At some point, most people in their early adult years, move out on their own. It may be to move in with other people or by themselves but they no longer live with the people who knew how to handle the little situations and the big ones; such as clogged drains, cleaning out a refrigerator, how to do laundry, check your oil in your car and things like that.
Whether you come from such a home or not, you are away from home and in your own place. Here are some tips to make your life a little easier if you live alone or have roommates. Respectfulness goes a long way toward happy living arrangements.
These are tips I have learned over many years and they are tried and true. I have to add that I worked in food service in our school district for thirteen years and some of these tips were learned from there.
- NEVER pour grease or oil of any kind down a sink. If you have greasy dishwater, add a little extra dish soap, stir it around the greasy dish water and then with HOT water, run it down the drain. Otherwise, pour all grease and oil from cooking into a soup can, veggie can, etc. and store in the freezer until garbage collection day. Grease and oil that go down drains often result in clogged drains that Drano will not dissolve, thus involving a plumber which uses your $$$.
- Place a sheet of aluminum foil in bottom of oven (do not block the bottom vents) to catch unwanted spills when baking casseroles, pies, etc.
- If you do have a spill in the oven, wait for the oven to be warm (not hot), sprinkle baking soda all over the spill, add just enough peroxide to make a paste and blend the two together spreading over the spill. Wait a few minutes. With a hot wet dishcloth or scrubby pad (not stainless steel or SOS pads) add a few drops of dish soap to the paste and work the spill off. Wipe several times with fresh clean wet dish cloth to remove residue.
- The above treatment works well for caked on greasy dishes too. Make a paste with baking soda and peroxide and dish soap, spread over the caked on area, let sit a few minutes then wash and scrub until clean. (You should not have to scrub very hard to remove the caked on residue).
- Peroxide is a bleaching agent so do not get on any clothing that you do not want to have permanent white spots.
- The refrigerator is an incubator for all kinds of bacteria if food is not stored properly or if spills are not cleaned up immediately.
- < You do not want this to be your mantra!
- Use Ziploc bags to store hotdogs, open lunch meats and cheeses in. (Once hotdogs and lunch meats are opened from their package, you only have three days to use them up before bacteria starts to grow.)
- Eggs do not last forever. Use them up within three weeks of purchasing.
- Wipe the top of condiment bottles, such as ketchup, clean before putting back in the fridge. The gunk that collects at the top and spills onto the cap or lid of bottles, grow bacteria pretty fast.
- Pay attention to meat dates on your meats from the grocery stores. Either freeze the meats in freezer storage bags or use meat up within that date. Eating raw or bad meat can easily cause serious bacterial infections needing medical attention.
- Store raw meats in a container that cannot leak onto other foods or leak period.
- Fresh veggies and fruits last longer in the fridge if they are washed in a solution of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 4 parts water first. Fill clean sink up with cool water and apple cider vinegar and let fruits first, soak in the solution for five minutes then rinse in other side of sink, let dry and store in ziplocs then do the same with the veggies. This makes for longer storage of such items.
- Always wash fruits and veggies before you eat them as they harbor the most bacteria such as E. Coli and Salmonella. Seems like these foods when not handled or washed properly cause the most painful bouts of food poisoning. (I know this as I was hospitalized for food poisoning because I ate at a buffet restaurant who did not properly wash the fresh fruits and veggies they served that I ate).
- Check your veggie and fruits daily for spoilage. If one thing goes bad and is not properly wrapped, whatever food is in contact with it is also being contaminated with spoilage so it too has to be thrown out.
- Clean spills in fridge up with baking soda/water solution or vinegar/water solution; bleach is very harsh on refrigerator surfaces inside and out so if there is a really foul odor in the fridge from spoilage, the entire refrigerator needs to be emptied out and cleaned and rinsed with a bleach solution. The bleach solution is made with one gallon of cool water and one tablespoon of bleach. Once you have taken out all shelves, grids and drawers of the refrigerator and cleaned them with mild dish soap and baking soda or vinegar water, rinse these clean parts with the bleach solution and let air dry. Leave the fridge open for 15 minutes as well to dry and deodorize. (This is time consuming and a pain in the as_, so I strongly recommend you don’t let it get to this point.)
- Juice and milk go bad after 7 days of being made or opened.
- Good rule of thumb, the night before garbage pick up, clean out the refrigerator (If you live with other people, make it a weekly get together) and wipe it down.
- The freezer rules are the same as the refrigerator although the life span of foods is usually longer than the fridge. Check for freezer burn weekly.
- Dishes, yes they should be washed at least daily if not more depending on how many dishes you dirty in the day. Scrape food bits and scraps into the trash. Most rental places do not have garbage disposals so food going down the drain results in clogged drains and we already went over that issue. If the trash bag is pretty empty, then scrape food bits into a plastic shopping bag and take directly outside to garbage bin.
- Do not let food dry onto dishes. This is just gross and who wants to wash that. Scrape dishes and rinse off at least if not doing dishes until later.
- Air dry dishes about an hour but then put away. Dust and dirt particles settle on the clean dishes when air drying so put them away. (Especially if you or whoever you may live with is sick)
- Dish towels should be replaced every other day.
- Sponges get nasty really fast. Here is a great link to go to about these bacteria loving vessels… http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-a-dish-sponge/
- Dishcloths need to be replaced with a clean one daily. Bacteria is harbored in these and just one whiff of the used dishcloth the next day should be a good indicator that you don’t want to wash anything with a smelly, soiled dish cloth.
- Never cut up fish, meats, veggies or fruits on the same cutting board. This is cross contamination. Wash between cuttings for same category foods, example, chopping onions and peppers.
- Wash your kitchen sink out daily or nightly to cut down bacteria.
- Counter tops and tables need to be wiped down as well. Do not use the smelly grimy dish cloth as it just spreads the bacteria around.
- If you have a microwave, wipe it down inside after each use.
- Microwave longevity relies on keeping the moisture out of the microwave when done using it. If there is moisture hanging in the microwave, leave the door open to it to dry it out. Excess moisture shortens your microwaves lifespan.
Respectfulness goes a long way toward happy living arrangements.
Check back tomorrow for the next installment of ‘Tips to Make Life Easier When You Live Away From Home.
*Photos courtesy of juliefan21.deviantart.com ; toonrefugee.com ; joannecasey.com ; thriftyfun.com ; chakrcenter.org ; cutcaster.com ; theehp.com and lazybudgetchef.com.