Thursday, 27 November 2008

Freshen Up Your Kitchen

So you're selling your home and you've read all the books on staging and how to effectively get your home ready for showing. Once of the simplest things that many people overlook is cleaning. Their home may be tidy and staged beautifully, but is it clean? There is nothing like a truly clean home to eliminate any unwanted odors and leave a home smelling fresh and new.

Some of the worst offenders come from our appliances that we used every day. Baked on foods or lingering odors get absorbed into the walls of our refrigerator, countertops and other surfaces, and before you know it we're spending money on fragrance laden air fresheners to try and mask the smells.

Implement this list of cleaning tips to extend the life of your appliances and freshen up your kitchen for your next open house.

Coffee Maker - Start by cleaning your coffee pot either in the sink or dishwasher (depending on manufacturer's instructions). Pour equal parts of water and vinegar into the tank and run it through a couple times. If you have a build up of mineral deposits in your water, run about 2 cups through, unplug and let it sit for an hour. Turn the unit back on and let it run through. You may have to repeat the rinse a couple more times with plain water to get rid of any leftover vinegar or sediment.

Wipe down the outside of the unit with a combination of water and baking soda.

Coffee Grinder - Use a soft brush to wipe out any coffee grains. Place pieces of bread inside and grind. This does a great job of cleaning under the blades - brush again.

Stand-Up Electric Mixer - Wipe it off with dish soap and warm water and wipe after every use.

Toaster - Unplug before cleaning. Although you may be tempted, never use metal tools or knives to recover scraps. Not only could you be electrocuted if the unit was on, but it is very easy to bend the internal metal pieces.

Remove lower tray wipe with a damp cloth and mild dish soap, (use a cleaner free of ammonia for chrome surfaces), and turn upside down, shaking gently.

Toaster oven - Remove racks and clean with warm, soapy water. Never use an abrasive scrubber or steel wool on any surface with a nonstick surface. Clean the outside with a nonabrasive liquid cleaner since most toasters have plastic or painted metal exteriors.

Refrigerator - Wipe down with water and mild dish soap or two tablespoons baking soda for every quart of warm water. Loosen any hardened spills by saturating them with a damp sponge until they break away. Toothbrushes are good for getting into small places. Never use bleach or ammonia.

If you use an open box of baking soda to absorb odors in your fridge, it only traps them; make sure to replace the box regularly. Refrain from using any scented odor-control products as the fragrance becomes absorbed into the plastic. To mask odors, place a small dish of vanilla extract in the fridge.

Your fridge stays cool by removing the heat from the air inside and releasing it through condenser coils. If they get covered with dust, it acts as an insulation and prevents them from doing their job. Keep them clean by vacuuming with a long handled wand or dusting brush. If you have pets, your refrigerator coils may need to be cleaned more often.

Freezer - Sometimes in side-by-side refrigerator-freezers ice may build up and block the defrost drain tube. If you can see this hole, squirt in a mixture of one teaspoon baking soda and two cups hot water (a turkey baster works great for this). If this doesn't work, you may have to set up a service call.

Manual defrost: Never try to pick or pry the ice away for fear of damaging the surface. Simply turn off the freezer and let nature take its course. Store any food in an alternate freezer. Wipe clean with warm, soapy water.

Oven: Don't wait until your oven starts smoking to give it a good cleaning. Wash the racks by hand, unless your manual advises they are dishwasher safe. Try using this home made cleaner before resorting to the more toxic versions:

Plug holes to the broiler with aluminum foil (don't forget to remove after cleaning)

Combine one-quarter cup salt, three-quarters cup baking soda, and one-quarter cup water, and stir into a paste. Brush on, but avoid any bare parts as salt corrodes metal. Leave overnight, remove with a solid spatula and wipe with paper towels. Use a nylon scrubber for any remaining stubborn spots.

Doors should be cleaned with nonabrasive cleaners and control panels wiped with a barely damp cloth (never wet).

Stove: For electric burners, wipe off when they are cold. If stubborn food residue still remains, turn on the fan, turn burners to high and burn off the excess.

Glass Cooktops: Never use harsh cleaners or scrubbies that will scratch the surface. Use only a cloth safe for non-stick surfaces. Wherever possible, wipe spills when they are warm. For burned on residue, use the cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. For heavy stains, carefully scrape off with a single edge razor blade with a plastic handle.

Microwave Ovens: Nothing is worse than opening a door to a microwave and getting hit in the face with odors from the last two weeks worth of cooking. Start by wiping out the interior with warm soapy water and rinsing with plain water. For heavier jobs, combine two tablespoons baking soda in one quart of water, heat on high for three minutes and let stand for another five minutes with the door closed. Wipe clean. If the odors are still there, leave the door open for a few hours. If that doesn't work, stir six tablespoons baking soda or one-half cup lemon juice into a cup of water and heat on high for three minutes. Leave the door open for a few hours.

By: Melanie Speed

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