If you have a question, Martha has the answer! Whether you're wondering how to scrub the grease splatters off a stainless-steel kettle, keep your kids' bath toys squeaky clean, or clear the soot from your fireplace, she has tips for you.
How do I clean my stainless-steel teakettle?
The answer: Your kettle takes a beating when you keep it on or near the stove, where it’s exposed to constant splatter and grease. To remove stains, add enough white vinegar to three tablespoons of baking soda to form a thick paste. Apply it with a soft rag or sponge and scrub until the stains disappear, then wipe the kettle with a damp cloth -- and store it out of harm's way.
The answer: Clean a vinyl, nylon, cotton, or hemp liner by machine-washing it in hot water and mild detergent. Then shake and rehang the liner to dry; do not place it in the dryer. Give liners a good wash at the start of every season.
Hand wash your liner if the care label does not recommend machine-washing (or there is no care label). Take the curtain outside and scrub it with a solution of 10 parts water to one part chlorine bleach, using a plastic-bristled brush. Let it dry in the sun until any mold or discoloration has faded, then rinse. Shake well and rehang.
Prevent grime by cutting your shower liner so it does not drag on the shower floor -- this will keep dust and moisture from getting trapped in it. After your shower, shake off as much water as possible, and pull the liner closed so moisture can’t collect in the folds.
The answer: A monthly wash will help keep bacteria and mildew at bay. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar per gallon of warm water in a bucket. Soak the toys in the solution for about 10 minutes, then rub them gently with a sponge. To clean the inside of squeeze toys, suck up the solution, shake, and squeeze out. Let air-dry.
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The answer: First, spray the mat with a mixture of about 2 cups warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid. Then, wipe the mat down with a clean, wet sponge or soft cloth. Repeat if any soap remains. As the last step, lay a dry towel on the mat. Roll them together to squeeze water out. Hang the mat over a shower rod to dry.
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I'm done using my fireplace for the season. How should I clean out the soot?
The answer: A quick going-over at the end of the season will keep your fireplace spotless until next winter. Start by shielding surrounding surfaces with a protective covering, like newspaper, to prevent soot from spreading. Then follow these steps from Scott Santel, store manager of the Home Depot in Maryville, Tennessee.
Remove andirons and grate. Add water to trisodium phosphate (TSP) powder to create a paste. Apply to andirons and grate and scrub with a nylon brush. Rinse completely with water; wipe dry.
Scoop out any leftover piles of ash and debris with a fireplace shovel and discard.
Scrub fireplace walls from top down with TSP paste and dirt-removal sponge, such as the Dry Cleaning Soot sponge ($33 for 12, homedepot.com).