By Barbara Pronin
Everyone seems to gather in the kitchen, and that may be one reason why it’s ground zero for major messes. You may already rely on vinegar and water to wipe down countertops and other areas, but, notes home projects guru Bob Vila, there is a world of other and more surprising cleaning options out there just perfect for making KP duty a snap:
Ketchup Magic — The acid in tomatoes does a great job of cleaning brass knobs or copper pot bottoms. Squeeze a dollop of ketchup onto a cloth and buff, then rinse with plain water and dry. For baked-on grime on stainless steel pots and pans, apply ketchup with steel wool and a little elbow grease.
The Glass Sandwich — When a glass tumbler hits the floor, soft, spongy packaged bread works like a magnet to pick up even the smallest slivers of glass. Place a slice or two over the accident area and press lightly, then discard. (But be careful: splinters can really travel.)
Soda, Please — Help restore a scuffed stainless steel sink to its former luster with plain club soda. Moisten a cloth with the bubbly or pour it directly on dingy spots — then buff with a cloth and rinse with plain water. Club soda will also loosen cooked-on crud from a cast iron skillet.
Spritz Away Stained Containers — Want to store leftover spaghetti sauce in a plastic container, but don’t want red residue to stain the plastic? Spritz a little cooking spray into the container before filling it, and there will no tell-tale stain later.
Rub-a-dub Rhubarb — If pots and pans are looking shabby, rub a rhubarb leaf over the exterior to bring back the shine. To banish burn marks inside your cookware, add some cut-up stalks to water and boil for just a few minutes.
Draw the Line on Ants — Ants in the kitchen? Find the point of entry and draw a line with chalk or talcum powder. Once a few ants cross over the chemical compound (calcium carbonate), their brothers will turn tail and run the other way.
Fresh, Clean Fridge — A box of baking soda in the fridge helps keep it smelling fresh. For a sweet refresher, pour a bit of vanilla on a sponge and keep that at the back of a shelf.