Americans love their dogs and there's no dog a pet owner loves more than their own. But when it comes to breeds, Americans have their favorites and for the 27th straight year, the Labrador retriever
De-gunk your garbage disposal the natural way. Dump half a cup of cornstarch down the unit, followed by one cup of white vinegar. Allow to fizz, then pour boiling water down the disposal. Next, add two cups of ice and a handful of coarse kosher salt to loosen any stubborn debris. Finally, toss in a lemon slice, turn on the tap, and run the disposal to deodorize.
On Your Mark
If you think the permanent marker on your wooden table is, well, permanent, here’s something to smile about. Squirt an ample glob of toothpaste (note: paste, not gel) on the mark, wait a few minutes, then rub with a damp rag and rinse with a clean rag. It may take a few attempts, but you’ll remove the mark without harming the finish. Try this method on those nasty black scuffs on vinyl flooring too.
Fresh and Clean
We all grew up with an open box of Arm & Hammer in the fridge, but vanilla extract works just as well and offers a pleasing aroma in the bargain. After cleaning the fridge, soak a sponge in the stuff and leave it on a shelf for fragrance that lasts. If it’s your microwave that’s stinky, pour a few drops of vanilla extract into a bowl, and nuke on high for a minute.
Give It a Spin
The blender is one of the simplest countertop appliances to operate, but getting it spotless is another matter. The simple solution? After use, rinse out the jar, add dish soap and water, and place it back on the base. Turn on the blender and—whirrrr!—goodbye to the gunk that would otherwise cling to the bottom or blades.
Chalk It Up
Ants at a picnic? Pesky. Ants in your kitchen? Unacceptable! Make the little buggers turn tail by drawing a line with chalk or talcum powder at their point of entry. When ants cross over the chemical compound calcium carbonate, it breaks the trail of pheromones the pests deposit, causing their brethren to crawl in the opposite direction.
Join the Club
Help restore a scuffed stainless steel sink to its former luster with plain club soda. Moisten a cloth with the bubbly stuff 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.
Whoops! One of your tumblers took a tumble, and now you’ve got a dangerous mess to clean. To the rescue: soft, spongy packaged bread, which works like a magnet to pick up even the smallest slivers of glass. Place a slice over the accident and press lightly, then discard immediately.
Don’t Hold the Ketchup
Tackle tarnish on brass knobs or copperpot bottoms with your burger’s best friend. The acid in tomatoes works magic on those rough, discolored areas. Squeeze a dollop 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.
Thank you to Bob Villa for these cleaning hints