Monday, June 15, 2009

What I accomplished today or How to clean your stove for mere pennies

This is gonna be dull so strap yourself in lest you be tempted to run screaming for the hills. Well, I have a feeling you'll still be tempted, but maybe the strapping in will prevent you from actually doing it. Whatever. You're all grown ups.

Oh, look at poor Mrs. Croft up there. I know, from that distance she looks perky as ever. But just take a closer look...

Now would you look at that! What a mess someone has left on poor Mrs. Croft's once clean and shiny surface! Who would cook a tasty dinner of bangers-n-mash and then leave all the grease splattered (okay, more like pooled) everywhere like that?

Heavens above. Someone really should clean this up. And I will tell you how to do so, efficiently and economically. All you need are a few simple tools, namely, vinegar water, baking soda and a preferred type of scrubbie. Paper towels are handy as well, but, well, more on that later...

So, in case you haven't by now chewed off your own limbs so you can escape, here's my preferred scrubbie (in front of my oh-so-cute Oberweiss milk bottle that Daria was kind enough to save for me and bring with her from Chicago--not sure how I'm going to use it, but oh, I'm going to). I forget who makes it but I can only find it at Target. It's got this rough-but-won't-scratch-surfaces side that works very well for scrubbing...

...and this softer, more absorbent, towel-like side for wiping. It's like the best of both worlds! What kind of lunatic takes photos of her kitchen sponge for a blog? I have truly reached the edge reason.

Buy a large jug of white vinegar. It costs maybe $2 and some change. Buy a plastic spray bottle at the dollar store. While you're at it, buy three or four so you can scatter them about the house for all your cleaning needs. You can even color coordinate them if you like (I've heard of people who do that, you know, purple for the powder room/laundry room, blue for the upstairs bathroom, red or green for the kitchen, but that's just what I hear). When you get home and you're ready, fill the bottle(s) halfway with vinegar. Then fill it(them) the rest of the way with water. You may also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you'd like to mask the vinegar odor or enhance the spray with your favorite scent. I use lavender oil in mine. About 7-10 drops.

I probably should have mentioned this, but while you're at the store, pick up a Gargantu-pack of baking soda. Don't worry, you'll use it. It's great for cleaning, scouring and deodorizing. Keep some in a handy container near the sink. I keep some in an old sugar shaker that used to be filled with maple sugar. The sugar is long gone, but the shaker is perfect for my baking soda. This shaker lives on a plate next to my sink with my vinegar spray and my squirt bottle filled with dish soap. I clean everything with vinegar and baking soda.

Including Mrs. Croft. Just spray whatever you're cleaning with a few robust bursts of vinegar water. It's a natural disinfectant, is great for cutting grease and even works well to deodorize a mattress cover in the event of a bed wetting accident.

Now, you can do this step first, sprinkling before spraying, but I prefer to dampen the surfaces first...but sprinkle some baking soda on top of the vinegar water. You know what happens when vinegar and baking soda meet, right? They get all excited and effervesce. This actually makes a great home kitchen science lesson for children. It also makes for a great, "Potions Class", activity during a Harry Potter-themed birthday party if you put the vinegar in an old-looking vial labeled, "Dragon Tears", and the baking soda in a stoppered flask marked, "Bicorn Horn Powder", and tell them the concoction is a powerful Love Potion. Just don't let them actually drink it.

So, once you've got your Love Potion all bubbly, get to scrubbin'. Baking soda is a natural abrasive but it dissolves pretty quickly in the vinegar so it isn't too harsh.

You don't take photos of yourself while doing menial tasks like scouring your stove, do you? This was no easy feat, I assure you. And, apparently, sticking one's tongue out part of the way is essential for efficient scrubbing. The Viking says I do this whenever I'm concentrating. He thinks it's cute. I think it makes me look simple.

Doesn't it look better already? But we're not finished yet! Those grates and drip pans need a good cleaning and the baking soda residue needs to be wiped off.

I usually take the opportunity to give my sink a thorough going over whenever I do the same for the stove. The drip pans and grate go into the sink and, for good measure, I throw in the kitchen sponge and its holder as well. I fill the sink almost to the top with hot water, add a cup of bleach and then let it percolate for an hour. While that's going on, I finish the stove top with more vinegar spray and some paper towels (paper toweling, as Martha Stewart says). Of course, Viva paper towels are without equal, but my budget doesn't always allow for their purchase and today, I was out of even the inferior brand-which-shall-not-be-named towels I had been forced to buy and had no choice but to use several napkins to wipe the stove down. Just spray and wipe, spray and wipe. The vinegar is a good baking soda detector as it bubbles up whenever it encounters the stuff. So, wherever it bubbles, spray some more and wipe it down.

Once the drip pans and grates have finished their hour in the bath, give them a wipe with the newly clean and disinfected scrubbie, dry them off, then return them to their proper places. And voila'! look how clean and shiny she is!

I've been scrolling back and forth from the before shot to this one trying very hard to detect a difference and I just can't find it. Which is kind of disheartening, but it doesn't really matter because I have seen what the photos don't show. I can sleep peacefully tonight knowing in my heart of hearts that Mrs. Croft is clean.

And that (among a myriad of other, lesser chores and tasks) is what I accomplished today. For mere pennies.

You may untie yourself and pour yourself a good, stiff drink.

1 comment:

Leila said...

Well, I've been out of it for a while, but I'm happy I didn't miss this post!!

Mrs. Croft is happy!

Excellent work!