I've already written about how useful baking soda is in cleaning stinky laundry. Yesterday was the day I had scheduled to do some serious kitchen cleaning. We have a lot of family coming in for Thanksgiving and I didn't want them to think we actually lived in the mess we normally live in. (Note to all the family coming in for Thanksgiving: That last sentence? Just a joke to make other people feel better about the state of their kitchens. Ours is always pristine. Always.) It's one of the reasons I invite people over... it forces me to clean my house.
I had several things that desperately needed some real cleaning and I had been reading about the various uses of baking soda as a cleaning agent, so I thought I would put them to the test. So, really, letting my kitchen get rather dirty was a public service so I could test these concoctions for you.
First up, was my stove which had many months of cooked on food stains that wouldn't come up no matter how hard I scrubbed. It's stainless steel, so I didn't want to use something really harsh on it and scratch it. A. and I spent a good portion of the afternoon trying different combinations of water, white vinegar, and baking soda. (Thanks to reader Susieloulou for the tip.) I am quite happy to report that my stove now looks better than it has in a long time. It is not spotless, but the improvement is remarkable. What we finally ended up with was 1/4 c. of water with 2 TBSP white vinegar and 2 TBSP baking soda. (Be sure to mix it in a large enough container because is will foam and bubble up.) I then put the mixture directly onto the stained parts. (I used a small ladle.) The longer we let it sit, the more effective it was. Some of the goo came up rather easily, but most was so cooked on that I still had to scrub it off. The difference was that it actually came clean with the scrubbing, as opposed to past attempts with regular, chemically, kitchen cleaners. Once it was all cleaned up, I used a cloth to rub a little bit of baby oil over it (I know, sounds weird, but it polishes the stainless steel really well) and it was clean and shiny.
Second in line was polishing the silver. I vaguely remembered my grandmother using foil and water and something to polish silver and I thought I would give it a shot. This attempt (hot water in the sink, dissolve baking soda, place aluminum foil in sink, set in silver) was disappointing. The tarnish remained and M., P., and A., kindly polished it the regular way.
[My mom came through with the details... don't know why I didn't ask her in the first place. Here's what my grandmother did to polish silver. Take one aluminum pan, place silver in the pan, cover with boiling water, sprinkle in baking soda, let sit briefly, remove silver. Don't put in your knives or the glue that holds the stainless steel blade to the silver handle will dissolve.]
Lastly was the microwave. This attempt had slightly better results. I took a cup of water and mixed in 3 TBSP of baking soda, and then set the bowl in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. I could see this working really well if your microwave was only a little dirty, because the top layer of grime really did just wipe off. My microwave was more than a little dirty and required a bit more encouragement to get clean.
So, there you have it, the Big Ugly House's version of cleaning myth busters. I'm really bummed that the silver polishing-thing didn't work. What did my grandmother do? Mom, any ideas?
In other, non-Thanksgiving-frantic-preparation news, on Saturday I had the pleasure of turning another virtual blog friend into a real-life friend. Fellow adoptive mom and the writer of the Adventures of Law Mommy blog and her family were in town and we were able to meet them and have lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant together. It was a brief visit, but a lot of fun and I wish we could have spent more time together. It was doubly special since her daughter, Lana, and TM spent time together as infants at the same orphanage. When you don't have all the pieces of your child's past, every little bit is special.