Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cleaning Q&A - How to Clean a Coffee Thermos

Cleaning Q&A
Today's Question: How to Clean a Coffee Thermos

I just received an email from George E that I wanted to share with all of you. He was asking a question that I thought many of you might want the answer to...

"Hi Christina,

Thank you for helping all of us to live a cleaner life while not costing us an arm or a leg.

I have a question regarding cleaning the white plastic parts of a glass coffee pot (lid) and a white plastic coffee thermos. I have looked on your web site as well as our own Arizona "Queen of Clean" but have not found any suggestions.

What suggestions do you have?

Thank you. keep up your very good work!

Warm regards,
George E."

Hi George,

First, thank you for such a nice email. I remember conversing via email with you before, and you're always a real gent. Now, on to your question -- how to clean those pesky (although entirely useful) Thermos containers!? So many of us rely on these to tote hot coffee or tea, or even hot soups and stews to work for our lunch. But, as you've noticed, they can be downright tricky to clean.

To find the best, and most helpful answer for you, George, I did a little research. I checked on the offical Thermos website, and found some of these tips that I think will come in very handy for you:

  1. First of all, use the gentlest cleanser possible for your Thermos® products, especially those made of stainless steel. Harsh, abrasive cleaners and scrubbers can tarnish Food Jars and drink containers, and could even begin to change the flavor of stored foods after a while. A dishwashing detergent or gentle all-purpose cleanser or soap that is safe for dishes should be sufficient (i.e. Joy, Dawn). If you have to use an abrasive pad, make sure that it's made out of plastic so that it won't scrape the inside of the product, and scrub lightly.
  2. Cleaning your Thermos® products will also be much easier if you clean after every use. If you've prepared a meal for a Food Jar, soak the jar for a few minutes before cleaning to remove any food residue that you may have difficulty removing with a washcloth. If you want to clean certain stains off of food containers, a soft toothbrush may do the trick; dip the brush in a little bit of detergent and gently scrub the rim and bottom of the cup to remove residue. Many people also use gentle baby's soap or hypo-allergenic laundry detergent along with or instead of dishwashing detergent to clean Thermos® products, because it preserves the shine of a Food Jar or mug, and can remove food easily.
  3. Cleaning smudges or fingerprints from your stainless steel Thermos® products is easy as well, since most smudges will come out by using slightly damp paper towel or a sponge. For extremely stubborn stains, try soaking the Thermos® product in warm water with detergent for a little while longer, then rinse again with water and vinegar or water and phosphoric acid. This helps to remove stubborn food stains like grape juice, tomato, and coffee stains. Soaking Thermos® products with warm water and baking soda, or even ammonia in some cases will get rid of tough stains.

Some of the Happy Slob's Additional Cleaning Tips:

  • The most stubborn part of cleaning a Thermos is, of course, getting a proper cleaning brush or sponge that can reach down to the bottom. I have found the perfect solution -- a wine decanter cleaner brush! Never heard of this? It does exactly what it's name implies -- cleans out wine decanters. It is a long, narrow cleaning sponge that is gentle to the delicate glass or crystal of wine decanters, therefore also making it perfect for your Thermos containers. You can find these to purchase online or at specialty wine shops, or even cooking shops. (We sell them at the store where I work, for instance.) I also happened to find some cleaning sponges/brushes especially for Thermos products! I'll post the pics to those too...

  • Cleaning stainless steel is a snap with my favorite commercial cleaner - Barkeepers Friend. I like the liquid version best, but the powder is so finely milled that it also will never scratch the delicate surface of stainless steel. Once you try this stuff, you'll be just as hooked as I am. (All Clad, the posh cookware brand, also recommends it for their top end pots and that also gives you assurance that this stuff really works.)
  • Cleaning stains is also easy -- just let some vinegar diluted with water (about half and half, more vinegar if it's a really tough stain) sit in the Thermos for about an hour or so. Then use the same wine decanter cleaning sponge/brush to scrub the stain away. :) Voila, clean Thermos -- ready to fill with your favorite hot drink!

Hope this helps, George, and everyone else who has ever faced this particular cleaning dilemma. Happy cleaning to you!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Happy Slob's Top 10 - Cleaning Tips and Hints and Motivation

Here are a few of my faves from the website, and I wanted to share with you guys! Enjoy...

  1. 7 Tips for Organizing and Cleaning Closets - because we ALL need help with this!
  2. Coffeepot Cleaning Tips (including one from a longtime waitress who KNOWS how to clean out a coffee pot or two...)
  3. How to Delegate Cleaning Tasks to Family Members (or Roommates) - YOU don't have to do it all yourself!
  4. Clean out the Dryer to Make it Run More Efficiently - and save yourself some money
  5. How to Get Rid of Mold - Ick, not the most pleasant cleaning task, but very important. Again, vinegar to the rescue!
  6. Removing Lipstick Stains - be gone you stubborn (if not beautifully tinted) stain!
  7. Finding Storage Space in Even the SMALLEST Spaces - I live in a small space, so some of these tips are straight from my heart!
  8. Healthy Air Fresheners - Recipes & Ideas - for a naturally lovely smelling home
  9. Carpet Freshening Up Powder - Battles even the nastiest pet odors, and more. And of course, it's natural!
  10. Bleach Alternatives because not all of us love the idea of cleaning with bleach.

Clogged Showerheads? Help Has Arrived - Cleaning Showerheads

There's nothing like it -- it's early in the morning, and you're barely awake. You haven't even managed to brew yourself a good strong cup of Java yet, but you're hanging on...because you know you'll step in to a refreshing, cool shower that will blast the last edges of sleepiness off of you! drag yourself into the shower, turn it on, and groan when all that manages to squeak out is a piddly stream. Refreshing shower!? More like a leaky faucet!

