Top Drawer

CorrespondentJanuary 4, 2013 

COURTESY OF JOYCE CLARK HICKS

Best for dishwashers

With all of the work your dishwasher does to clean up messes, you’ve probably never thought to give it a good cleaning, too. But years of washing grime and grease away can take a toll. A Pinterest post suggests you give it a good cleaning twice a year by placing a dishwasher-safe measuring cup filled with plain white vinegar on the machine’s top rack. Run the washer through a cycle with the hottest water possible. The vinegar will help to wash away any loose, greasy grime, will sanitize the machine and help remove any musty odors. If it needs additional cleaning, sprinkle a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the tub and run it through a short cycle. The soda helps freshen and remove stains.

Best for laundry

Keep your clothes looking their brand-new best by washing them in a salt water solution. The Budget Savvy Diva and a handful of other cleaning websites suggest adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of table salt to each load of laundry -- linens and clothes -- to keep colors from fading. The chloride in salt apparently helps seal in the color of fabrics.

Designer’s best

The Better Homes and Garden blog offers this tip for maximizing space in a small apartment or home: “When space is at a premium, invest in a large, one-stop-shop bookcase that will serve multiple storage needs. Place it in a central location ... and store books and dishes on the upper shelves; place bins, baskets, or drawers on the lower shelves to house linens, flatware, office supplies, and any extra things that don’t have a place to live.” Check it out at bhg.com/decorating/storage/

Best tip for cold and flu season

With cold and flu season upon us, we thought it wise to repeat a tip we brought to you last spring. MeckMom.com, a blog dedicated to simple home organizing issues, offers an ingenious way to contain tissue messes.

1 Take two tissue boxes. Neatly open the side of one box, pull out the entire fold of tissues and place them in a plastic Ziploc bag for use later.

2 Refold the flaps of the empty box and place the two upright boxes together with the recently opened side sandwiched against the closed side of the other. Place two rubber bands around the boxes to hold them together.

3 Use a tissue from one box, dispose of it in the other, then toss it away.

See it at http://tinyurl.com/meckmom

Best for boots

The Heart 2 Home blog offers up a great way to keep your boots standing and at the ready for a night out on the town. Cut a swimming-pool noodle to the height of your boots and insert in the shoe to stand them upright. (Alternatively, roll newspapers up tightly and tape together to do the same.)

Voilà. Your boots really will be made for walking!

See the original entry at http://tinyurl.com/ags3c7n.

Best hostess gift

A chalkboard tray to display in the kitchen makes a great and inexpensive gift for a friend who loves to cook or entertain. Buy a rectangular metal (tin) tray at a discount or thrift store. Paint the interior neatly with two to three coats of black chalkboard paint, allowing one hour between coats to dry. Let it sit for 24 hours before writing on it.

Put in a gift bag with tissue paper and remember to include chalk and an inexpensive stand. The recipient can write the message of her choosing on the board, whether it’s the morning’s menu, a holiday greeting, a favorite quote or a simple welcome. When adorned with bows, it’s the perfect complement to any hostess’ collection. (I’ve seen them sell for as high as $10 at specialty stores!)

See the original at the Balancing Home blog, http://tinyurl.com/agosmn8.

Reader’s best

Raleigh reader Marion Laske says she has found that baby oil is the best thing to keep stainless steel appliances shiny and fingerprint-free. “Put on with a soft cloth and then wipe off any residue with another clean cloth to keep it from being a dust magnet. It works and is long lasting.”

• We’re seeking a fresh batch of useful tips for cleaning, organizing and gardening around your home. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift card. Send your tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

• Congratulations to JoAnn Hobler of Raleigh, winner of the drawing for a Target gift card for the fourth quarter of 2012.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Nursery needed: Craig and Julie bought their home after only looking at the plans. After they moved in, they realized the house that looked good on paper isn’t so practical in real life. With a baby on the way, they desperately need another bedroom. Realtor David searches for a new home to provide the family with enough space for their growing family. Designer Hilary works inside their house to create the space they so desperately need. In the end, will the couple “Love It or List It? It airs at 9 p.m. Saturday.

On DIY

Kitchen update: Meghan has spent the last two years remodeling her 1930s home, but one huge project remains -- the kitchen. It is a bland mix of gray cabinets, boring white countertops and peeling beige vinyl flooring. With the help of contractor James Young, she gives her kitchen a much-needed facelift and creates a new space filled with sleek, modern products while still holding onto the vintage feel of her home.

“I Hate My Kitchen” airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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