Trib Tips

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:19 PM

No-scratch batch

The youngest member of our family has had a rash of skin rashes. We've tried different kinds of laundry detergent, including a brand that claims to be mild enough for baby skin.

But no matter what we tried, she would wake up in the middle of the night scratching.

I scoured the Internet for non-allergenic cleaning agents and concocted a recipe that blissfully allowed baby a restful night's sleep. Priceless!

Speaking of price, this clothes-cleaning concoction breaks down to only about 3 cents per load, so it's peaceful on your purse, too.

Here's what you do:

— Grate one-quarter of a bar of gentle, non-scented soap (I used Ivory) and heat shavings in a saucepan over medium heat with 1 cup water, stirring constantly until the soap dissolves.

— Pour the soap mixture into a bucket and mix with 10 cups of water, 2 tablespoons Borax powder and 4 tablespoons washing soda.

— After stirring thoroughly, add another 10 cups of water, cover and let stand overnight.

— Stir. Fill empty containers (such as milk jugs, vinegar bottles or laundry detergent vessels) half full with your homemade mixture, then add water to top off the containers.

— Shake before each use.

Boiling point

Stovetops are one of those things easily neglected.

If you're like me, when your burgers or bubbling spaghetti sauce make their mess, you're too busy preparing the rest of the dinner to clean it up immediately.

And then, it's too late. The grease has established residency on your range and the sauce has globbed onto your cooktop tighter than it would to a lasagna noodle.

Here's a simple, chemical-free solution:

Boil a tea kettle of plain ol' H2O. Remove the grates and pour it on the grease and grime. The water will melt away the grease and loosen food particles. Scrub with a sponge and soak up any puddled water.

For tough spots, simply reapply.

Bake off

Now that your stovetop is sparking clean, what about the dreaded oven?

We have super-sensitive smoke alarms at our place, so this is a chore I can't let go for long. One little splatter sends the safety devices into a screaming, ear-splitting shriek-fest.

I'm fortunate enough to have a self-cleaning oven, so after several hours of high heat, I simply wipe out the ash with a damp cloth.

I spread a paste of baking soda and water on the oven glass, let it set for a half-hour, then scrub the stains away.

Carry your nasty oven racks and broiler pan outdoors and place them in a large garbage bag. Pour in a couple of cups of straight ammonia, seal the bag and leave them overnight. Wipe clean in the morning.

But don't do what I did this go-around. I plunked the racks down in the crystallized snow for some abrasive wiping/cleaning action. The phone rang, so I went inside and forgot about the racks.

By the time I revisited, they had settled several inches and froze into the snow. I tugged, but didn't want to risk bending the crossbars, so I left them. We ate microwaved food for three days until the temps rose enough to free the racks from the snow bank.

Have some favorite apps, household hints or savings secrets of your own you'd like to share? Or searching for a solution? We'd love to hear from you. E-mail Marie Havenga at mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com. Include your name, address and phone number. You may also snail-mail ideas to: Trib Tips, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417; or call 616-847-2628.

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