe pesticides to treat the cupboard and surrounding surfaces but I can tell you that I don’t  like the thought of pesticides (food safe or not), and all my life I’ve had no further trouble when I’ve used the old-fashioned approach:

Cleared the cupboard, washed all around, including crevices, with hot soapy water (also tackling the counter tops beneath the cupboard) and then either leave the cupboard open to dry very thoroughly or use a hair dryer to make sure that there is absolutely no moisture remaining in it.  Transfer your unaffected food to your plastic, sealable storage containers and then that’s it – you can fill your cupboard again.

Biscuit beetle beaten!

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The cheat’s tidy up

Forgotten anything in the panic?

Forgotten anything in the panic?

Strictly speaking it’s a cheat but sooner or later you’re bound to be caught out like this, so …

If you know that your guests are arriving shortly and you don’t have the time to clean the house, follow my superquick routine to get your home looking presentable.

Open the windows to get in a quick blast of fresh air.  

Get a basket, a bucket, a carrier bag or a cardboard box and go from room to room where you know ‘they’ (the guests) will see.  Put all clutter that has accumulated like newspapers, magazines and childrens’ toys in your basket and put it somewhere out of the way like the garage. 

Flush the toilet in the bathroom and squirt a bit of bleach or toilet cleaner down it.  Spray the wash hand basin with a bathroom cleaner that is designed to work largely on its own.  Leave it on to do its thing for a few minutes while you get on with other stuff.  

Use a feather/ lambswool/ or one of those dusters that works using static electricity to whisk over surfaces that you feel are all too visible, or that you know they will touch.  Don’t bother moving ornaments – you don’t have the time right now.

Go back and rinse out the wash hand basin. 

If you have the time, give the floors a quick hoover, but only in the areas they will see. Don’t bother moving chairs etc.

Close windows.

If it’s an evening visit, put on side lights only. It’s more welcoming anyway and it means they can see less!

Spray a squirt of your favourite perfume in the entrance hall. (Just the one …too much and it will smell suspiciously like a tart’s boudoir)!  Alternatively, do you have a nice scented candle you could light?

FINAL TIP: I tend to always have some cut flowers in the house, just because I really like cut flowers.  At panic moments like this they can be great to have around because it’s amazing how any fresh flowers at all in a room will divert your visitors’ attention away from any perceived shortcomings in your housekeeping.  So, if you should happen to have flowers, or you can nip out into the garden to get some, put them somewhere where everyone can see them!

Time taken: I have been known to do this routine in 15-20 minutes tops (although admittedly I may occasionally have looked a little flushed in the face when I greeted my guests)!

Bottom line?  If you’re still in a panic, remember that those you love really are coming to see you – not to judge your housekeeping skills!

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My own advice

Feeling good!An impending trip away has been the cataylst for some major tidying up around here.  I like to come home to a clean house so I always do a round of cleaning and tidying before a stint away, but this time I’ve managed to achieve something that has been staring me in the face – and irritating me – for ages.  My little office area has finally been organised.  On two sides of me are deep bookshelves, crammed, often two deep, on a number of different subjects.  There isn’t any spare space so as new books were bought at birthdays and Christmas they have tended to be slotted in wherever there was a millimetre to spare.  Equally, seeing the chaos, if someone has borrowed a book then it is simply put back afterwards ‘wherever’.  

Well not any more!  Following my own advice I’ve had a sort through, a tidy up and a pruning session.  Our hospice shop will benefit because they’re getting some beautiful books that I no longer have the space for.  I benefit because I finally know where everything is.  Books are at long last grouped together, side by side on the shelves: art, design, gardening, photography and my now quite large collection of cookery books (I only read the other day that there are collectors of cook books – I’ve clearly unwittingly become one over the years, judging by the number I have).  I’m chuffed to bits – could you tell?

………………………………

As I sit typing this it’s 6.00 a.m., pitch black outside…and one of the light bulbs above my head has gone pop, plunging the whole house into darkness.  Ideally I should go to the garage to flip the circuit breaker, but that would entail going back into the bedroom to get my torch, which would almost certainly wake my husband.  I’d then have to go through the utility room to the garage, and I just know my cats would come thundering in like The Dambusters and start tussling outside the bedroom door (as they are wont to do)…almost certainly waking my husband.  Instead I’m sitting in the blackness, peering at the keyboard, which is illuminated only by the light of my computer monitor.  See how I suffer for my art!?  See how considerate I am of my husband’s slumber!? 

Actually, the reason I mention all this is: why oh why does the circuit breaker flip when a bulb goes pop?  I never remember this happening in the old days…when I were a gerl.

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GentleVoiceToday at Gentle Voice: Advice we might all appreciate, especially tomorrow and in the coming month, and that is how to ‘repair’ food that you have over-salted.

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Christmas Countdown, 5

Christmas giftsBy now you will hopefully have started to clear away a lot of the junk you’ve collected throughout the year, have a good idea of what ingredients you have in the kitchen cupboards and what you may need to buy. If you use a traditional butchers’ shop, you have also ordered your turkey plus any other meats for Christmas.   

Stick with the seasonal tidying / clearing out and now is a good time to start buying non-perishable goods for the holiday – party nibbles like tins of nuts, alcohol, selection tins of biscuits etc.  Again, spreading the cost of these extras over a few weeks is less painful than buying it all in one fell swoop.

Wrap Christmas presents as you buy them.

I’m not going to be giving a separate reminder to post your Christmas cards but please bear in mind that the last posting date for friends and family in far flung places may be coming fairly soon.  If you’re in the UK, for example, bear in mind that Friday of next week (5th December) is the last day for air mail to Australia and New Zealand.  In other words, it may be sooner than you realised!

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Maintaining a healthy atmosphere

OrchidsOur modern environments and all the convenience they provide come at a price.  We are in fact surrounded by toxic chemicals, in paint, plastics, detergents, dyes…right down to the insulation in our homes and the carpet beneath our feet. 

Plants not only look nice and bring life into a home, research has shown that they are also helpful in maintaining a healthy environment.  In fact, NASA concluded that common indoor plants can dramatically improve the environment by filtering out some of these toxic chemicals and recommend 15-18 plants in an 1800 square foot area.  

If you think that you don’t have ‘green fingers’ don’t worry because some of the best plants at improving the atmopsphere in our homes are also some of the easiest to keep.  Look for English Ivy (hedera helix) and Spider Plants (chlorophytum).  Other recommended plants are azalea, bamboo palm (chamaedorea microspadix), bromeliads, the dragon tree (dracaena marginata), peace lily (spathiphyllum), poinsettia,  and orchids.

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