Don't worry, cleaning out your showerhead from the inside is amazingly simple and painless to do. And, the best reward of all is that the next time you climb into the shower all groggy and sleepified, you'll actually have a burst of refreshing water to start you well on your way! All this process takes is some of our favorite white vinegar, a plastic baggie, a heavy duty elastic band and a few minutes of your time.

How to Clean Your Rebellious Showerhead (for a renewed showering experience):
  • Fill the plastic baggie about halfway full with undiluted white vinegar.
  • Submerge your showerhead in the vinegar-filled baggie, using the rubber band to keep the baggie in place. Basically, the acid of the vinegar will eat away all the nasty built-up gunk and residue that is making your showerhead behave in such an unappealing way.
  • Let the mix sit on the showerhead for at least 15 minutes, even longer if it's badly clogged. (You CAN even leave the solution to sit and work overnight, but usually between 15 minutes and 45 minutes should do the trick.) (Even easier - some showerheads can be screwed off, and then you can just sit it in a plastic container of vinegar, without messing about with the rubber band at all!)
  • Completely rinse out the showerhead with cool water, and dry. If you find that it still is clogged, repeat the above process. I promise, it will work!

Have a cleaning question? An opinion about a new cleaning product? E-mail it to me at

Rah Rah - Have You Done YOUR Cleaning Burst Today?

The 'rah rah' is to get you guys good and motivated! All it takes is three steps to complete a cleaning burst - a 'burst' of energetic cleaning that gets an amazing amount accomplished in surprisingly little time.

  1. Set your timer for the time you can afford to spend. Don't be cheap though - set it for the amount of time you REALLY can afford. Let's say 10 minutes. (Need an amazing timer? My favorites are: West Bend Timer which clicks easily onto any pocket...or the CDN Big Digit Timer which is easy for anyone to easily see AND operate.)
  2. Grab your cleaning kit and get going! The time, it is a'wasting! Remember to tidy up all the areas that your family and/or friends see the most. A cleaning burst is NOT the time to spend organizing your forty-five boxes of craft supplies. No way, this is when we get down to some serious everyday tidying.
  3. Once that timer rings, you're done. Make it a goal to do at least one cleaning burst everyday. Your home will thank you.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A New Cleaning Recipe - Basic Baking Soda All-Purpose Spray with Essential Oils

Hello, and how is your Wednesday treating you? Here it's another beautiful sunny day - although (thankfully!) not as hot as it has been. It's perfect summertime weather, and I have my handy dandy glass of ice water always at hand.

Today I have a new and easy cleaning recipe for you to try. You already know that I'm a huge advocate of that orange box of baking soda. In fact, more than once I've recommended that we all buy mega size boxes of it at the warehouse store! (Or, perhaps we should all invest in baking soday shares, already!)

Anyway, today I have a simple new cleaning formula for you to make at home. This is a great all-purpose spray, and the idea was sent in by Jeannie. :) I just adjusted the recipe slightly. Enjoy, slobbos! And...personalize your cleaning spray with the essential oils I recommend at the end. And then label that bottle of cleaner as: "Igor's Super Powerful Natural Cleaner." Well, if your name happens to be Igor, that is...

Homemade Baking Soda Cleaning Spray
(Natural, organic, homemade cleaners)
3 tablespoons baking soda
About 1 quart of water

Optional Additions:

  • 15-20 drops of essential oil: orange, lemon, lavender or tea tree essential oil

Mix the water and baking soda together in a clean spray bottle that has an adjustable mist setting. (I like using a harder, direct spray when cleaning floors, for instance, and a lighter spray when cleaning countertops, etc.) Don't use a spray bottle that has previously been used to contain harmful chemicals.

Add the essential oils, if you plan on using them. I like adding essential oils to some of my homemade cleaners. Why? Because, they not only smell heavenly, but they also add powerful CLEANING PUNCH to the cleaner. Read on, and find out how essential oils work to keep your home cleaner and healthier. :)

For instance:

  • Lemon Essential Oil - Ahh, that sweet citrusy smell of lemon! Does anything compare to it? It'll wake you up as you, the lemon oil works as a natural disinfectant, so it works great on any surface that you want to disinfect in a healthy way. Another fantastic idea is to dilute some lemon EO and spray over your freshly cleaned bed linens. Smells divine!
  • Lavender Essential Oil - This is another all-time favorite of me, the Happy Slob! Lavender is another one of nature's helpful disinfectants. And that soothing smell just makes me relax and want to crawl up and read a good book. Urm...after I clean, of course! (You can also use a few drops of pure, undiluted lavender oil on your kitchen sponge and use it as a super disinfectant. Add a healthy sprinkling of baking soda or a bit of table salt to the sponge too, to give it some scrubby power.)
  • Orange Essential Oil - The sweetest smelling essential oil, in my humble opinion, orange oil remains one of my favorites. Adding this to the above baking soda spray makes it a powerful degreaser. Gorgeous! Your greasy stove won't know what hit it!
  • Tea Tree Oil - All behold the power of tea tree oil! Add 25 drops to the above mix and create another natural disinfectant spray (with no scary chemicals, thank you very much.) Another bonus? You can use the exact same recipe for an odor neutralizing spray in the bathroom, or anywhere else you need a good old-fashioned air freshener.

Look no farther! If you want to stock up on some of these lovely, natural cleaning oils, these are some of the best essential oil bargains I've found online for you. Enjoy! And make sure to get a few bottles for your Happy Slob cleaning pals, too.